Pages in Time: Pastotnik savors opportunity to create, share literature as art

Steven Tucker, Contributing Writer

Photo courtesy of Deep Wood Press

Chad Pastotnik puts the finishing touches on a book in his Deep Woods Press shop near Mancelona.


Photo courtesy of Deep Wood Press

Shown is a linocut illustration from the spread of Chad Pastotnik’s own book, “There Be Monsters.”


REGION – Deep in the woods near Mancelona, hidden in the thick, currently snow covered trees that surround the banks of the Cedar River, sits a small unassuming homestead. It’s an area that being immersed within is a trip back through time. It’s a quiet place. It’s a perfect place for contemplation. This is the home of Chad Pastotnik, a Michigan native and resident of the Cedar River for over 25 years.

At his home, and within his workshop, history is the present in a very unique way.

Pastotnik is an artist. More specifically, he is a fine bookmaker. As proprietor of Deep Wood Press, he makes the highest quality handcrafted books following centuries of human tradition. His books are prized by universities, museums and collectors worldwide.

Just as the Cedar River preserves nature as it was, Pastotnik preserves printmaking. Before printmaking, written material was done by hand. The history of his craft began in the 15th century when Gutenberg famously brought printed material to the masses with the printing press.

Individual letters were hand placed in the proper order, then pressed onto the desired medium. Undoubtedly, it was tedious work. When making a flier or newspaper, each page would be laid out, in reverse order, one letter at a time. Phrases such as “mind your p’s and q’s” and “out of sorts” once held literal meanings in this profession.

Things got easier in the late 19th century when Ottmar Mergenthaler invented the linotype machine. This technology allowed for the existence of things we often take for granted, such as a daily or weekly newspaper.

Organized drawers are filled with letters, numbers, and punctuation marks of all different sizes and fonts. Imagine every option on the toolbar of your word processing program in physical form.

Pastotnik uses a linotype machine from the 1960s. With this, he can cast each line of type (hence the name) in lead, instead of arranging individual letters. These lines of type can be used in a letterpress to essentially stamp each line onto a book.

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