National Stationery Week – Why handwriting and letterpress go hand in hand

Here at The Smallprint Company we love letterpress, but we also love stationery. We take great pride in producing beautiful handcrafted gift cards, wedding stationery, and business cards.

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National Stationery Week and the Writing Matters campaign got us thinking about how important the art of handwriting is to our business. One of the main reasons why we are able to make and sell gift cards is because people still want to sit down and write a thoughtful message to their friend or family member.

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And it is not all that surprising that handwriting has survived the advent of the digital age. While word processing does enable you to create clean, professional-looking documents, it cannot stimulate your creativity in the same way that jotting away with a pen and paper can (indeed, writing this blog might have taken far longer had I not brainstormed in my notebook first!). The feeling of forming letters on the page is also far more therapeutic than bashing away at a keyboard.

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Furthermore, handwriting is not only beneficial to the person who writes the message, but also to the receiver. A letter or card is a tangible object, not an image on a screen. Moreover, an email, text message, or social media post reeks of efficiency and convenience, yet a handwritten message shows thoughtfulness and caring. It shows that you mean every word you write and are not just sending the message because you feel you should. It shows that you genuinely want to brighten the person’s day. And it shows that time and effort has gone into the message.

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In the same way, choosing a letterpress gift card rather than an e-card, digitally personalised card, or mass-produced card from the high street, shows that you have thought carefully about what to buy for your loved one, making the card a gift in itself rather than a mere accompaniment to a present. A unique letterpress design is far more personal than a generic ‘Happy birthday Mum’ card, and is likely to be kept and treasured rather than taken off the mantelpiece and thrown away when the next birthday comes around. As we like to say, ‘If you love it – frame it!’

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Handwriting and letterpress have both been going on for hundreds of years. Both are threatened by this brave new digital world, but they possess much more than sentimental value. They demonstrate our appreciation for others and they are pleasurable processes in themselves. And above all, they combine to produce beautiful pieces of stationery.

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To find out more about National Stationery Week, visit http://www.nationalstationeryweek.com/ and follow @NatStatWeek on Twitter. Don’t forget to use the National Stationery Week hashtags!

#natstatweek

#writing matters

#worldstationeryday

#stationeryaddict

#keepkidswriting

#getorganised

#keepbritainwriting

#lovestationery

#thankyouthursday

#fountainpenfriday

#handmadeday

#pencilday

#writealetterday

 

Format Festival 2017 – Habitat

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We are very pleased to announce that The Smallprint Company will be a host venue for two of Format’s artists during their bi-annual event this March.

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Running from March 24th – April 23rd 2017, see the work of Farhad Berahman and Miia Autio in situ.

Join us on Saturday 25th March for an Open Day, including Meet the Artist and letterpress demonstrations.

Workshops during the festival:

  • Farhad Berahman will be running a couple of workshops from The Creative Space at The Smallprint Co. – more information coming soon.
  • Beginners Bookbinding Workshop – April 8, 2-4.30pm (ONE place left)
  • Photo Album Workshop – April 22, 2-5pm

To book a place on the bookbinding or photo album workshops email hello@smallprintcompany.co.uk or visit Eventbrite (booking fees apply)

Opening hours at The Smallprint Company during Format Festival

Monday – Saturday 10am – 5pm.

 

Bookbinding workshops in The Creative Space

NEW for 2017! Beginners Bookbinding workshops

Our Beginners Bookbinding workshops are run once a month on a Saturday afternoon and are already proving popular.

I ran the first workshop last weekend with 2 artists and both students went away with their own hardback, Japanese bound book – and hopefully an insight into how to carry on with their newfound skill.

Aimed at those with little or no experience of binding, we learn how to cover a board with a paper or fabric, assemble the book and stitch with one of the basic Japanese or stab bindings.

If you would like to make a book specific to a project – photography, art or even a wedding perhaps – contact Hannah to discuss.

If you would like to learn this absorbing craft, book onto a workshop either by emailing hello@smallprintcompany.co.uk or via our Eventbrite page (booking fees apply).

The Bodleian Library and Shakespeare

Earlier this year the Bodleian Libraries’ Centre for the Study of the Book announced its ‘Sonnets 2016’ project to commemorate the 400th year since the death of Shakespeare. Printers across the world were invited to take part by reproducing one of Shakespeare’s 154 Sonnets. Those who responded early got their pick first, with most of the more famous and recognisable ones getting snapped up quickly. Within a very short space of time all the Sonnets were assigned and we were fortunate to get Sonnet 48 (not one I was familiar with but one I have since got to know rather well).

The brief was very open, a lot less prescribed than some collaborative print shows I have taken part in. All that was required was that the process must be a form of relief printing, with the paper size and edition left down to the printer’s discretion. My initial thought was ‘this is going to be easy’, but I was to discover that sometimes having a wide open brief can leave you staring blankly at a clean sheet of paper.

The more I thought about this, the greater the expectation I had for the print. After all, this is a unique opportunity to contribute, in however small a way, to Shakespeare’s legacy. This print is going into the Bodleian Libraries forever, so this has to be something special.

2016 has been a busy year for Smallprint Co. Mainly because we moved our studio and set up a small gallery/shop, together with doing the day-to-day business. The summer galloped by and very soon a warm September was racing towards me. The deadline for the Sonnets 2016 was the 30th, so with this in mind, it was time to sharpen up the pencil and get the final sketches together.

Choosing a typeface was the first decision, though in the end I opted for one which I often default to. It’s a beautiful ‘old style’ and it has the advantage of being a substantial full font with little risk of getting ‘out of sorts’. This was one of my unlabeled cases that I acquired a couple of years ago, and through a degree of detective work I have identified as ‘Jenson’ 12pt, a foundry typeface by Stephenson Blake and based on William Morris’ Golden Type.

Reading over the sonnet I tried to get some inspiration for the form. Shakespeare makes reference to keeping love locked in a chest and this led me to develop an idea around a box shape form for the text. I didn’t want it to be too literal and began with setting the type fully justified in the centre of the sheet. I didn’t think that it lent itself enough to the ‘box’ idea, but then thought about spinning round to form a neat diamond. This of course raised more challenges in calculating the increasing and decreasing line widths, making sure to avoid too many hyphens and rivers. Several adjustments were made over a couple of days as it always helps to walk away from a job and look again with fresh eyes. It seemed that each time a line was altered the changes cascaded down the text making more adjustments necessary, a river would form or a line would look ragged or too condensed.

The final print was produced in an edition of 20 on Somerset cotton paper, with one copy submitted to the Bodleian Library and the remainder available to purchase. In the end it was a pleasure to work on and gave me the chance to try some new tricks and experiment with structure. I hope you enjoy the final print.

Christopher Barker

Printer

If you are interested in owning a copy, details can be found here. 
You can follow The Bodleian’s blog on all the sonnets received from around the world here

Mail Art Project

We have a call out for a new Mail Art project with a nice long deadline (so don’t panic!).

Based upon the new dictionary definition ‘post-truth’, we shall be exhibiting the results in our gallery space in October 2017.

The Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year is a word or expression chosen to reflect the passing year in language.

 Post-truth has been nominated as the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2016 and is an adjective defined as ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’. 

[ref: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/word-of-the-year/word-of-the-year-2016]

Full details can be found here and we look forward to receiving your contributions!

Anna Johnson, Seventy Years

The Smallprint Co. is pleased to bring Seventy Years by Anna Johnson (Printmaker) to The Gallery, kickstarting our exciting exhibitions programme for 2017.

The exhibition shows self portraits by Green Door Printmaking Studio‘s Creative Director, Anna, which have been created over the last 70 years at odd moments in time, in various media.

The images are all translated into etchings using alternative techniques on different metals. They reflect fleeting moments and moods, some from long ago. Included are notes and fragments of books being read at the time, just as they were in the original sketches.

Also included in the exhibition are a series of photopolymer etchings entitled ‘Parts of Me’ that were featured in Green Door Printmaking Studio’s recent collaborative exhibition, ‘Worn’ (The Old Station Gallery). This series of etchings emphasise the effects of passing time on the artist’s skin.

Free entry.

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First Anniversary gifts

Calling all newly weds! You may be wondering what the perfect gift is to give your beloved for your first anniversary. Traditionally it is a paper gift, and cotton in America.

Look no further… The Smallprint Co. will hand print the perfect paper gift for happy couples and all you have to do is supply the text. What’s more, we print on cotton paper, so we’ve got all bases covered!

Popular ideas include wedding vows or a reading, first dance lyrics or an excerpt from a favourite novel or poem. Of course, the content is completely up to you!

Another wonderful idea for a personal gift is to book a letterpress session for the both of you. Choose a time to suit you both – from Monday to Saturday and in the morning, afternoon, evening. Spend 3 hours together learning to compose and print your chosen text – and you get to take the print away with you too.

Prices start from…

  • Commissioned Prints £55
  • Letterpress workshop £130 per couple for 3 hours
  • Gift vouchers are available

The Gallery

 

We’re looking forward to announcing a full schedule of exhibitions to run throughout 2017 in The Gallery, following on from Rob Chapman’s Wood Engravings.

The intention of The Gallery is to show printed works but other mediums will be considered. If you would like to be considered for a show at The Gallery in 2017, email Hannah for more information or complete the form below and we’ll get back to you with more information.

 

Smallprint’s Open Day

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To celebrate our new space and welcome friends old and new, join us for an Open Day

Saturday 29th October 2016 at Friary Street, DE1 1JF

RSVPs are recommended and free tickets can be found over on our Eventbrite page at http://bit.ly/TSCOD

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The Smallprint Company has moved premises from a small incubation unit hosted by the University of Derby to our very own independent space.

Alongside our regular services of commissions, workshops and paper goods, you will find a dedicated exhibition space, shop and more workshop space than ever before, as well as being able to house our ever growing collection of vintage presses and moveable type.

Clients can discuss their commission in a comfortable space with Hannah and Chris and The Workshop is available to hire for meetings and creative activities. The gallery space is also perfect for showcasing a wide range of print practitioner’s work. Currently showing is Wood Engravings by Rob Chapman, a beautiful collection of intricate wood engravings based upon his walks around his countryside home.

You will also find a range of new stockists to complement The Smallprint Company’s range of paper goods. Alongside our popular ranges of cards, gift tags and prints, you will find hand printed gift wrap, prints and other unique giftware by talented craftspeople.

Find us conveniently located to the rear of Friar Gate, on Friary Street, in the centre of Derby.