January 27, 2011

Concrete Poetry

Being a Letterpress printer, I really do find the act of printing to be a tactile, sensual and beautiful thing. The way the letter or art forms are set up, the mixing of the ink, and the paper (in my case) hand-fed into the press is all just part of the process. There are so many factors that lead in to learning to print and THEN taking the next giant leap and deciding that youmustdothis for the rest of your life. I can certainly attest that it's not for the faint of heart— running such a business can certainly build some character (politely put on a rough day). Ideas, design, caring for your equipment, knowing your equipment like a part of your family are all another part of this everyday equation. A minor part, really. You can't really have a business at all without your clients.

With all of this being said, it's impossible for me to turn this part of my brain off in my down-time. Texture, letters, graphics and now, "hey—couldn't these sidewalk stamps be considered 'relief' printing?"— can all swim through my thoughts while I'm out and about.

While I'm certainly not the first person to consider the existence of Sidewalk Contractor Stamps, I do want to share a little of my daily environment with you. The above images were taken on a regular two-block walk in my neighborhood. We moved to Alameda, Calif. about a year ago, and I have to say, I have never, ever seen so many sidewalk stamps in my life. I absolutely love the one by L. J. Lorenzetti. While a quick google search told me that this business doesn't exist anymore, I love the fact that their business card lives on. I took a few liberties and added some of the civic stamps as well. My friend, Hannah, has a great blog featuring the stamps she has come across in and around Albany. She was recently contacted by a family member of one of the stampers and they sent her picture of the actual stamp here.

I poked around a little bit and found a company that still sells the current (polyurethane) stamps. About $150 here. I might just have to get one.
Take a look around. I'd love to see some pictures of stamps in your neck of the woods. xo Victoria


Major said...

I found your concrete stamp collection fascinating. My son’s maternal grandfather was LJ Lorenzetti for whom I worked when I got out of service in 1970. My father-in-law learned his trade from Nat Lena who was his mother’s cousin. Nat Lena came to this country from Italy in the early 1900s. He started in the concrete business eventually becoming a general contractor. one of his buildings is Corpus Christi Catholic Church on Park Blvd in Oakland. Lino J Lorenzetti left Nat Lena’s employ in the early 1950s and worked out of Alameda. Lino was also born in Italy but came to the US with his parents when he was an infant. His father Giorgio worked for Nat until Lino became a contractor at which time he went to work for his son Lino. I believe that Angelo Sposetto also worked for Nat Lena at one time. another name that you will see in Oakland and in the East Bay is Jardine. George Jardine also learned his trade while working for Nat Lena. He too later became a concrete contractor and had his business in Alameda. Another Alameda contractor was Aldo (AJ) Ferraro. His real love was making cement sculptures. All these men knew each other, were good friends, and when needed would help each other with jobs. My father-in-law Lino called them “his friendly competitors.” i would be remiss if I did not mention the Apodaca Brothers who were also from Alameda. The one brother who had his contractors license had worked for the City of Alameda, and I believe that is where he learned the trade. Just one final thought – all sidewalks and flat concrete work on public property had to be stamped with the contractor’s name and the date the concrete was laid. That was generally the very last thing that was done. I worked with all the above individuals except the Apodaca brothers. I worked full-time with my father-in-law LJ Lorenzetti from 1970 – 1971. In 1971 I went to work for the Alameda Police Dept and later became self-employed but still worked in the concrete business when I had the chance.

Milkfed Press Blog said...

Wow! I can not thank you enough for your thoughtful and interesting story. Thank you for taking the time to comment. Seriously. xo Victoria

Paul Pot said...

I remember a show I heard on KALX. It was all about the contractor stamps in Berkeley. It was a great story. The guest commented that a piece of history was lost when Berkeley told contractors that they couldn't stamp the sidewalks anymore. He also said where the location of the oldest sidewalk in Berkeley was, because it was dated. I have, of course forgotten where that was, but I have been looking for the stamps ever since.

Milkfed Press Blog said...

Thanks, Paul!
Small world. I think it is also you that is friends with Penelope, yes? Cheers!