Blue Sparrow Press™- Printed paper goods handmade in small batches on an antique press. Vintage letterpress type is integrated with collagraph and woodblock print methods to make classic and playful designs. All inks are mixed by hand and printed on FSC certified, 100% recycled, and cotton papers. Owned and operated in Lawrence, Kansas by artist Heather Smith Jones, MFA.
About Blue Sparrow Press™
My interest in letterpress began in 2002 when I made the invitations for our wedding. My husband inherited a 1930's era Vandercook proof press from his late uncle, along with a collection of vintage and antique type, ornaments, and advertising cuts. For several years I researched and practiced printing on my own until early 2008 when I enrolled in an intensive workshop. Since that time I have continued to work in letterpress, making small prints and cards and also combining it with my mixed media works on paper. In June 2011 Blue Sparrow Press™ was established to represent my letterpress work.
The name Blue Sparrow Press™ is inspired by my maternal grandmother, Nova. My sister and I called her Mama. As a girl, I remember Mama singing the hymn, "His eye is on the sparrow." Up through my years in graduate school she sent me postcards and letters, until she was nearly in her 90's. She passed away in 2003 and today I cherish her letters. I can hold the paper and trace with my finger the words she penned, the tactile impressions of her thoughts. And I don't know if it was a rule, but Mama always used blue ink.
Letterpress is a relief form of printing that has been in existence since the 15th century. For hundreds of years it was the primary way that books and broadsides were printed. In letterpress, individual metal or wood letters and ornaments are set in a frame on the press bed, inked, and then paper is placed on top, upon which pressure is applied to create a print. The ink and type leave an impression or debossing in the paper. For each separate color, the paper takes another pass on the press. Since I use an antique proof press and mostly antique type, my process is much the same as it has been for centuries, setting one letter, one piece of type at a time.
In addition to letterpress, the work I make for Blue Sparrow Press incorporates printmaking methods including collagraph and woodcut. Collagraph printing is a collage of materials arranged in a relief design, that are inked and printed. The wood I use in the woodcut prints are repurposed scrap from my husband's design/build business that I carve by hand. I enjoy combining different print traditions to make prints, cards and notebooks that are colorful, textural, and artistic. And I hope you will enjoy using these items in your home.
Materials and Studio Practices
I carefully select all the materials, from start to finish. The paper and envelopes I use are either 100% cotton, acid-free, and archival, or are FSC certified and recycled using 30-100% post consumer waste. Inks are non-toxic and the colors are always mixed by hand. For studio clean up I use only natural and plant-based cleaners. Packaging and mailing materials are made primarily of recycled kraft paper, and the plastic sleeves used to protect the cards and prints are recyclable.
Heather Smith Jones is a studio artist working in mixed media on paper, painting, and letterpress. She is also in her eighth year as an instructor in the Arts-Based Preschool at The Lawrence Arts Center. In January 2011, her book Water Paper Paint, Exploring Creativity with Watercolor and Mixed Media was published and released by Quarry Books. Smith Jones earned her MFA from The University of Kansas in 2001 and her BFA in Painting from East Carolina University in Greenville, NC in 1996. She is represented by several galleries in the Midwest and on the East coast and her work is in the public collections of the Sprint Corporation and Emprise Financial Corporation in addition to many private collections.