Friday, July 15, 2011

Guest Blogger Lexi Janezic, Letterpress

Lexi Janezic is a mixed media artist (drawing, painting, collage) and prospective book artist living in Kansas City, Missouri. We met this year at Paper and Book Intensive, where Lexi was attending as one of the Nell Meldahl scholarship winners. You can visit Lexi's blog at

As part of my continuing efforts to tell everyone about all the PBI classes, even the ones that I didn't take, Lexi agreed to tell us about the Letterpress class that she did with Jean Buescher Bartlett.

I started PBI 2011 having no knowledge of what to expect from this pleasantly unique event. The idea of having workshops strictly devoted to the art book and paper was as foreign to me as astrophysics. For the past year I have lived in a world where I felt I needed to be either an artist or a conservator, it was strange to think that I would be able to meet people that defined what it is to straddle the line between these two very different paths so seamlessly. It was a tremendous relief from my conscience as a creative individual, who had initially felt that it was impossible to find a happy medium between the two worlds.

From talking amongst my fellow PBIers, it became clear that Jean Buescher Bartlett (Blood Root Press), is well respected in the PBI community, and upon telling people I was taking letterpress with Jean, was overwhelmed with the consensus of people who wished to take letterpress printing with Jean at some point in their lives.

I have wanted to take a letterpress class since I first saw and felt the texture of impressed text on paper. This was a subconscious desire initially (seeing as I was a lass of 8 or so), but upon further investigation it was knowledge that became apparent as time went on, and intended to attain it at some point in my life. PBI was the perfect opportunity to become familiar with a medium I wanted to covet as much as my own.

From day one, we were setting type and printing, and of course, mulling over how to translate our own creative ideas and energies into the book form. To get the ball rolling, Jean had us write down nouns, adjectives and adverbs, place them in a hat, and create sentences based on the words chosen. The sentences produced from these found words were beautifully articulate, most having the intellectual ambiguity most poets can only hope for. Shortly after the completion of our sentences, the text was assembled into one poem, typeset, and placed in a galley in the press with appropriately arranged furniture. Following the typesetting, the printing process was introduced along with all the experimentation involved with newsprint packing, paper proofing, and finally, fine quality printing (+/- a few fingers). A typically long and tedious process cut down to its bare essentials.

The book shown here was designed and created by Jean Buescher Bartlett; the type was set by the students in this letterpress class. Photos by Ah-Ram Park.

Jean supplied us with a plethora of information on letterpress process, simple book structures, text, concept, and how these things can be made to manifest themselves together as one.

Photo by Ah-Ram Park.

In between people using the press, Jean introduced us to the book structures, all of which were simple and easy enough to interpret with something made with pages printed from letterpress. These books were primarily held together with PVA, which allowed for a wider margin of error for the expected inconsistencies in printing.

Of the vast range of information I was introduced to in this class, what was of particular interest to me was Jean’s creative process, specifically on the things that inspire, inform, and translate themselves to create her work. This presentation was filled with book layouts, hand drawn notes and fairy tales of yore. What was most striking to me about this presentation was the range in the types of work shown, most being small detailed hand-drawn illustrations and found media.

This class was a pleasure to take. Jean is a down-to-earth and patient person, and knowledgeable to boot about all things press related. Not only did Jean provide me with enough epiphanies about life and art to last me for quite some time, it provided a perfectly balanced technical and creative outlet tailored to our own artistic needs and wants.

A few more photos on Flickr




Veterok. said...

Vrrrry nice. It's always great to read about classes people are taking & what they have learnt from them. I wish I could practise letterpress & typesetting more in the future, so far I have acquired only some experience.