Wayzgoose in Tacoma – April 27 & 28

By Morf Morford
Tacoma Daily Index

Tacoma has many one of a kind opportunities, commemorations and celebrations.

Some are unique to, or even originated with us, and some have historic – even mythological roots – and have been absorbed and reconfigured to fit Tacoma’s particular sensibilities.

One from the latter category is Wayzgoose, a celebration of printing hosted by King’s Books at 218 St. Helens Avenue,  Tacoma.

What is Wayzgoose? The simple answer is that you have to experience it to really know, but if you have not been there, imagine a blaze of color, paint, fabric and motion where ink, paint (and sometimes random objects) literally make their mark on every conceivable surface from postcards to T-shirts.

Even the standard alphabet takes on deeper significance when printed by hand. Photo: Morf Morford
Even the standard alphabet takes on deeper significance when printed by hand. Photo: Morf Morford

Supposedly it all began in 1681, when a boozy end of summer feast/party was hosted by a letterpress printer for his workers each year on or about St Bartholomew’s Day (24 August).

It marked the traditional end of summer and the start of the season of working by candlelight. Later, the word came to refer to an annual outing and dinner for the staff of a printing works or the printers on a newspaper.

The printing community embraced this annual tradition, often sharing a harvest goose… hence the name, Wayzgoose.

There is something almost eternal if not mythic about pressing ink onto paper. We literally make our mark on the world.

America the Printed

And you literally cannot do anything more “American” than print something.

Both North and South America take their name from Amerigo (also pronounced “Americus”) Vespucci, who was, yes, a printer who specialized in maps and was among the first to notice that what were to become known as North and South America were not, in fact, outlying land masses near Asia, but were in fact, distinct continents.

Like many others from Italy and Spain he explored the lands encountered by Columbus, but it is his name printed on his maps that assured his place in history.

Here is what he had to say about America in an excerpt from his journal (about 1497);

“In those southern parts I have found a continent more densely peopled and abounding in animals than our Europe Asia or Africa, and, in addition, a climate milder and more delightful than in any other region known to us”

Graphic courtesy of Tacoma Wayzgoose
Graphic courtesy of Tacoma Wayzgoose

Tacoma’s Wayzgoose

Tacoma holds an annual Wayzgoose event (this will be the 14th year) dubbed a “printer’s celebration”. This event, which includes a large-scale relief printing project using a steamroller, (where local artists carve 3 x 3 foot sheets of linoleum and print on giant paper) is designed to get the community interested and involved in the art of print making.

BYOT – Bring Your Own T-shirt

And by “involved” they really mean it – bring your not-best clothes – and maybe even a t-shirt or two to have a pattern of your own design printed on it.

Here is a place where you can learn an important principle of art – sometimes the process is more creative – and enjoyable – than the product – and the “mess-ups” might be more remarkable than any intended final product.

The “act of creation” in other words, is the literal act of creating. Kids know this and sometimes we adults need a little reminder.

What do you need to know or bring to this event?

You need to know where it is and bring your imagination – or maybe just your willingness to watch.

As Leonardo da Vinci put it “It’s only by observation and experimentation that we can ever learn the truth about something”.

Color, pattern and texture can do astounding things in the hands of an artist – or even someone just playing and exploring.

Come and splatter.

King’s Books at 218 St. Helens Avenue

April 27 & 28 2019

11:00 am to 4:00 pm

And if you miss this one, and can’t wait until next year, check out the Kitsap Wayzgoose, Labor Day Weekend in beautiful downtown Bremerton (https://wayzgoosekitsap.com/).


(1*)    The word “way” (from, “way house”) was one of several words meaning “inn” or “public house” and used as a term to describe a place, or setting, for a party or gathering.

(2*)    https://www.tacomawayzgoose.com/

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