Posted on July 7, 2017
I’ve long been a fan of the beautiful tactile grace that is letterpress. In fact, Jinn and I sourced our wedding stationery from Melbourne almost ten years ago (Eeks!) because we loved it that much. These days you don’t have to look quite as far as a number of good folk in Perth now specialise in the old art form.
One of those people is Ann from Whiteman Park Print Shop. The print shop has been operating since 1988 and houses a beautiful collection of operational vintage printing presses, the largest in Western Australia, making it a place that not only produces great work but is also of historical significance. Ann took us for a tour and introduced us to the art of letterpress in a hands-on workshop which saw us creating a piece of our very own from beginning to end using Ann’s impressive array of letterpress blocks and equipment.
Ann is clearly so passionate about the preservation of this creative trade and is keen to share this interest with others. This month, Ann is holding “Introduction to Letterpress” workshops to fundraise for the National Breast Cancer Foundation so read on to find out more.
Back in the late 1980s, a Trade Village showcasing traditional and professional manual crafts was established. These trades included a blacksmith, leather smith, carpenter and pottery shop, but sadly only the Print Shop remains.
Here at the Print Shop we continue to value the craftsmanship and beauty of traditional letterpress printing, and carry out unique projects such as custom wedding invitations and personalised stationery. In addition, we also rejuvenate and restore printing equipment. Visitors are welcome to pop in during business hours (Wednesday to Sunday, 10am to 4pm) to watch us in action, working on the presses, and learn about the history of printing.
What exactly is letterpress?
Letterpress is a variety of relief printing – the combination of type plus ink, paper and pressure. The artwork itself can be made by using individual printing blocks of letters and characters (this is known as “movable type”) or printing plates that are a bit like a premade stamp that has been digitally created by a graphic designer.
How did you personally become interested in letterpress?
I have a background in languages and project coordination but have always been utterly obsessed with stationery and design. My search for more led me to a number of design blogs through which I discovered letterpress, and I was hooked. The more I learned and read about it, the more I fell in love with this form of printing. In a world where things are easily reproducible and everything is increasingly online and electronic, I find the process of letterpress creates something so unique and personal every single time. Also, perhaps due to my love of languages, seeing the way words come to life on a press is completely captivating to me.
What excites you about letterpress and what kind of jobs do you enjoy doing the most?
Letterpress printing is both challenging and meditative. Every single project is different and requires a fair deal of careful strategising to perfect. This always keeps me on my toes and I’m constantly learning new things about printing. I’m particularly fond of creating work that utilises movable type because it is so much more customisable (right down to the letter and spacing materials used) and requires a great deal of thought and flair.
So – workshops! Tell us more!
We hold regular group workshops, and this month we will be donating 50% of profits from these workshops to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
Our “Introduction to Letterpress” workshops let you discover the rich history of traditional letterpress printing, learn the basics of hand typesetting and create a print of your very own from beginning to end! The workshop is ideal for those who wish to print simple text-based projects such as a short quote or greeting card. Groups are limited to 4 participants and run for 3 and a half hours. Hot drinks and snacks are provided to keep you and your creative juices going! (Participants must be 18 years and over)
We have two workshops coming up soon on Saturday July 15th and Sunday July 16th, and more to come later this year! To find out more, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Posted on November 30, 2015
Sometimes it’s hard for me to get out there and meet new faces. Growing up, I don’t think you could have met a more silent child than me, I was the product of being the youngest of a bevy of siblings and cousins who were more than happy to speak and think for me and a self-esteem so low that it often felt like social situations would cause tight chains to paralyse my voice and I preferred to pay more attention to words and worlds books could wind around me than the gaze of others. Things have changed, but that small girl still grips my heart once in a while because she is still me.
Last weekend we went to the Secret Garden. We enjoyed the company of many, and I always revel in the presence of those so free in expression, be it through body, music, art or speech. Judgement was something I feared from a very young age and to be in an environment completely free of it is a blessed feeling.
Surrounded by the deep greenery, black mud underfoot, the afternoon was whiled away with the best kind of people, the ones you feel free to be silly with (well, to be yourself with, which for me is truly very silly) and those where the conversation can be plenty or little, it doesn’t matter and it’s all good. The sun’s golden rays fell lower and lower until they were just peeking through the leaves and most departed to swim in the sea and we went on to enjoy a sunset film.
Happiness is freedom. You passionate, free people – you inspire me.
Posted on November 2, 2015
This coming weekend sees Open House once again invite you inside, around and on top of more than 80 locations around our green and growing city. Running over Saturday and Sunday, explore the heights of the Central Park Tower rooftop, the unmistakable baroque excess of His Majesty’s Theatre, or even look inside some of Perth’s newest spaces such as the Cathedral Square and the Perth City Link.
An exciting change to the Open House program is the addition of a number of food and drink venues, such as Bar Lafayette and The Flour Factory, some of whom will be doing something a little special for the event such as tastings or exclusive menus. Personally, we can never go past a visit to the architect-designed homes dotted around the city. A quick glance at this year’s selection and I’m already certain that I’m going to end up inspired to makeover our own home yet again.
Take a look at the Open House Perth program over here to plan your weekend’s itinerary!
Open House Perth 2015 / Saturday 7th November and Sunday 8th November
Posted on July 3, 2015
She’s the mother of an incredibly beautiful and tactile handmade dinnerware range, the aptly termed “Functionality” collection. She rules with a firm but fair hand and affectionately bestows her creations with names such as the Sir Mix-a-lot bowl, the Plattertastic and the Lady Baker. It was with equal parts of excitement and awe that we joined Patricia Fernandes in her home studio for a workshop with a bang. (And when I mean a bang, I mean a bloody good meal. Oh and heaps of belly laughs.)
Patricia’s work brings together a distinctly modern aesthetic of strong simple shapes with an ingenious way of using antique Indian printing blocks. Clean smooth ceramic meets its unexpected match with patterns that once graced rich saris.
Determined not to be just pretty faces, the hardworking pieces are also ovenproof and nonstick meaning that they go from kitchen to dining table without even breaking a sweat. Now that’s my kinda dinner party.
I love to cook. So the “Functionality” range was really born out of a selfish love project! I wanted to create high quality handmade products that looked damn pretty whilst also being able to withstand the rigours of everyday use. I want every meal to be a special experience whether you’re eating by yourself or having a meal with loved ones. Often you don’t realise that a special moment is occurring until it’s passed and for that reason I want to make every meal occasion special.
How have you seen your business growing over the last few years and where do you see it going in the future?
The label has been growing quite organically over the last couple of years. I’m heartened to see so many people recognising the beauty of and converting back to handmade tableware and using my wares to create their very own food memories. As for where I see it going in the future, well a girl can plan but it all depends on the Fates right?
How long does it take to make a piece from your Functionality range like the Punch Drunk Pitcher? Talk us through the process.
Working with clay makes you learn a lot about patience and even more about yourself. It’s hard to put an exact time on how long it takes to make a ceramic piece – it depends on the season, the ambient temperature, as well how intricate the piece is. The Punch Drunk Pitchers are really involved! First the body and handle have to be cast separately and then attached ever so carefully. They then have to be babied and showered with TLC over the next couple of days as I watch for any cracks that form before finally firing them. It’s a labour of love!
Introduce us to your new kiln, you’ve just recently had an addition to the family! And what a catch he is!
Pedro, my new hunk-a-hunk-a-burning-love, has joined the family and couldn’t have arrived a moment sooner. He’s a dreamboat really -you know, the strong silent type who always accommodates your every whim, a complete pleasure to work with. The only thing that’d make him more perfect is if he gave back massages…Anywaaaay…He complements my first little kiln so well. Though quite tiny, this old faithful kiln is not to be trifled with! She works hard and will fit in quite a few pieces if you know how to treat her right.
What other workshops do you have in store?
My goodness, I love running the workshops! I get a huge kick out of sharing my knowledge and skills with other makers and budding enthusiasts. Coming up this year I have an assortment of workshops available in two and four hour formats where you get to work with clay and create beautiful pieces of your own to take home (after you leave them with me for a few weeks while they get fired and glazed). These have been designed to cater for a variety of people, whether you’re a time-poor professional who wants to stretch your creative wings or someone who wants to have a more languorous “Treat Yourself” kind of day. I get people who have never touched clay in their lives except for that time in Year 4 to a number of repeat offenders who just keep coming back for more. Oh and did I mention I looooove to cook? I guarantee you will get fed, and fed well! For more details, do hop on over to my website!
Your workshops are so unique in that they always include a time to “break bread” and eat together. Do you always feed your students?
My workshops are so much more than an impartation of skills, I see them as a way of nourishing your soul and connecting back to oneself. Clay is so tactile and just has a way of doing that when you really get into it. Nourishing the body and sharing a meal together is a delightful added bonus, and all of my meals are made with the utmost of love and consideration. I absolutely love researching yummy recipes and cooking for others (I’ll admit it, I’m a feeder!). So yes, it’s only natural that there’s always an element of food involved in my workshops! Mealtimes are such catalysts for connecting and coming together, I’ve observed people starting the day off as strangers and ending the day having found and made a new friend. Some people even end up signing up for more workshops together!
Describe the perfect day.
I’m not sure I want to define the perfect day for me. I’m trying to live in the moment as I’m a subjunctive type of person, so I’ll describe what would be a perfect hour for me right now: Going for a walk with Rumpei, my beloved Sharpei, to a place we’ve never been before either by ourselves or in the company of a loved one. It’s the simple things that make me happy.
Being a professed workshop junkie, I can honestly and wholeheartedly say that Patricia’s workshop is one of the best workshops I have ever been to. Her love for clay and her even greater love for people is simply contagious. The atmosphere is so relaxed and there are so many moments spent conversing over food or whilst creating that by the end of the day you really feel like you’ve had a great day out with friends.
There are a range of clay workshops to choose from to suit your timeframe and you can make a variety of useful creations from cheeseboards to small hanging planters. Do check them out, sign yourself up, and get Patricia to make you the potatoes. (Refer to photos above to commence drooling)
Posted on June 25, 2015
The last long weekend here in Perth called for a quick dose of red dirt and eucalyptus, and a moment of much needed self care. Time to shut that laptop and forget about the mountain of work emails, and just enjoy the zamia palms swish past my legs and watch the sunset tint the smoke-filled sky wondrous colours.
And better than that, time to spend with friends who think it’s a great idea to follow a sign that says “Goat Walk” and proceed to practically rock climb up the side of a hill, friends who agree that appropriate hiking food consists of chocolate and coffee, and friends who accept you as a complete package and help you remember that you’re kinda alright.
Thanks guys. I think you’re kinda alright too.
Posted on June 22, 2015
A beauty in person and a beauty at heart, what a pleasure it was to finally sit down and share toasties and tales with Penny, illustrator, animator and visual storyteller. What started as a yarn about travels and dream projects with a detour into daring stories about midnight crimes, finally descended into a lengthy discussion of the human condition and the pursuit of happiness. Light topics indeed. But so great to find an instant soulmate unafraid to share, explore and go deep.
This probably explains the inexplicable draw of Penny’s work – she’s not afraid to open her heart. Seemingly simple to behold at first, I find each illustration or animation beguiling in its ability to make you identify with the emotion it conveys, be it innocence, insecurity, connectedness, hopefulness or even simple revelry in home life bliss. Penny works and reworks each picture until each tilt of the head and the slightest hunch of the back is just right.
Between our conversational sojourns into philosophy and existentialism, we got to find out the gritty truth behind Penny Likes Paper…
A lot of your pictures depict children and wistful characters. Is there a story behind them?
Many of my characters recur, I have such a love and connection to them, they’re like my babies! There’s Poppy, Toby and of course my nameless “vulnerable girl”. But in all honesty, they’re not exactly self-portraits but they do represent and express different parts of me in their own ways. I often draw when I’m feeling a little blue and on the other hand am also a happy optimist so perhaps these aspects of me come through.
What is the favourite part of your illustrative work?
I love animation. It’s really what captivates and motivates me and is my absolute favourite thing to draw and put together. A lot of people have asked me why I don’t get into computer animation but the imperfection and individuality that comes with handmade animating is so beautiful in itself. It is hard work and can sometimes take ages because I have to make backgrounds (a little like sets for a movie), then I draw the characters over and over to make the movement look flowing, and after that each figure needs to be painstakingly cut out with a scalpel. Then I can start photographing and putting the images in order. But once it all starts coming together the payoff is totally worth it.
My guilty pleasure are my paste ups. It’s a swift and sneaky form of graffiti and the thrill of pasting up a sweet picture in the middle of the night is so much fun. I’ve done a few during my travels, so you will find Poppy and co traipsing around in places like Amsterdam, Copenhagen and all over Perth too, and now I’ve decided to do one in every city I go to. I think it’s a nice way of interacting with the places I visit – I take something away from every trip, so this way I’ll be leaving something behind as well. Kind of like a reverse souvenir. Or maybe it’s just an expression of a super primitive urge to go, “I WAS HERE” – haha! I prefer to think it’s the former!
One day in Copenhagen, I was keeping an eye out for good spots to paste up on, and when I saw a mural with big, slightly ominous-looking black birds I thought it would be sweet to do one with little Poppy interacting with them. First I wanted to have her being carried by one, but I thought that might look a bit sinister, haha…So I had her feeding them with a little bag of seeds instead. I didn’t know who the artists were (turns out it was a collaborative mural by two Danish artists), until one of them posted a photo of my piece on Instagram and somebody tagged me. I wasn’t sure how they’d react but they were super lovely about it and said they were going to try and keep her there when they went to do touch-ups. Gave me the warm fuzzies!
My latest project is a music video! It’s going to be two and a half minutes, the longest animation I’ve ever done. It’s been a real a labour of love and it is so close to being finished, I can’t wait until it’s released! After it’s finished I’m planning on getting stuck into more animated projects and submissions, as I’ve got so many ideas that have been bottling up whilst I’ve been occupied with this project!
I also recently had one of my illustrations letterpressed by Little Press, and I’m absolutely obsessed with the way it looks and feels! I may be tempted to do more runs in the near future…
Globetrotter or homebody?
I think I’m an equal amount of both! I’m always torn between the desire to lay down some roots and to just up and go. I’m the biggest homebody when I’m here but there hasn’t been a year since I was 19 that I haven’t gone abroad. Having said that, during my late teens and early 20s I followed every single impulse that took me away from home. I’ve got a much bigger appreciation for the comforts of home now than I did then, and I’m not quite as impulsive.
Hand drawn animations are such rare beauties these days and Penny sure makes gems. By the end of our time together, Penny had convinced us to pledge ourselves to a life of hard crime and join her on a paste up mission – and I can’t wait! Can’t wait for our sneaky midnight date and can’t wait to see what she does next.
Posted on April 13, 2015
Of late, I’ve noticed myself walking into department stores or big chain stores and leaving empty handed. No matter how much I like the look of something, the feel of a garment, the colour of an item, there’s something missing. And the more I analyse it, the more I come to understand that what’s missing is a deeper connection to a place, the story behind the products – the feeling that what you’re buying meant something to its maker or curator and that they actually loved making it or selecting it before presenting it to you to take into your own life. Rows and rows of uniformly made objects blur into anonymity as we search for something more “special” that strikes a chord within us.
On entering Little Leaf Co, you are immediately welcomed into Tonia’s not-so-secret secret garden. She loves and adores the space and the plants and pots that inhabit it, you feel her pride, passion and perfectionism as soon as the place envelopes you.
Little Leaf Co sprang into life last December and very quickly caught our eye, drawing us like magpies to shiny whatnots. Having always been a gifted gardener, Tonia decided after working for 18 years with her husband in their still operating construction company to follow her heart and, of course, her green thumbs.
The space is just a dream. A high lofty ceiling with oodles of sunshine houses perfectly imperfect fiddle leaf figs, gnarly monsteras, and highly sought after zebra plants and succulents. It has already in its short life played host to the Perth Creatives’ Summer Table as well as a number of workshops, including handlettering with The Articulate and the art of shibori with Old Grey House.
You’ll find wonderful Angus & Celeste pots and planters to grace your newly purchased greenery (for you will leave with a new pet plant in tow, I guarantee it), and if you’re feeling extra fancy Tonia also has a range of beautiful wire plant stands from Ivy Muse and macrame plant hangers by Mac and More. Little Leaf Co is also one of the few exclusive stockists of Annie Sloan chalk paint should you be in the mood for giving a piece of furniture (or almost anything!) a new lease of life with a lick of this incredible matte paint.
For a new house plant that comes with personalised specialist advice and an extra serving of heart, come to Little Leaf Co! We absolutely adored chatting to Tonia, and our home and lives have been enriched by our meeting.
Little Leaf Co / Shop 4, 496 Marmion St Melville / Tuesday to Saturday 10am – 4pm / IG @littleleafco / email@example.com