Day 4 – Nashville: Learning about Letterpress Printing

Sunrise over Nashville
Sunrise over Nashville

This morning, I looked out the window and noticed a beautiful sunrise. It is little things like this that I appreciate.

As much as I enjoy visiting independently owned restaurants, I also enjoy visiting independent coffee shops. The owner’s personality is usually reflected in both the establishment and the offerings. Red Bicycle in Germantown, is no different.

Red Bicycle in Germantown
Red Bicycle in Germantown

Walking inside, you immediately experienced the distressed wood look. Various different types of red bicycles are depicted on their walls. This is the type of place people feel comfortable frequenting and it invites conversation.

While Red Bicycle sells bagels, donuts and oatmeal, the real draw is their made-to-order crepes. A good assortment of both sweet and savory crepes are offered. My mom ordered the Sunrise (eggs & cheese) with her meat choice being chorizo.

Florentine Crepe
Florentine Crepe
Sunrise Crepe with chorizo
Sunrise Crepe with chorizo

I selected the Florentine crepe. This was filled with eggs, cheese, mushrooms and spinach. I like how they decorate the top of each crepe with some of the interior ingredients. This not only adds to the presentation, but also helps identify which crepe belongs to who.

Of the two crepes, I preferred my mom’s more. I remarked to her that most choirzo is so greasy, you usually don’t feel good about eating it. This one was very lean, yet still full of flavor. Mine was similar to eating a spinach and mushroom omelette. The light roast coffee and the Americano were both delicious beverages.

One of the many guitars in the Johnny Cash museum
One of the many guitars in the Johnny Cash museum

The Johnny Cash Museum is ideally located just off Lower Broadway. They offer a self guided tour through an extensive collection of Johnny Cash’s works and belongings. Most of the items were donated by longtime friend Bill Miller. The museum is quite a legacy to the fabled singer.

Both my mom and I needed souvenirs and what a better place to go than to the Goo Goo Shop. I already knew that it was across the street from the Johnny Cash museum and so we made good use of our parking.

Making the Rocky Roadkill Goo Goo Cluster
Making the Rocky Roadkill Goo Goo Cluster

The Goo Goo Shop was an unexpected surprise. It turned out to be a combination retail story, mini factory and ice cream shop. After looking over the general souvenirs and candy, I watched one of their employees making one of the premium Goo Goo clusters. Named the Rocky Roadkill Rocky Roadkill, it was comprised of peanut butter, marshmallow, pretzels, peanuts, and potato chips covered in milk chocolate.

The Hatch Show Print is a historic letterpress shop that operates within the Country Music Hall of Fame building. They designs and prints posters and also produce diverse art work. They have been in operation since 1879.

Inside Hatch Show Print
Inside Hatch Show Print

We took the guided tour. For me, it was a like a walk through printing history. This was during the time when the vocation “printers” existed and when craftsmanship actually meant something.

Hand carved in reverse
Hand carved in reverse

Type is manually set and in the case of posters, it is usually derived from blocks of wood that is individually carved. For events, it is possible that a single graphic image was carved. Because they needed to be reused, they often omitted the year.

I found the tour to be fascinating and they had us create a simple mini poster that we could take home. Fortunately, the type was already set and the ink was predetermined. All we needed to do was to place the roller on the ink well and spread it across the wood type.

 

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