An Alphabet of Sorts

Back in the Spring, I put together this little print for the Legion Paper Scavenger Hunt at the National Stationery Show (you can read all about that here), and never had the heart to put away the M form. That sparked the challenging idea to create an entire ornamental alphabet that could potentially be turned into stationery and more. metaltype1So I started in random order to develop other letterforms. Most measure about 21 picas high (about 3.5") with varying widths based on individual letters. I sketched rough layouts for each letter, with some being considerably easier than other. The L is unique in that I specifically used many of our ornaments originally designed for the Lanston Type Company.

lOnce I got into the flow, the letters practically designed themselves.

hdAnd then suddenly there were 26 letters, comfortably living on 3 galleys.

typeforms3I wanted to include an ampersand because they are perennially popular and it would serve my ideas for the end result of the project. But this form proved to be quite difficult; it looked as miserable as this image while I walked away from it for a bit to revisit ampersand designs that might better inform the outcome.

ampersandfailAfter a break, this is what came together. Getting all of the angles was pretty killer but the final form was solid. It even includes a tiny 'and' catchword.

ampersandOccasionally taking a break from the typesetting, I started printing the actual folded note cards. These didn't necessarily go in order, but the first three did. They are all printed in silver on Stonehenge cotton paper, and include 100% recycled kraft envelopes.

abcAnd here the M, slightly updated, makes another appearance.

McardA few of the details...such lovely ornaments.


RdetailThe stationery is sold in sets of 6 by the letter, so you can pick your favorite. Great for gifts, too! And of course there's the ampersand if you just can decide.

compiledstationeryIt struck me that the forms themselves were really beautiful and that they could perhaps be used for another purpose. So after printing each run, I left a little silver ink on them and grabbed the camera. I digitally cleaned up the images to adjust the contrast to best show the ornaments and then flipped the images so they could be read by all.


QThen I had these printed digitally as postcards on thick, recycled card stock.


EpostcardAnd they're fun to play with! Sold individually, it's easy to mix and match and spell whatever you like. Or, of course, send them as postcards.

yo3We also had some fun punching holes in them to make banners. Here are the adorable and lovely Will and Sido from Ravenswood's own Beans and Bagels.

willsidoBeautiful box sets all ready to go. These are available on our etsy site now.

cardspackagedAnd if you're interested, we can sell letters individually so you can use the actual printed cards as a display. Given that Mr. Starshaped and I will be celebrating our tenth anniversary this week, I put together this grouping for him. See the importance of that ampersand?


Abe's Peanut postcards

We've had a number of interesting projects this Fall, and this was a favorite. We were approached by Abe's Peanut, a postcard subscription series for children, about creating a set of cards. There are four cards in a series, and each has one part of a story that is completed when all four cards are received (one a week). Illustrators are teamed up with writers to create stories and images to engage children and excite them about getting their own special mail. Fortunately, I was able to work with one of my favorite writers, Julia Bryan, to put together a lovely little story about a girl, Daisy, growing up in a city and wishing for a tiny garden. She works with her parents to create a plot by their chain link fence, and to order seeds to be planted. She watches as the seasons change from winter to spring to the wonderful summer harvest. The cards were printed as one piece in seven colors and then trimmed.

The seasons and representation of the chain link fence were printed first in a very pale gray. The fence is a pressure print; it is created by printing a solid object (in this case, a piece of linoleum) over a texture added to the press behind the paper being printed:

You can see the ghost of the texture left behind on the linoleum:

After the first color, a carved linoleum cut was printed in pale aqua to add 'weather' to each of the seasons.

These runs were printed on a Vandercook press. For the details, it was easier to switch to the platen presses. All of the plants, seed packets, dirt and leaves were printed with ornaments, both wood and metal. This required a little careful planning to place everything in the right area to come together and make sense as a representational garden.

Love that little moon! The cards build layers of color as the seasons progress. From the little seed packets come eggplants, cucumbers, tomatoes and pumpkins, which carry into the fall.

The back side of each card is the same overall layout, with just the story changing from season to season. Hopefully the kids receiving the cards enjoy the imagery and story as much as we did while creating it.