Monday, October 27, 2008

the Forest Drive

The long yearned for review of word and image is finally on the press.

The plan is to work closely with a few writers and artists in the studio to form a cohesive book/object/utterance in honor of the Forest Drive in all our lives. So far poems by me (Fiona Spring), Desiree Morales and Sophia Kidd and drawings by Chance are in the mix.

Some notes on development:
The challenge has been the conflict between the desire to produce the highest quality edition and the lack of monetary resources. Finally the brilliance of the whole thing took root and I realized that the answer would be to utilize fine papers that we have on hand and set all the poems in metal type rather than ordering costly photopolymer plates. Now I'm inviting artists to carve linoleum or work with sandragraph techniques (as above) using materials we have in the studio.

The edition will be around 80 copies and a smaller number may be hard bound.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

An Evening in Fillmore

Lately we've been out to meet our neighbors every chance we get. Whether it's at Golden Gate Park or at the local library, We are in a sociable mood!

Yesterday we spent the evening in downtown Fillmore showing off our Pilot table top press. To our amazement, the man who used to teach letterpress at Fillmore High with the equipment we now use was one of the first visitors at our booth. We'd never met before and there was excitement all around. He seemed so pleased to know that the presses are still in use. He was the perfect picture of a shop teacher with a freshly pressed short sleeved shirt and matching blue canvas pants. A dapper and cheerful man we hope to see more of so we can learn the origins of our beloved machines.

Yma set up her snacks and stuffed animals on this brick planter pictured below.

Downtown Fillmore is lovely! As the night came on a cool breeze brought oaky and citrusy smells into town. All the little antique shops were tricked out for the Art Harvest and offering some great deals I might add. I felt proud to be a resident of the Heritage Valley.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Art Predator Cranks Press

Art Predator just posted a blog about working here at our studio on elegant business cards (above) and stationery. Her design sense was really impressive. She took stock of what was available and quickly put all the elements together in an expression of her mission as a writer.

This kind of collaboration is really what Lettre Sauvage is about. In a day-long workshop we can cover a lot of basic printing skills and vocabulary while creating valuable paper goods.

The studio is also available for rental. We can shift gears to a support/resource role for printers who have trained with us to get set up for a project like printing their own book or making cards. Use of the press includes storage space, getting in on bulk paper & supply orders, sitting under the oak tree and a library of books about books.

Capsule Design Festival

This Sunday, October 19, we'll be at Capsule Design Festival in San Francisco in the lovely Hayes Valley area. There will be about 160 designers, artists and musicians for us to hang out with in the park while grooving to DJs. Our booth is #29. We'll have new journals and t-shirts along with our books, broadsides and cards.

Capsule is a collective of selected designers including clothing, furniture, jewelry, studio art and paper goods. We're excited to be among the few stationery vendors. We recognized Lizard Press on the line up-- we met at Bazaar Bizarre in SF last winter. We really like their style and craftsmanship.

San Francisco, your city lights beckon us...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Rich & The Poor

Our friend Frank Boross from Eye-Yi-Yi Digital Video and Toxic Coyote Press just worked on a music video The Rich & The Poor by Carl Morehouse, former mayor of my home town, Ventura, California. The sweet sound of a voice standing up for the basic dignity of people, for the possibility of peace and justice…

Everything Frank is involved with is top-notch. I wish he had a site with a gallery of his graphic design and printing that I could refer to. I can refer you to a very different project, a book he did with the comedy writer Sean Maher.

Sean is someone I met in the early 90s when he was starting to do stand-up at Ventura clubs I was too young to go to. His insightful spoofs of some of the most popular mental crutches are hilarious. Here are a couple of one-liners from his cards:

“If at first you don't succeed,
pout and mope around.”

“Human rights should be
reserved for the elite.”

My commentary on humor may be a little obtuse. Thoughts seem to be stacked on one another as if some would fall off the pile if they were no longer supported by the deeper ones at the foundation. I think that good humor brings thoughts out that most people don’t know how to handle. Ideas that might otherwise be depressing, cold, or frustrating are suddenly funny.

Obviously, Sean does this “pulling out the dirty thoughts” thing. But he seems to get at some of those deeper elements to really shake up the mind. Check it out. Am I romanticizing this guy’s talent because I lounged in his bachelor pad as a psychedelic 16 year old? No, he’s really funny.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Santa Barbara Book and Author Festival

If you happen to be in Santa Barbara this weekend, please join Lettre Sauvage at our Santa Barbara Book and Author Festival booth where we'll be presenting our Editions and giving live printing demonstrations with our table-top Chandler and Price.

The program starts tomorrow (Friday) and we'll be there all day on Saturday. There will be a number of wonderful poets, workshops, panel discussions, and other goodies downtown, in and around the public library and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Bill Rector poetry reading

USC's Visions and Voices series presents Praxis and Poetry, with poet and physician Bill Rector reading a selection of his poems on Wednesday, September 10th. The event is free and will take place at 4:30 PM in Doheny Library, Intellectual Commons Room 233.

For this event, Lettre Sauvage printed a very limited edition broadside of Rector's poem, "Exponent of the Horizontal." We'll be selling some at the reading, and copies will be made available for sale on the Lettre Sauvage website soon.

Hope to see you there!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Yma's art sale

Yma has been hosting an art sale this weekend in the front yard of the Lettre Sauvage studio. She is selling drawings of various sizes, and has also taken this opportunity to sell some toys and housewares. When I arrived to print this weekend, she greeted me at the car and convinced me to buy some of the work.

Yma's artwork has long been an inspiration for us at the studio. She's learned about printing from her parents and creates strikingly original work. We've also included some of her poems in the zine, brick. There are times when words seem to just spill out of her with tremendous poetic force. Just last week she said to us, "What do you know? Pomegranates can be secrets."

I'm particularly fond of this drawing. It demonstrates an unusual amount of restraint and shows how Yma is aware of the borders of the paper. The color choices, alternating between strong and soft tones, work so well with the smudging and blurring that are otherwise occurring in the piece.

When I asked Yma to sign her piece, she was at first confused and insisted that I sign it, since I would be the work's owner. I am impressed with her willingness to let go of her objects, to release them into the world without names or titles or figurative reference to cling to. It is a good lesson for artists of any age.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Green, city, beautiful poets

Greener & Greener

Lettre Sauvage has been added to, the premier
search engine for websites with social and environmental values.
We’re already learning about how to run our studio more
responsibly from other sites we found in their directory!
Check it out.
City Lights
The long wooden stairway lined with shelves and framed broad-
sides leads to the most exquisite seat in town: the simple
wooden chair under the small window where one can sit flanked
by floor to ceiling shelves of poetry. Upstairs at City Lights
is one of my most beloved reading spots.
Genevieve has been in San Francisco for a couple weeks. She took
our latest publications to City Lights where they enjoyed a very
warm reception. We’re so thrilled to have our work in their store
and on their website.
Santa Barbara Summer Poetry Workshop
I visited the workshop to talk about my experiences publishing
collaboratively with poets. I couldn’t help but borrow the term
“the third mind” coined by Brion Gysin and William Burroughs to
describe that realm of shared thought and creation where
collaborative work is produced. I think the group shared my
enthusiasm about

“a praxis of two subjectivities that metamorphose into one”
-George Gerard Lemaire

While at the workshop I had the pleasure of hearing some
impressive work,
fresh from the notebooks of participants.
I also sat in on their discussion time and learned more about the
monthly poetry journal, Sage Trail (cover above). I had picked
one up at a Santa Barbara Poetry Series reading, and was honestly
surprised by how strong the writing was – not to sound jaded or
anything- but there are so many bland journals out there. This is
not one of them. And, this gem is only $15 for a year’s subscription
or free online.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Mutanabbi Street Starts Here

This is a broadside of the poem, Midwife of Fallujah, by Weam Namou that we created as part of the broadside suite, Mutanabbi Street Starts Here. The suite, formed to express solidarity with Iraqui literary culture is named for the famous Mutanabbi Street booksellers' district that was bombed during the current war. The work is now part of the permanent collection at the Arthur and Mata Jaffe Center for Book Arts. The Florida Atlantic University libraries recently digitized the entire collection for online viewing. We feel honored to be part of this project and are eager to finally view the work of fellow printers.

Collections and individual broadsides are available for purchase to benefit World Medical Relief. We sold out of our copies and raised $135. Inquire for further details.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

NEGATIVE SKY Book Release Party Tonight

Tonight we're hosting a book release party for Genevieve Yue's NEGATIVE SKY, a hard-bound collection of eight poems and essays based on a set of photographs found in a Taos, New Mexico novelty shop. The book was hand-sewn and printed by Lettre Sauvage Editions.

All are welcome! The gathering will be at the Lettre Sauvage studio, from 7-10 PM. We'll hear electronic tonalities by Opal Gann and watch 16mm films in the backyard movie theater, including Merkin's THE PAIN OF GOATS and other surprises. There will be wine, fire, and friendship.

NEGATIVE SKY is also available for purchase.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


This card never fails to bring a giggle to the recipient- especially if they suspect their cute behind was the inspiration.

Originally conceived as a Valentine greeting from Keith to Ron, “Steamed” is a limited edition of 80 and will never be printed again since the antique printing block was only in our possession for a few short hours. Cam paired it with Kaufmann and Engraver's Bold typefaces to place it in a 1920s idiom when steam (aahh) was still used as a source of power.

Give this card as a subtle hint to the one you admire or to remind your domestic other that way back you were just stealing a hopeful glance…maybe wishing you were at the bath house!

This card is available for purchase at Etsy.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Stationery Show Friends

I wanted to put up more on some of the great designers, printers, and shop owners we met at the Stationery Show. One of the highlights were the very warm and friendly people at Night Owl Paper Goods, whose cosy booth featured a set of exquisitely thin wooden notecards. The colors were all warm and had a great 70s feel.

One of the new stores that will be featuring our Lettre Sauvage wedding book is Convier Design, a boutique shop located in Redmond, Washington - our first northwest location! They were very friendly and knowledgeable, and we were so pleased that they were willing to share so much of their expertise with us. We trust we're in very good hands with them. 

We were also visited by Maginating, a new letterpress company close to home in Los Angeles. They had great bold patterns and colors, and we were especially impressed by their lovely blue burlap booth. 

The owner of Pretty Bitter had a wonderful story about receiving his booth space as a Christmas gift and coming up with a stationery company in time for the show. The result was an energetic and witty line of greeting cards. We especially like the awkwardly verbose "Sentimental Journeys" which playfully demonstrate how attempting to say it all never really gets the job done.

Finally we were thrilled to be visited by Urban Mercantile, a home accessories store that we'll definitely be visiting (and shopping at) the next time we're in San Francisco. We were excited to have a positive response from the owner, but moreover it was great to get constructive feedback based on shoppers' tastes and other letterpress offerings out there. Look out for our stationery and new matchbook sets at the store!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Stationery Show Part 2

We had a really successful time at the National Stationery Show, placing our wedding books and stationery in a number of stores around the country and meeting a lot of really great and interesting people. The giant matchbook noteset, which has perforated cards that tear out, was a big hit, and the little matchbooks that we gave away always made people smile. 

The stationery show was massive. Besides just stationery, there were pens with flowers on top, wrapping paper, ribbons, photo albums, Japanese decorative paper, and trinkets of all kinds. There were the big companies with massive booths, like Crane's and American Greetings, and then a lot of smaller companies like us. One of our neighbors, and some of the nicest people at the show, was Bald Guy Greetings, and their bright and quirky illustrations won them a Louie award. We hope they publish a children's book sometime soon.

Being surrounded by so much great work at the show, we were inspired to design an upcoming broadside and a few new wedding invitations during our spare time. All in all, we had a wonderful time and will definitely be back next year.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Lettre Sauvage at the National Stationery Show

Our first National Stationery Show experience has been great so far --we've brought with us new stationery lines, wedding invitation sample books, a handful of our literary editions, and a highly regarded matchbook noteset (more on that soon). Though it's a big trade show with thousands of people milling about, people who love paper tend to very friendly and open. We've learned quite a lot from kind buyers, wedding and event planners, store owners, creative directors, and other printers/designers like us. 

If you're in New York and plan on attending the show, we invite you to visit us at our booth #3346! 

More details and pictures soon.

Thursday, May 1, 2008


Giants of the 1950s is our first completed book collaboratively printed for local poet and photographer, Carol DeCanio. The edition of 40 was printed by Fiona and designed by Carol and Fiona with the artistic input of Cameron who created a striking half-tone from Carol's photo of a 1930s car.
The accordion is 38 inches long and slides into a dust jacket. It is a sweet poem recounting memories of San Francisco transformed while the Giants were in the world series. It's available for $30 signed by the author. Email for details.
Collaboration worked well for the three of us, leading to an unexpected design. We met several times and tried to "mock-up" the project on the laptop and looked at tiny paper sample squares, so it was really a thrill the first time Carol saw the final product. We knew we wanted to work with her when she came by and ordered stationery that said "I am an upright crumble." We were right.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

primal circus

monday night 7-10 pm
the 31st of march

at Accolades Gallery
451 e. main st
ventura, ca

(at the back of
the el jardin

get ready to play

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Lettre Sauvage Does Posters for Art City

Cameron Leggett and Fiona Spring kindly donated their expertise, labor, and printing services to Art City. Not only did they do the tickets for this Saturday's, March 8th, 2008 event, they also did the posters.
Original size is approximately 11 x 18. Posters printed on supremely thick and grainy recycled paper can be bought for only $10! All proceeds go to Art City, to help rebuild this Ventura westside artist collective of stone carvers, metal workers, film makers, painters, and authors.

Saturday, February 9, 2008


My history of the book class is off to a wonderful start and in recent weeks we've been looking at the practice of extra-illustration, or putting images in the margins of or in between sheets of existing books. We read essays about James Granger's A Biographical History of England, published in 1769, the first text to which extra-illustrated portraits were added. This practice came to be known as grangerizing a text, and last week we actually got to view a grangerized version of the Biographical History, among others. Alan Jutzi, the Chief Curator of Rare Books at the Huntington Library, visited our seminar and brought with him several of Richard Bull's meticulously grangerized books. For each paragraph or two excised from the original text, Bull added rare engravings and mezzotints, handwritten notes, and other fascinating ephemera and portrait into what could be considered an early form of scrapbooking.

Bull's handiwork, and that of his family --he was clearly aided by many of the women in the household--is extraordinary. For one text, he cut out a window on each page so that when the sheet from the original text was inserted, you could see both front and back of the double-sided sheet. Portraits and other clippings were added in and around those elements. Because books were not sold as bound objects until well into the 19th century, people like Bull could take a text like Granger's Biographical History or the bible and insert many sheets, embellishing the text, extending its meaning, and show off one's personal collection of prints or curatorial perspective.

Last week our class was visited by two scholars: William Sherman from York University presented "Toward a Pre-History of Collage" and Matthew Eddy of Durham University explained the early 19th century notetaking practices of Dugald Stewart in "Words in the Mind and on The Page: Dugald Stward, Memory and Taking Notes." Though both were excellent, Bill Sherman's presentation was particularly intriguing for the way that it traced a long-standing practice of cut-and-paste well before the modern conception of collage as practiced by Picasso and Braque. He demonstrated that as far back as the Renaissance, people were cutting out ornaments, borders, illuminated letters, and other scraps of text and placing them into other books, a practice that was as creative as it was destructive, and one which calls into 
the question the very way that we look at books. Far from being pristine, inviolable objects, as we might understand them today, books in an earlier period were sites of change. You can almost see the process of thought taking place on the page, and it's a fascinating area of study to try to understand how and why such books were made and how they were used, whether
 for pleasure, boredom, or erudition. Sherman, who works in marginalia, will be publishing this work as a book soon and I'll post a link once it's up. 

In the meantime, here's a link to his most current text, Used Books: Making Readers in Renaissance England, published by the University of Pennsylvania Press.

And here's more from the Huntington about extra-illustrated texts.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Come One, Come All!

One of the joys of keeping a letterpress studio is that people visit us. Mostly writers, artists, crafters and other lovers of print. We hope we've created a space where people can experience heightened creativity and communication- as the immortal creators of Zardoz put it: "You must go to second level with us!"

The postcard making workshop will be a great occasion to take it up a notch... and try out newly acquired antique circus (tragic clowns and contortionists included) printing blocks.

One place where we've been lucky enough to experience communion with the elements and dance under the stars is Art City the sculpture center and art gallery in Ventura, CA. This week we're thrilled to be printing tickets for a benefit to save Art City. Go if you can. Be counted among the righteous.

And we'll be welcoming visual and performance artist, Gauvin (scroll down), to print invitations for his upcoming marriage to Vincent Van Gogh, which will be held at the charming Accolades Gallery in Ventura, CA.

Have a safe and joyous Chinese New Year! Celebrate by practicing the ancient art of calligraphy with us. Blessed be the Rats!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Making It Together

Our 2008 workshop series will start with a love-in! Our Valentine making workshop- January 18, 6:00-10:00- will be a time to get a little funky with experimental techniques on the Vandercook to create very rich, hand-made compositions. In other words, we'll get a little sensual, a little messy...

Each of the six participants will take home 25 Valentines. For shy people like me, that's a three year supply!

View the whole workshop series with all details on our site. There's still room to add a workshop or party, so don't be shy about sharing ideas.