The C.C. Stern Type Foundry is a public workshop and museum dedicated to preserving the craft of commercial hot-metal composition and type casting. It was started by a group of folks whose socks were knocked off by the work (and friendship) of C. Christopher Stern and Jules Faye of Stern and Faye Printers of Sedro-Woolley, Washington.
Chris and Jules dedicated their lives to the pursuit of the beauty of ink on paper, and their path brought together commercial printers, artists, craftspeople, writers, poets and thinkers of all stripes. To this group Chris and Jules often reached out to offer a hand by swapping knowledge, equipment and/or offered their sweat and muscle. Their generosity, support and the print work that they created inspired (and continues to inspire) many of us.
When Chris succumbed to cancer in 2006, we lost a young master printer who was leading the way through a new era of craft printing. However, not lost was the energy and momentum within the community that Chris helped to build.
When it was necessary to downsize the Stern & Faye print shop and the foundry would have to be moved and/or parted out, several of us stepped forward with the interest to keep the equipment together. Lacking the financial resources and space to take on the equipment individually, we formed an organization to take it on. And, wow, what a crew. Everyone brings a variety experience to the table with enthusiasm, passion and good old elbow grease to boot. These guys are an inspiring bunch, I feel like I'm always learning something from all of them and am impressed by their "can-do" attitude. I feel lucky that they allow this bumbling printer to be a part of the organization! I'd like to crow more about these guys, but I'm getting off track. Check out the volunteers' bios if you are interested.
To continue with the story, we spent about 10 days in the summer of 2008 carefully packing up the foundry, ferrying the palletized equipment from the Skagit Valley "Print Farm" to the nearest trucking terminal where we loaded it into a 53 foot semi truck trailer and shipped it to Portland. It would remain dormant in that truck trailer parked at a empathetic rigging company's equipment lot for a little over a year. During that time, we searched for space, organized the structure of the working museum and put it down onto paper, found a lawyer who supported the idea and donated his time to help us form the non-profit.
About 2 years ago we moved the equipment into a nice shop space above a machine shop. We installed ventilation, re-worked power circuits and airlines, built a water re-circulator and unpacked the machines. The first type marched off of the orphan annie caster last October (2011). Visitors stop in and watch the machines in action once a month on every third Saturday, or additionally by appointment. Students & volunteers help catalogue matrices & clean equipment. 2 monotype keyboards have been re-built and are about to be put back into operation. Last week (late April 2012) power was run to the composition caster & monotype material maker which will also be restored to operation condition soon. A Linotype model 31 has been donated to the foundry and will be moved to the space early this summer. And big news: The C.C. Stern Type Foundry will be hosting the 2012 American Typecasting Fellowship Conference in August. Exciting happenings, and things are continually evolving.
The C.C. Stern Type Foundry would love for you to stop by and check out the space. Or volunteer, talk shop, offer suggestions, share your printing, host a presentation or otherwise contribute energy and/or greenbacks to the cause. Through his work and support of the print community, Chris Stern managed to bridge the disciplines of letterpress printing. His knowledge and respect of the tradition of the craft in combination of his resourcefulness and creative drive allowed his printing to be equally revered by fans of computer generated relief plate printing as well as fine press printers who don't stray from metal and iron. We would like the Foundry to continue with that idea. Let's continue to teach each other and inspire one another. Stop on by!