A writer’s block…of sorts.

No, it’s not what you think. Actually, it’s the title for our latest commissioned piece we’ll be working on over the next several months. The clients have a large office in their home, and they want custom-built bookshelves that fit underneath each of the two large windows on the east and west sides of the room. Not only do they need to fit under the windows, they also need to compliment the large desk in the center of the room.

With this in mind, we started sketching, and after spending many, many months searching for the perfect items to work with, we finally found it in an old, classic relic: the typesetter’s block. Many other artists have done large-scale mosaics using typesetter’s blocks, but they are strictly 2-D. In true form, however, we had to take it to a new level by making it 3-D. But, our work was far from over.

Over the years, typesetter’s blocks have been sold, scrapped, or simply discarded as printing presses converted to the digital age, or simply closed their doors. So, finding a large batch of them to use is no easy task. Locating quantities means contacting numerous antique and scrap dealers across the nation, as well as spending many nights searching on ebay and Craigslist for the hidden gems. Finally, after more than a month, we located two massive lots – 600 and 1200 pieces respectively – to make this project possible.

RF_typeset blocks wide 1

And our work…is still far from over.

Now the daunting task of sorting, cleaning, and polishing all these blocks begins. Using an arsenal of rubbing alcohol, Simple Green, Finish Line Citrus Degreaser, and a big box or steel wool, we will spend the next few months getting all these pieces ready.

So far, we’ve uncovered some interesting gems. Here’s a before & after of an iconic American brand: Oscar Mayer.

Here is the block, before cleaning.

RF_OM_before

And here is the same block, after cleaning. For the first time in 30+ years, the metal shines again.

RF_Om_after

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