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Volume 26, Number 5 — May 2018

King University offers Valentine's cards

Wood cuts such as this one used on a Christmas card are used to print greeting cards.
Wood cuts such as this one used on a Christmas card are used to print greeting cards.

By Leslie Grace | A! Magazine for the Arts | January 27, 2016

King University's digital media art and design program is creating handmade letterpress Valentine's Day cards utilizing a turn-of-the-century platen press at The Sign of the George Press & Gallery located in the Fine Arts Theatre on King's main campus in Bristol, Tenn. The community will be able to select their Valentine's Day cards during a two-night open house event in the Press Gallery Tuesday, Feb. 8 and Wednesday, Feb. 9, from 4-8 p.m.

"We are excited to host this two-night Valentine's Day open house event. With this project, our hope is to draw folks from the community up to King to see one of the unique features that we have to offer our students, faculty, staff, alumni and the community," says Joe Strickland, assistant professor and chair of photography and digital media at King University. "The open house event will take place in the press room, so people can come in and see where these cards have been made."

"Unlike the Christmas card sales, which in large part took place online, people will have to attend The Sign of the George open house events on Feb. 8 and 9 to purchase the cards," adds Lee Jones, assistant professor of photography and digital media. "This adds another layer of specialty to it."

The Valentine's Day cards will be handmade on the press by DMAD students under the supervision of Stickland as well as Jones, and David Winship, adjunct professor for Appalachian Studies at King. "We will all get together and pitch ideas, and come up with some cards we want to print," says Strickland. "Part of this is teaching students how to make a product that appeals to potential customers; we will have a group brainstorming session in which we walk ourselves through that process."

Once card designs are determined, the illustrations created by students through design software will be sent to Owosso Graphic Arts in Owosso, Michigan, where artisans create the individual blocks to be used for the letterpress. Owosso is one of the few companies still in existence that creates dies and blocks for old-time letterpresses.

During the 2015 Christmas season, King's DMAD program created and sold more than 600 handmade letterpressed Christmas cards.

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Topics: Art