Big Jump Press

Hello Alabama!


A transatlantic flight, a thousand mile drive, and here I am, back in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. When I stepped out of my car, I climbed out of a time machine. I moved to Alabama for the first time in August of 2005 as a graduate student. I moved to Alabama again in August of 2011 to teach for a semester. And here I am, five Augusts later, moving back one more time. August, incidentally, is the worst time to move to Alabama. Some diabolical combination of the heat and the insects make this a terrifying place to walk around in an empty house in bare feet. But, lo! Compare the bindery of the future (above) with the bindery of the past (below).


There are other pleasures. An office:


That sits on top of a library:


And is down the hall from a bindery:


And a letterpress studio:


(Oh, and yes, that’s a polymer platemaker sitting over by the sink.)

After five years of teaching for dozens of studios and universities all over the UK with a different schedule every week,  I wake each morning in a panic trying to remember which train going in which direction I need to hussle to catch.  I will be very busy here, no question. But today I am relishing the calm, the burgeoning sense of routine, and the good fortune of not having to spend six hours traveling for six teaching hours, a ratio that was pushing me to my limit.

I can get invested. I can take on tasks that last longer than an afternoon. I can get students to help me. I can make weird, solemn, letterpress-themed vows like this one:

I hereby vow that by the first day of January in the year two thousand and seventeen, there will be no standing type at The University of Alabama.


half of the standing type

So far the oldest I’ve found hails from 2005:IMG_0423

Marvel, wherever you are, this type is too beautiful to sit, abandoned, in your galley. Its time has COME! Alabama students, friends, alums, help me in my quest. If you are near, a great task awaits us all.

Do you hear the overblown language I am using? It is because I am relaxed enough to think of the future. And thinking of the future makes me speak in terms of quests, journeys, and endeavors rather than tasks, workshops, and trains.

More soon from The University of Alabama. over and out.

19 comments on “Hello Alabama!

  1. Nikki Webb
    August 31, 2016

    I enjoy reading about your journeys. Welcome back to the states. Best to you. Nikki

  2. Ellen Slade
    August 31, 2016

    Onward and upward for you! Yay!!

  3. Bryantbob
    August 31, 2016

    Welcome back!!! Enjoy your quest and all who will accompany you.

  4. turtlesilk47
    August 31, 2016

    Wish I lived closer than CA! I like distributing type. I find it meditative.

    Welcome back to the states.

    • Big Jump Press
      August 31, 2016

      Well now I wish you did too! Come visit. There is plenty of type to distribute!

  5. momora
    August 31, 2016

    So glad to have you back in the states. When will you start traveling again? How is the baby? Welcome home.

    • Big Jump Press
      August 31, 2016

      Thank you! I’ve got Penland School of Craft and Frogmans Print Workshop on my calendar for the summer of 2017. Ben and baby Milo are waiting for Ben’s visa application in the UK while I set up the house here. So that’s tricky, but that’s the way it goes. I will head over to see them in a couple of weeks and hopefully they’ll be here not too long after that.

  6. Karen
    August 31, 2016

    Welcome back to this side of the pond.i love your blog, and have followed you for some time, frequently finding inspiration in your doings.

  7. pklagrange
    August 31, 2016

    Welcome to the US. I have enjoyed following your UK adventures and look forward to your US ones.

    • Big Jump Press
      August 31, 2016

      Thank you! Now that I am settled down I hope that I will post a bit more these days!

  8. WOW! Congratulations on your move and can’t wait to see all the potential realised.

  9. riverlark
    August 31, 2016

    So glad to see that you’re posting again! Congrats on arriving in Alabama!

  10. growlygracepress
    August 31, 2016

    I have been thinking about you and I am so happy for you.

  11. Su
    August 31, 2016

    And that letterpress shop looks so …organised…wow! And as for the bindery, it looks almost like it’s never been used…Enjoy!

    • Big Jump Press
      August 31, 2016

      Ha! I can testify that it is one of the most well used binderies in my acquaintance. You are always welcome! xx

  12. bobblesse
    September 1, 2016

    Fantastic! Congratulation on your new position. Give Steve a big hug from Bob Blesse!

    • Big Jump Press
      September 2, 2016

      Thanks, Bob! And Happy Birthday! Too bad we didn’t manage to meet in Florence! Another time.

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This entry was posted on August 31, 2016 by in Uncategorized.
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