Saturday, September 11, 2010

CTOs at Frog and Toad

Fantastic News! Long story as short as possible -- I met with the owner of an awesome local store called Frog and Toad and he really liked my books. An order was made, I produced the goods, and wham bam thank you ma'am. CTOs are now for sale at Frog and Toad! Located on Hope St. in Providence, Rhode Island! This is my first big break of getting my products into a store and into the world so I am super psyched. Woohoo!

The order consisted of 2 x 1.5 inch mini books, cereal serial bindings, tiny ornamental minis, and soft leather historic long stitch books. Check some samples of what you'll find at the store below!

Remember readers that I am always excited to produce custom orders.

Biggest Book I've Made Yet

Over the summer I received a request to build a scrapbook. Yes build, not make. This baby was supposed to be huge. And it was. Huge. When I think scrapbook I think three ring binder -- ppff -- or stickers or semi maybe perhaps tacky decorations depending on respective tastes. The scrapbook I was asked to create was to be classy, smooth, and I would not fail to make anything less than hunka hunka gorgeous. I decided to build the book simply as a large book at first. I used a beautiful thick Rives BFK paper and made sure to keep the deckled edges. Deckle is the rough "fringy" looking edge of certain paper. I sewed the text block, lined the spine, glue the case together and voila! Phase one - Complete.

Phase 2 - Book turned Scrapbook Transformation.

A scrapbook contains pictures, letters, photographs, etc. If one inserts extra material into any book the entire structure will expand, puff out, stress the spine and heighten the risk of deterioration of the book. In order to compensate for extra material pages need to be left out from the beginning, or cut out at the end. I chose the latter. It was a bit heartbreaking to cut away from the massive text block but I was comforted by the thought that it would rise again after filled with letters and other mementos. I used a black Brillianta bookcloth for the spine and my own green stone marbled paper for the covers. Very proud of this gigantic piece which has inspired me to produce another one without removing pages. I just want a gigantic book next to my mini 1 inch ones.

Bill Used to Display Size

Deckled Edges

Gold Stamping on Cover Label

Final Scrapbook after Pages Were Removed

I have recently been informed that it has chunked back up quite close to it's original thickness. Happy Birthday Mr. Wojie! It was a huge pleasure to make this book.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Phantastic Mr. Photoshop

So, if you've read the About Me page on this site than you already know I am an experienced photographer and photoshop nerd. Earlier this year my grandmother gave me a giant photograph of herself and her twin brother. I was asked to transform the image into a smaller one that might sit nicely on a mantel or bedside table. Wish granted. And I thought I'd share another passion of mine with you. Don't worry, books still rock my socks off.


The original photograph was roughly 18 by 20 inches (still is -- the original is intact completely). The edges weren't in great shape either and the right bottom corner had ripped off. The picture needed to be scanned in four segments and then pieced together in Photoshop. Once I finished that part I edited the different colors and cleaned the photo of dust, specs, time damage, and replaced some lost areas. My grandma's birthday rolled around early August and I presented her with a lovely 4 by 6 inch framed photograph. Another will be printed and sent to her twin.


Monday, September 6, 2010

Summer Summary

Welcome to EM Letterpress!

This was my place of employment this summer. The space included several Heidelberg presses, a manually operated Vandercook press, digital guillotine, polymer plate maker (probably not a technical term), and much much more!

My professor from Brown University, Elias Roustom, was kind enough to offer me the greatest summer internship position ever! Third floor, hottest summer I can remember, humid, sticky, offensively loud machinery. IT WAS THE BEST! Seriously. I witnessed the fantastic speed and genius of letterpress work and did my part to help out whenever and wherever needed. Duties included but were not limited to: duplexing, trimming, printing, cleaning, edge decorating, sewing, and polymer plate prep and production.

Some of the most beautiful menus, invitations, and business cards passed right through my fingers. Towers of paper, clickety clanks of a working presses, great people. I couldn't have asked for a better opportunity. If you want to see more of Elias (and Matt -- the best graphic designer I know!) check out their blog --

A Heidelberg Printing Press

I only used this machine a few times and let me tell you the speed of this baby is unbelievable! At least compared to the Vandercook which needed to be operated manually. I scored pretty decent arm workouts though.

Meet my frenemy. Vandercook.

Some of my first projects involved this printing press. The machine is heavy and when I lost rolling momentum my shoulder would get a lovely burst of tension as I attempted to pull back without completely disrupting the cycle, which if done can lead to errors in the print. Must say, my delts are lookin' pretty sweet now. The impression potential on this press is incredible. Of course depending on the amount of impression desired and paper thickness final products will vary, but the menus and invitations I printed were stunning. It was really interesting seeing how different papers and fiber types react to different impression thicknesses. Some softer paper would take heavy impression beautifully but required only a brush of ink otherwise the type would bleed. Other harder papers need lighter impression with slightly more ink. It was always a long and different experience with each project, all however were highly enjoyable.

Another little project.

Above you see the edges of cards. Edge decoration in cards is much much different than in books which was a bit difficult for me to overcome. I wanted to treat the cards as though they would be lying next to each other like pages in a book which is completely unnecessary but alas I am a creature of habit and routine. While I didn't go so far as to use French talc powder between each card I did sand down the edges to create a more even surface. The initial problem with the order was that the paint kept ripping and peeling off leaving scruffy edges. No good. I suggested using a highly diluted paint, instead of straight acrylic add some water. This is not the mixture one would use on books! But it did work. Diluting the color and smoothing the edges allowed for clean separation of each card. Success!

My best friend Glue Machine.

I can say confidently that I am a master duplexer. Or laminator. It means I glue paper together really well. Wahoo! I spent hours with this glue machine and grew very fond of it. I'm a bit nervous to go back to my brushes at school. So slow. With this machine the paper is inserted on one side and comes out the other completely covered in glue on the bottom, ready to be slapped down onto another even and clean. This baby was mucho importante for creating thicker card stock. Sometimes thicker paper can be purchased but what if you want a sandwich of white paper, green paper, and white paper? That's where I come in. With usually only an eighth of an inch to spare I would glue sheet to sheet. Hundreds of them. Hundreds. Maybe more. I really liked it. My eyes felt so trained and precise. But then of course I would drive home in the dark and become agitated that the lights of cars reflecting in the mirrors would really bother my highly astigmatic eyes. It's cool though. My eyeballs are wicked trained in soft indirect, non fluorescent light. Duplex for life. Repeat.

Digital Guillotine! (Hawh! Hawh! Oui! Oui!)

Digital guillotine. Wild. Scariest machine. Luckily, the edge won't budge unless both buttons are pressed on either side. I happily still have both arms and all fingers.

I am in the process of printing my very own business cards so keep checking in to see if they've made it here.

My summer was fun and informative. I learned a great deal working with a fantastic crew! Thanks Elias, Matt and Dave for an awesome opportunity. And big word up to Maggie, Rose, Izzy, and Siba. You are all wonderful and it was a pleasure working for you.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Final Cereal Serials of my First Year

Summer was approaching and I knew serials would be difficult to make. I had many. I wanted more. And I had tons of cereal boxes next to my bench.

Mini Wheats with Maroon Spine


Honey Bunches of Oats


Cap'n Crunch


Cap'n Crunch Small


Lucky Charms


GO Lean!


Lucky Charms Small with Navy Spine

There are many more in stock. Cereal and non-cereal (made with marbled paper). Email me if you'd like to see more!

Soft Leather Historic Longstitch

In the last few weeks of school I happened upon The Leather Guy, a company that sells all different kinds of leather. I bought a bundle with the intention of making soft leather historic longstitch bindings. In the past I have used stiff wooden spines and hand made papers for this structure but wanted to see what I could do with this new leather which is quite unfit for paring as it was vegetable tanned and rather tough on the fleshy side.

I have seen this structure all over the place but the sections of paper are sewn directly through the leather -- I am not a fan. The book ends of super floppy doppy and I prefer a more controlled item. I produced a stiff spine using 40 point board which keeps the sections of paper snug. The leather is completely soft and drapes open beautifully.

I used a goat skin strip for the wrap enclosure.

Something simple. Something pretty. It was the end of the year.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Box Invention - Hexagon's Are Not Much Better Than Circles

Odd fact about me -- I don't care much for circles. Don't like drawing circles, don't like cutting circles, don't like dancing in circles. I've learned recently that I may not like Hexagons much better than circles.

This past Tuesday I was feeling adventurous. I needed to make a box. But not just any box, a new kind of box. I drew a picture of a hexagon. It took about an hour to draw a perfect one and yes I am a bit ashamed of that. I had to run a few tests to find the best possible way to adhere the sides of the box. Gluing them straight to the base didn't go over so well. Things were uneven, sides collided. Plan B came into play.

Key Note for Plan B -- When constructing a french tray one must glue the separate sides to the edge of a piece of cloth with ever so specific spaces between them, fold that over onto itself and then glue the extending cloth to the bottom of the base. This permits the sides to wrap around corners without jutting out awkwardly. Gluing the sides straight to the base and then covering with cloth is part of the clamshell formula.

Using the french tray strategy, I glued all six sides to a piece of cloth, prayed and pieced it all together. My theory was a success. Now all I had to do was make three trays identical to one another and make sure I didn't get glue everywhere. This part was mostly a success. As this was my first attempt at a weirdly shaped box (and I haven't even approached the process of assembling the three trays on top of one another yet) I knew there would be some oversized or undersized cuts and spaces. One or two millimeters really make a difference, especially when the items constructed are meant to be stacked.

The Case -- Two sides of each tray would be glued to two walls of a six part case. This would allow the trays to move semi-independently and sit diagonally a step up from each other. After a lot of gluing, clamping and waiting I closed the box. While slightly uneven I thought this was a darn good prototype. In the evaluation process I realized several spacial issues needed to be addressed with the case and then I'd be able to mass produce these boxes. But HOLD ON A MINUTE. Cutting out each hexagon, even with a fresh large olfa blade, is not fun. No more fun than cutting out circles. The six sides are tricksy and finicky. I enjoyed the process and production of something new, but I can honestly say I don't feel very great about hexagons anymore. I'm hoping the Octagon Project will bring better results.