Sharing The Process: By Heather Smith Jones of Blue Sparrow Press

Hello! This is Heather Smith Jones writing here today. Some of you may be familiar with my paintings, watercolor pieces, or my book Water Paper Paint, Exploring Creativity with Watercolor and Mixed Media. I would also like to introduce you to my new letterpress business Blue Sparrow Press. Plus I am happy to have a table in the current Mixed Tape Market here at Poppytalk Handmade Market showcasing my new work. Thank you Jan!

Today I am showing you a bit of process of how I made my most recent card, the Hello! airplane card. When I began this card I was actually intending to work on something else entirely. But this idea sidetracked me and sometimes you just have to follow your ideas, right? It was quite fun to make and now that it is finished I like the simplicity of the shapes, the greeting, and happy primary colors. 

The propeller airplane, diagonal lines, and text are individual pieces of antique type from our collection. I test printed them on scrap paper to see what they looked like and then considered the overall design of how to put them together. While trying different colors, placement, etc. I determined the airplane needed puffy clouds to fly through. Not having any type like that, I made a collagraph plate for the cloud background then printed the letterpress layers on top. If you're not familiar with collagraph printmaking, it is essentially a collage type of relief printing.

Once I figured out the design, I set the type on the press for the individual runs. In letterpress, and many other printmaking methods, each color is a separate pass on the press. So I printed the cloud background on all the cards first and let them dry. Then I set the press with the airplane type and maker's mark, printed them in dark blue, and let them dry. The last pass on the card was the Hello! type in bright red. The final detail was printing the dark blue diagonal lines on the envelope. So this card and envelope set required four separate passes through the press, and incorporates a handmade collagraph plate with antique type. I printed a limited edition of 63 and they are available here at the Poppytalk Handmade Market. Do you know someone who could use a little cheer? 

Thank you for allowing me to share a bit of my process with you today. I invite you to drop by my journal at Blue Sparrow Press for a look inside my studio, work in progress, and sneak peeks. 

With kind regards,

Jan Halvarson


Angel Y. said...

Your process seems so thorough. I would love to learn how to print letterpress but sadly I cannot connect with anyone locally. Beautiful work!

natalie said...

heather! thank you for sharing your process... i have always been interested in the art of letterpress. the puffy clouds are perfect for the airplane & sweet banner.

heather smith jones said...

Thank you Jan, so much!

And thank you Angel & Natalie (hi!) for your comments. :)

Aimee @ Smiling Mama said...

Oh! Those are stunning!