Cerveza With Ben Sargent

Installment 4 ]

Next up in our Letterpress Friend chat is Ben Sargent. A Texas native and avid Chandler & Price printer, Ben is an inspiration for the pursuit of printing knowledge, and offers some good chuckles, and stories. As the conductor of Sargent Brothers Printers & Typographers, he adds a bit of charismatic style that comes only with letterpress.

Boxcar Press: So wonderful to catch up with you and delightful to have you. Speaking of delights… is there one defining moment or point that you just fell hard for printing?

Ben: It was last Christmas. I realized that was the date 60 years prior that my brother and I received our first press and type–a 5×8 Kelsey Excelsior, seven fonts of type, and the whole outfit. While we knew our Dad had been a printer in boyhood and we had grown up around the hot-type composing room of the Amarillo Globe-News, it was the first experience as “real printers” ourselves, and I never looked back. 

Boxcar Press: Tell us about a press you remember fondly (or not so fondly) or one you have now that you prefer to use?

Ben: Three years after I began on the Excelsior mentioned above, Dad brought home the C&P 10×15 Old Series he and his brother had bought as teenagers in 1928. That is the press I use to this day. She is a graceful and hardy specimen from the long-ago era of well-built iron-and-steel machinery. “I love her well and she must love me….”

Boxcar Press: What is something people might not know about you that would surprise them?

Ben: Maybe they don’t know that when I’m not printing, I can often be found swinging on and off moving equipment as a fully licensed but volunteer brakeman and conductor on our local excursion railroad. Can’t keep me away from ancient technology.

Boxcar Press: What is your printing superpower? You definitely have one!

Ben: I usually think there are always people who can do better than I in just about every facet of this trade, but if I had to choose a superpower, maybe it would be the delight I have in continuing to learn things about every aspect of the work, even 60 years into it. Sometimes new techniques, skills, and understandings come from my dear colleagues both young and old. Sometimes there are things I just figure out on my own, but it is always a pleasure to learn one more of the apparently infinite things there are to learn about this craft. 

Boxcar Press: Anything you want to reveal about a current project you are working on – even a hint or clue?

Ben: Recently, I had one of the most curious and interesting wedding invitations in the course of printing many, many such projects. The invitation itself is a thin 5 x 4 box. It was a challenge finding people who could do the tasks beyond my capacity such as the necessary die-cutting, duplexing, scoring, and laser-cutting of some tiny holes. Really the only part I had left was doing some letterpress on the inside of the box. But the finished box contains a computer chip the recipient plugs in and then touches the laser-cut openings to play various sound recordings from the happy couple. (The wedding involved a graphic designer and a computer engineer, so there you go.) 

Boxcar Press: Given these current “strange” times, what is that one project that you are always going to get to but it just never seems to get done?

Ben: If I had to pick one, might be the 3rd edition of our handset-type specimen book, last published in 2010, and in need of an update. But the deck seems to stay crowded with job work even in strange times, so it does keep getting put off.

Boxcar Press: One last question before you finish your drink, an IPA from Texas-local Pinthouse Brewing called “Electric Jellyfish”, – Do you listen to podcasts or music in your shop while you create?

Ben: I always have my Pandora channels on, which beggar the word “eclectic.” I’ve seen a young typesetter friend’s eyebrows rise when hearing Brubeck–Mercedes Sosa–Gregorian chant–Booker T and the MGs–Tommy Dorsey–Handel–Brazilian bossa nova etc. all in a row.

That was an immensely fun time, Ben. Heartfelt thanks out to you for the cheery chat!  Want to know more? Visit his website: http://sargentbrothersprinters.com/

West Coast Printing: Thom Caraway of Spokane Print & Publishing Center

Printing on press is as much a personal creative time as it is an experience you just can’t wait to share with others. This is an observation from Thom Caraway of the Spokane Print & Publishing Center. The full-time teacher and Center organizer has enjoyed creating a space where all interested in the craft could roll-up their sleeves and get inky. We spent time with Thom to talk shop, and to see how the printing world in Spokane is being discovered by others at their printing paradise.

GEARING UP FOR PRINTING ADVENTURES I’m a university English professor in Spokane, Washington via Whitworth University. I write poetry and teach classes in editing, book design, and print culture.

In 2015, I inherited a C&P from a printmaking professor who didn’t want it in the school art studio anymore. I was excited about it but had no idea what to do with it (or even how it worked). Shortly after, I met Bethany Taylor, who was getting her shop off the ground, and we decided to make a place where neophytes could come learn. She’d been to the Independent Publishers Resource Center (IPRC) in Portland, and we modeled ourselves off of their space and got going.

Spokane-Print-Publishing-Center-

PRINTING CENTER COMMUNITY We closed Iteration one in 2018 when our lease ran out, and moved into the new space as Spokane Print & Publishing Center in 2019. With the bigger space, we were able to add more presses and expand from letterpress and screenprint into relief and etching as well. Later, we added book arts and digital design and printing. My favorite thing is when there are members spread out across the shop all working on different awesome things, especially if several presses are going at once.

ALL IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD We’re a 5-minute drive from the Kendall Yards neighborhood and the Spokane River. Downtown is just across the river, so we are close to food and shopping.

Spokane-Print-Publishing-Center-2-1

PRINTING MENTORS Letterpress Instagram kind of kept me sane during lockdowns, and with no formal art or print shop training, I’m a big fan of the School of Bad Printing. Amos Kennedy, Mizdruk, Fresh Lemon Press, Bright Press, Marcos Mello. Also Rick Griffith, Amy Redmond, Ben Blount, Chris Fritton, Base Press, Stephanie Carpenter…so many great printers out there!

PART-TIME PRINTER, FULL-TIME FUN This is a side hustle from my day job teaching. I would love to get to a point where I could print full time though.

Spokane-Print-Publishing-Center-2-1

THE CREATIVE PROCESS I’m becoming more of a planner, but mostly I’m a seat-of-my-pants designer. I like seeing what happens with different applications of color, and big messy press beds full of wood type. From there, I might layer in a quote or phrase, or play around with the letterforms of larger wood type to see what happens.

Spokane-Print-Publishing-Center-2-1

PRINTING FEATS Making a more formal turn from writing to printing in the last four years has been a lot of fun, if a little nerve-wracking at times. But mostly I’m proud of our little shop. We’ve weathered COVID well, and offer classes pretty much every week now. I feel like we’re really developing Spokane’s appetite for the print and book arts, and training up a bunch of new printers!

PRESS HISTORY I have that first press – a C&P Old Style with a broken flywheel axle. Have still never gotten that thing fully functional.

Spokane-Print-Publishing-Center-2-1

BOXCAR’S ROLE We’ve gotten a bunch of ink from Boxcar, and had some plates made. And we’ve been meaning to order some logo plates, too!

PRINTING TIPS & TECHNIQUES I print mostly now on a Vandercook 14, which is really basic, so no ink rollers. Everything is applied by hand. My advice for letterpress printers is don’t be afraid to mess it up a bit. I love a nice clean print as much as anyone, but I’m also really interested in the accidents and goofs. Those are usually my favorites.

Trogdor

WHAT’S COMING NEXT I’ve got a full slate of letterpress classes spread through the year. I am hoping to grow our membership base once things open back up, and continue developing our Print Town USA events, which get the public into the shop for sales and demos, and are just a lot of (socially-distanced) fun.

A double round of applause & thanks out to Thom of Spokane Print & Publishing Center for letting us take a sneak peak at the wonderful community-driven printing center!

Part 2: 2020 Seattle Children’s Hospital Broadsides

In our second installment on the 2020 Seattle Children’s Hospital Broadside / Words of Courage, we shine a spotlight on another trio of printers who breathed life into a family story, brought to life great word pictures, and more.

Their inspiration is the poetry written by children who are patients at the hospital and with the team of Sierra Nelson and Ann Teplick of Seattle’s Writers in the Schools program (WITS).

Heidi Hespelt

I illustrated and printed “The Rat” by Lucy Watters, Age 7, for the Children’s Hospital Broadside poetry project. I think the poem is so fun and I found out after I designed the artwork that it was a family story that was told often in their household. 

Lucy, like me, loves animals and has written other poems featuring a variety of species. I wanted this broadside to be something that the family would want to hang on a wall, so the rat became part of the rose bush rather than a grotesque figure. Lucy was in my thoughts the entire time I worked on this piece. I hope that she felt that her poem came to life.

This year was special to me for printing because I set up my own printing shop in January 2020 and the broadside was my first big letterpress project in my own space, using my own machines and newly acquired type. Then Covid hit and put things on hold for so many printers. I felt lucky. I could do the entire project except for cutting the paper. And then, serendipitously, in mid-May a beautiful old paper cutter showed up for sale in Aurora, Oregon. Road trip and the cutter was mine! A couple of days after that, I was able to complete “The Rat” and send early copies to Lucy and her family. 

Here is a description of my process:

Here is the mock-up, including hand-set type proof.

Linocut, reduction-style, for the background. I also used pressure printing for the first time ever, to make the rat’s features and roses pink. It felt like an arts and crafts project and I needed  some long-distance coaching from my letterpress mentors, Jenny Wilkson and Amy Redmond.

Here I cut away the white parts of the rat and roses, and printed the green background.

More arts and crafts pressure printing to add dimension to the rose bush.

Last pass before printing the type! More of the lino block was cut away so that

the features of the rat and the outlines of the leaves and roses would pop with a darker green.

Here is the final product, before cutting to size.

And one last photo of my new shop, my printer’s helper Sheraton, and of the paper cutter that finished the job so Lucy and her family could receive the prints early. 

Annabelle Larner

I was immediately drawn to Peyton Bartz’s poem titled Something New because of the beautiful words about a mermaid tree. I loved Peyton’s descriptions – lumpy, flowing, green, honey-dew melon, rough, scratchy, hard as glass, soft. These words made me think of coral and its magical properties. Everything was hand done but the type was a polymer plate from Boxcar. I found a lovely font, Josefin Slab, to create the poem, which felt contemporary and clean. I knew I wanted to do layers and textures to match the poet’s descriptions, so I forged ahead. 

The broadside was created with five separate printing steps on the press: 

First pass: I used a piece of wood to create a subtle textured background, and printed it in a warm yellow. Second pass: I drew and cut out the coral-like tree on chipboard, glued it to wood, sealed it with acrylic medium, then printed it in a mossy green. Third pass: I created a mermaid with coral-like qualities to blend in with the tree (and used the same cutout/glued process as the tree), then printed her in blue.

I wanted to give the mermaid more features, so I carved linoleum for her face and tail, and did this fourth pass in light green to match Peyton’s descriptions. 

And finally, the fifth and final pass was the poem itself, laying on top of the entire picture so it would stand out. I felt the colors and layers of the elements looked nice and hopefully reflected Peyton’s words! 

Sarah Kulfan

This is my seventh year participating in the Seattle Children’s broadside project. I was so happy to join in on its 10th year anniversary! This year, I printed a poem that was written by 16 year old Darren Lagbao, titled ‘My Mom And I’. This poem is a loving tribute to his mom and his words honor her strength, patience and attentiveness, whether she is making adobo with pork sauce and boiled eggs or reading him to sleep.

From an imagery stand point, there is so much in Darren’s poem to inspire. I chose to illustrate the lines where he talks about his mom’s patience in teaching him to care for the family’s 5 dogs. This is something that I have in common as my extended family includes 5 dogs as well.

The image is printed from a reduction cut, or a lino-block that is carved away in between each color layer. I started with a thick paintbrush to paint directly onto the lino-block and then carved around all the little detailed edges to get the dynamic brush strokes in the blue background layer. Then I carved and printed two more layers of brown ink for the mom and the group of dogs.

There is so much in this project to be grateful for, especially this year which was fraught with challenges. I’m grateful to have been able to print Darrens’ words; to work alongside a group of amazingly talented printers; to have so much support in this project from WITS,  the School of Visual Concepts (now Partners in Print) and Seattle Children’s Hospital.

Our leadership team is 100% behind this project every year as they guide our team of printers and our sponsor partners encourage us.  For more behind-the-scenes, check out Sarah’s blog article about the project here.

Did you miss Part 1 of the 2020 Children’s Broadsides project?  Read more and visit Partners in Print to see previous years efforts and news on the 2021 Project. A thousand heartfelt thanks go out to all the printers, young poets & their families, and organizers who continue to make this Broadside collection special every year.

2020 Seattle Children’s Hospital Broadside: Part 1

It is always a treat to share the joy and delight of the Seattle Children’s Hospital Broadside collection.  The colorful stories and broadside prints are a testament to the hearty spirits of the participants. They include:  the folks at the Writers in the Schools program working with the children at the Seattle Children’s Hospital, and the letterpress printers of Partners in Print (formerly part of the letterpress family at Seattle’s School of Visual Concepts – SVC).  Together, this collaboration crafts memorable letterpress broadsides of poetry. 

At Boxcar Press, we are honored every year to be a part of this project.  This first installment of a two-part blog covers the 2020 edition of the Portfolio, titled I Know What It Means to Be Brave. Read on about three printers who share the love through wood and metal type, aligning the stars (literally) while on press, and more.

Bonnie Thompson Norman

We usually know very little about the poets whose poems we have chosen to print. We go by the feeling or inspiration we take from reading and re-reading the poems. I was drawn to Darian Parker’s poem because it felt like a benediction. The young man was 16 when he wrote his poem. I wanted to create something that felt a little more ‘grown-up’ by using a palette that seemed rather more sophisticated than child-like. 

In the poem, he thanks someone for giving him a second chance. One infers from the text that Darian is the recipient of a transplant. I placed circular shapes at the top and bottom of the broadside, one in a grey, the other in a golden color to give the feeling that he had gone from a dark place to one that was much lighter. Darian’s poem recites how he is thankful for the gift he has received.  I tried to convey the feeling of that second chance by having a large golden shape seem to be rising from the bottom of the broadside as in a sunrise. I find his poem to be a beautiful expression of gratitude and it moves me each time I read it.

The type for this broadside is all handset using both metal and wood types. The metal types are 18 point Albertus and 8 point Bernhard Gothic Light. The wood type is 8 line. I used both linoleum and ⅛” plastic for the circular shapes and printed the broadside on both a Vandercook SP 15 and a 10 x 15 Chandler & Price. The text for the poem went on the Vandercook as well as the title because these were large forms. The shapes, poet’s name and age, and the colophon were printed on the C&P. Using two presses makes it easier to move along in the production of the piece. While printing, I slip-sheeted each broadside so that the ink would not offset from the front of one sheet to the back of the next because there was so much ink coverage. I left the slip sheets in until after I had done the final trim.

Due to COVID-19, we were not able to gather together as a group to create the portfolios. I bound all of them in my home studio on my own. Gathering to bind the portfolios is a wonderful process for all of the printers. It is an enjoyable chance to visit with one another, talk about our work on our broadsides,and catch up on everything else as well. It wasn’t difficult for me to bind the portfolios by myself as I have been a commercial hand binder for a number of years but I did miss our camaraderie.

My co-leader in the binding of the Children’s Hospital broadside project over the years has been Jules Remedios Faye. Jules chose the color scheme for this year’s portfolio and created the beautiful letterpress printed label for the front cover. After all of the portfolio covers were completed, I used the entire table surface of my studio to collate the broadsides. It is always a wonderful opportunity to see all of them together and marvel at the originality and creativity that each designer/printer brings to the text of their poet. Instead of our usual wrap-up for this project when we have gotten together to read the poems out loud and talk about our design process, I was able to hand off each printer’s portfolio individually as they came to my house (safely!) to collect their copy. It was both a celebration to deliver a complete portfolio and an affirmation that we can continue to do good and meaningful work despite the challenges we faced.

Robin Kessler

My poem is “Powerful Things” by Jazee Holloway (her first name is pronounced JUH-zay and rhymes with sauté).

This poem has many images, and as usual for me, I really dithered over how to illustrate them. In the end, I went with my love of wood type and decided to highlight the words as image. 

Because of the pandemic, our options for printing on a Vandercook at SVC or other printers’ studios became very limited. So I decided to print this broadside at home, hand-inking the edition of 110 on my 14” x 24” sign press. I’m retired, and all my usual activities had been cancelled, so what the heck – I had plenty of time!

 (I use Caligo Safe Wash ink, which I thicken with magnesium carbonate)

I used my limited but beloved collection of wood and metal type for the background, and inked it in two colors. Some of the prints have a graduated or ombre look, but I abandoned that after a while. I printed the backgrounds over the course of 3 days – this is a VERY variable edition!

The text, title, and colophon are photopolymer from Boxcar. I was afraid I wouldn’t get a crisp print for the black text, but it worked out fine. I think I also spent 3 days printing the black run. 

This was a satisfying experience in “making do” with what is at hand. I’m lucky to have a couple small presses and a bit of type at home. As always, it’s an honor to participate in the Children’s Hospital Broadside project. We had our final celebration via Zoom in September – it was wonderful to see all the prints and share our printing trials and triumphs. 

Carol Clifford

I have worked with constellation imagery in two previous broadsides for Children Hospital poems. I enjoy the challenge and the depth of color you can get when creating a nighttime sky. Plus, I am a fan of using gold metallic ink and it works nicely when printed on top of a dark color. In “Constellations” I appreciated the imagery Dylan was conjuring up with the many constellations.

I thought about how best to present the poem to this young poet. I had the good fortune this summer to camp under the stars for 6 nights and I thought of how I could convey this experience to Dylan. When I go camping I love the fact that the sky doesn’t have the light pollution we have in the city. I wanted to capture that awesomeness we rarely get to experience. I wanted Dylan to feel the expanse of a clear, pollution-free starry night. I added the dark silhouette of a figure with binoculars at the bottom to not only provide a sense of perspective but to also show a curiosity to see more than what you can see with the naked eye.

I began working on the ideas for this piece shortly after picking the poem in March. However, when the pandemic began, I found myself constantly distracted and struggling to find the headspace to focus. I was relieved when a new deadline was set for August because it allowed me to get my head back in the game and provided a pleasant diversion from the big picture.

I had budgeted just the minimum amount of time to order plates (3), have them arrive in 2 days (I still find that turnaround time a miracle), print, wait for the broadsides to dry, trim, and deliver. Every day counted. I did not allow any time for mishaps and so when there was a shipping glitch, just like that I was behind schedule. A hearty thank you shout out to Boxcar who helped me in my 12th hour. They offered to resend at least the first plate (they sent the first two!) to help me stay on schedule and I was able to because of their thoughtfulness! It takes a village.

Once I was on course to print, the process, thankfully, went smoothly. This wasn’t so much a happy accident as it was just a huge relief. It doesn’t always go as smoothly. The stars must have aligned for me this year (pun intended).

Stay tuned for Part 2 of the 2020 Children’s Broadsides project!  We would like to thank all of the young writers & their families, printers, and organizers who help make the 2020 Broadsides project one of enchantment and spirit.  You can view all of the prints from all the years at the Partners In Print website here.

London-based Linocut Artist Kate Guy

Kate Guy is a London, UK-based linocut and fine printmaking artist. She incorporates bold use of flora, fauna, colors and her cat into her works. From early beginnings at the press in her family’s workshops to enjoying where the creative process takes her, Kate shares how she is carving out her own printing path.

Kate Guy is a London, UK, based linocut and fine printmaking artist.

BOLD LINOCUTS, GRACEFUL ART I live and work in London UK, I trained as a graphic designer but now I am doing what I love most. I am a printmaker working with traditional techniques on paper and fabric. My main subject area is illustrated recipe linocuts. My unique system uses individual ingredients prints which I combine to make recipes, which I then turn into quality homewares. My designs are boldly graphic and colorful giving them a modern feel whilst also celebrating a strong tradition of print and quality in British manufacturing. My products are all designed by me and made in the UK, everything is printed on organic cotton using eco-friendly inks to be as kind to the planet as possible.

Kate Guy is a London, UK, based linocut and fine printmaking artist.

EARLY BEGINNINGS My father was a graphic designer and he bought a Victorian printing press in the 1960s which fascinated me as I was growing up. I first used it when I was 7 – see comments below.

I have built up a collection of wooden type which I use to create signs and posters and also combine with my linocuts. I guess my first proper project was at Art School in the 1980s where I really began my obsession with typography.

Kate Guy is a London, UK, based linocut and fine printmaking artist.

PRINTING IN THE UK I print in my studio in Camden, my favorite thing has to be the vibrant area and the light. The studio has windows all down one side and looks out over the rooftops of North London. When I’m printing on a larger scale I go to my mother’s studio in Putney, South London. My mother is an artist and has our lovely old cast iron Victorian Albion printing press from 1857 at her studio as well as an etching and a lithography press.

Kate Guy is a London, UK, based linocut and fine printmaking artist.

LONDON LIVING My studio is in Camden, North London – famous for its trendy market and boutique shops. Once a mecca for punks and goths – you can still see a few around these days and the market still retains much of its original independent charm having (so far) resisted the chain stores and high street homogenization.

Kate Guy is a London, UK, based linocut and fine printmaking artist.

I also have the whole of London on my doorstep to use as inspiration, with its wonderful galleries and museums – most of which are free.

PRINTING MENTORS I love the work of the English linocut artists from the early 20th century – people like Edward Bawden, Eric Ravilious, and Cyril Power from the Grosvenor School. My father, although he died when I was only 9, is still a source of inspiration. It is thanks to him that we have our Albion press and I believe he instilled a love of the traditional techniques in me.

PRINTING FULL-TIME FUN Yes! Well… I do in theory, but I seem to spend most of my time these days doing marketing – I have just ‘finished’ my website. I was an Art teacher in secondary (high) school until 5 years ago when I quit following my dream of being a full-time printmaker and designer.

Kate Guy is a London, UK, based linocut and fine printmaking artist.

THE DESIGN PROCESS All my designs start with drawings, usually from life but sometimes I work from a photo. I have made a film about my process – from initial idea to the final edition of prints created during the recent lockdown (seen here: ‘Lockdown Cat with Mexican Cushion’).

PRINTING FEATS Too many to list here! (ha ha, no not really).

I have done lots of different things in my life; I’ve been a graphic designer, animator, illustrator, glass artist, teacher, and mother to name a few. Now I have the time to be the printmaker and designer which I think I was always meant to be.

Kate Guy is a London, UK, based linocut and fine printmaking artist.

PRESS HISTORY I grew up in a house with two studios – one for my mother and one for my father and a beautiful old Albion press. On this press, I made my first linocut and letterpress print aged 7, ‘Ereh si a tac‘. Basically, as a know-it-all 7-year-old, I wouldn’t be told how to lay out the letters to go with my little linocut of a Cat…

You can read all about it on my blog.

The first press I bought myself was a Victorian book press which I found in a ‘Marche au Puce’ (Flea market) in the South of France.

Kate Guy is a London, UK, based linocut and fine printmaking artist.

BOXCAR’S ROLE I find your work and ethos inspirational and was delighted to be asked to complete an interview for you. Sadly I am a bit far away (London UK) to visit in person at this time. I also share your obsession with heavy antique printing equipment.

Kate Guy is a London, UK, based linocut and fine printmaking artist.

PRINTING TIPS Always keep your dirty area and your clean area separate and use folded paper ‘tongs’ to pick up your paper for printing. I always get very messy printing (one of the fun parts) usually with ink on my face and everywhere else, but there is nothing more annoying than a perfect print with a big old thumbprint on it!

Kate Guy is a London, UK, based linocut and fine printmaking artist.

WHAT’S COMING NEXT My plans have been very much affected by the pandemic. I had lots of live events planned, I had taken a stall with a demonstration area at shows across the South of England, a couple of these are still holding out but most have been canceled. I am hoping we will be able to be back to normal for this upcoming Christmas season.

I was also planning lots of printmaking teaching and workshops in my studio but…[unusual times have happened].

2021 Mother’s Day Letterpress Gift Guide

We scouted out for your gifting pleasure some of the most delightful & heartfelt Mother’s Day gifts & cards. Peruse the many items here that show your affection for the #1 Mom in your life. Catch something we missed?  Let us know in the comments below!

1. 6” Soft Rubber Brayer from Takach  |  2. Loving Me Through My Messes letterpress card from Thimblepress  |  3. Mother’s Day Dogwood letterpress card by LetterpressPDX  |  4. Letterpress Boxcar Press t -shirts from Boxcar Press  |  5. Southern Sayings letterpress coasters from Ancesserie (For the mom whose kids never seem to remember to put their drinks on a coaster)

 6. Grandma letterpress card  from Kiss and Punch (don’t forget the Grandma in your life!)  |  7. Masy Chighizola – Dahlia and Rose art print from Blackbird Letterpress (A bouquet print that never fades or drops its petals)  |  8. Book earrings from PurgatoryPiePressINK |  9. PANTONE Notebook Set by PANTONE  |  10. Font Hoarder enamel pin by itsgeoffrey

Top 10 Valentine’s Day Letterpress Picks for 2021

Looking for inspiration for that special printer in your life? Come check out our quick list of ten favorite gifts for this upcoming Valentine’s Day 2021—featuring fresh, hilarious, sweet, and extra special gifts for that certain someone.

Inspired by our Valentine’s list?  Let us know in the comments below!

Valentine's Day 2021 Gift Guide

1. Field Notes T-shirt and Field Notes from Field Notes Brand  | 2. Love Song from Fickle Hill Press | 3. Chandler & Price Platen Press enamel pin from the paper carnival | 4. Johannes Guttenberg sticker by WritersSpot | 5. Trump valentine letterpress card from DeLuce Design

Valentine's Day 2021 Gift Guide

6. Seahorse Lovers print from Anomal Press  | 7. 12″ or 18″ Line Gauge from Boxcar Press | 8.  Hedge Hug letterpress card from Dogwood Letterpress | 9.  Giant Mighty Love letterpress card from Benchpressed | 10. Wine glass stem tags from Laughing Owl Press

Free Print-themed ZOOM Background Downloads

Fellow letterpress lovers – please enjoy these images at your next Zoom meeting . Download the file and upload to your ZOOM settings in your account. [Hint: Right-click on a photo and save the file to your local desktop.]

We’ll be revealing one each day so come back + check in often!

Need help applying these cool ZOOM backgrounds to your next meeting?Easy-to-follow instructions are at this link.  The artwork is intentionally flipped. This will show right-reading text when you are using your camera in your ZOOM meeting.

This will be perfect at these upcoming events:
-Ladies of Letterpress Virtual Conference – September 25-27, 2020
-Awayzgoose at Hamilton Wood Type – November 5-8, 2020

Monday, September 14th, 2020 Free Download: Heidelberg Windmill

Tuesday, September 15th, 2020 Free Download: Manicules

Wednesday, September 16th, 2020 Free Download: Vandercook

Thursday, September 17th, 2020 Free Download: Wooden Ornaments

Friday, September 18th, 2020 Free Download: Vandercook Bed Height Gauge

Standing Together – The Printing Community

It’s hard to put into words how much our world has changed (both locally and globally) in just a short period of time. We struggle to keep up with daily reports and advisements.  However, out of this comes sharing and goodness from those around us and our own printing community.

Here at Boxcar Press, we’d like to share with you a little bit of that goodness offered online (from a safe social distance in these times). It’s inspiring to know that there are good folks out there spreading some cheer!

If you’d like to shine the spotlight on someone, let us know! We’d love to hear from you!

Live Daily Readings of Children’s Books With Mary Bruno (of Bruno Press) via Instagram. Come share a good time from Minnesota with Mary every day starting at 12 Noon Central Time!

Mary Bruno - Bruno Press
(image courtesy of Mary Bruno of Bruno Press)

Wilderness of Social Distancing letterpress card from Waterknot Press (from Portland, Oregon).

Waterknot-Wilderness Social Distancing
(image courtesy of Waterknot Press)

Waterknot will be offering a buy 4 get one free special on their website — indefinitely. No code required. Just put 5 cards in your cart and you will only be charged for 4 of them. (via their IG account)

Free Downloadable Color Book PDF – cool creatures and fantastic beasts from Isaac Bidwell of Pickled Punks. Grab a set of crayons and have some fun from this fellow Syracuse-based artist!

PickledPunks - free coloring book PDF downloadable
(image courtesy of Isaac Bidwell of Pickled Punks)

(Fun fact: Isaac Bidwell is an artist that works in the same building as us — the Delavan Center in Syracuse, NY!).

Spring Ephemerals of New York State “Color Your Own Letterpress Print” from Lion Tail Press of Ithaca, New York.

Laurin Ramsey (via IG): “Hey friends! In these uncertain times, when so many of us are isolated indoors, it’s more important than ever to bring beauty and sunshine in however we can. Spring is coming, so I’ve created my first “color your own” letterpress print for us adults and kids, too! Printed on 100% cotton, acid-free paper, this takes beautifully to watercolors, colored pencils, markers, or whatever coloring tool strikes your fancy. Keep for yourself to brighten your home, or send to a loved one who could use some comfort.

Letterpress Community - Standing Together. letterpress print coloring page
(image courtesy of Laurin Ramsey of Lion Tail Press)

Starting today, I’m also offering a 15% site-wide discount at liontailpress.com, when you enter code SHOPSMALL at checkout. This COVID discount also applies to LP e-gift cards AND custom design work going forward! Thank you so much for your continued love and support through this time, for reaching out to loved ones and neighbors, taking good care of yourselves, and taking all of it one day at a time. We’re in this together!”

Watch “Making Faces: Metal Type in the 21st Century” for free via Vimeo. Grab a bowl of popcorn, your favorite snack & enjoy the beautifully documented film on making metal type by P22 Type Foundry and Rich Kegler (Rochester, New York).

Use code: OMEGA22 at the P22 Vimeo On Demand Page.

Making Faces film poster
(image courtesy of Richard Kegler / P22.)

Daily Art Challenge. Stretch those creative muscles daily with Raven’s Wish Gallery art challenge! Raven’s Wish (in Janesville, Wisconsin) posts daily on their Facebook the next thing to make, post, photograph, or do! There is sure to be a challenge theme that will rev your artistic juices.

Try A New Printing Technique (or Revisit a Favorite One!) Have fun pulling out some of your printing and printmaking books to brainstorm a new print project. Need ideas? The Printmaking Ideas Book by Frances Stanfield and Lucy McGeown is chock full of great projects!

(image courtesy of Frances Stanfield)

Printing With Kitchen Items Can’t get to your press? Never fear – embrace your wooden or kitchen spoon to make a print! You’ll use the metal or wooden spoon as a baren to make fun, fantastic prints!

These suggestions are a drop in the bucket of all the ideas out there for creativity, entertainment, and boredom-fighting while you isolate and distance. Share yours with us! We’re curious to see what you’ve got going on!

Let’s See That Printed: Washington Poetic Routes, Poems of Place

We are thrilled to share with you photographs of a beautiful collaboration between the Washington Poetic Routes project and a small group of Washington-based artisanal printers. The project itself is a digital poetry-mapping program that explores Washington state’s bountiful geographical terrain and that of the human relationships within.

The enterprise has joined together Seattle’s School of Visual Concepts, countless wonderful poets across the state, and eight letterpress artists to create the beautiful letterpress broadsides. At Boxcar Press, we are privileged to showcase and highlight this magnum opus of creativity. Below are photos of the process, as well as few shots of the incredibly crafted pieces. Enjoy!

Jenny Wilkson

Claudia Castro Luna, the creator of the Washington Poetic Routes website and SVC’s Designer in Residence from 2018–2019, has this to say:

I think of the poems on this map as heartbeats. Red beats full of candor and intimacy the way only a poem can transmit. My hope is that when reading them one after the other the dots shape in the reader’s mind a new set of travel routes, a complement and an alternative to the to the road routes drawn in on the map. The green routes take us physically from Point A to Point B. Depending on how the reader clicks on them, the dots will create a new constellation of routes: emotional, spiritual routes that tap into memory, into history, into joy, into our desires and frustrations, into land, trees, fish and bird song.

My hope is that together, through our own poems of place we will have a new, different way of engaging with each other as citizens. Together we create a living map of what is like to live in this wonderful place we share called Washington State.

The portfolio includes a diverse representation of poems from across the state. I chose “The Rhody Garden” because not only is the rhododendron our state flower and I happen to have a whole forest of them in my backyard, but I loved the poet’s whimsical description of their bloom cycle.

This broadside was printed in 3 passes. The text and line art were printed in black with a Boxcar photopolymer plate. Then, I overprinted the black pass with a linocut, first in bright pink, then cutting away from the same linoleum block and printing it again in darker magenta—a very straightforward reduction cut!

Though I am usually so careful, somehow I managed to impale the palm of my hand with my carving tool while working on this. A quick trip to urgent care and some super glue fixed me right up, and now I have a scar to scare my students with.

Carl Youngmann of The North Press

This project involved teamwork at several levels. Arts agencies, our state’s poet laureate, Seattle’s fantastic School of Visual Concepts, and eight letterpress artists. I was one of them. And, oh—my wife and printing partner. She dove in as facilitator of the whole shebang (lots of emails, a little guidance). Everyone’s team spirit resulted in eight poetry broadsides, all collected into a stunning folio constructed by Windowpane Press.

My wife and I operate The North Press in Port Townsend, Washington. Poetry broadsides are about ninety percent of what we print. I selected Sandra Meade’s “Blackbird Sings at Night”; for its shape: tall and narrow—and because it’s a terrific Poem.

Our experience is that it’s best to start the design process with the body of the poem, to look at how it will occupy the page—what type, what size, what placement—and then the poem title and the author’s name, followed by subtitle, attributions, etc. I try to keep in mind that I’m working with someone else’s creative work, so there’s no messing with the poem’s alignment or indents. My job is to elevate the poem and not overshadow it with graphic whizbangs. That said, I’m comfortable with some sort of illustration secondary to the poem, and Ms. Meade gave me plenty to work with.

We teach a workshop called “Pixels to Print”. It’s about converting digital photographs to high-contrast art (what we used to call “camera ready”). The grass beneath the rural mailbox is an example of making a polymer plate from a continuous tone, full color photograph. With the right sequence of steps, many images—even blurry snapshots like the one we took on a road trip in South Dakota—can be converted to high-contrast and printed from polymer. For this composite illustration, I began with the grass. Then the mailbox. Then the cancellation and, finally, the bird. We had Pablo Neruda’s signature from a previous Project.

I ran black, gray, and red inks on the press. In that order. The red was the smallest plate I’ve ever printed, but there was no question that the blackbird’s wing would get its own impression. I love the poem’s reference to the mailman’s/blackbird’s “official shoulder patches”.

As I said, my broadside was only part of this project. Credit should go to Ellie Mathews for facilitating and to the other printers involved: Amy Redmond, Annabelle Larner, Heidi Hespelt, Chris Copley, Marie Kuch-Stanofsky, Jenny Wilkson, and Sukhie Patel. Midway through the process, we managed to gather for a critique session in which everyone shared their design considerations. Working in concert with these artists was both inspiring and humbling. I think I can speak for the group of us to say that we are grateful to Boxcar Press for sponsoring the project, and to Neenah Paper for contributing enough Neenah Cotton in Pearl White for the eight, 8×10 inch broadsides plus the cover sheet explaining the project. Teamwork!

Annabelle Larner

I was honored to be part of the Washington Poetic Routes: Poems of Place project. I was immediately drawn to Luther Allen’s poem, dropping down the west side of the cascades. I love the way he transitions from the mountains of Steven’s Pass (about 80 miles east of Seattle) to the ocean, and how he depicts change in the environment. And he really captured the mossy green wetness of our area. Here’s the poem: 

By Luther Allen, at Steven’s Pass
this is it. the smell of green
of damp rot, of slugs and ferns
and staggering grand trees
the smell of festering tidal flats
the burst of orcas through
a rain-matted sea.
the smell of gulls and sea lions
salmon and cedar longhouses
of pulp mills and seattle traffic
shrouded in mysterious islands
and miles and miles and miles
of raw ocean.

I always want to try new things when a project presents itself to me (sometimes frustrating myself for experimenting under a deadline!), so I thought of printing on wood because it felt right for the poem. I found a beautiful piece with whorls and knots, which looked both watery and woodsy.

For the background I mixed a mossy greenish color that had enough transparent in it to also feel layered like water. For the first pass on the wood I used a pressure print to create a mountain silhouette. This was a challenge, and took a lot of tests in order to not lose the whorls and details of the wood while pressure printing, so I ended double-inking each one.

The poem was hand-set set in the slab-serif, Stymie, which I felt befitted his words and I liked the way the type looked with the wood. I played with various layouts for the poem and was happy to stagger the title a bit, to reflect the dropping down words.