Monday, December 20, 2010

The Gift of the Present

During the holiday season gift lists are compiled, but I am thinking about a wonderful gift I received this year. My very talented and creative friend Steven Brinlee sent me in the mail a big cardboard tube. I opened the tube to find inside a large poster, 18 inches by 24 inches, of creamy white paper on which was printed a paean to Spring written by Steven:
(Click on images to read)

The message is calming and relaxing, and the cotton stock paper is soft and plush – you could take a nap on it. I like the column of words floating on the luxury of the white space. The words are printed in a matte black ink which almost looks like dark grey, and the letters are actually pressed into the paper for a textural effect which you can see in this close up:

Though the hand-numbered poster is modern and contemporary, it feels like something from the nineteenth century, before the invention of the industrial printing press, so it has that charm that I love of looking both new and old at the same time. When I thanked Steven for it, he said he wanted to create something that was tactile and handmade because everything now is in the digital mode. The design of it, he said, is meant to look like a page out of an over-sized book.

To print his work he went to Couer Noir Specialty Printers, an art studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, co-owned by Alex Kasavin who explains to me that the letterpress process involves making a raised relief plate of the art work and running the paper with pressure over the inked plate so that the art work presses into the paper. It's the oldest, original way of printing, and reaches back to what Johannes Gutenberg invented in the fifteenth century. When Alex studied English literature in college he became inspired by how books of poetry had been produced. Here is a picture of his studio:

After Steven created his Spring print, he decided to write about the other seasons too. They are available for purchase in limited runs by request; contact him at for more information.
There is Summer,

Monsters, his ode to Halloween,

and Winter.

In all of the seasons, Steven is listening and looking. His approach encourages the reader to stop and appreciate the pure pleasures of the present moment. The greatest joys can come from the littlest things. There is a feeling of simplicity, wonder, and gratitude – themes to keep in mind during the holidays and all year 'round.


John J. Tackett said...

I greatly admire quality printing. Despite early hopes for something better, my holiday greetings were sent out as a Xerox copy yet again. But there was a bit of hand coloring, and, as always, a handwritten note. Perhaps next year! __ The Devoted Classicist

Ella said...

So beautiful! I am so impressed when someone came up with new ideas by using old methods so we can keep wonderful handicraft for future generations.

I want to thank you and Wish you and TD a Wonderful Christmas by inviting you and my other blogfriends to a very special place in my latest post.