Here’s another installment of our series “Reflections of a Summer Intern,” where we’ll be highlighting another hard-working and creative intern who was helping us out over the summer here at Book Arts: Adrianna Cragle. Adrianna is an artist at heart, and has already worked with drawing, painting, sculpting, photography, jewelry making and more! We were so happy to help her add letterpress and screen printing to the list during her summer internship. Here’s her reflection about what she learned during her time with us.
I really enjoyed working at Book Arts during this summer 2023. I really enjoy doing all types of art and creative crafts. I have always loved drawing, painting, and even making my own jewelry. It was my first time ever working with both type and printmaking, and also with screen printing. I always love learning forms of art that are new to me, even if they are older in practice. Some things were difficult for me but I feel like in the end my projects came out very well, and I am so grateful I got to share this experience!
I always love learning forms of art that are new to me, even if they are older in practice.
For our first assignment we made test pulls, ink cards, and labels for the ink cans so we could better organize them, and find colors we want to use much faster in the future. We each took a stack of cards and cans, then made ink pulls to the corresponding colors and brands. It was a pretty easy first task and I liked to see how all the inks were supposed to look once they are on paper. I also enjoyed putting all the colors in rainbow order, and it was very satisfying to see the end results! I’d say we did a nice job helping re-organize and clean up all the ink shelves.
Our next project we started out with a simple “Thank You” card to help us learn how to set type, use the inks, along with using the printing presses. I am really inspired by Autumn and rustic, vintage looks. I also really enjoy the cartoon Over The Garden Wall, so I wanted to give it the vibe that it might have come from that show. I also used a poster from the show to give me color inspiration. I chose to use the craft brown paper, along with orange and green for the ink. Because this was also our first project, we were told to pick out the wooden type because it’s larger font, and would be easier to work with. So I found some that looked similar to the poster I took inspiration from, but it also had a cursive quality to it. I found a few ornaments too, that worked really well for what I was going for. I found one that looked like fall leaves that could neatly underline the letters, and a pumpkin. I couldn’t fit the pumpkin on the front like I was hoping, but it fit nicely on the back! For my first time ever setting type and using the large, heavy letter presses, I am very proud of how they turned out.
The next letterpress project was to make another card of our choosing. This time we had more freedom. We could choose any card theme, and use the smaller metal type. When I was going to college, I had a digital arts project where we had to make gift tags. I chose to make gift tags that could be used for a baby shower, or gifts for a baby. I made three sets, some for girls, boys, and some that were completely gender neutral. I wanted to do the same thing with the cards, but it didn’t end up working that way. For the tags I had made, I cut out two parent penguins that had an egg in between them.
I wanted to do the same thing for the cards, and I was able to find two birds that worked perfectly! They even faced opposite directions so they could look at each other just like my tags. I found an oval that worked perfectly as their egg. I wanted to make different variations like the tags, but I realized I was making way too much work for myself. Also, I couldn’t find the right paper, and ornaments to do exactly what I wanted. So I just made all the cards gender neutral. With simply “Congratulations!” on the card, the penguin parents, the “egg”, and some cute snowflakes I found were good enough. Even though I simplified it a lot more, it still took longer than expected. The snowflakes took a lot of time to figure out, and I wanted to make more cards than I did. They still turned out pretty decent, and I’m glad I didn’t overdo it.
Our final letterpress project was to make notebooks, and one of our challenges was to make a design out of type and ornaments. Because I accidentally overwhelmed myself too much with the previous project, and ended up not being able to produce as much, I wanted to do something more simple. I decided to make a pop-tart notebook, so I looked around to see what I could use. I had an idea to get some of the smaller type with images to look like sprinkles, but it didn’t really translate well. Then I found some good borders, used for cards and posters, to make the pastry part. Then, I thought I could make swirls, so I chose to inspire it after the wild berry pop-tarts. I found some really cool sparkly purple paper. And I mixed yellow and white ink for the pastry edges, and some cyan ink for the swirls on top of the frosting. I accidently cut the purple paper down way too small, so my notebook came out much smaller than it should have been. They still came out well, and I was able to use blue thread to match the frosting. I really ended up liking the finished product! Even if people don’t get that it’s a pop-tart, that’s okay, and it still has a cool design.
Next, we started to learn how to work with screen printing!
We started by picking out ornaments so we could print them with ink, and used simple images that were already created for letterpress. We inked up the images and scanned them, so we could work with them on photoshop. Doing this helped us make them whatever color we wanted, along with changing the size to make them larger. I was inspired by the tea towels, and because they were the same brown as my Thank You cards I wanted to go with an autumn theme again. I looked through the galley trays and found some pumpkins, leaves, flowers, and a pot that could give off a warm fall feeling. I inked up each image, and wanted to make some kind of pattern out of them. After scanning them in and finding the colors I wanted, I then had to make everything pure black. Doing this is important so that when they are exposed no light can bleed through. We learned how to print them out on clear sheets, then learned about the emulsion that’s used for screen printing. It was difficult trying to make sure everything was perfectly lined up, but because I made mine a scattered pattern it wasn’t as stressful. Overall I think they turned out really well, especially for my first time ever doing a screen print.
For our final project we could make anything we wanted, whether it was a screen print or a print from the press. I chose to make another screen print since I enjoyed doing it and wanted to learn more. I designed my own character on procreate, based off of drawings I have done of myself in the past. I have to admit I did struggle with the drawing, because I needed to keep printing in mind. I wanted the lines and detail to show up, and stand out. I also decided to use t-shirts, which were a much different texture than the tea towels. This ended up making some of them a little wonky, but overall they came out okay. Some of the details ended up getting lost, but I did expect that to happen.
Overall, I’m very happy with my work and have had a lot of cool art pieces! I really enjoyed working at Book Arts, and was always excited to go into work. Even doing the tedious work was still fun to do, and it helped not only myself, but others to find things easier within the workshop. It was a great working and learning experience and I would definitely come back and do it again!