Want to come see us at the 29th Annual Arts & Crafts Conference for free?
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and number of people and we'll send them your way!
Want to learn to make your own block-printed Valentine's Day card? Then you can sign up for an introductory linoleum block printing workshop that Yoshiko Yamamoto will be teaching.
WHEN: January 31st (Sun) from 12 noon till 3 pm.
WHERE: Craft in America Center
8415 W. Third Street, Los Angeles, 90048
To sign up, please contact email@example.com or call (323) 951-0610.
Space is limited, so sign up early!
More Information? Click here.
The beginning of the year brings us much hope and anticipation!
This month we're excited to launch this newly redesigned website. Our web address is the same as our old one, but the new site itself is more user-friendly, visually pleasing, and responsive to various applications. Kudos to our wonderfully talented studio staff, Taylor, who managed this make-over!
So please visit our site and enjoy browsing our website.
And free free to give us your feedback!! We always appreciate ALL your comments -- both positive and negative ones as we learn a lot from you.
Join us November 21st from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm for our annual open studio and holiday sale!
It’s hard to believe that a year has passed since we opened our Tacoma studio location with the grand opening event.
Stock up on holiday gifts, print a keepsake on one of our vintage presses, and enjoy holiday treats. Come early at 11 am and enjoy the holiday harp music by Cassandra Reinbolt.
2015. . . Born in the year of the sheep, I’m excited about this auspicious new year. . .
The executive producer Carol Sauvion and her team will arrive at our studio in Tacoma this Saturday. They are going to film our work process from sketching, everything from carving blocks, making polymer plates, to printing on our letterpress printing presses. I’ll be making a special new note card “Winter Cardinals” for this PBS show.
What a great way to start a new year!
Many Changes & New Studio Space
But looking back on the year past, I must confess I’m so glad we’re done with 2014 and that 2015 is here now.
Last year was a year of change and transition. I do appreciate good changes, but even as good as they were, there were way too many. We first moved our home to Tacoma, and spent months searching for the perfect studio space. After signing a commercial lease for our new studio, we spent months gutting out the debris, building a showroom and kitchen, cleaning, painting, adding shelving and storage and replacing broken windows, finally reaching the day we were able to move our antique printing presses.Somewhat “shellshocked” from all the change, now I can look around our surroundings with a smile. Yay, we survived 2014!
I really love our new studio space. Compared to our former home/studio in a small town of Port Orchard –a large suburban house with a two-car garage (which served as our pressroom for the last decade) — the new location is nice and airy, zoned commercial, and perfectly laid out for a small letterpress-printing business.
But part of me sorely misses the quietude, the gentle breeze and sunlight, the trees and birds of our old home/studio. I fondly remember the time our backyard hens forced open the sliding door and marched inside to see what we were up to that day. A raccoon family often came and lazily hung around in our enormous maple tree. Our children used to race to eat cucumbers and peas as they matured in our backyard.
But even without those pleasing natural elements I have to say that the new studio space is quite functional and wonderful. With ample room we can work comfortably without bumping into each other.
Now that our studio is open to public, occasional visitors come by.
I enjoy giving a quick tour of our old printing presses. “This one is our real workhorse, Heidi, she was built by German press makers and I have to say this prints more than 100,000 note cards a year for us. And that ‘Old Gordon’ is so beautiful, don’t you think? Look at the curve on the flywheel. . . But all these presses have one thing in common. It’s a relief printing process where raised area of the block receives theink for printing. ” I LOVE using and learning to use these old presses, some dating back to the 1890s and our newest one is from the 1950s.
Often our visitors are amazed to find that we actually use these old presses to print all our note cards and block prints. With prevalence of digital printing, giclee, color copies,and offset printing, it is understandable. Why do people like me use old presses to print, when newer technologies are available?
Why do we letterpress today?
The Economist in its recent issue published a short article about the recent renaissance of old printing (esp. letterpress). http://www.economist.com/blogs/prospero/2014/12/renaissance-printing
In a nutshell, the article describes the two chief reasons for the rebirth of old letterpress printing. One is that younger generation got “digital fatigue” and they’re looking for “individualized products and hands-on experience”. Hear, hear!! Enough screen time, enough scrolling!! They want real sweat, smear, and smudge. I can relate to that!!
Another reason is that paradoxically computers helped save the dying trade of letterpress printing and helped spread its popular appeal. Rather than learning the craft of setting metal type to print, now we can compose sentences in the computer and make a polymer plate to print from.
I use both hand-carved blocks and polymer plates for our work at the Press. The polymer plates are durable and suitable for our note card production as we usually print as many as three-thousand note cards at one time. Linoleum blocks won’t last more than 200, 300 imprints and so I use them for our limited-edition prints.
Philosophically too I’m attracted to both the handcraft of the hand-carved blocks and also the digital advantage that polymer plates offer. I have been using this hybrid method for years and I think I’m always trying to gauge the balance between the “hand” and the “machine.”
As William Morris said over a century ago, my goal is for us to be “the masters of our machines and not their slaves,” to find the balance between our hands and machine.
I think this quote is not relevant just for us printers. I think it’s relevant for woodworkers, textile artists, factory workers, writers, cooks, homemakers, office workers, medical professionals, store clerks, janitorial workers, and all humans who work.
And so here I am, in my new studio, carving a new linoleum block and taking breaks to sip tea and type this blog entry. Often I think of the age-old question. . . how do we make our work pleasurable and meaningful, not just for myself, but for all of us who work at our studio?
I hope your new year will be a great one too!
Yesterday an email came from Jeff Lord of Liberty Graphics, a high-end silk-screen T-shirt company out of Maine. Always a happy, cheerful fellow, Jeff said that they’d like to ask me to license my “love chick design for the new line of baby onesies. Is it OK?”
Now a step-grandma, I was thrilled and overjoyed by the idea of a cute onesie with my design that I can put on Alvin, my grandson. I answered Jeff hastily to “go ahead.”
As a cat has nine lives, my designs have many incarnations. It’s fun to trace their transformations or mutations. So here is the chronology.
I first designed this “Love Chick” image as part of our 2013 Chicken desktop calendar pages.
The “Love Chick” was a February (Valentine) design, with one baby chick giving a heart-shaped leaf to the other.
We had four wonderful backyard hens then. When the chicks were still a few weeks old, they loved to play with small twigs and leaves outside. They were adorable and perfect little models; I made many watercolor sketches.
My chicken obsession continued and the calendar images became a set of “mini chicken cards” which were then sold out immediately.
I still couldn’t get enough of the chick image; I decided to add a few more colors and make a full-fledged letterpress card.
And now I’m thinking to try this image on a tea-towel or a mug. . . peep, peep, peep. . .
Which one do you like better? (Don’t worry; it’s NOT a test!!)
I just finished making a new block print “Peace Lanterns”. (The image above on the left is the new block print and the one on the right is my quick watercolor sketch.) It’s a scene of the lantern-floating ceremony “From Hiroshima to Hope” that is held annually near Seattle on August 6th. The event advocates world peace and opposes warfares and violence. It also commemorates the lives that were lost by the atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. (Please view http://vimeo.com/16567779 for a great short clip of this event.)
Our family attended this event last year. My then-six-year-old daughter is usually shy, but on the night of the “From Hiroshima to Hope” event last year, she was ready to volunteer. She jumped into the lake water and helped hundreds of participants float their paper lanterns. I was also inspired by this beautiful gathering and so when I got home, I created a few watercolors.
Then I decided to turn one of the watercolors into a blockprint. As I worked on this print, I kept having a question: Why do I make a block print of watercolors? Obviously this is how we block printers often work. While carving away the linoleum (fun, but laborious process), the same question kept coming back: Why do I make prints from watercolors?
It took me weeks (besides other things I’m trying to get done daily) to carve this linoleum block. Then it took another few weeks for me to work on color separations, make polymer color blocks for all the colors, and prepare the proof copies before my assistant and I were able to begin printing 180 copies of the print.
But then my sense of doubt was all erased when we began printing. As my children like to say, printing is like magic! It’s when all the details and layers become fused into a cohesive whole. And the process of printing is so tactile and full of visual rewards. Every layer of colors adds depth and nuance to the print. Here (below) you can see how the print looks after the first six colors being printed.
Plus with the block print, the colors are more definitive than watercolors. The shapes and lines become simplified and cleaner. And the composition is more refined.
When I finished printing the last color and saw the completed blockprint, I felt a sense of relief. For the last two months while I was working on this new print, I felt as though I’d been swimming under water, holding my breath, thinking and imagining how all these blocks and colors come together to make one print.
Below you can see another example of this transformation from a pencil sketch, watercolor, and to a block print, made by Walter Phillips, a well-known Canadian block print artist and watercolorist.
For my “Peace Lantern” print, I ended up using 14 blocks. We used 100% cotton Rives BFK paper, mold-made in France. Fifty copies (numbered from 1 through 50) have been donated to “Hiroshima to Hope” event organizers to raise funds for their annual event. To find out more about this print, please visit our website http://www.artsandcraftspress.com/BigPicture.asp?catalogid=462. And to find out more about the “Hiroshima” event, please visit http://fromhiroshimatohope.org.