There’s something special about products made with real care and vision – products that incorporate history, passion, design and even love in the creation. Field Notes Two Rivers edition is one of these stationery products.

Field Notes always make outstanding notebooks. But for their 26th season edition books they worked with a new, yet ‘old’, partner. They created these Field Notes books – in a journey that took several years to bring to fruition – with the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum in Two Rivers, Michigan, USA.

The Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum is the only museum dedicated to the preservation, study, production and printing of wood type. With 1.5 million pieces of wood type and more than 1,000 styles and sizes of patterns, Hamilton’s collection is one of the premier wood type collections in the world. Located between the East and West Twin Rivers on Lake Michigan, the Hamilton Manufacturing Company was the largest wood type producer in the country, when virtually everything was letterpress printed. The working museum is both a tribute to, and means of preserving, the true art of letterpress.


Image Source: Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum blog

Field Notes collaborated with the Museum on creating hand-printed covers for this series of books.

There is a fantastic blog post (also the source of many images in this article) by Jim Moran of the Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum that really gives you a feel for the huge effort that went into producing these books.

We recommend you read the story but here are some of the highlights of the journey to create the Field Notes Two Rivers Edition.

Good things take time

“Back in September of 2011, my good friend …introduced me to his friend Jim Coudal of Field Notes with the idea of having us print a note book for them. I loved the idea but was daunted by the volume; possibly 15,000 to 18,000 covers run in 2 colors. The only large format press I had available for the run was a Vandercook 320 and cranking prints one at a time did not sound like a great idea. Since both Jim Coudal and I were so busy, we agreed to re-visit the project later.”

A team approach

“We discussed paper and inks, as well as what worked well as overlays for the 2 images for the cover of each book. The crew then began setting proposed layouts and with the assistance of Stephanie Carpenter, the museum assistant director, along with Bill Moran, the museum artistic director, and Jim Moran, the museum director, suggestions were made as to what would work. The initial thought was to again plan for a fall edition but it would have been tough for Hamilton to get a proper press up to speed and running the job on time.”


Image Source: Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum blog

The Printing Press

“Mel Wrolstad is a Heidelberg mechanic from Minneapolis who occasionally repairs presses for Studio on Fire, with over 40 years experience repairing and installing presses for Heidelberg America. Mel drove over to Hamilton and began a crash course in resurrecting our 1961Heidelberg GT, 13″ x 18″ from storage. Mel is a good teacher and insists on learning his way. It works.”


Image Source: Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum blog

Working round the clock

Evening runs and weekend sessions were needed to keep a daily average of 4000 impressions rolling off the press. Most of my collection of vinyl records were necessary to provide background music throughout. Beethoven, curiously, made the Heidelberg happiest. Every time the press locked up, it took a 3 person crew to work the flywheel free.”


Image Source: Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum blog

Experimenting with colour

“All the combinations looked good – looked great. We had favorites replaced by favorites and then more favorites. An initial review by the gang at Field Notes was most encouraging. They felt the same way. Onward we plowed like a grader down a Wisconsin highway on a winter’s night. Volunteers and interns pitched in, all given the same decree of keeping the project quiet.”


Image Source: Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum blog

The final tally

“And our end came on a Saturday afternoon around 4 pm, with a final tally of nearly 84,000 impressions. The press had held up and so had we. Backs were sore, feet were tired and ink was down to a dollop. I had spent around 200 hours printing and running the project.”


Image Source: Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum blog

Watch the video of the story

Field Notes – ‘Two Rivers’ Edition – COLORS Spring 2015

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