Friary Villas | 2-3 Friary Street | Derby | DE1 1JF | 07948 266652
Close up of a letterpress illustration. Photo by Jemma

A Day in the Life Of… A Volunteer

Volunteer Jemma, talks about her time with the Smallprint Co. so far…

Four months ago, I started volunteering at The Smallprint Company. It has been an exciting 4 months, from commissions, to festivals to exhibitions.

Firstly, let me introduce myself and how I came about volunteering at The Smallprint Company. My name is Jemma and I am an MA student in Museum and Heritage with a particular interest in the approach of a working collection and the heritage of printing. I had seen letterpress on a documentary and decided to look for somewhere I could visit, not expecting to find somewhere in the nearest town and somewhere that was looking for volunteers.

Whilst being a studio assistant and learning all I can about letterpress from a hands-on perspective, Chris and Hannah were interested to see how my approach of heritage could help in the studio, one project that is underway is the archive of terminology and interesting things about letterpress. The first card to be in the tray is the Columbian press, which came about after a local gentleman came in with an ornament of the Columbian press; we decided it would be the perfect first card. After some research this was the final result. The archive is an ongoing project that will be open to anyone to view, who comes to the studio. If you have any suggestions for the archive please let us know.

It has amazed me how much I have picked up in the last four months, no day is the same and no printing job is the same either. One of my favourite parts is finding the right typeface for the job in hand. One of my favourite typefaces to work with is Trajan 36pt. One card design that shows this typeface really nicely is Love, Love, Love card shown here.

Love Love Love - a letterpress card

Love Love Love – a letterpress card

Mixing ink is a skill I am still yet to master but finding the right colours for a design can be just as interesting as finding the right typeface. Greens have been popular recently on some different projects from wedding commissions to greeting cards, two of my favourites being Ey Up Duck and Music Amongst the Trees.

Ey Up Duck - letterpress card. Photo by Jemma

Ey Up Duck – letterpress card. Photo by Jemma

Music Amongst the Trees - letterpress card. Photo by Jemma

Music Amongst the Trees – letterpress card. Photo by Jemma

Many more creative things happen at the studio including bookbinding, taught by Hannah. I recently took a Coptic bookbinding workshop and had such a fun afternoon (I can’t believe how quickly 4 hours goes!)

Coptic bound book made by Jemma

Coptic bound book made by Jemma

Here is my finished book, I would highly recommend the workshop to anyone interested in learning something new and creative.

In June The Smallprint Company took part in The Furthest From The Sea Festival, we took the proofing press out and printed pirate Wanted posters that could be personalised and that everyone could get involved with. It was a brilliant day (even with the rain!) and my first off-site which was a really fun way to talk to people and show them what we do whilst having lots of fun making posters.

Finally, as a photography graduate the studio is just the perfect place for some interesting photography. These were some photos I took that might inspire you stop by the studio and come and say hello to us.


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