Let’s See That Printed: Eleonore Lee’s Printing Tribute to Freddie Mercury

Sometimes the words on a person’s platemaking order just leap off the page and catch our attention. That was true with Eleonore Lee’s curving and falling text layout. Add in that they were lyrics by Queen’s Freddie Mercury and we just “had to see that printed”.  We hope this strikes a chord with you too.

Eleonore Lee's "Lover Of Life, Singer of Songs" fine art print tribute to Freddie Mercury of Queen strikes a chord with the heart.
Eleonore Lee's "Lover Of Life, Singer of Songs" fine art print tribute to Freddie Mercury of Queen strikes a chord with the heart.

In spring 2017, the Fine Press Book Association sent out a call for entries for their annual fundraising portfolio.  Since I already had a huge project to complete before heading off on a trip, it seemed fitting to add another project to my docket.  

Eleonore Lee's "Lover Of Life, Singer of Songs" fine art print tribute to Freddie Mercury of Queen strikes a chord with the heart.

This project was especially enticing as it would support their fine press journal, Parenthesis, and the portfolio would be shared among other printers. Last year was a year in which I was re-discovering myself after a good decade of hardcore parenting. An exchange portfolio would allow others to discover me too.

Eleonore Lee's "Lover Of Life, Singer of Songs" fine art print tribute to Freddie Mercury of Queen strikes a chord with the heart.

Like a lot of printmakers, I am a sucker for exchange portfolios. Something I particularly appreciate about letterpress and handmade paper exchanges is that they are a lot more lenient about format. The parameters for this portfolio were generous … produce 125 prints. Within these parameters, it was definitely possible to consider a less likely subject matter.

If you do not know, most often Fine Press work has a tendency to publish known and lauded dead poets. Always the contrarian, I felt like shaking it up a little with less-predictable words. My work aims to ask questions or bring attention to something you might not usually notice.  

Because music means so much to me, I have been considering making art about the music that pervades my life. Whilst at work I am known as “that person who wears their headphones and sings out loud”.  One epic late night, two BFA students and I had a lot of paper to make. We loudly sang through 2 CDs of Queen’s Greatest hits. That was my inspiration.

Eleonore Lee's "Lover Of Life, Singer of Songs" fine art print tribute to Freddie Mercury of Queen strikes a chord with the heart.

I was not a huge Queen fan in my youth, finding Freddie overwhelmingly exuberant. However, I grew into Queen. I learned the lyrics intimately in the same way that I spend a lot of time with the poems I work with. Singing along both joyfully and studiously, so that I could be as accurate as possible with the pacing and the sounds. By including the breaths, the uh’s and drawn out syllables, the project was most enjoyable.

I also revelled in the details: The paper is Neenah’s Flash Pearl Starwhite. Not only is it shiny pearlescent like some of Freddie’s leggings, but it also covers Flash, for Flash Gordon’s theme song, by Queen.

The font is Montserrat. Freddie had a dream to perform with and finally collaborated with Montserrat Caballé on the album Barcelona. And of course, I did my research: Freddie loved red and yellow, bold loud colors. The rhythm of the song is included in the yellow and red dots. They are foam dots, with 2” dots representing a full beat, 1” dots a half beat and ½” dots a ¼ beat.

I wanted a mix of more iconic images of Freddie as well as images from his videos. I chose the song because the lyrics combined with the video spoke volumes about Freddie.

He lived flamboyantly and boldly in public, at a time when being gay was a crime in most countries. In ‘I want to Break Free’ the band appears dressed as working class women. We first see Brian May wake up, with curlers in his hair, very rapidly followed by a hairy arm wearing bangles brandishing a vacuum. After a few swipes, all of Freddie scurries out boldly, staring right at the camera and gives us a brief, contented smirk before proceeding with some very sexy vacuuming (to the music). He dances and sings and winks appearing to enjoy himself a lot. It may seem run-of-the-mill today. It was bold back then, especially for a shy, cat-loving man wrestling with his sexuality. All of these words and images worked well on the tri-fold design I had in mind.

Eleonore Lee's "Lover Of Life, Singer of Songs" fine art print tribute to Freddie Mercury of Queen strikes a chord with the heart.

Although the images have enough small details and fine lines, I would never have attempted type with such fine details so I thank Boxcar Press for the plates. They also provided a fine press discount on the plates for this project.  

I hope others in this exchange enjoyed this project as much as I did envisioning and printing it.
You can learn more about Eleonore’s project with Parentheses at  FPBA.com.




Printing Reality with Lauren Emeritz of Abstract Orange

Graphic designer & printer Lauren Emeritz creates brilliantly colored fine artists books & punchy prints. Lauren talks about teaching printing at an area Community Art Center, creating artists books, and introducing many to letterpress at events in the Capitol area.

FOR THE LOVE OF LETTERPRESS  

I am a graphic designer, letterpress printer, and book artist in Washington, DC and have always loved type and printing. While attending the University of Delaware, they were beginning to set up a print shop. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to print. Now Pyramid Atlantic Art Center is my go-to print place.

Emeritz Lauren ( Washington, D.C. ) letterpress prints beautiful hand-crafted fine editions artists books.

(Letterpress Demo at the Smithsonian Solstice Saturday Event)

PRINT FOR THE COMMUNITY

I print at the amazing community art center – Pyramid Atlantic Art Center (PAAC). Unique to the DC-area, PAAC offers workshops on how to learn to print, and the rental of presses to print on your own. I discovered PAAC at their Biennial Book Arts Fair. This fair is home to beautiful art made by hand. But ultimately, this created a spark in me to reconnect with making art by hand. 

Emeritz Lauren ( Washington, D.C. ) letterpress prints beautiful hand-crafted fine editions artists books.

ART ON THE HILL

I live in DC, so there is lots of cool artsy stuff. I love the Smithsonian Art Museums, the National Gallery of Art, the Library of Congress — they have so much amazing art and printed pieces! The Library of Congress was on my bucket list for a number of years. I finally made it there for an American Printing History Association (APHA) event. It was awesome and now I try to go back every couple of months. 

PRINTING MENTORS

Ray and Jill at Lead Graffiti do cool work and love to share their knowledge. Vince Frost is a graphic designer who used a lot of wood type in his designs. When I teach at Pyramid I get inspired by the people in class. I get to share my passion for letterpress: type, ink, paper, and printing with people who may love it too or may not have done it before. It is always fun to see new ideas and the directions people explore.

I did an internship at Hatch Show Print in December 2017 and it was wonderful to have access to so much wood type — one of the first things that I loved about letterpress. The people were so creative and friendly and the shop was AMAZING – I highly recommend a journey there! I would love to go back for an artist residency sometime. 

Emeritz Lauren ( Washington, D.C. ) letterpress prints beautiful hand-crafted fine editions artists books.
Emeritz Lauren ( Washington, D.C. ) letterpress prints beautiful hand-crafted fine editions artists books.

PART TIME PRINTER, FULL TIME FUN

My primary job is as a graphic designer for my company Abstract Orange. I enjoy printing and I do it mostly for fun. While I would love to do it full-time, I am concerned that if I printed commercially it might lose the satisfaction. Teaching at Pyramid keeps me fresh and experimenting. When I letterpress now, I use a combination of techniques. For small text and logos I usually use polymer. For hand-drawn type I usually carve linoleum or wood blocks. Each process has it advantages and I try to be intentional in my process, using the one that will best suit my goals for the project.

PRINTING FEATS

I made a Hand-Carved Alphabet book that I sold to the Library of Congress. At one of the APHA events, I sold my book to their special collections. It was one of the most exciting and validating events in my life. I started the project several years earlier without any particular goals or directions. Through a series of events, the book ended up in a show on a table next to works by Edward Gorey and Frederic Goudy! As a type nerd, Goudy has a special place in my heart!

I picked-up my bookmaking skills from a number of places along the way.  I started with different portfolio books at University of Delaware; workshops at Hamilton Wayzgoose; Ladies of Letterpress conferences, New York Center for the Book, GW Corcoran, and AIGA DC. The bookbinding associates at PAAC are always amazing and helpful.

Emeritz Lauren ( Washington, D.C. ) letterpress prints beautiful hand-crafted fine editions artists books.

(This is the artist book I carved, printed, bound and sold to the Library of Congress. (uses polymer for the colophon page)

PRESS HISTORY

My first press was probably my hands. I loved making rubbings. I own a Vandercook 99 (that is one without an inking system). My Vandercook 99 lives in my basement. I print on it sometimes, usually small runs or irregular things you couldn’t print on a larger Vandercook, such as round coasters. I have also used it for printing demos/workshops at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Renwick Gallery, and Shop Made in DC. Because it is smaller and only 110 lbs, it is fairly portable for demos.

Emeritz Lauren ( Washington, D.C. ) letterpress prints beautiful hand-crafted fine editions artists books.

BOXCAR PRESS’ ROLE

Boxcar Press really revolutionized letterpress printing. I realized at some point that things were being letterpress printed using fonts that were more modern than lead type. Next, I figured there had to be a way to print modern computer designs on the letterpress — and I found Boxcar Press! I love the merging of old and new technology and combining my computer design skills with hands-on printing techniques. I tell my students who are interested in polymer to check out Boxcar Press because they “invented the system” we use to print polymer.

FAVORITE INK COLOR

At the moment, I have been printing some neon orange lately. It is lots of fun!

Emeritz Lauren ( Washington, D.C. ) letterpress prints beautiful hand-crafted fine editions artists books.

WHAT’S NEXT

Very recently, I did a letterpress printing demo with the Smithsonian American Art Museum to celebrate the Solstice. I’ve also taught a Hand-Carved Type Workshop at the Ladies of Letterpress Conference in October 2018.

I am not sure where 2019 will take me, but I am excited about the possibilities! 

2018 Seattle Children’s Hospital Broadsides: Part 2

Part two in this year’s Broadside blog series highlights more of the beautiful art prints from the printers and writers who came together in the 2018 Seattle Children’s Hospital Broadsides project. The Writers in the Schools program (WITS – a poetry program created by Sierra Nelson and Ann Teplick), the School of Visual Concepts, and long-term patients at Seattle Children’s Hospital all joined creative forces to produce original stories that come to life in beautifully crafts printed works. Sarah Kulfan reflects on this year’s printing experience of adding in fun & color to their special young writer’s words.

“I am always blown away by the talent and commitment of our young poets and this group of printers. Many have been involved with this project every year. Its an honor to be a part of this amazing collaboration. I am grateful for the support of business partners like Boxcar Press who help fuel this creative endeavor from the beginning.”

2018 Childrens Broadsides -IMG12018 Childrens Broadsides

Sarah Kulfan

There are a couple of lines from the poem by Amanda Longees, Age 11, titled Beliefs, that inspire the forest and tree theme illustrations. My goal was to create a broadside that was bright and optimistic. In the first print pass, I created a split fountain gradient that represents the rising morning sun. With a design perspective of looking out across the treetops, there is a sense of spiritual uplifting. Which also reflects the title of the poem. 

With the tree element design, it was only natural to include a wood type for the title. I worked with Boxcar Press to create plates for the poem and colophon.

Sarah Kulfan Boxcar Press 2018 Seattle Children's Broadsides

The reduction cut process includes a total of 4 colors. Each color is a successive layer that is carved from the same block.

Sarah Kulfan Boxcar Press 2018 Seattle Children's Broadsides

The colors typically go from light to dark. This year’s challenge for myself was to print a full bleed and a gradient on a portrait style broadside. Which includes several rounds of careful trimming, and maxing out my press’ sheet size in order to make that directional gradient work.

Sarah Kulfan Boxcar Press 2018 Seattle Children's Broadsides

The talent and commitment of our young poets and group of printers are impressive. It is an honor to be a part of this amazing collaboration effort. I am grateful for the support of business partners like Boxcar Press – who help fuel this creative endeavor from the beginning.

Heidi Hespelt

This year’s broadside design illustrates a poem written by Ella Joy Won, Age 7, titled The Secret Place. Ella is a “sparkly girl,” and the design reflects this through the incorporation of bright colors and metallic inks. The printing of the poem starts with text which uses polymer plates from Boxcar Press. Next, is the artwork. This piece, in particular, there were 7 passes through the press. The press used a large reduction linoleum block that carves away sections of the block between each color pass.

Heidi Hespelt 2018 Seattle Children's Broadsides Boxcar Press

Printing silver over a blue background for the first cut on reduction block. Carving away the things that I want to stay medium blue and then next is the teal layer…

Heidi Hespelt 2018 Seattle Children's Broadsides Boxcar Press

Next, printing the gold pass. Followed by mixing ink for the purple coloring for its pass. Finally, I will print the text and trim the paper.

Heidi Hespelt 2018 Seattle Children's Broadsides Boxcar Press

Amy Redmond

As a letterpress instructor at the School of Visual Concepts, it’s a real joy to see students evolve from fledgling ink slingers into skilled printers, and this Broadside project represents a milestone in that journey. There are many new names on this project’s list of printers this year, but by no means are they new to the press. This year the stars finally aligned for them to join this kind-hearted & generous group, raising the bar of talent even higher than before.

Amy Redmond letterpress Seattle Children's Broadsides project.(Above: Photo courtesy of “Carrie Radford / Radford Creative”)

When first reading, A Lion by Rowan Delloway, Age 6, I was struck by how much power just a few words carry. Looking beyond the face value of his admiration of a lion, I interpret the lines “so you don’t run from anything / because no one can hurt you” as representing Rowan’s own fierce determination and strength. This concept was my guide through the design process to include bold elements and a careful use of color.

Amy Redmond letterpress Seattle Children's Broadsides project.(All other photography courtesy of Amy Redmond.)

It would be easy to show the lion’s power through a literal translation of Rowan’s words. However, after making some quick thumbnail sketches, I chose to illustrate it through a display of calm confidence.

The lion may be at rest — claws in, tail curled around its body — but its one watchful eye says, “Think twice before you make your move.” I imagine it protecting Rowan, watching over him… ready to pounce and unleash that power upon any threat to his well-being. The first rough layout sketch was effortless. In contrast to how my process usually goes. When looking back at my choice to sketch on top of make-ready tells me I really didn’t expect that to happen.

Amy Redmond letterpress Seattle Children's Broadsides project.

I wasn’t sure if I would be able to capture that energy if I redrew it again. Instead, I used a thick charcoal pencil to rework the sketch on top of the original. When I removed the tape that was masking my margins and lifted the page from the table, I got a kick out of seeing my make-ready for Zack Edge’s poem (from the 2016 portfolio).

Amy Redmond letterpress Seattle Children's Broadsides project.

Moving on to typesetting, first I started with the easiest part: LION! Big and bold, the size alone limited my choices. Next, I selected a Latin wood type that when aligned to the right margin of my sketch. This left just enough room for the body text and colophon. Also, it also gave me the excuse to use the Latin Wide metal type in my collection. Typically, this is not a face I would normally choose for body text. Due to the short nature of the poem made it feels safe enough to try. I’m delighted that it worked!

Amy Redmond letterpress Seattle Children's Broadsides project.

By this point, my typesetting was complete for the day even though the colophon wasn’t done. This is my 8th year contributing to the broadside project. And my first year contributing by carving an image from linoleum. For those who are familiar with linoleum, it cuts the smoothest when warmed by the sun. Lucky for me, Seattle was having an unusually warm sunny spell in May. Time to move outside.

I usually shy away from carving. However, I had a strong vision of a bold and graphic piece, that I went for it. For the first time in over 20 years, I invested in a new set of carving tools. I also made sure to purchase extra blocks, just in case of a few errors. Careful viewers can see, right out of the gate, I forgot to reverse my image before carving.

Amy Redmond letterpress Seattle Children's Broadsides project.

On the second carving attempt, I decided to slow down and take a proof before moving forward with the paws and tail. The placement needed to be just right in order for the type to work. Refreshed by a new day, I also finished typesetting the colophon and proofed that as well. Out came the scissors and tape and Sharpies.

Amy Redmond letterpress Seattle Children's Broadsides project.

Paw and tail position decided, the remainder of the lion carving went well with only a few minor slip-ups. The sun was having a positive effect on my outlook, and I decided I could live with a few wayward marks. I moved back into the studio, locked it up, and printed the first run on my Colt’s Armory platen press.

Amy Redmond letterpress Seattle Children's Broadsides project.

With the lion in place, I now had a map from which I could now measure all future passes. I locked up the first form, gave the type a good scrub, and ran the second pass. (Shiny clean type is so satisfying.)

Amy Redmond letterpress Seattle Children's Broadsides project.

In a fit of stubborn efficiency, I decided to print the lion’s eye color with the last line of the poem (“LION!”), in one final pass of orange ink. To guarantee perfect alignment, I mounted a small rectangle of uncarved linoleum to a piece of furniture, made it type high, and composed it with the wood type.

Amy Redmond letterpress Seattle Children's Broadsides project.

Taking measurements of the lockup from the text printed in black, I was able to lock up this new form in the exact location in needed to be. Without changing my page guides on the tympan, I then pulled a blind proof on a still-wet print from the second pass to confirm that the text aligned as I wanted. The black eye of the lion offset onto the uncarved linoleum, revealing exactly where I needed to carve. I added a little trapping as a safety measure, in case some of my earlier prints had shifted alignment in the run.

Amy Redmond letterpress Seattle Children's Broadsides project.

This small series of careful acrobatics worked well, and I’m pleased with the final print. I hope others see in its design what I see in Rowan’s words. “That underneath his joyful and seemingly wild exuberance lies a trained force of powerful inner strength.”

Amy Redmond letterpress Seattle Children's Broadsides project.

 

Come check out Part 1 of this year’s Children’s Broadsides project!  We would like to thank all of our young writers, organizers, printers, and families who help make the 2018 Broadsides project memorable and powerful.

Boxcar Press Open Studio 2018

If the action and rhythmic noise of heavy metal does it for you, the Boxcar Press Open Studio is a great place to be.  Cast iron letterpress machines that thump, clang and ker-chunk will be on display for free tours on Saturday, November 10th from 10 AM – 4 PM.  This family-friendly event has printing demonstrations, crafts, a giveaway, workshop, and paper sales of Smock Paper products.

Boxcar Press celebrates their 20th anniversary this year and welcomes all to step up close to view our presses that weigh over 2,000 plus pounds.  We print on all cotton paper to make beautiful invitations.  Print shop tours on this day will let you see this in action.

In honor of Veterans day, we will be offering free thank you cards to send to veterans.  For Veterans attending, they will receive a complimentary coaster.  If you are shopping our Smock paper products sale of beautiful boxes, wrapping paper and notebooks, bring a re-usable shopping bag to receive 10% off.

Letterpress is alive and well and happens daily at Boxcar Press, with big spinning wheels and rotating windmill arms.  Visit to enjoy the sights and sounds of our print shop.

Open Studio Boxcar Press 2018 - IMG1

Open Studio Boxcar Press 2018 - IMG2

CBAA: Broadening Book Arts Opportunities

Boxcar Press is a proud supporter of letterpress printed short-run books.  We offer a 10% discount for fine press work and encourage all printers to explore projects like this.   Many printers are first introduced to book printing through their academic experience at college.  It is very likely their instructors were members of the College Book Art Association (CBAA).  Bridget Elmer, President of the CBAA,  provides an overview of this organization and the numerous options to members and those interested in the printed fine press book.     

A relatively new art form, artists’ books constantly defy a clearcut definition, as do their makers. While some books incorporate letterpress printing for text and image, others might incorporate screen printing, hand lettering, digital printing, or no printing at all. Similarly, their bindings may be in a traditional codex format, a series of broadsides, or a one-of-a-kind altered book. Teaching students both the history and methods of making artists’ books is a unique and evolving challenge.

The College Book Art Association (CBAA) is a non-profit organization committed to the teaching of book art. The association strives to support education about book art, including both the practice and analysis of the medium. It welcomes as members everyone involved in teaching and all others who have similar goals and interests. In addition to the educational community of teachers and students, CBAA’s over 400 members include academic librarians, curators, independent scholars, museum professionals, international private collectors, and practicing artists.

CBAA membership has many benefits, including project assistance and travel grants that are awarded to artists, teachers, and scholars, as well as scholarships for students and recent alumni that are co-sponsored by a growing list of partners including Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, Mills College, the Morgan Conservatory, Wells College, and Women’s Studio Workshop. CBAA fosters book art visibility and community engagement by organizing member exhibitions and regional events. CBAA also cultivates the expansion of book art criticism by publishing the scholarly journal, Openings: Studies in Book Art, and facilitates dialogue on the Book Art Theory blog. Finally, members have the chance to convene in person every year by attending CBAA’s annual meetings and conferences.

In 2019, CBAA will hold their biennial meeting in Tucson, Arizona from January 4–5 at the University of Arizona. Themed The Photographic Artist’s Book, this meeting is an interdisciplinary landmark for CBAA—keynote speaker Christina de Middel will discuss the ways her work blends documentary and conceptual photographic practices, and discussion sessions will explore topics including Printing Photographic Images Using Letterpress. Participants will tour the UA Book Art and Letterpress Lab and a multi-venue exhibition of photo-based artists’ books will be on display at the Joseph Gross Gallery in the UA School of Art and at the internationally known University of Arizona Poetry Center. Registration opens soon for this exciting opportunity to learn more about CBAA and the history and contemporary practice of photo-based artists’ books.

CBAA’s 2020 biennial conference will be held in New Orleans, Louisiana from January 2–5 and hosted by a dynamic collaborative of academic institutions and community-based organizations, including Tulane University, Loyola University, Baskerville, and Paper Machine, among others. With a theme of Intersections, the conference program will aim to expand the discussion of book arts and foster an inclusive field that embraces both academic and independent educational programs, welcoming ideas that come from all races, classes, genders, and levels of education.

Allison Chapman and Why She Loves Letterpress – Printing Passed On

Letterpress leaves a lasting impression on a young printer who now loves to kindle this spark in others. Allison Chapman, of Ohio-based Igloo Letterpress, shares with us how a family tradition lives on in her press shop and how she came to love letterpress.

I was lucky enough to learn about letterpress printing from my grandad, Mark Gibson.  He became a hobby printer in the 1960s after finding a Johnson Peerless platen press in a neighbor’s barn.  He restored the press, joined the Amalgamated Printer’s Association and was hooked.  As his “assistant” growing up, I loved to help with whatever projects he was working on.  I soon had a small toy press that I could use while he was printing.  As a kid, I loved letterpress because of the sound of the press running, the smell of ink and paper and the pleasure of repetitive tasks.

As soon as I got to college I realized how special the time in his print shop had been.  I took every printmaking class and started making up independent projects so that would allow me continued access to the print studio.  I successfully schemed and created a study away experience that focused on letterpress history.  I began an internship under Elizabeth Harris and Stan Nelson at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History.  At the time there was an amazing demonstration area in the museum where I learned how to knock up ink balls, change the frisket on the common press and fold newspaper hats.

That internship cemented my love of letterpress and of making.  I wanted to read and write about the history of printing, but I also wanted to increase my skills.  I began working at Minnesota Center for Book Arts and learned how contemporary artists were using letterpress and bookbinding.  The 11 years I spent working at MCBA heightened my appreciation for the finer points of the craft.  I became a better printer and bookbinder through the instruction I received and the projects I completed in my home printshop.

A surprise move from Minnesota to Ohio forced me to move the presses out of the house and into a storefront.  This became an accidentally wonderful way to build a community for myself in my new town.  I quickly found an active design community that welcomed Igloo as a print resource.  To build the business I ramped up custom work for local customers and launched a wholesale line at the National Stationery Show.  As production increased I brought in extra hands through talented interns and contractors.  Eventually, I gathered a talented crew of artists and makers to join Igloo’s staff.  Through our work as letterpress printers and bookbinders, we encourage a love of making and an appreciation for fine craft.  Visitors are welcomed to see the presses in action as they shop in our store and are encouraged to stop & make a journal at our book bar or sign up for a class to create their own project.

After 22 years of collecting and teaching, I still love letterpress and find joy in making something new every day.

Smitten for letterpress? We’d love to hear from you! Share your story in the comments below!

Inquisitive Printers Want to Know: More Things That Caught Our Eye

Always scanning the horizons (and our internet browsers) for intriguing and cool things to bookmark, this week’s installment of the Inquisitive Printers Want to Know showcases the Austin Center for the Book’s amazing workshop offerings, horse-riding librarians in the Great Depression era, and two handy websites that help identify that mysterious typefaces & fonts. Read on to learn more!

From Cathy: I have been enjoying a little stroll through the pages of the Austin Book Arts Center website.  The Center has only been around in its official state since 2015 but was a growing idea since the 1980’s through a group of enthusiastic book workers.  They offer an amazing wide variety of workshops every week and I am drawn to the ones for teachers and kids.

Combine women, books, and horses into one bundle and you get the Pack Horse Librarians.  Started in 1934, over 50,000 families in Appalachia were served with books delivered on horseback.  This program was started as part of the New Deal’s WPA and books and magazines were donated.  When they became too worn, they were repaired or turned into scrapbooks and circulated again. Here are two websites with fascinating stories and photographs. In this age of E-books, it is neat to read about a time when books were scarce treasures.

From Jake:  The printshop offers many wonders when wandering through on a daily basis. The photography captured here shows the light spectrum in all its rainbow glory in the wash-out unit in one of our platemakers. 

Jake-inquisitive-printers-platemaker

From Rebecca: Ever come across a design with such a gorgeous typeface or font….but you don’t know what the name of it is? For both computer and mobile,  WhatTheFont is a great starting point to demystifying that font that’s been on your mind for ages. WhatTheFont is a site where you can snap a photo (or upload one if you are working on your computer) and the online program will start identifying what it may be.If you are into a more answer-questions-type-of-mood, a secondary good website is Indentifont.

Have something awesome or cool that you’d like to share with us? Share with us what it is in the comments below!

Letterpress Passions with Puro Papel

Join Boxcar Press on this “adventure of a lifetime,” as we get a first-hand look at Miami based printer, Catalina Rojas of Puro Papel and find out how she brings the heat when it comes to passionate letterpress printing. Best known for her vibrantly colored projects (both printing and non-printing) discover how Catalina’s worldly travels inspire her work, creativity and how she shares this printing tradition with her local community.

Catalina Rojas sets up her Pilot Press for a new letterpress print project.

LIFE’S ADVENTURES & LETTERPRESS  We all have a starting point, an origin. In many cases, they shape and determine the type of person you become. I was born in an area that was rooted in the Catholic faith and traditions. While this was my origin, the dialogue I have with myself, I believe I don’t come from a place … more so, I come from a way of life that was instilled by my parents.

My parents were travelers and never ceased to seek the zest for adventure. With two kids on the hip and a Great Dane, they were never deterred by what others might think and managed to stay true to their “hippie-chic” ways. At one point, my aunt and her boyfriend joined our entourage and many people would confuse our family for a circus troupe.

Catalina Rojas of Puro Papel prints on her Pilot Press.

Book arts and fine press printing by letterpress printer, Catalina Rojas of Puro Papel.

During my first five years, we traveled through South America. Quite literally, through the roads less traveled by. Zigzagging through cities, towns, forests, plains, deserts, and jungles. However, there was one significant life trip that would determine how I would experience life, my sense of self and ultimately my creative process.

All the details and memories of this trip come rushing back … like having bananas for breakfast, or crossing rivers in long wooden canoes and sleeping in hammocks. I remember feeling the heat from the bonfire and seeing the ashes flying and floating like dragonflies. I remember hearing the speaking drums and the chanting.

All of these things on the trip seemed to me like a lifetime and an irrevocable art of me … despite the fact that neither my parents seem to remember it in full detail (and color) as I. They would even go as far as saying that trip was rather uneventful. This trip shaped how I look at life – I live in adventure and in meaningfulness.

My work is an inextricable part of my life. I take every assignment as an adventure, in which I try to discover essence, textures, tones, colors and other delicacies. To later bring together these elements and materialize them in a simple design, or concept.

Book arts and fine press printing by letterpress printer, Catalina Rojas of Puro Papel.
(Project Notes: Norton Box- Vineyard in Mendoza. I did a limited edition of 30 boxes to send to  30 journalists  with a bottle of wine, some postcards of the winery (belly band is letterpress), a wooden note from the president of the company (letterpress), a leather notebook, and the press kit).)

Every project, I take the challenge of telling a story by communicating its purpose through design and artisanal ways of printing. I believe life is an experience made of a small act, where the beauty of small details grounds us and turns each moment in a unique ritual.

THE PRINTING BUG  I took a class in Parsons, and my teacher was a typography designer and a letterpress printer. After several trips to his studio I was bit by the letterpress printing bug. I fell in love with the technique of letterpress printing and how this could take printing to a higher level.

Book arts and fine press printing by letterpress printer, Catalina Rojas of Puro Papel.
(Project Notes: Leather Book (covers are letterpressed), Accordion book – A family gift for a Portuguese grandmother! )

MIAMI MARVELS  I have a tiny studio, with more windows than walls, located on a sunny corner of Miami Ironside in a bucolic garden. When I first saw this space, I knew it was “the one,” due to all the natural light coming in during the afternoon, I felt this space was going to illuminate me. WIth the natural light and the abundance of windows … I feel like the garden is part of my studio. Behind the studio are train tracks, and several times a day, I can hear the train pass through. Next to the studio, is MiMo (AKA: Miami Modern) a neighborhood that is bringing to life the Art Deco hotels and restaurants of the great era of the Magic City!

Catalina Rojas sets up her Pilot Press for a new letterpress print project.

PRINTING INSPIRATION Although he probably doesn’t know this … my first inspiration was Peter Kruty, my professor at Parsons because he taught me how to respect typography.

Book arts and fine press printing by letterpress printer, Catalina Rojas of Puro Papel.

FULL TIME PRINTER I became a full-time printer in 2004 after I bought my first letterpress.

THE CREATIVE PROCESS  My creative process starts with a conversation with my clients, so I can understand the essence of the message. With each project, I design every aspect and incorporate elements and details of the message into their piece. I like to think of what will surprise me … because it will most likely surprise my audience, and will help keep it innovative and fun!

Book arts and fine press printing by letterpress printer, Catalina Rojas of Puro Papel.
Project Note: Don Perignon Party invitation- all digital and lots of assembly! This gentleman was turning 80 and celebrating in style  with family and friends in his hacienda in Argentina. The cork top part opens to reveal a message)

PRINTING FEATS When a project evokes magic, emotions and becomes a conversation piece, I feel accomplished. When I’m at a moment that it feels close to my soul, that is when I know I’ve achieved “good-design.”

A beloved Pilot Press awaits for the next printing adventure in the Puro Papel studio.

PRESS HISTORY  I still have my first press(!) which is a C&P Pilot press.

BOXCAR’S ROLE  When I find a good vendor, I stick to it! Throughout my years of printing, Boxcar Press has come to my rescue. Whenever I have a rush job, they are always availble to help and save me. There is a sense of loyalty to one another, and I feel they are a part of my team. 

PRINTING TIP  When you don’t know something, ask your colleagues! And if they are not around, don’t be shy to experiment!

SHOP TIP Mmm, I don’t have any particular one, I just know that when it gets very frustrating and it doesn’t work out, I let it rest and start again a few hours later.

WHAT’S NEXT  I want to focus more on doing limited editions and special packaging.

I also love to give back by sharing my passion and expertise with paper. This year I’m involved with missionaries in the desert of Peru who train people in disadvantaged communities on how to make handmade cotton paper. This wonderful community and its artisanal workshop, Papelera Don Bosco, has a letterpress machine, so I will be teaching them all I know about letterpress and box-making so they can fly high!

An immense round of appreciative applause out to Catalina for letting us get a sneak peek at the magic behind Puro Papel!

Shop Tour With Lourdes Irizarry

East Haven, Connecticut hugs the shoreline of Long Island Sound and is home to Lourdes Irizarry of Slackline Press. Lourdes’ self-proclaimed printing hideaway has cool tunes playing in the background, a loft nook above the main printing floor, and a treasure of letterpress tools collected over the years. Stepping back from her platen presses, Lourdes gives us a tour of where the printing magic happens, thanks in part to the support she has found in the New England letterpress community.

MINIMALIST PRINTSHOP Our shop is small so I like to keep it light and tidy. It has neutral, recessed lighting throughout and natural light from two windows and a sliding barn door that opens to the outside. The floor is a sturdy but affordable, wood textured linoleum over a leveled cement floor that I don’t have to worry about damaging. We built shelving from old wood we salvaged from the renovation, as well as a 7 ft. workbench with storage for large sheets of paper.

MOST PRIZED POSSESSION My favorite thing about our shop is a small crawl space in the rafters that was converted into a tiny loft for storage. I outfitted it with an old letterpress tray table I made. It’s a great space to hide with my laptop or sketchbook when I need quiet time to design. My prized possession is my first press – a Golding Jobber #6 named Brumhilda.

SHOP SIZE The entire space is approximately 300 sq ft.

CONNECTICUT SPLENDOR Our shop is a half of a detached garage that was drywalled and insulated to be functional throughout the seasons. It’s located behind our tiny cape on the Connecticut shoreline close to New Haven. It’s a short bike ride away from the town beach and town green where the library and farmer’s market is.

TYPE OF SHOP Our garage turned studio is in a residential neighborhood, on the border of a commercial part of town.

PRESS FAMILY I have 3 platen presses – a Golding Jobber #6 8×12, Golding Pearl #11 7×11 and a Sigwalt Nonpareil 6×9 tabletop press.

MOST VALUABLE SHOP TOOL  It sounds silly, but I can’t live without my pocket ruler, to help center or square artwork while printing.

INK OF CHOICE I print with Van Son rubber-based inks. My favorite is rubine red. It never gets tacky, is easy to mix and looks lovely by itself.

SOLVENT OF CHOICE I find mineral spirits work best for me. Easy Street, which was recommended by someone at Boxcar, is a huge help when switching colors, cleaning up dark ink or if ink has been on the rollers for more than a few hours.

BASE SYSTEM I’ve had the Standard Boxcar Base for the 5 years I’ve been printing. I started with KF95 plates then switched to 94CHFB but I can’t decide if I like one more than the other.

OIL OF CHOICE I use 3-in-1 oil.

PREFERRED CLEAN-UP RAG just use old t-shirts that I collect from anyone getting rid of them!

PIED TYPE I don’t have a lot of metal type but what I do have came nicely sorted, so I don’t think I have any lying around.

KEEPING IT ORGANIZED Clean as you go! Everything in my studio has a home, and if I didn’t put things back in their place I either wouldn’t find them when I need them or I wouldn’t have enough space to work. I think my favorite organizational solution is plastic shoebox size bins to store printed cards. They’re stackable, easy to see what’s inside and keep dust out.

SHOP TIPS I feel like I will always be learning. I did notice very early on, how friendly and eager the letterpress community is to share advice. I think acquiring presses that needed some elbow grease and restoration helped to get to know the ins and outs of my presses. They all have their own unique quirks. It takes time and patience but I think it’s a really valuable way to learn.

Inquisitive Printers Want to Know – Unique Things that Caught Our Eye

As letterpress printers, we’re always aiming to keep our curiosity on its toes, we round up this week’s feature of unique things, beautiful wonders, and items that keep the mind buzzing with creativity. We hope you are fascinated in this week’s finds of farm-friendly temporary tattoos, the gorgeous world around us and new technology that can “read” a book without opening it. Enjoy!

From Cathy:  Tater Tats – Who doesn’t love fresh food from the garden?  Boxcar Press is a big supporter of Community Supported Agriculture and small-scale farms, so these fun tattoos with fruits and vegetables that also fund small sustainable farms are a huge appeal.  

tater tats(image courtesy of tatertats.com)

A cool read about the preservation and use of one of the largest private type collections that now resides at two Northwestern colleges – purchased over his lifetime by William “Bill” Thorniley.

A video from the UK on letterpress printing.  It’s so rich and soothing to hear a printer talk about and ink-up a forme, like you are just hanging out with them in their shoppe.

From Chris: As I walked my dog back home after a passing storm, I couldn’t help but gaze into the sky and take a moment to enjoy what I saw. A moment that God himself created for me and others to view. As His word teaches, even a storm can bring something beautiful.beautiful-world-chris

From Rebecca:  For our history-loving printers who just happen to have an antique book that is too fragile to open: Swiss engineers at EPFL have developed a technology that can “read” a book without opening it. The technology uses both x-ray tomography and an algorithm to “read” letterforms by scanning the levels of iron in the ink on each page layer of the book or document. So far, a sealed and unopened Italian letter from 1351 has been “read”.

Researchers and engineers at EPFL are continually improving the technique. Imagine what new information historical old tomes can reveal (including undiscovered typefaces and calligraphy)!

We hope you enjoy some of our links and perhaps learn a smidgen bit more about what interests us here at Boxcar Press. See something cool that catches your eye? Email us at info@boxcarpress.com as we’d love to hear from you!