Thursday, 8 December 2011

Warmth in a digital world

The book of the week on Radio 4 is 'Just My Type' by Simon Garfield, beautifully read by Julian Rhind Tutt. Today's extract was about Erik Spiekermann, the German type designer. His descriptions of typography are inspiring and heart-warming. He describes using a grid as, "like cooking. You can follow a recipe to the last gram, but if the love isn't there it's just flat and bland."

Spiekermann teaches at the University in Berlin and tells his students that, "digital type can be too harsh." He suggests that warmth must be added by making a typeface not too perfect. Looking at his Meta typeface he says, "nothing is identical," and he has resisted any attempts to clean it up. The challenge is "to create warmth in a digital world."

We also love the smell of ink, its sticky blackness, the coolness of metal type, the imperfections of analogue. Whilst we love our Macs, we also love creating tactile, human, imperfect artwork and artefacts - and getting our hands dirty in the process. As Garfield writes, "We are still analogue beings. Our brains and eyes are analogue."

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Homely feelings - ready for Christmas

Winter is a lovely season for snuggling down, lighting the fire, baking with children, making marmalade and writing letters. Just as you're thinking about dusting down your Christmas card list wouldn't it be nice to get in touch with old friends, cheer up your schoolmate/child away at University or remind Grandma/Mum that you think about her more often than she thinks.
We've just designed our new Everyday Stationery set that will be on sale for the first time on Sunday at our Open Studio Sale. Ideal as a gift or as a little treat for yourself - and for getting back to a little bit of snailmail.
Other gifty ideas on sale will be our Comet mugs, dog and cat notelets, badges, studio pegs and our new Jam Making Kit which now has sticky labels. We also have some delightful Christmas cards, featuring Jonathan's wood engravings and all hand-printed by him on his letterpress in the shed.
Black Pollen
And not to be forgotten our lovely prints, limited edition wood engravings and larger silkscreen prints, which make lovely presents and are all 20% off for Sunday only.

And now we've ordered our turkey from Stenton's and booked our annual ice skating trip to Hampton Court, we feel we can get in the Christmas mood with mulled wine and mince pies at the Studio Sale. We do hope you are able to come along.

(And we're very pleased with the new photos Catherine Gratwicke has just taken for us)

Three new prints

There sleeps Titania, wood engraving by Jonathan Mercer
For our Open Studio this Sunday, 4th December, 2011, Jonathan has made limited edition prints of three rather gothic wood engravings inspired by women in literature.

"There sleeps Titania" is a slightly voyeuristic composition evoking the dark fairy-land evoked in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream:

I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite overcanopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk roses and with eglantine.
There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,
Lulled in these flowers with dances and delight.

Persephone plucked the fruit from the tree, wood engraving by Jonathan Mercer
"Persephone plucked the fruit from the tree" conjures up visions of the River Styx and the division between Earth and Hades, Summer and Winter. From The Golden Fleece and the Heroes who lived before Achilles by Padraic Colum:

Beside the single tree in his domain Aidoneus stayed the chariot. A single fruit grew on that tree, a bright pomegranate fruit. Persephone stood up in the chariot and plucked the fruit from the tree. Then did Aidoneus prevail upon her to divide the fruit, and, having divided it, Persephone ate seven of the pomegranate seeds.

Shrieks like mandrakes torn out of the earth, wood engraving by Jonathan Mercer
"Shrieks like mandrakes torn out of the earth" echoes the words of Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, another scribble by Mr Shakespeare:

Alack, alack, is it not like that I, 
So early waking— what with loathsome smells, 
And shrieks like mandrakes torn out of the earth, 
That living mortals, hearing them, run mad—  

These new prints will be on show in the studio on Sunday when we will be offering a Christmas special 20% off all prints - for one day only! They will then be available on our website.