Garlic, Origami, etc.

Just finished printing my first set of cards. While they’re pretty far off from my original vision, I had a lot of fun making them. For the most part, I was really impressed with how well my press behaved. It gave a nice, even impression without very much toying with it. I did have a little bit of trouble getting my roller height right and my registration was off for about half of the cards, and hit the pearls correctly on very few… Unfortunately because of the white run, I wasn’t able to get the black on top to be very rich. BUT considering this was my first time doing this when I didn’t have someone who knows what they’re doing to ask for help, and considering I have some kind of makeshift equipment, I’m pretty psyched.

A few casualties…

All inked up.

I’ll be putting a link up to my etsy store when I get these listed, and will be selling them as singles and in sets.

It’s Cool Guys

As you can see, I’m fine. You can stop worrying now.

X-rays are an eerie reminder that we do, in fact, have skeletons. They’re a glimpse into the future, a complete snapshot of what I will look like when the rest of me is gone. I’m a little bummed I’ll never see the real thing with my own eyes.

Victory and Defeat

I inked my press for the first time today. I became impatient with myself and instead of printing the drawings I’ve been working on (and still haven’t made into plates) I threw on a linoleum block that I carved a while back. It’s a little cicada. Easy to set up, both because its roughly square, and because of the nature of linoleum and wood cuts, its not supposed to look super refined. Not something I plan on mass producing or anything, but it was exciting to see my press print some ink.

I also had my first press related injury today (if you don’t count paper cuts and bruises and strained muscles) and more than I am hurt, I’m bummed that it took approximately zero minutes of printing for me to crush a finger. Alex was there and moved the flywheel to release my finger, and my resident hand surgeon (pictured below) had just gotten home and checked it out. It got caught between the wooden countertop and the back of the platen. We pretty much immediately unscrewed the countertop and moved it back as much as we could, so that if it happened again, there would be more space and wouldn’t crush so hard. It certainly taught me a valuable lesson about how to grab the paper on my particular press, and hopefully will save me a more serious injury later.

My dad panning for gold during a break between surgeries, on a machine he’s running off my mom’s car battery. You know, the usual. He’s right outside the garage where Alex and I are working… all just doing our thing.

Alex throwing a plate.

The Lissendens at work.

Our studio mascot in front of the kilns.

Photos by Alex Minkin

Disregard all the pictures I’ve posted so far (except, of course, the ones by the amazing Tye Harris). My super talented photographer brother, Alex, took some pictures for me that put all of mine to shame.

First attempt at setting type. I’ll have to do some research and play around with it more, but it seemed to do the trick for now.

Type that I’m trying to organize.

My favorite.

I feel a little torn about the thought of setting it back to zero.

Alex will be around for the summer, so hopefully he can take some equally great photos of work that I make.

Set up!

There’s nothing to motivate me to do something I love like doing something I don’t. On the days that the day job keeps me from getting things going to print, I’m thinking, I’m calculating. I’m dreaming up ways to make my night job become my day job someday.

The treadle and wooden counter are installed. Fully functional. And everyone knows I can’t get any work done without a skull in the room.

Type drawer. I don’t really have any experience with type, but a couple of typefaces and some ornaments came with my press and I’m super excited about playing around with it and learning how to do it well.

Old type cabinet that also came with my press. I’m pretty in love with it. Some of the bottoms of the drawers are falling apart, so I think I’m going to take the bottoms out and attach some screens to the frames to turn them into drying racks.

Alex and I will be in the studio tomorrow. I might even put some ink on the press.

Wedding Invitations

One of the first things I began planning after Alex and I got engaged was the invitations. I knew I wanted something unique and handmade, but I had no idea how I was going to make them. Soon after I lost my job at a publishing company and discovered letterpress though an apprenticeship at Blue Barnhouse. They were cool enough to let me use their space and presses to make my invitations there. Here’s a glimpse of the long and arduous process that took over my life last summer.

Photopolymer plate for my response cards.

Finished response cards.

Printing the invitation covers.

The printed covers, pre-scoring.

Scoring the covers on the C&P that’s the same size as mine.

Mixing ink.

Trimming the interior pages of the invites (not letterpressed)

Some assembly required.

The finished product.

Close up of the map of Hot Springs, NC. The Mountain Magnolia Inn.

What’s in a Name?

Since before I even started looking seriously for a press, I’ve been agonizing over the name of it. I’ve harassed my friends and family to help me think of the perfect name, and they came up with some really awesome ones involving things I love, like bones and garlic and bears and wine.

But ultimately it came down to this: I gave up my name this year, and I want to pass it on. I love my new name, Lissenden, and the man and family it is associated with. And I know I will always be a Minkin, but hiding it in between my two other names doesn’t feel like enough. I hope my two brothers will pass the name on someday, but this is my small way of keeping Minkin alive.

Minks are kinda cute? Ok, so they’re kinda dirty, but somehow become a symbol of luxury when their carcass is wrapped around your neck. Its the animal kingdom’s artist… no one gives it a second thought until its dead, then its worth some serious coin. Letterpress printing is tough, dirty process, yet these hulking machines yield something so delicate, beautiful, and luxurious.

Grandma Minkin and Mammaw (Alex’s grandma) each sent me a card with some money in it for Christmas. I put both of their gifts toward my press. Between Christmas and the time I got my press to Asheville, both of these great ladies passed away. Since this press essentially is the last thing that they gave me, I want to use it to honor their generation of women crafters and artists, which both of these women were. At my grandma’s funeral, my dad spoke about the parts of her that live on through her family. Erik has her mind, Alex (Minkin) has her eye, and I have her fingers. She had a way of making things beautiful just by touching them, and that’s all I hope to do in this world.


Since I started drawing with letterpress in mind, it has become a different thing to me. All my life drawing has been the end, but now it feels like a means to the end. For example… I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but I have no intention of drawing the other half of this butterfly. I plan on scanning it, copying and flipping the wing, and pasting it onto the other side of the body.

Cheating? Maybe. Hell of a lot easier? Definitely. While I’m confessing, I also did this for the moth on my wedding programs and invitations.

In a fine art sense, I would consider this to be totally against the rules. But in this case, I think for me the art is really going to be about the printing process, everything before that will simply be preparation.

Although it doesn’t feel quite the same, I’m really enjoying sketching again. I’m spending a lot of my lunch breaks drawing in the park or in cafes, and it really makes me wonder how I got away from this part of myself for so long. Here are a few more pages from my sketchbook for my first letterpress project on my own press:

My first card is going to be an arrangement of white things. Here are some of them.

There will be two plates, one with white ink for the color of the objects, and the other with black ink for the lines of the objects.

Alex took my broken treadle to a welder today, and they said it would be fixed by tomorrow. Looks like we’ll be up and running soon!