Star of the East

Sterling Silver Grey Urchin Ring
Sterling Silver Grey Urchin Ring

Star of the East is a mother-daughter duo in Turkey creating quite a variety of work with local materials. My favorite pieces by Esther and Estella are their urchin rings made of found shells. They’re so intricate and perfect — absolutely beautiful. They are lucky ladies to live where they do!

My favorite again, Sterling Silver White Ring and Mini Pinkish Brown Copper Urchin Ring
Left to right: My favorite again, the Sterling Silver Grey Urchin Ring, Sterling Silver White Ring and Mini Pinkish Brown Copper Urchin Ring

Crafterall

"Topo in Olive"

Another Madisonian (who recently moved to MN — we won’t hold it against her) whose work I cannot get enough of is Marnie of Crafterall. I have admired her cut paper “Topo” pieces for quite some time and they just keep getting better and better. I love the way the paper seems fluid and her color selection is impeccable.

"Topo in Brown" and "Topo in Olive" again because that's my favorite
Left: "Topo in Red," Top right: "Topo in Brown" and "Topo in Olive" again, because that's my favorite.

Limited Editions

Last week, I finished printing one of my new favorite cards. Using original illustrations I drew just over a year ago, I’m creating a series of limited edition, numbered cards. This first edition is very small, just 25 cards plus one artist’s proof, shown here, a couple of which have already been claimed (the first one was claimed by my grandma before the ink was even dry!). And I’m just in love with them, so I’ll need to keep several for myself! The rest you can purchase here.

Limited Edition 'Marine' Letterpress Notecard
Limited Edition "Marine" Letterpress Notecard

Reboot

Finally, I’m done talking about myself for a little while. Reboot is a great little company I found in the “shop local” section on etsy. I love love LOVE Alicia’s recycled wallets — they’re made from vintage cowboy boots! I believe she’s looking into retail locations in south-central Wisconsin, I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, check her out here.

The studio

Ever since I fell in love with typography and letterpress in college, I knew one day I’d buy a press. One day meaning when I had a house to put it in and the time to do it (ok, so maybe just the former).

Then came craigslist. The boyfriend, he is addicted, and he found this press under an hour away from where we live. With everything I needed to start a studio. Plus type. For cheap. How is this possible? Well, of course because I had nowhere to put it. Then the most surprising part of this whole enterprise, my parents were easily sweet-talked into letting me take over half their basement. I had a studio!

just after she moved into the basement (left) and with her second inking (the first one was a bit of a disaster)
Bess, my press: just after she moved into the basement and during her second inking (first successful print — the first one was a bit of a disaster)

A very dirty studio. A studio covered in dust and bugs and 120 years of ink and solvent (mixed with dust and bugs of course). I bronze-brushed every square inch of the press (ok, only the important square inches, but it works, doesn’t it?) and have been slowly but surely going through the process of taking every compartment of type out, cleaning it in denatured alcohol, drying it and putting it into a clean type case.

dusty type (no bugs in this drawer at least), a toad who thought a freshly washed type drawer would make a nice home, delicious squeaky clean lead type.
Top: the drawers of type. Bottom, left to right: dusty type (no bugs in this drawer at least), a toad who thought a freshly washed type drawer would make a nice home, delicious squeaky clean lead type.

Then I had to figure out the whole image thing. The only image I had ever letterpressed before I made with a solar plate, which didn’t create a deep enough impression, wasn’t mounted at the right height and was generally a total and complete pain in the ass. Thanks to briarpress, I found boxcar, and later Owosso Graphics.

While boxcar does beautiful work and many many letterpress artists swear by their photopolymer system, I like Owosso for two reasons. 1) The initial investment is significantly less (as in less than 10% of what it would have taken to start with boxcar’s system) and 2) There’s something wonderful about working with wood and metal, materials that have been used in this manner since this method of printing was invented, that photopolymer plates simply can’t match. Since then, I’ve also found they have great customer service (as in they call you if they’re unclear on your order—a real person, not an automated anything) and a super quick turn-around. GO OWOSSO!

Exhausted

Between dancing like crazy at the Dave Matthews Band concert last night and printing for 8 hours straight today, I can barely find the energy to type. Things to come: how I got this studio up and running, new cards, and finally I’ll get up a couple of my favorite handmade items up.

In the beginning . . .

. . . there was this book:

You could say I jumped into letterpress head first. I made this limited edition book in a book arts class in college. The majority of it was printed within one week — why? Because I am a crazy person. I had no idea how much time and work it would take, but I’m still in love with the results.

I have 9 of these books left, on sale here.