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Founded by Yoshiko Yamamoto & Bruce Smith, we are a small letterpress printing studio. Begun as a publishing house concerned with the historic Arts and Crafts movement, all the publications of The Arts and Crafts Press have been letterpress printed and bound by hand. Today the Press produces greeting cards and limited-edition blockprints that are letterpress printed from hand cut blocks inspired by the turn-of-the-century movement. All of our current note cards and prints are designed by Yoshiko Yamamoto.

Why I make block prints and letterpress note cards. . .

I love working in the tradition of block printing that once flourished in my home country of Japan. I especially respect the belief that artwork should be based on sound craftsmanship, a creed that I have found reflected in the Arts and Crafts movement here in America, the other powerful influence on my work.

But yet, it is the Japanese sense of spontaneity that I keep returning to, the idea that a work of art should capture a moment caught in time, a moment that holds the essence of why we live, whether it is in the rising grandeur of Mt. Rainier, or the fragility of a spider’s web spun across a branch of a tree.
How I make my blockprints?
A block print is a print made from handcut/machine cut blocks. Following the Japanese tradition, after pencil sketches and watercolor renditions, I carve the outline block by chisels. After the outline block is carved, I pull the first image on a very thin sheet of paper, which then is turned upside down and pasted onto the multiple colors that she needs to carve. 
When all the blocks are ready, then I take each block and lock them into the antique printing presses. I then handmix each color and print each color, using all the blocks that I prepared. I sometimes use over 20 blocks to create the desired effect.
What is Letterpress printing?
Letterpress printing is a relief print process. The printed image is produced by a raised surface (lead type for example) being inked and then impressed onto a sheet of paper. These raised surfaces have historically been anything from woodcuts to wood engravings, from linocuts to type faces. Over the past several years, a new type of plate made from photopolymer have contributed to revival in letterpress printing. At the Arts & Crafts Press, we use all of these methods, from wood blocks, linoleum blocks, to photopolymer plates.

Letterpress printing is the oldest form of printing. It produces a strong, sharp outline to the individual letters and images printed. As compared to offset lithography and computer laser printing, letterpress printed surfaces are in relief so that a slight indentation can usually be seen, if not felt, on the paper. 

At The Arts & Crafts Press
The Press uses four different ways of printing: (1) Our own hands wielding a baren; (2) An Reliance iron handpress, circa 1860; (3) A Vandercook Model 4 & Model 219, circa 1940; (4) Heidelberg Letterpress KS line (circa 1950s) for printing our note cards.
The Paper we use

The earliest paper is said to have been made in China from using silk in about 200 BC. The early papers made in Europe were primarily made from raw materials such as linen and cotton rags that gave strength and permanence to the paper. As the industrialization took over the paper industry in the late nineteenth century, wood pulp became the main material for paper creating a weaker paper which would not have the lasting quality of the linen and cotton made paper.

The paper used at The Arts and Crafts Press is acid-free and, depending upon the project, can be handmade, mouldmade, or machine made. Handmade paper is literally made by hand artisans using a mould to scoop up from a vat water with a beaten pulp mixture which, when dried, forms the paper. Both mouldmade paper and machinemade paper are made by machine. The machine used for mouldmade paper is based on a cylinder-mould that allows a faster production of paper using high quality paper like the handmade. Due to its mechanized motion, the mouldmade paper is more even and regular in character than the handmade. The machine-made paper is mostly made of wood fibre, but some companies offer them with cotton rags also.
About the Artist, Yoshiko Yamamoto
Growing up in Tokyo, I first studied sculpture at Tama Art University in Japan, and then, after moving to California, studied music and modern American and Japanese history at the University of California, Berkeley. In 1996, as I worked as freelance writer about food and architecture, I founded with my husband, Bruce Smith, The Arts & Crafts Press, in Berkeley, teaching myself (with the help of wonderful mentors) the craft of letterpress block printing.
For my limited edition prints, I first sketch flora and fauna I find either in America or in Japan -- anything from fir trees, pines, maples, and poppies, to heron, koi fish, and crickets --and then after multiple drawings and watercolors I begin cutting the blocks. Sometimes I work with wood blocks, usually cherry, and other times, I choose linoleum blocks. I also use hard polymer plates for some of the color blocks. I then takes these blocks and plates, printing each color separately on a Vandercook printing press, using as many as twenty blocks per print to achieve the desired effect.
I live in a small coastal town in Washington with my husband, children, and four happy hens.

Click images to enlarge  

The Arts & Crafts Press
2515B South Tacoma Way
Tacoma, WA 98409

tel 360-871-7707
fax 360-871-7718


“The aim of the revival of fine printing is, I repeat, merely due to a wish to give a permanent and beautiful form to that portion of our literature which is secure of permanence. By a permanent form I do not mean merely sound as to paper and ink, etc.; I mean permanent in the sense that the work reflects that conscious aim towards beauty and order which are ever interesting elements in themselves.”

— From William Morris, who began the revival of fine printing as part of the Arts and Crafts movement:

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The Arts & Crafts Press - 2515B South Tacoma Way - Tacoma, WA 98409 - Tel 360.871.7707 - Fax 360.871.7718

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