Sunday, August 23, 2009

diagram of a platen press.

Sometimes a picture does the job much faster than a string of words - this is a diagram of a press nearly identical to mine, labeled. Clicking on the image will open a larger view.

In one of my workshops at San Francisco Center for the Book, we received copies from old instructional manuals, which have some great retro-looking (and helpful!) diagrams throughout.

Happy Sunday.

Friday, August 21, 2009

reconnaissance mission:

Reconnaissance missions usually require the gathering of information about an enemy, but my informal and spontaneous little mission was quite the opposite. I set out over lunch yesterday, ostensibly to return something to Radio Shack, and to pick up a birthday card for my husband's younger brother. By the time I returned home, I had 11 new cards, and none for the intended recipient.

But I love discovering new card makers - whether they are new on the block, or just new to me. Everyone has such different, creative ideas and ways in which to view the world.

I especially liked Tomoko Maruyama, who has a fun San Francisco series, and some really great cards for expectant mothers. (And in my life, 'tis the season of baby showers!)

Another favorite (from Park Life) were by Yellow Owl Workshop:

Finally, and last but not least, Hamburgerpanda scores points for their name alone, but also for this:

Actually, none of the cards were printed by letterpress, and the fact that I bought only cards made by local or small/independent artisans was also by chance - they were simply the cards I liked the best.

The highlight of the shopping excursion was talking to a woman at Cherish, and finally having the courage to ask: Where and how do you buy your cards? She was really helpful and encouraging and provided a wealth of information, as a starting point. Plus an invitation to come back with my cards someday down the line!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

i ♥ pantone.

My faux Pantone color guide arrived in the mail just the other day, purchased on eBay for only $20. The Pantone colors are authentic although the guide was published by a now defunct sister company, and while the guide is brand new, it doesn't contain colors developed in the past 9 years. It probably does not contain today's color of the day, for example: Mistletoe PANTONE 16-0220.

Still, a person has to choose their financial battles. The purchase of the press itself, and also this week, the chase, bought directly from Craftsmen Machinery, were sizable enough purchases for the month of August. Eventually I hope to get some newer color guides, including the Metallics, but for now this will do.

I'm going to be starting with a green ink - not because I particularly love green, which I don't, or because of its environmental associations. I'm going with green because limes are ... green. I'm a literal girl.

I came across this article on the Pantone website, entitled "go with green," full of fun facts:
  • The green color family is the largest color family discernible to the human eye
  • The use and popularity of green colorations are on the upswing in all design disciplines
According to the article, people's feelings about green vary widely, as do our associations with the color - or rather, particular shades of green. "Peridot Green PANTONE 376, signifies renewal, life and the freshness of the great outdoors," for example, while, and unfortunately for me, "The yellow-green shades such as chartreuse evoke the most negative of emotions, according to the Pantone Consumer Color Preference Study which rated chartreuse as the color consumers disliked the most." I'll give that some thought.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

road trip!

Since letterpress as a hobby is more about the journey than the destination, I thought it was appropriate to share a little of our journey, literally, between San Francisco and Los Angeles - roundtrip in approximately 15 hours - to pick up my new (er, old!) printing press. (Clicking on the pics significantly enlarges them.)

1. We flew into Orange County Saturday morning, rented a mid-size SUV, and drove to Garden Grove. We found the press, thrillingly, in beautiful condition and strapped it into the back of the car. Shortly thereafter, we turned around to head back home.

2. We drove home via I5, some 460.6 miles, stopping for lunch at a taqueria in Los Angeles where, incidentally, we also had a Jimmy Kimmel sighting. Afterward, the horizon was in the distance, the sun setting to our left, and we passed cacti and cornfields, feeding cattle and open countryside. There were vineyards laden with grapes, and we smelled onions, and passed trucks hauling tomatoes upstate.

3. We stopped for dinner at Harris Ranch, where I hadn't been since my adolescence. The tomato beef salad hit the hunger spot.

4. And then, finally, the Craftsmen platen press met San Francisco, sometime after midnight. Some names were discussed, including Shirley and Henrietta, but I prefer calling her plain old "Red." And she's not just red -- rather, as her former owner said, she's "red hot." A shade I've heard referred to as "ox blood."

A huge thanks goes out to my husband for his company, and for keeping his calm - even when we nearly missed our flight and went running through the airport, were pulled out of the security line and boarded our plane with minutes to spare; and when, before that, the long-term parking lot was full; and for all those times I freaked out on the 405 because LA drivers are a different breed. Another big thanks to my brother Mike for driving out Sunday morning to help my husband carry the press into our apartment. For all my weight training at the gym, nearly 200 pounds of free weight in an awkwardly shaped package was more than I could handle.

It was a long day, but a good adventure, and the journey, as it were, is just beginning.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

once upon a time...

There were calling cards and regular correspondences via handwritten letters. Paper was handmade, and people used natural objects: feather, ink, wax.

Letters have a romantic quality, and are undoubtedly personal -- one hand grazing the paper as it writes, another hand opening the letter once it has arrived, the individual shapes of a person's alphabet, and the places where mistakes are still visible. Letters carry the evidence, perhaps, of the journey: water stains, folded corners.

Letter-writing is by no means a lost art, only a more expensive one. Fine recycled papers and eco-savvy inks, rising postage, and most especially, time, can be hard to come by.

Still, isn't it lovely to open the mail and find an envelope that doesn't contain a bill or an advertisement? The greeting card, the notepad, carefully designed gift wrap--they may not be necessary, but aren't they nice and easy on the eye?

This blog is about paper, and about the process of creating letterpress cards, and seeing where it goes. I am a writer by trade, but one creative endeavor seems to beget another, and so I'm trying out a new venture, just for fun, in whatever spare time I can make.

Expect things to change. The logos here are a work-in-progress collaboration with my brother, Andrew, who recently graduated with his art degree from San Jose State University, and who is hard at work on a fledgling silkscreen printing business. The name 'sublime' has a sentimental inspiration from my own college days, but is mainly inspired by a photograph. We're currently at work transforming that photo into a graphic. Plus, I like the idea of something tart and cheeky, and using a nice chartreuse.