Posts tagged ‘letterpress’

January 26, 2014

Photo of my week #2

Friday night was the opening celebration of the third Leeds Print Festival, where I bumped into  Nick, my letterpress tutor and then enjoyed making this:

Leeds Print Festival letterpress

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January 17, 2014

Matt Sewell Print.

As we continue the journey of making our new flat feel like home, we’ve started creating and buying art and craft pieces that feel like ‘us’. My proudly made letterpress work hangs in the sitting room, together with a new print from Matt Sewell.

I had the very good fortune to meet Matt at a book launch and signing in Colours May Vary  last year, where he signed a copy of Our Garden Birds for me to give to my mum for Christmas. With the benefit of hindsight, I should have bought one for myself as it was definitely a gift I handed over begrudgingly!

Anyway, back then, I was painfully coveting one of his giclée bird prints for our home. Since we’ve moved into this flat we’ve both become avid bird watchers. I’m going to write about this a bit more in the coming weeks but suffice to say, I’m a little surprised by how important these little birds have become to us over such a short period of time.

This month, the prints were back in stock and in a rare ‘sod it’ moment, I went ahead and bought a blue tit print. We have many little blue tits dancing on the branches outside our home and so it felt like a very fitting choice. Needless to say, my collector’s mentality now wants a row of prints along the wall but for the moment this little guy will do very nicely indeed.

Matt Sewell print

Have you bought or made any new things for your home this month? I’d love to know…

September 20, 2013

Introduction to Letterpress.

Last weekend was one of the best experiences I’ve had for a long time. I spent two days at the West Yorkshire Print Workshop on an ‘Introduction to Letterpress’ course. I’d been waiting for it for months and by the time Saturday arrived I was a bundle of nerves. I’m not an artist of any kind and I didn’t quite know what I was letting myself in for!

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Thankfully, my nerves were unfounded, as I arrived to by met by my tutor, Nick, and a couple of other students, all of whom were utterly lovely. Nick’s teaching style was laid-back, inclusive and easy to follow and he put us at ease straight away. The facilities at the West Yorkshire Print Workshop are great – we had two print rooms and plenty of space for us to work in. The enormous ‘Imperial Press’, with the wooden type provided by Nick, enabled us to make big scale prints and the table-top Adana 8X5 presses in the other room were for smaller work. Two days later, I’d amassed a giant collection of prints, all made with the Imperial Press because I absolutely fell in love with creating images on such a large scale! The Adana can print with a far smaller type but it felt a bit fiddly for me, although I’d love to go back and have a play with it too.

Imperial Press

Modern letterpress, which has had a huge upsurge in popularity in recent years, often uses photo-polymer plates, with images made on a computer used to create brand-new plates for pressing with. However, all of the type we used was old, which gave it a wonderful tactile feel and created images that were made more lovely by their imperfections.

Things that we take for granted when typing on a computer require so much thought when creating in letterpress. Everything is mirror image, for a start, and you have to think about the spaces between rows of type (leading) and between words, so that things are readable and look correctly spaced out. All the negative space surrounding the words has to be considered and the type has to be locked into a frame (known as the chase) with leading and quoins so none of the letters fall out when you pick it up to take to the press. And this is before using tricky fonts and struggling to decide if the letter you have is the letter you think you have! No wonder that the phrase ‘mind your p’s and q’s’ came from letterpress…

I absolutely adored this course and found myself really absorbed in the process to the point where hours passed without notice. It’s a long time since I’ve felt that ‘flow’ and it was a definite sign to me that I need to spend more time with this rather challenging yet fascinating subject.

Letterpress Ink

At the end of the second day, I felt a bit like I’d only just got started and now am trying to work out how I can take this further, given my lack of any of the tools or equipment needed! I’m also looking through the list of courses at the Workshop and deciding what to try next.

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‘Never stop learning’ – detail from one of my prints.  Notice that I’ve got the ‘r’ in the wrong font! Not even trying for irony there…

For a ‘scanner’ like me, learning is truly addictive and this course has reignited my passion for study. And that’s made me very, very happy indeed…

September 18, 2013

Three Good Things: Week 9

Hello, and welcome to this week’s edition of Three Good Things!

As ever, this post is about finding the small things that make me happy and grateful for my life.

Last weekend, I did a two day course at the West Yorkshire Print Workshop, and so this week’s Three Good Things is heavily influenced by that experience…

One: Hello!

Hello letterpress print

I did loads of different prints on my course, and this one, which was the fastest to create, is a bit of a favourite. It’s a brighter lime green than it appears in this photo (taken in poor light), and will be framed to go on the wall in my new home.  I love the simplicity and the way that the old, wooden type has created imperfections in the print. To me, letterpress  (with old type, rather than new photopolymer plates) is a wonderful example of the Japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabi; the beauty in impermanence and imperfection. I’ll be blogging more about my experiences at the West Yorkshire Print Workshop on Friday!

Two: Uppercase.

Uppercase magazine

Uppercase magazine is a visual treat every issue. The special stationery issue in this photo was the final push in my decision to sign up for a letterpress course in the first place and I read every issue from cover to cover and keep them for inspiration. They describe themselves as ‘creative and curious’ to which I’d add joyful, colour-filled and uplifting.  Even, if, like me, you’re not already working in a creative industry, it’s really inspiring. It’s definitely influencing plans I’m dreaming up for the future and I’m already looking forward to the next ‘gem’ themed issue.

Uppercase is available from loads of places, but I buy mine from Colours May Vary.

Three: Just My Type.

Just My Type

This book about fonts is my current read. I’ve loved Simon Garfield since I read his beautifully edited trilogy of books based on Mass Observation diaries from before, during and after the Second World War, and I’m loving this just as much. He has a wonderful way of taking something that could be  rather a dry subject, and bringing it completely alive. I cannot pass a poster now without wondering about the font. He begins the book by discussing Comic Sans, which feels a bit like tackling the elephant in the font room straight away and now I’ve discovered that it’s really valued by dyslexic children, I’m feeling somewhat gentler towards it! It’s a great, fun and informative book that I highly recommend. Learning more about type and fonts is a great way for me to continue my education now I’ve done my introductory letterpress course. Now I just need to decide what’s next!

Now, I recommend that you hop over to  Espresso Coco  and Tonight’s Menu to see what they’ve chosen as their Three Good Things and then share what’s been making you smile this week in the comments. Or, if you’re a blogger too, I’d love you to join in with this series on your own blog!  Just let me know you’re writing it and I’ll make sure to link up with you next week…