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Heavy Duty Press
~ Wisconsin
(Michael Koppa)

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Michael Koppa: "The Heavy Duty Press endeavors to create and publish books with themes related to (but not limited to) thoughtful and sustainable living in the driftless region of southwestern Wisconsin and beyond, by human hand, with a strategically limited variety of typefaces and point sizes, and a singular flatbed cylinder press..”

For Dust I Am
By Beatrix Wren
Viroqua, Wisconsin: Heavy Duty Press, 2024. Edition of 44.

13.5 x 9.5 cm; 24 pages. Hand-set by the author in Centaur, featuring 16 point Solemnis on the title page. Printed on Zerkall Frankfurt Cream in two colors. Numbered. Bound in marbled papers over boards with cloth spine of purple brocade.

First poem by Beatrix Wren published by Heavy Duty Press. Hand-set, printed, and bound by Beatrix Wren as an independent study at Der Klubhaus during her final year of high school.

Michael Koppa: "My daughter, Beatrix, has taken to literature and creative writing, and as she was preparing for her final semester at Laurel High School here in Viroqua, Wisconsin, she asked if she could do an independent study at the Klubhaus to learn how to make a book—a book for a poem she wrote during a writing workshop last summer. Yes, of course.

“With my instruction and assistance, she completed all the typesetting and printing in two colors on eight folios (two sheets) of some of the last Zerkall Frankfurt Cream left in my inventory. Tragically, the Zerkall Paper Mill in Germany flooded in July 2021, ruining the machinery and forcing its closure. Upon hearing the news, I bought as much Frankfurt Cream as I could afford, and have been using it for a series of broadsides, and now this book, for which it is very apropos. I have enough left for a few small projects, and then it’s gone forever.

“After finishing the printing, she cut down the two sheets, folded the folios, collated the sections, punched the sewing stations, and assisted in covering the Davey Board covers with a beautiful Spanish marbled paper. She sewed about half of the 44 copies, and I finished the project by gluing them into the covers.

“I cannot express how sweet this book is, and how much I feel like it is, maybe, the most collectable book to come from this press. Profits from the sale of this book will go directly to her college fund."

My skin is the Bark of a Sycamore,
my lips, her Leaves.

My eyes are the birds who nest
in my arms, within this Breathing tree.

My mind is a Labyrinth,
my words, a Whispering wind;

my soul is the mourning Dove—
her Song, my Twin.

And my Heart,

my Heart is the Garden—
full of life and love.

And my Blood,

my Blood, the Mud—
full of warmth and rust.

My hands are Red Roses,
my sins, their Thorns—

my body, just a corpse,
but to Dust I shall Return.






For Dust I Am book
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Les Cocobopros
By Michael Koppa, Lisa Chun, Gary Ortman, William Cody, Musta Fior, Flore Kunst, Francine Martin, and Rhed Fawell
Viroqua, Wisconsin: Heavy Duty Press. Edition of 26.

102 full color collaborative collages, laser printed on acid free 70 lb Accent Text, in five 36-page books, measuring 178 x 127 mm, pamphlet stitched, with letterpress printed jackets of Stonehenge paper in five colors, in a one-of-kind archival slipcase, wrapped with a letterpress printed cover, proofs of pages from the booklets, and a reproduction of fine art selected from “World Famous Paintings”, edited by Rockwell Kent. Numbered.

Heavy Duty Press: "Cocoborpo is an acronymish word derived from an abbreviation of the phrase ‘collaborative collage book project,’ of which there are five, with seven collaging colleagues in North America and Europe.

“Each booklet includes 20 collages (with the exception of No. 4, which includes 22), collaboratively created through six exchanges of a package of ten 2-sided cards through the postal service, over the course of a year or two. The artists were invited to add or subtract from the collages, and return them in a suggested sequence, as if the cards would become pages in a book.

“These collaborations included no verbal or written communication. The artists were forced to relinquish control with each exchange, and respond to whatever came back from the hands and mind of another artist. The books are evidence of conversations with image selection, placement, and technique.

“Sans text, these books reveal the story of a creative process, and express ideas, emotions, and perspectives through the arrangement of cut and torn pieces of the printed ephemera we find in all corners of our lives. As collagists, we use printed (or not) found paper, and sometimes other media, to create subtly balanced compositions, expressing ourselves with apparent chaos. Or, perhaps, in the spirit of the Dadaists, we find beauty in the chaos resulting from random arrangements of the printed matter that clutters our world.

“At long last, five years after the project began, all of the cards have become book pages, and together they create this collection of five independently orchestrated collaborative collage book projects. As a suite, unified by their common format and structure, housed in an archival slipcase, ‘Les Cocobopros’ is one cohesive work of art, by eight artists who speak collage.”




Les Cocobopros book
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Understanding This Book
or Zen and the Art of Metal Type Maintenance or
Let’s See Your AI Do THIS
Viroqua, Wisconsin: Heavy Duty Press. Edition of 18.

28 x 23 cm, 20 pages. All sorts of antique Franklin Gothics printed in four colors with Spiffy the Vandercook on Hahnemuhle Biblio, Ingres, and Bugra (jacket) paper. Bound by hand with a simple pamphlet stitch into a Hahnemuhle Photo Rag cover, giclee printed with photographs documenting the process, tucked into a rigid Bugra jacket. Signed and numbered by the artist.

Michael Koppa: "When all my drawers of Franklin Gothic type needed to be cleaned, the mundane but necessary shop maintenance task turned into a book about the process. The result is a 20-page book featuring every last sort from nine California job cases of genuine ATF Franklin Gothic typefaces—maybe not older than the hills, but definitely older than me—in varying stages of wear, arranged according to a variety of strategies only likely to occur when composing individual metal types by hand.

"The final product of this very spontaneous and time-crunched project is a bold book conveying the frantic experience of creating it, while celebrating Franklin Gothic in a typographically jazzy manner.."



Understanding This Book
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8t Bags About The Natural World
By Michael Koppa
Viroqua, Wisconsin: Heavy Duty Press, 2022. Edition of 88.

11 x 7 cm; 28 pages. Printed in 4 colors. The handset type is primarily genuine ATF Century Expanded, Oldstyle, and Schoolbook, but also includes every last font of the type inventory held by The Heavy Duty Press as of January 2022. Printed silently with Spiffy the Vandercook SP 15 on Kitakata paper and bound by hand with a pamphlet stitch, tucked into Bugra covers, and slipped into muslin tea bags screen printed by The Factory in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Signed and numbered by Koppa.

Michael Koppa: "Eight quotations from eight tea bags amidst eighty Bags set in eighty fonts, annotated for reference in the title “Just my type: Specimens from the Type Store at Der Klubhaus”.

“One morning, while steeping my tea and reading an inspirational quotation, it occurred to me that it would be a sweet relief to create a simple a book comprised of a few tea bag quotes on a single sheet of paper. Lovely, another book in the queue. From that point on, I started saving the quotes, until I had enough to decide upon a theme. Easy: Nature.”

For more information and the back story of printing “8t Bags About The Natural World” see “The Long Story Behind the Short Book



8t Bags About The Natural World book
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Typesetting on a Winter's Afternoon
By Raymond Stanley Nelson, Jr.
Edited by Mike Koppa
Liberty, Wisconsin: Heavy Duty Press, 2018. Edition of 26.

6.5 x 4.5"; 80 pages including free end pages. Handset in 10 pt. Century Oldstyle. Title pages feature 18 & 36 pt Huxley Vertical. Printed on Zerkall Laid and Classic Crest uv/ultra II with Vandercook SP 15 29950. "Coptic stitch. End papers tucked in one-of-a-kind covers, constructed without adhesive, featuring folios from the 1923 Specimen Book and Catalogue of the American Type Founders Company. Numbered and signed by the printer. Signed by the author.

Mike Koppa: "This book is built around a manuscript found enclosed in a letter from Stan Nelson, then Curator of the Print and Graphic Arts Collection at the Smithsonian, in 1998. The story has been previously published in Parenthesis No. 3, in May 1999, within a section titled 'Fine Presses in the Next Millennium.'

"For almost 20 years, Stan’s story has been in mind as something that would make a fun book project. The shop had been idle in storage since 2004, and finally resurrected in its new home, dubbed Der Klubhaus at Holy Hollow, in 2016. Seasonal fulltime summer employment allows The Heavy Duty Press to be active only in the winter months, and serendipitously, 'Typesetting on a Winter’s Afternoon' became the perfect project to resurrect the letterpress operation.

"With permission, the original story has been slightly edited, omitting some of the more bleak perspectives regarding the outlook for the fine press movement in 1999. True to the title, the typesetting has been conducted on of winter afternoons.

"The book has been in production for three winters. First proofs were pulled in February 2017. The prototype book block and cover were built in January 2018, and most of the printing had been completed by the end of March 2018. The last bit of printing wrapped up in December 2018, and the binding was executed between the winter solstice of 2018 and the spring equinox of 2019."





Typesetting on a Winter's Afternoon book
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By Mike Koppa, Nikki Soppelsa, Bill Phillips, Flore Kunst, Susan Legind, Helene de Winter, Gary Ortman, Brandon Graham, Lisa Chun, Sammy Slabbinck, Filipa Sottomayor, Barbara Minch
Viroqua, Wisconsin: Heavy Duty Press, 2014. Edition of 40.

7.125 x 9.75"; 212 pages. Digitally printed on 80 lb. acid-free paper. Email correspondence set in Calibri. Poems, prose, and transcribed letter set in Century Schoolbook. Journal entries set in Courier. Case-bound with printed end sheets. Illustrated dust jacket collage by Nikki Soppelsa. Photography by Mike Koppa. Signed and numbered. Laid in a signed photograph by Mike Koppa.

Heavy Duty Press: "Thawt: noun, A period of simultaneous reflection and new growth following a freeze or hibernation, generally occurring between mid-February and mid-April in the northern hemisphere. His productive year began with a good thawt.

Thawt: book, A chronological collage of content, telling the story of a 60-day collaboration, between Mike Koppa and eleven artists and friends from around the world, during the thawing months of 2013. Thawt is a book about creativity, spontaneity, impulse, and action. The narrative is largely told through the correspondence between the contributing artists and the designer/publisher, interspersed with contributed prose, poetry, photography, and collage.

"Contributors include (in order of appearance): Nikki Soppelsa (U.S.A.), Bill Phillips (U.S.A.), Flore Kunst (France), Susan Legind (Italy), Helene de Winter (The Netherlands), Gary Ortman (U.S.A.), Brandon Graham (U.S.A.), Lisa Chun (U.S.A.), Sammy Slabbinck (Belgium), Filipa Sottomayor (Portugal), and Barbara Minch (U.S.A.).”

Michael Koppa: “A small group of collage artists I met through Facebook each received a series of photographs and an invitation to respond to them. I promised that if I received enough response from this spontaneous act to take the project further, it might become a book. Ultimately, I was able to enlist a handful of collagists from around the world, a few friends I had met through the internet in the days preceding my engagement with Facebook, and one friend from the earliest book-making ventures of this enterprise in 1996, to participate in the thawing of my frozen world – my world of isolation.”






Thawt book
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Is Our Children Learning?
Michael Koppa
Liberty, Wisconsin: Heavy Duty Press, 2004. Edition of 500 (250).

5.5 x 4.8" CD and pamphlet in standard CD jewel case. Letterpress printed jewel case insert and tray card designed by Koppa. Printed and bound by Sylvania Lark. Limited, signed and numbered edition of five hundred copies (but ended up only 250). Pamphlet: 4.6 x 4.6"; 16 pages. Linotype-set Century Schoolbook. Printed on European Hemp paper. Hand-stitched within a hand-set, asymmetrically designed, two-color-cover. Printed with moderate impression on 300 gsm Hahnemühle Copperplate.

Tray Card: Combines Linotype and hand-set type. Letterpress printed with two-colors on Classic Crest Super Smooth.

CD: 38 minute recording of music by Sylvania Lark. Mike Koppa, Heavy Duty Press proprietor, plays guitar and sings eight songs, privately recorded and produced. Signed & numbered. Recorded and produced by Sylvania Lark for Mello-Crisp Records at Lunik in Milwaukee and Heavy Duty Acres in Liberty, Wisconsin, in 2003.


Again, written by Sylvania Lark
Enterprise, written by Sylvania Lark
Blue Moon Revisited (Song for Elvis), written by Michael and Margo Timmins
Fever, written by Eddie Cooley and John Davenport
Is it real? written by Sylvania Lark
In the Garden, poetry by Emily Dickinson, music by Sylvania Lark
The Juncos, written by Sylvania Lark
Little Ol' Winedrinker Me, written by Hank Mills and Dick Jennings


Beth Bartos (voice); Vicki Hoffmann (piano and voice); Kev Koch (drums, percussion, voice); Katrina Koppa (voice); Mike Koppa (guitar, voice, keyboard, piano, percussion); Mike Lappen (saxophone, guitar); Glenn Maloney (bass); Gayle Schmidt (flute); Dave Shrank (drum); John Szatkowski (piano, organ, accordian); Dan S. Wang (guitar)

A collaborative project of Sylvania Lark and Michael Koppa. The project produced a full length debut CD from Sylvania Lark which included a collection of eight songs. Four are originals from Mike Koppa.

Heavy Duty Press: "Highlights include Enterprise, inspired by a woodpecker and the birth of a precious new life; the single, In the Garden, a melancholic interpretation of Emily Dickinson's poetry; and Fever, a rough-edged, slightly agonized version of Peggy Lee's sensual classic."

Michael Koppa: "I've always wanted to make a record of my songs so I asked a couple friends to do it with me (because I couldn't do it without their company or their equipment) and we made this record. Good times."





Is Our Children Learning? book
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or 32 lbs of Spartan
or How to Make Money with Worn-out Type

By Augustine Maxwell Jones
Concept, design, and printing by Michael Kopp
St. Francis, Wisconsin: 2002, Heavy Duty Press. Edition of 60.

16 pages printed with black and gold ink using the simple three-hole pamphlet stitch. Letterpress and screen printing. Signed and numbered by the artist.

This is the first concept book from Heavy Duty Press. The idea presented itself moments before dumping a case of worn-out and dirty 14-point Spartan in the hell box. The text was completely improvised in the composing room with the single goal of setting every last lead soldier in the case on his feet and printing a book with the entire army before turning it into the scrap yard for the current rate of 19 cents per pound. Useless engravings from the collection adorn each page. A challenge to read, it is about making the most out of junk.

For all typophiles.


Alchemy book

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Native Son at Home
Six sequential poems
By David Steingass
2000. Edition of 100.

24.5 x 16 cm; 56 pages. Letterpress printed in five ink colors on five colors of Hahnemuhle paper from Century Old style and members of the News Gothic type family. (Of historical note: These types were designed by Milwaukeean Morris Fuller Benton, who crafted 221 typefaces for American Type Founders between 1896 and 1937. Heavy Duty Press acquired a share of the original ATF fonts from letterpress preservationist Fritz Klinke.) Includes ten illustrations printed from zinc engravings.

Taken from the eleven "guidebook" sections of his saga Great Plains: A Prairie Love Song. An exceptionally well-printed, well-presented poem and a book successful in its visual representation and interpretation of the text. Steingass' language-vivid, rhythmic, subtly jazzy, alive with desire-crystallizes this tale of a man resurrecting a sense of self and place. With virtually no punctuation, he relies on line breaks and placement to cue the reading. He creates visual impact with long lines and hung lines that together range across the page creating texture out of text. The publisher's illustrative choices include unusually set and intermittent page numbers and repeated border and typographic elements that augment and anchor the simple line drawings at each section head.

A first handmade, letterpress-printed, limited edition from this "industrious" press. Handsomely composed, printerly edition.


Native Son at Home book
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Native Son at Home book
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Sold titles by Michael Koppa:  

Becoming Flight
By Paul Zarzyski
St. Francis, Wisconsin: 2004, Heavy Duty Press. Edition of 125.

240 x 130cm, with 92 pages. Printed with black, sky blue, and grass green inks. Poems and illustrations are printed, with minimal impression, on Classic Crest 80 lb super Smooth Text Paper. Six tabular throw-out pages of Hahnemüle Bugra envelope the poems and sort the illustrations. Pages from a commercially printed, middle-twentieth-century bird atlas function as flysheets, making each copy of the book unique, as well as unifying the edition. Pages are hand-bound with an exposed and handsome coptic stitch, between Spanish blue Leatherflex covers, and dressed in a bone-white jacket. Signed by both the poet and the press.

The book features five bird-related poems by Paul Zarzyski: Linguistics; Vischio; Bizarzaki - Mad Bard and Carpenter Savant of Manchester, Montana - Feeds the Finicky Birds; Vigil; and, Birds in the Stove. Sixteen illustrations by Milwaukee resident and non-wildlife bird painter Tom Stack complement Paul's poems through the book. A foreword by Northwoods Wisconsin writer, editor, and teacher Gennie Nord preludes the Heavy Duty Guide to Ornithology.
(SOLD/Out of Print)



Becoming Flight book

Becoming Flight book


By Michael Koppa
Viroqua, Wisconsin: 2006. Edition of 10.

48 page spiral bound book. Includes five perforated postcards with four-color digitally printed, computer-assisted, original collages on the front, and personal notations and observations by the artist on the reverse side. Afterword by Koppa's neighbor Jack Rath. Includes log documenting the evolution of the book.

Heavy Duty Press: "A book about trees - from hugging them to identifying them, to cutting them down and burning them up."

Michael Koppa: "In August 2001, we purchased four acres of hillside land in Southwest Wisconsin. An enormous red elm stood as the centerpiece, shading a well-groomed hillside. The tree dropped all of its leaves the following July, and they never came back. It remained incredible as it slowly shed its bark and dropped a few dangerous limbs. Eventually, the thrill of marveling at it turned to fear. We brought in a sawyer to top it in January 2004. What a mess. A heavy duty mess. So we organized it. A tornado tore through the hollow in August 2005, snapping two and a half stately shagbark hickories. With the help of family and friends we gathered the wood to a central location and split it. The three trees will be heating our house well into 2008. I love those trees. They were great. This book serves both as a memorial to those trees and as a personal journal."

Filbert Roth: "The man who has a piece of woodland where during the winter months he cuts firewood and fencing, and a few logs for the repair and building of improvements, and during certain years when prices are high cut some logs for the neighboring sawmill, but at the same time looks after the piece of woods, clears it of dead timber and other rubbish, thus keeping out fire and insects, and otherwise makes an effort to keep his land covered with forest - such a man practices forestry. His forest may be small or large, his way of doing things may be simple and imperfect, the trees may not be of the best kind for the particular locality or soil, they may not be as thrifty as they should and could be: but nevertheless here is a man who does not merely destroy the woods nor content himself with cutting down whatever he can sell, but one who cares for the woods as well as sees them, one who sows as well as harvests. He is a forester, and his work in the woods is forestry."
(SOLD/Out of Print)



Treehugger book

Treehugger book


Page last update: 05.20.2024


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