as someone who likes doing things with his hands, i find labour day satisfying on many levels.

no weird religion or colonial past to muddy the waters of enjoyment. it’s a holiday that has developed out of the labour movement of which i’m a part. it’s also a great punctuation mark in the year — dividing it between summer and fall (maybe a semicolon?). and fall is my favourite time of the year. a return to school, the onset of beautiful weather, and the earth’s magnificent slowing to winter.

this year i decided to celebrate labour day by printing a one-off poster. i have always loved joe strummer’s song ‘johnny appleseed’ and the line ‘if you are after getting honey / then you don’t go killing all the bees‘. to me it has special meaning about the relationship of work to the worker and the overseers of those workers.


to me the relationship of work to the worker is a large thing. the work you do defines you. if that work is not direct and tangible, i feel, you are somehow diminished as a human. it should have meaning. it should be a part of you.

part of my life’s work has been to find the work that i want to do. i’ve been lucky, but i’ve also been looking and working at it for a long time.

woodtype is a great and fun way to do thing graphically. no wonder the hipsters like it. the best thing about using woodtype is its directness. you lock it up, ink it and pull the proof.

in this case, i started with the word ‘IF’ and build the other words around it. trying to interlink them. one building on another.

locking everything together on the bed of the vandercook #2 proof press was a little precarious, and i used some magnets to hold certain words in place.


this particular press isn’t self inking, so i ink the type by hand — using the ink plate of the C&P to spread the ink out smoothly. it doesn’t take long before you get the feel of the right amount of ink to use. i usually refer to the self-inking vandercooks as ‘sissy toronto presses’ because they just seem too easy to use. i have used them. they do give better registration and maybe better inking (maybe). you don’t have to monkey around with the packing as much. you aren’t as tired at the end of the day. but i still like the old #2 better. it seems more honest. it also forces you to design in a certain way.

in the past i have used a self-created jig to make sure that my registration was relatively close, but mostly i design for the machine and for the woodtype media and things work out okay.

for this particular job i used some ‘safety paper’ (paper that used to be used to print cheques, etc) that was obtained through nefarious means (which i won’t go into). the surface is really smooth and it didn’t require much pressure to get a good impression. i also wanted to create a richer image, so i ran the sheets through the press a number of times using (in turn) red, purple and warm grey 1o. i also used the inkplate of the C&P to create the circular image in the background for some noise and texture. again, i like seeing the evidence of myself in the print.



i’m sort of at a loss as to what to do with them now. as usual, i’ll give some to friends, but my salesmanship is not great so they will probably languish at the bottom of the new paper drawer that i made over the summer.

happy labour day.