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Last weekend my wife Nicki and I were up in Nashville, TN for a Nashville Predators hockey game. They were playing the Winnipeg Jets on “Black Friday“, and won the game 5-1. Always a much more enjoyable¬†road trip to SMASHVILLE when the Preds win.

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While Nicki was taking shots of the Predators’ pregame on-ice warm ups downstairs, ¬†I was hanging out in the lobby watching Mark Howard and Terry “Crispy” Crisp do the pregame show on Fox Sports South.

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I joined in with some fans and a couple of the Nashville Predators Energy Team girls. The guy in the middle with the ballcap on came down from Winnipeg for the game. He said he hadn’t thought about ever visiting Nashville until he saw the past NHL All Star Game Weekend in Nashville (I still need to do a blog post about that trip). After watching that on TV he said he needed to come see the town for himself. We all were on TV behind Mark and Crispy. That was the first time I’ve gotten to do that and it was a lot of fun.

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Normally we head up on a Saturday morning, catch the game, spend the night, and drive back early Sunday afternoon. We have our usual spots to shop and eat while we’re up for a game (Rick’s Comic City, McNamara’s Irish Pub, Sports Seasons) and we visited¬†a couple of them when we hit town Friday afternoon. Since this was a holiday weekend and the Preds were playing on a Friday night, we decided to stay an extra day and play tourists on Saturday.

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When we got up on Saturday we were going to just grab some breakfast at the hotel, but decided to try someplace new. Nicki did a quick online search for places around town and found Yeast Nashville, which wasn’t too far from downtown. We left the airport area and headed north yeast, uh- north east. (805 Woodland St #300, Nashville, TN 37206)

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I’m so glad we skipped the hotel breakfast offerings and ate here. The kolaches were warm and delicious, and the coffee was outstanding. They had a great selection of other breakfast pastries, but we each tried the¬†sausage & cheese ones. I also had a cream cheese kolache¬†and Nicki had a cinnamon apple one.¬†Our breakfast¬†hit the spot on a chilly late November morning, and we headed on into the downtown area which a quick drive up the road and over the river.

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We had some time to kill so we walked down Broadway to the Cumberland River, took a few pics of it, the “Bat-Building“, Nissan Stadium (where the Tennessee Titans play), and then walked back up the other side towards Bridgestone Arena¬†and the Country Music Hall of Fame.

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One of the things I’ve always wanted to do but haven’t had time to do is visit Hatch Show Print. It’s an historic letterpress shop that’s been around Nashville since 1879. It was founded by brothers Charles and Herbert Hatch (as “CR and HH Hatch“) after their printmaker father William H. Hatch (who ran a print shop in Prescott, Wisconsin) moved his family to Nashville four years prior. They started off printing for traveling ministers,¬†circuses, minstrel shows,¬†vaudeville acts, and¬†carnivals, but became famous for printing posters for country music and rock performers such as Roy Acuff, Johnny Cash, Elvis, and many others. You can find out more about their long history here- hatchshowprint.com/history/hatch

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Letterpress printing¬†(technique of relief printing using a printingpress by which many copies are produced by repeated direct impression of an inked, raised surface against sheets or a continuous roll of paper) is a process that began in the middle 1400’s by Johannes Gutenberg. Much of the printing we see today is done as offset printing¬†¬†or¬†digital printing, but Hatch continues to not only do things the “old fashioned” way, but uses many of the original hand carved type fonts and images from the original shop as well as many of the old presses. One is so old that it originally ran on steam about 100 years ago!

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The shop has had a few previous locations, including one on Broadway which backed up to the historic Ryman AuditoriumРthe previous home of the Grand Ole Opry, but is now is a division of the Country Music Hall of Fame and located in the building as the hall of fame.

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It’s just a block or so away from Broadway off Demonbreun between 4th Street and 5th Street and¬†is located next to the new convention center and the Bridgestone Arena (where the Preds play and where the visitors center is located).

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I started screenprinting about 30 years ago, and have been involved in all sorts of silkscreen, offset, and digital printing– comic books, art prints, CD covers, stickers, tees, jackets, and more over the years. I always love visiting other print shops and this was the first time for me to experience one as unique as Hatch. I’ve never done any letterpress printing¬†like Hatch does.¬†The¬†closest I’ve ever come to doing any printing like this was an art project in the 7th grade where we cut out images using Styrofoam trays, painted them with acrylic paint, and then pressed them onto colored paper to transfer the paint.

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Nicki and I walked around the shop for a bit, then headed up to the Country Music Hall of Fame gift shop to kill some time until our tour group was scheduled to meet¬†in front of Hatch around 2:00’ish.

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About a dozen of us met up outside the shop and then were lead onto the actual print shop floor by one of our guides. We passed a couple old presses out in the retail shop on our way into the print shop space.

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I couldn’t help but wonder what iconic images and famous names¬†had been printed on them…

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Lots of varied types of posters covered the walls, and several current print runs were sitting around the shop in drying racks. Towards the back of the shop were several racks which were the home of the hand-carved wooden and linoleum blocks used for printing. Not only did several blocks shelved there date back to the early beginnings of the shop, but the shelves themselves were made of used wooden printing plates from years ago.

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We had two very knowledgeable tour guides and printing instructors. Both work in the print shop. The two wooden plates they are holding above were used to print posters for the Hoover/FDR presidential election of 1932.

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Each of those wooden blocks were hand carved (in reverse) and then used to print posters like the one above. The presses in the shop all have a lot of mileage on them. The press on the back right in the photo above is one that originally ran on steam, but was converted to use electricity and still runs today- pretty amazing..!

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It was great to actually hold some of the lettering blocks, and see the hand-carved individual fonts up close. Since each is made by hand, and since some wear and/or aging can occur, each letter has slight differences from the other letters like it. This can create a unique look for this type of printing.

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They only print up to 3 colors, and each poster has to dry between colors. This one was printed using yellow, cyan blue, and a magenta red. The inks can be mixed to be made more transparent, and can create additional colors by overlaying them on top of each other¬†(yellow+blue=green, etc.). Traditional offset printing is done using 4 color process (CMYK or cyan/magenta/yellow/black). The manual screenprinting press I run at work can do up to 6 colors on a garment, and we also have an 8 color automatic press. Any of our 4 color process jobs are usually done on the auto to keep them more uniform in color. When I was partners in a shop back in the ’90s we had 6 color and 8 color manual presses and did a lot of process and simulated process jobs on tees, as well as printing some 1 color stickers on a table top press.

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We got to ask a lot of questions while in the print shop, and learned some¬†terminology like “furniture”. Then it was time to head back to the classroom on the other side of the retail space where we got to learn more about Hatch’s history.

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They had lots more of their posters covering the walls of the classroom, and showed us examples of some of their earlier work and some of their more iconic posters like the Elvis one above (which I’ve owned a copy of before).
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One of my favorite posters on the wall was this Space Ghost one. Noticed it almost immediately after we walked in.

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Some of the other really cool posters were the two separate posters that created one image when put together- like this Ringo Starr poster that was for two separate dates/shows.
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One of the really interesting¬†things they shared with us was how they create photos plates for printing. Once done in-house using a photo, a dot pattern sheet, and a dark room, they now have this process outsourced. I’ve had to do something similar when I first started out in screenprinting back before we had scanners, personal computers, and Photoshop. Yeah, that was a long time ago when dinosaurs roamed the Earth…

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For me the coolest part of the classroom section¬†of the tour was getting to print our own 8″x10″ mini-poster.

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They had pre-printed two of the colors for us, so we inked up the red plate with a roller, placed our paper down, then ran the roller over it towards us in one direction.

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And, “VIOLA!”- instant art print!

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Everybody got to make their own print to take home with them.
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There’s my wife Nicki with her finished print. I know I print for a living and shouldn’t have had as much fun as I did, but I got a real kick out of trying something different for the first time. Will have to frame one of our prints to put up in our¬†house.

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Once we were done with the classroom the tour was over. We signed their guestbook and headed back out into the retail shop.
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There were lots of great posters to choose from, but I ended up purchasing a magnet, button, and a hardback book on the history of Hatch Show Print. If you ever get the chance to take this tour I highly recommend it! Tickets are $15ea for adults, and $10ea for kids, and private group tours are available, too. You can reserve a tour on-line.
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After Hatch we walked around the Country Music Hall of Fame lobby, did a little more shopping in the gift shop, grabbed a drink, and listened to some live music while we took a second to uploaded a few pics to Twitter and Facebook. We decided we’d do the Hall of Fame tour another time and headed back outdoors to explore downtown some more. Saw lots of street musicians (this one had his cat with him- no way I could do that with Lex), walked through the candy shop, and just kinda people watched.

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Oh, and speaking of people watchingРwe saw Jesus walking down Broadway..!

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One of my shopping bags was starting to tear so we dropped off our recent purchases to our car, then headed up the street for dinner at Puckett’s Gro. & Restaurant (500 Church St, Nashville, TN 37219). We met a couple of Boston Bruins fans while waiting for our table and had a good time talking hockey and Nashville¬†with them. Once inside the place it was pretty packed and the wait for our food was a bit long, which they told us it might be for the fried chicken. We went ahead and ordered some fried pickles and those kept us fed until our dinner arrived- which actually was quite good.

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After dinner we walked past Printers Alley and around the corner back to Broadway. Printers Alley is more like Bourbon Street or Beale Street these days, but at one time was a haven for numerous printing companies in Nashville. The printers are gone, but the name remains.

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Back on Broadway I took several shots of the numerous neon signs above the bars and shops- including the Tin Roof which is one of the previous locations for Hatch. It was getting darker and colder so we hiked up the street to our car. On the way back to our hotel we did a bit more shopping. The next morning we checked out of our hotel, drove around the corner to Panera Bread for a quick breakfast and coffee, then did a bit more shopping before we left town.

We enjoyed getting another chance to be tourists in Nashville again, and hope to be back up there soon. GO PREDS!

Lin

 

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Hatch Show Print
224 5th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37203
(615) 256-2805
hatchshowprint.com

 

(Additional photos in this blog by Nicki Workman)