Brent Bond on the Future of Printmaking and the Restoration of His 1960 Vandercook Press

Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Phoenix and help keep the future of New Times free.

For close to a decade, mice inside a Flagstaff barn owned by legendary artist James Turrell spent their filthy days colonizing a 1960 Vandercook printing press.

They were living inside of printmaking history -- a machine once owned and operated by California publishing house, Black Sparrow Press

The Vandercook Universal I was just one of Turrell's semi-retired presses that he hoped to restore. In fact a few years ago, the artist built a studio to house his collection. The problem, not enough space.

The solution, Scottsdale printmaker Brent Bond.

"James, man, unless you have a professional type shop, you're never going to have both those Vandercooks running," Bond says he mentioned while helping Turrell restore a few presses at his Flagstaff property. "You have more presses than you have space."

He was right, and Turrell agreed. The next day when Bond mentioned he'd been looking for a Vandercook of his own, Turrell offered one of his.

"I got it for a week's worth of labor," says Bond, who owns Santo Press, a printmaking studio at the Cattle Track Compound in Scottsdale. The master printer spent more than two years restoring the machine, and admits it's not even fully completed.

"There's a metal plate that goes on the back that I've yet to sand and paint. I wanted to get the press up and running because there're some adjustments you may need to make, and you have to take that plate off to do it. I didn't want to put the plate on before I knew everything was running fine."

Like printmaking, the restoration process is a lot of DIY-type work.  

"Unfortunately, while I have taught myself quite a few things from YouTube videos, restoring press is not a big category on that site," says Bond. "I'm mechanically inclined, and I was blessed with the fact that I did have a manual--didn't have full schematics, but it had about 75-percent of the schematics."

Spending an average of 5 to 10-hours a week, Bond transformed a one-car garage into press restoration headquarters. If he hit a speed bump, his friends and colleagues were always willing to help complete the project. Printmakers are incredibly collaborative by nature.

"[The work] is often on trade," Bond says, and admits passion trumps profits.

"I definitely don't do it to pay my bills; I do it out of love. A lot of my editions aren't in profit, and may never be in profit. But I still think they're great images, and it was a good experience."

Because printmaking -- particularly type press -- is a communicative tool, Bond says there will always be a demand for future printmakers (think business cards, concert fliers, wedding invitations, etc.).

"The press will easily outlive me if I just give it a little oil, and take care of it from time to time. Hopefully my sons will find some interest in the future to take it on after I pass on."

Visit Brent Bond's Santo Press and La Pequeña located "in the barn" of the Cattle Track Compound at 6105 Cattle Track, Scottsdale; (480) 242-1592.

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook 

Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.