Friday, August 26, 2011

Printer Profile: Melanie Karlins

This is the first of a new series of posts! I thought it would be nice for everyone to get to know their fellow studio sharers a little better. (I was inspired by Marty's interview of Annie Albagli over on the Screenprint Society blog). I'll start by posting profiles of the three Letterpress Associates (Melanie, Leslie and myself) and hopefully move on to profiling other regular faces in the studio! Here goes....

Meet Melanie
Melanie Karlins is one of the three Letterpress Associates at Pyramid. Being 9 months pregnant, she's finally slowed down enough to have some time to answer some questions!

How did you get started with letterpress?
Melanie at a recent Letterpress Happy Hour.
During my second year of law school, I really needed a creative outlet. I've always loved stationery and started playing around with paper at home in my free time (or in the time that I should have been studying). I did folding, cutting, rubber stamps, made mini-books, wrote letters, but I wanted something more. I'd heard of Pyramid a few years prior and knew I wanted to take letterpress classes there. The day after my last exam that semester I was at Pyramid for a letterpress lesson with Karen Hardy who was the Letterpress Associate at the time. I fell in love with the process. I learned how to print on the Vandercook that first day, but I soon started printing almost exclusively with Pyramid's Chandler & Price Pilot Press. I continued printing throughout the summer and the following school year, then I started volunteering in the letterpress studio. I've been teaching letterpress classes at Pyramid since 2009 and I've been a Letterpress Associate there since 2010.

Melanie's DC Flag print (printed with photopolymer).

What do you like to print?
I started off using type exclusively. Pyramid has a great collection of metal (and now wood) type, which gave me lots to explore when I first got into letterpress. Then, I got a couple wood type alphabets as gifts and I was really hooked on wood for a few months. When I participated in the 2010 Letterpress Calendar project, I decided to use photopolymer for my design which opened up a whole new world of possibilities.  Since then I've taken a couple of graphic design classes and now that I'm more comfortable with design software, I use photopolymer for most of my letterpress work.

Melanie's 2012 etiquette calendar.

What inspires your print work?
I love reading old etiquette books and I have a whole line (Etiquette for the Post-Emily World) of items based on funny things I read in those books and how I think etiquette should be updated for modern, urban living. I've printed bookmarks with etiquette tips and coasters with dinner party etiquette, and I'm introducing a 2012 calendar this fall featuring a whole year of etiquette tips. I'm also inspired by life in DC, particularly urban neighborhood living, and I have a number of prints inspired by DC neighborhoods.

Melanie's favorite piece.

What’s your favorite piece that you've printed?
A couple years ago I printed engagement party invitations for friends of mine. I handset all the type in Margery from Pyramid's collection. And I printed the invitations on handmade paper I picked up at New York Central Art Supply. There was such a sense of accomplishment after setting all that type and whenever I see the invitations now I'm reminded of a sweet engagement party for dear friends and the amazing paper-shopping excursion to New York.


What is your favorite paper for printing?
It depends on the project. For prints, I like to use Legion's Eco-Rag or Bamboo paper. For personal stationery I typically use Arturo, a soft Italian paper. And for general greeting cards and other stationery, I often print on Lettra, French Paper, or Mohawk.

More on Melanie: Melanie sells her stationery and prints under the press name Grey Moggie Press. See her website here and see her at Crafty Bastards in October!

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