Category : Letterpress

Editions – a coworking space for Seattle book artists

Sarah Mottaghinejad of Ink and Awl is establishing a coworking space for Seattle book artists – Editions (great name). It sounds like it’s going to be an amazing place – as a renter, you not only get access to equipment, but also to consumables like glue, thread, and ink.

She already has everything she needs to get it going right now, except for an etching press. And that’s where her Kickstarter comes in – Sarah hopes to raise $6,000.00 by October 30th so that she can purchase a press.

She’s got really cool rewards available for backers, like linoprints, custom letterpressed business cards, and a seat in one (or more) of her classes. And the bookbinder’s patchawesome.

Bookbinders Patch by Ink and Awl

She’s a bit more than halfway to her goal with just two weeks to go. You just know you want in on this.

You can learn more about the project by watching the video below.

You can also follow Sarah on Instagram to learn more about her work and the evolution of Editions.

Happy Letterpress Appreciation Day!

Today is Letterpress Appreciation Day, another one of those awesome holidays during which we’re not likely to be getting a day off from work.
Wood letterpress type
 The date of September 18th (9-18) was chosen for good reason – the standard height of wood and metal type is 0.918 inches. Quite nifty.
So how am I celebrating? Well, today marks yet another year of not using my own Kelsey 5×8 Excelsior Press Model U letterpress. I purchased it over 5 years ago. Bad Elissa.
It sits on my desk in my studio, taunting me on a daily basis. Use me…show me you care… 
Kelsey 5×8 Excelsior Press Model U letterpress
Maybe next year I’ll finally be able to say that I  gave it a go. 
If you’re looking for a way to celebrate (besides printing broadsides), why not get a Type High Tee Shirt? Not only is it produced by the folks behind the excellent film Pressing On, but it also gives you a guaranteed outfit for one day a year!

Letterpress type image by Mr Cup / Fabien Barral on Unsplash

Book Arts at Penland – Summer 2017

Trees with Penland School of Crafts text

I need to find a job where I get paid to take classes. That’s all I want to do – learn stuff. Seriously.

And Penland is killing me with its summer lineup of workshops.

Here are a few highlights (there are many more):

During Session 2 (June 11 – 23), Jessica Spring is teaching Daredevil Ephemera:

For printers and book artists, ephemera offers a sweet spot between mass-produced greeting cards and limited-edition books where form and content work together to elevate both. Inspired by vintage ephemera, we’ll master several folded bindings while also looking at structures designed in response to content. Folded structures offer an ideal surface for daredevil letterpress typesetting: exploring the use of traditional circular and angle quads, adapting existing tools, and experimenting with Daredevil Furniture (lasercut typesetting furniture designed at Springtide Press). Each student will complete a small edition of an artist’s book.

I’ve met Jessica on several occasions and she is wicked cool. And skilled. Taking a workshop with her would definitely be a fun experience.

During Session 4 (July 9 – 21), Matthew Shlian is teaching Paper Sculpture:

Students will explore the medium of paper as they create sculpture using paper engineering, kirigami, and paper craft as starting points. Using a combination of Tyvek and 100-lb text and 10-pt cover-weight stocks, students will learn the elements of paper mechanics and then apply them to books, collapsible structures, interactive kinetic design, and foldable sculpture. Techniques will include curve folding, pleating systems, and modular design. Students are encouraged to bring in their own imagery, photographs, technology, and other materials to work from.

I was lucky enough to handle some of Matthew’s work when he presented the keynote address at the Movable Book Society conference last year. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. Any knowledge he’d impart during a workshop would be well worth the price of admission.

During Summer Session 6 (August 13 – 25), Andrea Dezsö is teaching Pop-Up Artists’ Books:

Learn to make artists’ books that pop up, unfold, expand, and reveal; books that become theaters, platforms, movable structures, or interactive experiences. You’ll learn paper engineering to create movable books—first with simple structures and then with more complex ones. Then you’ll experiment with combining them in innovative ways and enhancing them with collage, drawing, or coloring. You’ll be encouraged to treat form and content as an interdependent whole as you create one-of-a-kind pop-up books. 

At the same time I was in Boston for the Movable Book Society conference, I visited the Pucker Gallery to view their show Of Light and Shadow: New Work by Andrea Dezsö (exhibition catalog). Her tunnel books are insane. The way she cuts paper. Damn.

I’m not surprised that I seem to be drawn to the workshops focusing on pop-ups and movable books. That MBS conference did a number on me.

Penland’s summer registration is open now. Applications are processed on a first-come/first-served basis.

Activist letterpress

In my 8+ years of blogging, I have made a point of not expressing my political views in my posts. I believe that everyone is entitled to their opinions and I’d rather not get into debates here – I want this to be a happy place.

That said, I have been in a major funk ever since Obama left office. I’m not happy with our current president for so many reasons. So.many.reasons.

I was really inspired by Montpelier letterpress printer and book artist Kelly McMahon of May Day Studio who recently hosted an event at her studio. Here’s the announcement:

Latest news got you down? Want to send a bit of thanks or good cheer (or a stern reminder) to your representatives?


Stop in to May Day Studio and print a postcard (or 10) from handset metal and wood type on one of our antique printing presses.

In general, I’m a reluctant activist but I thought, this I can do.

At the entrance to the studio, Kelly collected donations for organizations representing causes that are threatened by the current administration. Paper was donated by The Drawing Board (a local art shop) for the project.

Stacks of paper and donation jars

Type was ready to print in your choice of design – all awesome.

Letterpress type

Here’s the one I picked:

Letterpress type

Letterpress postcard ready for printing

I love silver ink and it looks so good on light blue paper.

Letterpress printed postcards

Kelly is currently selling a limited number of postcard sets on Etsy – Love and Protest. For a $5.00 donation to one of the specified organizations (ACLUPlanned Parenthood Northern New England Action Fund, Black Lives Matter VermontSierra Club, or Standing Rock), you can get your own set of 8 letterpress printed postcards.

I’ll be sending one of my postcards to the White House on March 15th as part of #TheIdesOfTrump protest. Now I just have to figure out what to write on it…

Penland 2017 spring session

Trees with Penland School of Crafts text

If you’re itching to do some learning next year, check out Penland – they’ve got an amazing lineup of book arts workshops and instructors for their 2017 spring session. Look and drool:

During Session 2 (April 9 – 15), Erin Keane is teaching Encaustic Books: Wax, Paper, Thread:

Wax nostalgic, wax poetic, wax philosophical, and wax creative. We’ll explore the use of encaustic painting in the creation of books and journals. Thin wood panels will be transformed into richly-layered and textured book covers. Papers infused with beeswax, imagery, and words will become journal pages, and these pages will be bound into tactile, tantalizing books. Daily demonstrations in encaustic, journaling, and bookbinding (Coptic/longstitch) will guide experimentation. Your books can be thematic, conceptual, or simply full of creative meanderings.

Dang, encaustic is cool – the depth you can create on a 2-dimensional surface is insane. This workshop would be a creative departure for me.

During Session 3 (April 23 – 29), Bhavna Mehta is teaching Cut, Fold, Sculpt:

The flatness of paper will serve as an inviting platform for the transformation of ideas. Students will explore cutting, folding, sewing, and manipulating paper. We will begin with simple exercises that will start to expand the medium of paper into objects and stories. Paying attention to color, shape, pattern, and texture, students will learn to take an idea, drawing, or story and translate it into paper using various cutting techniques, with an emphasis on the personal and the collaborative. We’ll discuss contemporary works and paper as a hot design medium.

I am totally in love with papercutting and this workshop would be a dream. Just look at Bhavna’s work – holy crap.

For the Spring Concentration (March 12 – May 5), Anne Covell is teaching Image as Narrative: Letterpress & the Artist’s Book:

This workshop will examine the material connection between image and narrative. Through experimenting with alternative print techniques on the Vandercook, we’ll investigate how mood and tone can be expressed through image and the sequencing of images. We’ll cover printing from found objects, collographs, carved surfaces, pressure print templates, and plates made from handmade negatives, just to name a few. Our experiments will be editioned and traded. Then we’ll move from two dimensions to three as we explore the interplay between image and structure through the creation of handprinted artists’ books. Binding options will include traditional book structures as well as movable and sculptural books.

Anne’s got skills. I wouldn’t mind hanging with her for eight weeks. Check out her beautiful artist book, Raking Light – it makes me nostalgic for Japan.

Registration is open now. Applications are processed on a first-come/first-served basis.

Penland 2016 fall session

Trees with Penland School of Crafts text

I visited the Penland School of Crafts for a CERF board meeting, back when I worked there a million years ago. The place is gorgeous. The fact that I was there and it wasn’t for a workshop haunts me to this day.

I’ve got Penland on my Book Arts Bucket List – one day I’ll get back there. This I vow.

They’ve got an amazing lineup of book arts workshops and instructors for their 2016 fall session. Check ’em out:

During Session 2 (October 23 – 29), Mary Uthuppuru is teaching Box Making for Book Artists:

Students in this workshop will create modified clamshell boxes. We’ll discuss how boxes can reflect the nature of the items stored inside while maintaining a cohesive design. Decorative techniques will include raised and recessed surfaces, stenciling, and wrapping curved board edges. While the goal is to learn how to build a specific structure, students will be encouraged to experiment and create components of the project according to their own ideas and inspirations.

I could so use a box making class – I’ve dabbled in it, but my skill set needs work.

During Session 3 (November 6 – 12), Bryce McCloud is teaching Analogue Social Media:

This workshop will tap into the power of printmaking as a handmade social medium. Working with relief printing’s ability to create multiple images, our mission will be to find novel ways to work together and interact with a community. Like playful scientists we’ll create socially-driven printmaking experiments, imagine ways to involve people outside of our studio, and then use the community at Penland as our testing ground. We’ll brainstorm and refine ideas that may be realized during the session or at other times and places. We’ll cover relief printmaking skills and discuss other tactics for engaging the public with your work when you head home.

Check out Bryce’s website – you can feel the spirit in his work. I’m particularly fond of the print he created for the Southern Artisan Cheese Festival. Hooray for cheese!

For the Fall Concentration (September 25 – November 18), Daniel Essig is teaching Books, Relics, Curiosities:

This workshop will use wood to explore and honor elements of the book. After learning the basics of woodshop safety and tool use, we’ll investigate the infinite possibilities of book-based sculpture. Techniques will include carving, turning, burning, sanding, altering, distressing, painting, and bookbinding. Students will be encouraged to collaborate and to explore alternative materials. They can expect to complete a series of book sculptures. We’ll have daily demonstrations as well as discussions of historic and contemporary book forms. Everyone is welcome: book artists, woodworkers, curious beginners, etc.

If I just could get to Penland this fall, I’d be able to cross both that and Dan Essig off my bucket list. Can someone stop time for me so I won’t miss work while I take this workshop?

Registration is open now. Applications are processed on a first-come/first-served basis.

Wells Book Arts Summer Institute 2016

Wells College Book Arts logo

The Wells Book Arts Center recently announced their 2016 Summer Institute

Here’s their fantastic lineup:

Week 1 – July 17-23:

Week 2 – July 24-30:

I’ve decided to forgo PBI this year, so going to Wells would be a nice alternative. Not only are the courses drool-worthy and the instructors top-notch, but I also wouldn’t have to fly to get there (only 6ish hours of driving). And if I go to Wells, I’d be able to finally cross something off my Book Arts Bucket List.

I’m very tempted to take Karen’s leather course. Not only because I desperately need to work on my leather skills, but also because Karen is a really fun instructor. Here’s the full description:

The basic structure of a fine leather binding has changed little over the past 300 years. The text block is sewn onto supports, the spine carefully shaped, and the boards laced on. The book is covered in leather that has been precision-pared for protection, flexibility, and a sumptuous presentation. Students will build a solid foundation in fundamental binding and leather-working skills including sewing, rounding, backing, paring, and covering and will also develop the connoisseurship required to evaluate their own work for continued independent study. The course is also a valuable refresher for more advanced students who would like feedback on their technique. Students will complete one leather binding with sewn endbands, and experiment with tooling and multiple onlay techniques. Additional luxury features will be discussed, along with the evolution of the craft from Medieval to contemporary methods.

I could go the letterpress route instead – it would be great for me to increase my comfort level enough to actually use my Kelsey. Besides, who can resist something called Daredevil Letterpress?

Students will focus on typesetting and printing techniques that move beyond straight lines and right angles to set type that curves, angles and bounces. We’ll begin by exploring historic methods and tools for handset typographic composition including circular and angle quads. Because these tools have become increasingly difficult to find, we’ll adapt materials from art supply and hardware stores for manipulating type and creating dynamic lock ups on both platen and cylinder presses. We will also experiment with Daredevil Furniture, sets of lasercut furniture designed for type composition. While our focus is daredevil typesetting, we’ll cover innovative approaches to ink, paper, and production too. Students will create a collaborative book and a set of editioned prints to exchange. This workshop is appropriate for those with some letterpress printing experience who want to expand their approach to typesetting and printing.

So I’ve got some thinking to do.

Registration is open now – maybe I’ll see you in New York!

Many thanks to the Wells Book Arts Summer Institute for granting permission for use of their lovely logo!

Book Arts at Haystack 2016

Haystack 2016 catalogI just received the 2016 catalog of workshops from the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts. Detailed workshop information won’t be posted online until January 1st, so you’re getting an early sneak peek!

There are a couple workshops of note that are bookish:

During session two (June 26 – July 8), Rebecca Goodale is teaching Artist’s Books: The Balancing Act of Concept and Form. Here’s the description:

At every turn you will discover a myriad of choices all leading the way to success. The rich complexity of the artist’s book involves rhythm, pace, and form and is driven by a desire to express an idea and/or narrative over and across the pages. In this workshop participants will develop a vocabulary of book structures and then consider appropriate concepts to use with those forms. Demonstrations, design exercises, and various book arts techniques (including binding) will engage participants at all levels.

Rebecca’s workshop is sure to be wonderful – she’s got skills. She works as the coordinator for the Kate Cheney Chappell ’83 Center for Book Arts at the University of Southern Maine (their programming is fantastic). Her creative work focuses on Maine’s endangered/threatened flora and fauna – check out her collaborative project inspired by leafcutter ants.

Although it’s categorized as a Graphics workshop, there’s another book arts-y offering during session four (July 31 – August 12) – A Letterpress, an Artist’ Book, and some text walk into a bar… (hello, best title ever) with Erin Sweeney

Here are the details on her workshop:

This intensive workshop will focus on the depth and breadth of the artists’ book. Participants will learn a variety of printmaking techniques using a Kelsey platen press and a Showcard proof press, experimenting with alternative materials, as well as type, to create imagery. Using materials we have created, we will construct several artists’ books – these structures will combine traditional techniques (folding, binding) and materials with innovative structures. We will also work with text – generated through several simple prompts – and look to house image, text, and objects in new and surprising ways. Students will also have the opportunity to collaborate, and the emphasis will be on fun and experimentation.

Erin received her MFA in Book Arts and Printmaking from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia (hello, jealous). I met Erin at the Paper and Book Intensive a few years ago. Not only is she an amazing artist, but she’s totally adorable (translate: she must be a fun teacher).

Haystack is accepting applications now through April 1st.

FYI: Workshops aren’t first come, first served – they hold all applications until the deadline, after which they review them and assign students. Be sure to put some serious thought into your application!

Cottage Street Studios open house

The day after I visited the Northampton Book and Book Arts Fair, I headed out to the Montague Book Mill, a fantastic book store that I frequented when I was in graduate school.

My route took me through Easthampton, MA and I came across the Cottage Street Studios. It took me a while to realize the fact that I had been there before. The building houses the Garage Annex School, founded by Daniel Kelm. I attended two workshops there, one with Hedi Kyle (Stationery Departures) in 2005 and another with Julie Chen (Artists’ Books: Ideas, Actions, & Transformations) in 2008.

Cottage Street Studios in Easthampton, MA

A sign out front announced that there was an open studio event that day. I wasn’t planning on stopping until I saw Peter Geraty’s (Praxis Bindery) name on the building. I finally decided to pull over and check it out.

The building has an interesting history. It was built in 1859 and operated as a water-powered mill until the mid-seventies. In 1976, the building was sold to Riverside Industries for $1.00. Riverside offers a range of services to adults with developmental disabilities. More than 80 artists now have studios in the building, with Riverside as their landlord.

It turns out that there are quite a few bookbinders with studios in the building, including Sarah Creighton, Stephanie Gibbs, and Mark Tomlinson. None of them were open for the tour.

And sadly, Peter Geraty’s studio was not open either. I decided to explore the building anyway. The tour had awesome letterpress signage to help guide you through the building (which was massive).

Letterpress sign by Big Wheel Press

You walk through long hallways to get to the various studios. It was an adventure!

Hallway in Cottage Street Studios in Easthampton, MA

I came across Daniel’s studio, which was also closed. No bookbinders for me today. 🙁

Sign on Daniel Kelm studio door

I made my way up to the fifth floor and discovered the letterpress studio of Bill Muller – Big Wheel Press.

It.was.huge. And clean! His studio could eat my studio many times over. I have no idea how he got all of the heavy equipment up there. I’m not sure what all of those machines do, but I want them.

Big Wheel Press - letterpress shop

Big Wheel Press - letterpress shop

I bought this awesome broadside – it was in a pile of seconds. It was trimmed funky (the others didn’t look like this one). It had to be mine.

Letterpress broadside by Big Wheel Press

I’m looking forward to getting it framed and hanging in my studio!

Botanical Inklings – An awesome Kickstarter project

Sarah 1

Experienced letterpress printer and fellow book artist Sarah Mottaghinejad of Ink and Awl has launched a nifty Kickstarter project. Botanical Inklings will be a be a coloring book like no other – it’s going to be letterpress printed on watercolor paper.

This is just brilliant.

If you’re into coloring books, now you can use any media you want – watercolors, ink, über markers – oh yeah, this paper can take it.

Sarah 6

Sarah 4

Sarah’s illustrations are inspired by her love for plant life and work in macro photography. Even without having colored them in, I think that the prints are totally frameable.

Sarah 8

Sarah 2

The rewards Sarah’s offering are pretty fantastic. I went for the unbound package, which includes 16 different illustrations. You can also choose a handbound copy of the prints. And if that weren’t enough, one of the rewards offers you the opportunity to participate in the design of one of the prints – you choose a word and a few plants and Sarah will create a custom illustration for you.

So very cool.

Sarah 7

Sarah 5

You can follow Sarah’s creative process on Instagram, where she’s been posting images of her sketches (including those custom-designed for backers).

Sarah 9

Sarah 3

The Kickstarter campaign is running now through December 1st (until 2:59 a.m. EST, to be precise), so head on over and check out the project. And support it!

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