Archive for July, 2008

The workshop of casting hot metals.

Saturday, July 12th, 2008

Have you ever experienced casting hot metals, or do you know a process how to make hot metals?

I’d got a chance to join a workshop event casting hot metals. I happened to hit the information of the event while I looked for info on hot metals. The workshop was held by Tsukiji Katsuji, means Tsukiji hot metals, however, it has little to do with Tsukiji-tai: 築地体, located in Yokohama where is near from Tokyo about thirty minutes by train.

Left: The Tsukiji Katsuji. Right: Six casting machines in two lines.

I expected the building was like a factory but it was very clean like a show room for an interior furniture. I prepared a fatigue, but there seemed to be no worry about getting clothes dirty. The room had some shelfs and cases which stocked a thousands of hot metals and matrices, and on the left hand, six casting machines stood in two lines on the floor. The owner of the office, Mr. Hirakou let participants look around in the room and permitted to take photos until the time the workshop would start.

After all participants had arrived at the office, first, Mr. Hirakou started to explain the outline and history of the office. Second, a craft man of the office, Mr. Ohmatsu explained the process of casting hot metals and then demonstrated it.

Left: Mr.Hirakou explained about the stock shelfs of hot metals and matrices. Right: Mr Ohmatsu, a craft man of casting metals, explained about how to casting metals.

Left: A thausand of hot metals in the stock shelf. Right: Matrices in the box.

Left: The Hakko’s auto casting machine. Right: The machine had a change-speed mechanism with the belt harnessed the shaft which tapered right to left.

Left: The ingot made from lead, antimony and tin which came from mainly mainland China. Right: The dissolution temperature of the ingot was around 350-400 degrees. “It is very difficult to control setting temperature while summer season, because if it was not proper temper, the dissolved metal would stuck inside the machine,” Ohmatsu said. The room was sizzling. The ingot melted as soon as he put it into the machine.

Left: Ohmatsu set the matrix to the machine. Right: All participants could cast the one of letters which was included in their own name. We need to set the matrix at proper position. I thought it was good position, but Ohmastu could tell at a glance that the position was wrong, and revised it immediately.

Left: The hot metal had just made. The metal was very hot, but Ohmatsu didn’t care to have it at all. Right: The composition in a galley for a specimen book of Tsukiji Katusji.

While Ohmatsu explained every process of casting, he told us some episodes when he was a pupil of the office. The customers often came to the office at midnight and asked staffs to get hot metals. So the shop staffs needed to stay there in twenty-four seven and 365days so that they provide types to customers whenever they wanted. That’s why, the staffs couldn’t go for a trip to anywhere for a long time. All his episodes he introduced us were very interesting.

At last of the workshop, one of participants, who had owned a printing house before, showed us some hot metals he had used, which included the one casted by the Linotype machine, a huge hot metal and the unique one, which had forty-nine letters within around one centimeter square, made by the Benton machine.

As I’m a digital font generation, I’d hardly used not only the hot metal printings but also photo type setting before. However, a magazine that features letter press and hot metals are increasing gradually. “So, designers who want to use a letter press are increasing now,” according to Hirakou.

Left: A type smaller than fingertip had forty-nine letters included Kanji and Katakana within about one centimeter, which made by the Benton punch-cutting machine. It reads that ‘昭和三十年十月於名古屋市第四回印刷文化典記念株式会社光文堂製ベントン彫刻母型KK活字高級凸版印刷機’. Right: A huge type and its explanation sheet.

A line of type casted by Linotype machine.

The types, reads 岡野邦彦 (Okano Kunihiko), is my name, which were presented by Tsukiji Katsuji. All participants could get types of their own name each.

The workshop seems to be held on an irregular base. I’m afraid that the workshop was in Japanese only, though.

The type designer giant, Kozuka talks about three generations of type design.

Saturday, July 5th, 2008

As you know the type designer giant Adrian Frutiger, in Japan, there is also a type designer giant for Japanese font. Masahiko Kozuka, is 79 years old, who is famous for Adobe Kozuka family bundled with Adobe applications, gave a presentation about his works.

In an impressive monochrome photo Kozuka showed at the beginning of the talk show, a young lad was standing surrounded by a bunch of veterans, he seemed to be shy but to have enormous energy for making typeface. The photo was taken when he was a newbie worker for Mainichi Shinbun: Mainichi newspaper, is one of major newspaper companies in Japan, with its veterans. And then about fifty-years passed, he was standing in front of the audience who came to hear and talk to them looking back at his old days.

He had careers for three generations of making typeface, hot metals, photo type setting and digital fonts. He showed a lot of photos and important 8mm movie archives he owned and introduced how to making typeface of each of generations.

His career for making typeface started when he joined Mainichi Shinbun: Mainichi Newspapers Co., Ltd, around fifty years ago. He worked to make matrices for the newspaper typeface, now we call it “Mainichi Ming-cho”. And some decades passed, Morisawa, is a font vendor in Japan and known for holding Morisawa award, asked Kozuka to come to Morisawa as a advisory staff. While working for Mainichi, he also went to Morisawa corp. once every week. After retiring Mainichi, he completely moved to Morisawa. Then Morisawa started the Shin-Go:新ゴ project. To make Shin-Go family fast, which has five weights and every weight has more than 8,000 characters, Kozuka organized a font team and built a software for group sharing, which connected to the similar way which he used in Adobe to make Kozuka family.

He also had contributed to a developing country to develop letterpress system or to provide how to make typefaces, but the project often had to postponed due to war, civil war or conflict. “To improve making type face technology, it can be needed the world is peace,” Kozuka said. It was very impressive.

Left: The one of his best known works, Kozuka family by Adobe. He demonstrated how to make fonts using a customized software for making Japanese font by Adobe. Right: The facade of the event hall CCAA Art Plaza, which is an ex-elementary school in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo.

Kozuka looked back at his life as saying that “I think one generation was about two decades, then closing up every generation carefully, I find it has at least two or four branches.” That means he had careers at least six generations. For almost of type designers, it must be rare chance to have experience for changing printing media. However, Kozuka had a couple of chances and fit new technology with new type technology. I’m sure he was struggling to fit them every time.

Looking back at my life, I’ve never had any chance to face changing generations. But I expect to get a chance the transition to new technology within a decade. What would it be like next generation? I’ll try to get a lot of clues and hints by understanding past generations.

Robundo publishing inc., A special seminar for The Shinjuku private school. “Kozuka talks three generations of type.
Jiyu-Kobo inc., Mojimaga, means letter magajine, “The type designer giant” #2 Type designer Masahiko Kozuka