Friday, February 21, 2020

Letterpress--and the impression it left on my heart

I took a letterpress workshop this past weekend at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts as part of my larger journey into the book arts. I'm in a certificate program, and a letterpress class is a requirement. I'd been dreading it. Large pieces of equipment, lots of technical know how, the fear of actually designing some visual something to go with whatever carefully chosen words I finally, after much second-guessing, chose. Good lord, we had to carve a linoleum block and make an image with a pressure print. I'd never heard of either of these things. And I had no idea what a historic Vandercook press was.

It turned out that the bigger picture, outside of my personal insecurities, was so much bigger than I expected. Printing and the power of it, political and otherwise, is staggering.

The first newspaper printed in America pre-dates the United States of America. (It was letterpress printed.) The publisher had fled England after being punished for publishing seditious pamphlets. He got into trouble in his new home too. After Publick Occurrences was published in Boston in 1690, the governor banned it. The very first newspaper in North America was the first to be suppressed. In this era of living with a president who lies and spews insults about journalists, their struggle is even more profound in its long historical context.

And, on a somewhat lighter noter, as someone whose blogging activities have been restricted by a divorce related restraining order, well, I felt a resurgence of my powers. Ha!--the restraining order constraining me says nothing about leaflets or broadsides or little booklets. I'm mostly joking here. I seldom think of you-know-who.

This hangs in the letterpress studio at MCBA. If you zoom in you can read the attribution on the bottom.

I did actually feel that I was on sacred ground in the basement of MCBA. 

I carved a lino block for the depiction of the ocean waves (hard not to laugh as I type this.) I can't draw, so I knew not to get in over my head. But a person can trace onto a lino block and then carve the tracing, btw-- so maybe that's what I'll try next time.

I made cards. 

I plan to make suminagashi marbled envelopes to go with them.
Here's what the type for the text looked like all locked up on the Vandercook. 

And wouldn't it be fun to make protest posters on the Vandercook press!?


ahmed said...

شركة تسليك مجاري بالاحساء

Julesarose said...

Wow! This is impressive, reminds me of Ruth Reichel's stories about her father who was a book designer and how she was influenced by his work. Bravo you, for expanding your limits.

Andrea Charles said...

Hey Denise, it gives me immense pleasure and pride to read your story. You have shown courage to step out of your comfort zone and plunge into the uncharted waters of printing! And do not think little of your drawing, it just takes a bit of practice and you are gonna get there. Trust me, you got this.