August 2, 2012

Letters + Press

A couple of years ago, I became unhealthily obsessed with all things letterpress. So much so, that after what I perceived to be an uninspired year of graduate school studying social work, I almost dropped out to pursue an MFA in Book Arts at the University of Alabama (surprise mom & dad). Thankfully, I had some really good friends who, while patient and kind with me, suggested that perhaps my increased interest in letterpress was just my inner desire to want to be creative and told me to stick with what I was learning.

Then I stumbled upon my saving grace; Pyramid Atlantic in downtown Silver Spring, MD. With a mission to "build communities that give life to printmaking, papermaking, and the book arts", I got hooked. I immediately signed up for their "Introduction to the Vandercook Letterpress" class. Best. Decision. Ever. I got to learn about this old, majestic art of printing, and got to hand-set and print two 4-5 lined phrases by myself (!). During that time, I was following a guy by the name of Tyler Knott Gregson on tumblr and came across a poem of his that I loved. I was also being inspired by the words of Hafiz through my dear friend Cait (remember her?). Thus I ended up printing these two pieces of art on leftover paper from one of Pyramid Atlantic's papermaking classes:

Since then, I have slowly been browsing, window-shopping, and purchasing letterpressed things, mostly cards. I don't remember exactly when I started this hobby, but at some point I came across letterpressed paper goods that I couldn't get enough of. My first letterpressed purchase were these postcards I found while I was living in Atlanta at a cute boutique on Highland Avenue (and I still have them). Fast forward to earlier this year, when I discovered that these postcards are the handiwork of Concrete Lace (you can browse and/or shop here).

Just a few places I frequented when I was at school in Atlanta

In October of last year, I attended Washington City Paper's Crafty Bastard Arts & Crafts Fair with a friend. There I was further inspired by letterpress and saw how people have made a wonderful living staying creative and inspired all while doing art.

Through the use of the wonderful world-wide web, I was thrust into the world of all things print; enter in wonderful works of Old Try (blog & shop), Claudia Pearson (blog & Etsy shop), Ink Meets Paper (blog & Etsy shop), Parrot Design Studio (blog & Etsy shop) to name a few.

 My obsession with letterpress has corresponded with my love for cards; writing cards and sending cards. With this day-and-age of instant messaging, the "pings" of sent emails, and the commenting of Facebook walls, sometimes we forget how wonderful it is to get a handwritten note every once in a while! I am happy to report that my love for hoarding collecting letterpressed cards has also inspired me to continue the art of writing and sending notes 'just because'. 

Clockwise starting from left: Calendar by Linda & Harriett; card by Dude and Chick Stationary Sweetness,;card by Pinterette Press (all found and purchased at Mac & Murphy in Charleston, SC)

Card by egg press; Card by Wiley Valentine (all found and purchased at Mac & Murphy in Charleston, SC)

Apparently I'm not the only one who has become obsessed with all things letter & press. Ladies of Letterpress is having a Letterpress Conference August 2-5th.  Indie Craft Parade is happening September 7-9th. These are just a few examples of this exciting new expression of people wanting to learn more, be more inspired, and purchase more handmade and handcrafted things. There are even blogs devoted to paper & cards; Oh So Beautiful Paper! What a wonderful community of creative and curious people who love all things beautiful and quirky! I can't wait to explore Savannah and see the fabulous art that I'm sure is exploding out of the seams!

*Friends - any tips on where I can go to find and explore paper?

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