[Alyson Kuhn] We are always interested in creative group projects, especially when the finished product is a set of something tactile and engaging. What you are looking at here are 16 matchbook notebooks, 3-1/2 x 3-1/2 in., designed and printed independently all over the country. The notebooks were produced for the 2012 National Stationery Show by 16 different exhibitors. Mohawk teamed up with Legion Paper to provide the substance; the designer-printers provided the style; and Amber Ellis Seguine of Flywheel Press powered the project and its myriad logistics.
Flywheel Press designed and produced the die-cut box and letterpressed sleeve, based on a dummy notebook provided by each participant. The boxes and sleeves (1000 of each) were shipped flat to Legion Paper for assembly—which proved to be a bit of a project in itself.
Marc Schotland, VP of Marketing & Global Development at Legion Paper, saw the project as a superb way both to support the creative community and to showcase some of Legion’s fine art papers. He also invited Mohawk to provide the perfect paper for the inside pages, the functional part of the notebooks: Superfine Softwhite Recycled Smooth 70 text.
I’d like to hear how participants selected the stock for their notebook covers. But first, how did the participants get selected?
Marc Schotland: Amber invited most of the designer-printers to participate. We had worked with her on a collaborative set of recipe cards [for the 2011 National Stationery Show]. Several people who had not been included in the 2011 promotion had contacted her afterwards to say that they would love the opportunity to participate in whatever the next one would be. She honored those requests—and she also reached beyond the letterpress community, to showcase other printing techniques. And Legion suggested a couple of printer-designers we think are doing interesting things with paper.
The mini-notebook covers offer prime real estate for artistic self-expression. Clockwise from top left: Jen James of Two Paperdolls illustrates tools of the trade (letterpress printed in impressive registration). L2 Design Collective showcases their specialty, screen printing. Brad Woods of Maginating presents an animated rebus, foil stamped by DeFrance Printing. Jodi McComb of Paisley Tree Press fits her paper specs (in the perfect font) on the “strike tab”; her letterpress printed silver flora and fauna cover the back too.
And then how did people decide—or did you decide?—which paper to use for their covers?
For Legion, a major part of this “exercise” is to encourage people to try papers outside their comfort zone or experience. We give them a chance to try something outside their workflow. So, everyone looked at our collection online and let us know what they’d like. It was first come, first reserved. We didn’t want any repetition, and we were particularly interested in showing papers that aren’t normally considered for letterpress. You don’t have to pigeonhole papers.
Jane Monast at Mohawk arranged to ship the Superfine directly to all the participating designer-printers. Legion shipped the fine art cover stocks directly from our two warehouses. Amber also masterminded a direct mail postcard that was letterpress printed by Pistachio Press and sent out prior to the Stationery Show, announcing the Notebook Collector’s Series treasure hunt.
Two matchbooks have a side opening, perfect for a panorama. Upper: Shelley Barandes of Albertine Press adapted the Amsterdam illustration from her Around the World collection; the row house at far left gets completed on the strike tab. Lower: Carly James of Bison Bookbinding & Letterpress scanned a vintage photo of roaming buffalo, a Goodwill gift from her pal Louis Ledford. Per Carly, the shop receives “a fair amount of random Bison-y things—photos, statuettes, pillows, etc.” The grainy halftone and semi-transparent inks give the scene an impressionistic mood.
Did you meet a lot of people at the show because of this project?
Absolutely. It was great to meet everyone who had participated, and to see their booths. For example, Kelp Designs’ notebook was digitally printed, and it actually matched their booth. Everyone gave out notebooks at their own booths, along with a “treasure hunt card” listing all 16 booth numbers. We handed out the empty boxes at the Legion Paper booth, and it was wonderful to see how excited attendees were to be collecting the notebooks.
Assorted bindings, clockwise from top left : Paperboat Studios scored an extra panel behind the strike tab for the single staple. Blackbird Letterpress used a pair of staples. Flywheel Press went for a single staple, which doesn’t show on the back (Do you think the ink is pink? No, it’s the gold!). Sapling Press substituted a rubber band, which stays put thanks to a pair of “half holes” drilled on each edge.
I marvel at the complexity and the diversity of the notebooks as a set. I know that each one has a story behind it.
I agree. The recipe card project was so simple in comparison: a single card multiplied by 1000. The notebook involves a cover—and some people printed on the spine, and someone else printed a pattern on the inside—and scoring and stapling. The finished product looks deceptively simple. It is not easy to wrangle a stack of tiny sheets to be stapled perfectly into place. People were wonderfully ingenious. This project had so many elements, and everything came together perfectly at the end thanks to Amber’s ringleading and wrangling skills! She is already thinking of next year’s stationery show project—and we are already looking forward to it.
Amber Ellis Seguine adds, “Projects like this build long-term friendships. For me, it was wonderful to invite people whose work I admire to participate. People tweeted and texted and sent photos of their progress. We were all busy with our own preparations for the National Stationery Show, and people stayed so excited about this project. The process was complex, but it was ultimately totally harmonious.”
Photos: © 2012 StudioAlex