From the Office and Backyard to the Road, Boat, or Plane–Backstories and
Side Stories While on Assignment. Updates on Personal Projects, Too.

Archive for the ‘Art, Craft’ Category

Sideshow Press

Presses stop me. When I worked at a newspaper, on breaks I used to go down to the press room and watch the huge rolls whir through. My favorite is the sights and sounds of letterpressing – the hands-on spinning of wheels, the metal plates and the wet ink, the impressions in the paper.

In Charleston, Courtney Rowson, Amy Pastre and Virginia Gregory of Sideshow Press create pieces one by one, designed with all sorts of graphics and type – of insects, antlers, flora, dress patterns, topo maps, tool guides, and more. They’ve got a new website, and I’m so pleased that they included some of my copy:

The idea is simple – to press type into paper.   The machinery is outdated, replaced in the mid-20th century by offset – and eventually digital – presses.  But for design purists, no other machine gives artwork and letters such a distinct tactile quality, mechanically pushing metal plates into the fibers of each sheet.  You can feel the type.

In the last decade or so, there’s been new interest in the old machines across the country, with vintage letterpress equipment put back to use by designers looking for creativity away from the computer.  In Charleston it took three women to bring one of the iron and steel contraptions to town, to figure out how to use it, ink it up, and start printing. Together they are Sideshow Press.

– Sandy Lang, December 2009

Comments Closed

Art, Craft, In print/published

Since mid-summer, I’ve been collaborating on a project with Stitch Design Co., and the first pieces are now in print and online. The materials are for the 2009 InShow, the AIGA of South Carolina’s annual design awards. The website is up, and this week the printed call-for-entries was mailed to designers across the state.

We’re having a lot of fun with this project. Everything has a retro-grocery look, and the remaining pieces include an invitation to the Grocer’s Gala in November (the awards party). I’m hoping there will be dancing in the aisles.


– Sandy Lang, September 2009

Comments Closed

Art, Craft, In print/published



STITCH gets rolling

What a nice project… I’ve been writing copy for a couple of graphic designer friends who are known for the textures and handcrafted details in their work. Amy Pastre and Courtney Rowson have just formed STITCH, a design company with a studio in downtown Charleston.

The two are also partners in Sideshow Press, and own this old Kluge press, which makes a commotion of sound when they’re printing – like when it whirred and popped through a batch of my own business cards and letterhead. I’m definitely a fan.

Sideshow Press, Kluge, photo by Peter Frank Edwards

Congratulations and best wishes to Amy and Courtney on this new venture. I look forward to seeing what they create through STITCH, and to collaborating again very soon.

– Sandy Lang, June 2009 (photo by PFE)

Water Born, Garden & Gun Nov. 2008

This is so cool… an article I wrote last year for Garden & Gun was read by a filmmaker who says he was inspired to create a short film.

On Friday I had the chance to talk with Tim Sutton, who’s an art director with Getty Images and a good friend of G&G editor Sid Evans. Tim’s five-minute “Cypress” shows a visit with Aaron Wells, who lives near the Suwannee River and builds kayaks and canoes out of narrow strips of cypress. The film takes me right back to Aaron’s workshop, to the North Florida blackwater scenery. It was shot and edited by cinematographer Chris Dapkins, with music by Moondog.

You can see “Cypress” here, on the Garden & Gun website.

Besides his work with Getty, Tim has directed music videos for The Raconteurs, Brendan Benson, Sam Prekop, and The Sea and Cake. I love this one for The Sea and Cake’s, “Weekend.”

– Sandy Lang, June 2009

Comments Closed

Art, Craft, In print/published



Guerrilla Bite

Back on the covert dining beat, I wrote this Quick Bite feature for the May 2009 Charleston Magazine, the arts issue with the Shepard Fairey cover. I’m a fan of street art and underground supper clubs, so it was a great fit.

Shepard Fairey cover, Guerrilla Cuisine

A year ago this month, the e-mail arrived on a Saturday night with details about where to be the next evening, at 6:00 sharp. Directions were a bit cryptic, mentioning a street address “a few doors down from a favorite local meeting spot… the Wild Wild Joker. Bring yourself, a sense of adventure, and don’t forget to BYOB.“

The message was sent only to the 40 or so people going to another sold-out Guerilla Cuisine dinner, part food exploration, part art show. Begun in the fall of 2007, the underground dining group’s founder is a local 30-something known as “jimihatt” who’s worked in kitchens from Med Deli (the 1990s version) to McCrady’s. He and fellow chefs, mostly from Charleston restaurants, do the cooking for the clandestine, monthly dinner. And like a party or a rave, each meal is different, some better than others.

Walking up on the steamy May night to the Heriot Street address, guests could see crawfish being skewered onto sticks, prep cooks firing up grills on a line of tables outside. That dinner was held in a warehouse of glowing light and long tables, with art lining the walls… most of it by local artists, and for sale. There was a deejay playing house mixes, wait-staff in black-and-white costumes and face paint, and a drummer from Ghana. Guests chose their places at the snaking tables, and course-by-course the meal was served… mako shark and venison chops, roasted quail with a quail egg cooked inside, buffalo carpaccio with onion, and the fire-grilled crawfish. The 20-something to early 40-something crowd tasted, talked, and shared their wine.

A few months later, at another Guerrilla Cuisine dinner, guests sat on the floor of an otherwise empty, mid-century house off of Highway 17 South in West Ashley. Boxy, foot-high “tables” held the place settings that night, when every meal course featured hot peppers. It was all part of Guerrilla Cuisine’s nod to cooking what’s local and in-season.

The mystery and momentum of changing chefs, locations and art continues. Potential guests can sign up anytime for e-mail updates,

Guerrilla logo

– Sandy Lang, May 2009


I am captivated by this time of year… the marsh grass is golden in clear evening light, bare branches of pecan trees stretch into the sky, flocks of red-winged blackbirds swirl over farm fields. There are indelible scenes everywhere. It’s a stark, beautiful season.

For a few years now, photographer Peter Frank Edwards and I have regularly explored the South in cooler months on assignments, and along the way have developed a personal project, “Winter South.”  Using some of the images from this project, last month we had a series of bookplates printed to share with friends and colleagues. (They are adhesive-backed, pretty nice quality.)  If you’d like a bookplate or two, just let me know.

– Sandy Lang, January 2009

T-Model Ford 2008 Clarksdale (PFEPhoto)

The music never seems to stop in Clarksdale, Mississippi. One morning there earlier this year, the first person we met on Delta Avenue was bluesman T-Model Ford, who was sitting in a folding chair eating eggs and toast from a foam tray, waiting for the Cat Head Delta Blues store to open.  He told us he’d been hired to play a sidewalk concert, and would sing and play guitar again at a festival later that day.  Right then though, it was just T-Model Ford, his wife, Stella, a couple of grandkids, and us. “When they find out I’m here, they gonna fill this place up,” the 80-something bluesman said. “Everybody wants to play with T-Model.”  And he was right.  As soon as he lifted his black Peavey guitar from the case (he calls it “Black Nanny”), a crowd started to fill from the just-empty streets, walking up and waiting for the music, which came slow, with devilish smiles, rasp and soul… like a mix of mud and fire.

I’ve written a story about our three nights in Mississippi to be published in early 2009.  While there, photographer Peter Frank Edwards and I also visited William Faulkner’s Rowan Oak and spent part of a pleasant morning with William Griffith, the curator there. I wanted to see more of the Mississippi places that have inspired so much writing and music.

Rowan Oak, bottletree 2008 (PFE)

Last week I was finishing final edits on the story when somehow, old T-Model turned up to play in a bar five miles from our house in South Carolina.  Of course we went to see.  This time he had a back-up band, and it all didn’t start until near midnight with amplifiers loud. The vibe was completely different, the crowd completely white. And in the dim and whiskey all I kept thinking was of other times, other places… the morning sun on a Mississippi sidewalk.

– Sandy Lang, December 2008

Comments Closed

Art, Craft, Literary, People, Travel

PRINT Dec. 2008 Regional Design Annual

Great news… the December issue of PRINT magazine – the 2008 Regional Design Annual – includes my business cards and letterhead as one of the best-designed print pieces in the South. Big congratulations goes to my friend Amy Pastre, who was the designer for this project.  Amy is also a co-founder of Sideshow Press, and she and I often collaborate on creative projects. This is our second work to be featured in a PRINT Regional Design Annual.

This from the PRINT website:

… the volume of entries into this year’s Regional Design Annual—a tribute to traditional media if there ever was one—attests to the value of print for delivering a tactile, portable, beautiful message that can be easily read, referenced, and archived. As the floodgates opened in April and the thousands of boxes arrived in our office so that we could sift through the tens of thousands of entries, eventually winnowing them down to this year’s final selections, we witnessed print in all its glory once again. For now, we’ll pause during the cacophony going on next door to toast this year’s 863 winners—and our cheers are still louder than the din.

Sandy Lang letterhead

Above are some samples, which aren’t done justice, of course, without holding the pieces in your hand.  Amy was able to include photography, letterpress printing, color and a star… all features on my wish list for the project. (Ever since creating my first business cards as a knock-off of a 1950s Elvis concert ticket, my collateral has always included a star.) If I haven’t yet given you one of my business or notecards – and you’d like one – please let me know.  Send your post address and I’ll put one in the mail. (No matter how much digital media grows, I’ll always be partial to the look and feel of type on paper, and to the U.S. Post… another classic.)

– Sandy Lang, November 2008

Comments Closed

Art, Craft, In print/published


Earlier this year, another website I worked on with Blue Ion went live (love the guys over there), and I’ve been clicking through it again today. I’ll attach a few screen grabs here. The site was for Seamon Whiteside + Associates, a well-respected South Carolina firm of engineers and landscape architects. From the first time we met and visited with SWA, it was clear that the pro staff has a sense of life and fun, even though the work is challenging. Throughout the site we tried to show their creative side, that human element. Here’s my opening copy

Beyond the blueprints and plans.

Beyond the regulations and codes.

Beyond the gravel and dirt.

We see people.

Other collaborators in the project were designer Courtney Gunter and photographer Peter Frank Edwards, along with David Wood, Robert Prioleau and the rest of the team at Blue Ion.



– Sandy Lang, November 2008

Comments Closed

Art, Craft, In print/published



New G&G is out


In the new issue of Garden & Gun I’ve got a nice little piece on Aaron Wells, who builds cypress strip boats in Live Oak, Florida.  (You can read the complete story online at G&G.)  The images of Aaron in Florida and the issue’s cornbread cover shot were taken by Peter Frank Edwards.  He shot the cornbread in Birmingham, AL back in July. I went with him to assist, getting to spend an afternoon with Frank Stitt at Highlands, and eat some very good roasted chicken at Niki’s West.  We also hit Full Moon BBQ… I wrote about that sweet-tang barbecue on an earlier post.  Good stuff.


In this issue, Peter Frank also has a gorgeous 10-page spread about Virginia Hunt Week.  You can see the hounds online here.

– October 2008, Sandy Lang

Image 01 Image 02 Image 03 Image 04