Sunday, May 24, 2015

Vintage Letterpress Blocks ... DIY in 3D

Letterpress printing is a technique of relief printing using a printing press, a process by which many copies are produced by repeated direct impression of an inked, raised surface against sheets or a continuous roll of paper.

Letterpress printing was the normal form of printing text from its invention by Johannes Gutenberg in the mid-15th century until the 19th century and remained in wide use for books and other uses until the second half of the 20th century. Letterpress printing remained the primary way to print and distribute information until the twentieth century, when offset printing was developed, which largely supplanted its role in printing books and newspapers.

Today the use of letterpress type printing is on the decline, being replaced with faster and more efficient printing presses. However, there is a small but thriving business in using old letterpress techniques to make cards, signs and tags in the art printing market.

How letterpress works: Letterpress printing exerts variable amounts of pressure on the substrate dependent on the size and image elements in the printing. The amount of pressure per square inch or "squeeze" is greater on some highlight dots than it is on larger shadow dots. Adjustments must be made throughout the press run to make sure the impression pressure is just right.

Letterpress printing uses type that is raised above (relief) the non-printing areas. In traditional letterpress work, letters were assembled into copy, explanatory cuts were placed nearby, line drawings were etched or engraved into plates, and all these were placed (or composed) on a flat marble stone, within a rigid frame (chase) spaced artistically with blocks, tightened up with toothed angular blocks (called quoins).
Printers' National Environmental Assistance Center

In an earlier blog post we talked about Hale Pai, the printing shop at Lahainaluna High School in Lahaina, Maui, where the first printed paper west of the Rockies was printed.

History San Jose has a Print Shop museum with several letterpress presses. The volunteers are quite knowledgeable about all sorts of printing methods and history.

Susan has a wonderful, small letterpress platen printer in her collection.

Letterpress blocks are fun to work with for more than printing. These wood or metal blocks can be used in all variety of craft projects. We have even seen jewelry made from them! At Vintages we have a large selection of letterpress blocks … both wood and metal … letters, numbers and images … in a variety of sizes. Check us out!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Fabulous Contemporary Navajo Ray Tracey Sterling Coral Necklace

This statement piece is a contemporary Native American Indian Navajo jewelry piece ... sterling and coral pendant and necklace. This is the creation of Ray Tracey, contemporary Navajo artist. Ray Tracey has had a life-long love of jewelry and has been working professionally as a jeweler since 1977.

Tracey has this to say about his work: Sometimes my creativity comes to a screeching halt. When this happens I go to my roots; Old Style jewelry. That is the place of fascination. The Old Ones utilized rudimentary tools to create their simple, yet perfected, pieces of craftsmanship. From this point I am able to create from an inspiring idea. On the flip side, sometimes my mind becomes flooded with more designs than I can remember. Ideas come so quickly I can’t draw them fast enough.

When I see someone wearing one of my designs, it takes me back to the time when the piece was created. Sometimes I can recall what I was eating or even the music I was listening to. I will remember the inspiration that helped create that design.

This large pendant and necklace is made of graduating silver beads with a large slide pendant made of sterling silver inlaid with red and angel skin coral. It was made back in the 1990s and is a wonderful example of Tracey’s “vintage” work. We have it priced at $495 and it is available in our Los Gatos shop or online here.

Handcrafted Folk Art Pottery Royal Thrones for Your King and Queen

These are fantastic free-hand-made pottery thrones ... one for the queen and one for the king. The artist made these of thick pottery sheets formed into these wonderful chairs with crowns atop the back. While these are great pieces in and of themselves, imagine them as candle holders, stands for mini-violets, ring or key holders, or whatever your creative mind desires!

The chairs stand about 6.5 to 7 inches tall. Two chairs ... one price ... $69.00. Unique. One-of-a-kind. Made in America. Find them in our Los Gatos shop ... or online here.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Handmade Ceramic Pottery Pins

In Greensboro, NC, we found these wonderful impressed pottery pins in super designs and great colors. What's more, these are made by folks at Mosaic - A Lifespan Studio. They are created and sold by individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Every piece is different. Every piece is unique. Every one is a special piece of handmade wearable folk art. We have them priced at $14.95 each. Contact us if you want one!

The pins range in size from about 1-1/2" to 2-1/2".

LOVE from Farmville

On our recent trip to Virginia and North Carolina we stopped in the small town of Farmville. It appears to be a little town with a big heart. Take a look at the sculpture that houses the town directory ... LOVE from Farmville.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

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