Shrewsbury Bookfest is a Shropshire charity who aim to inspire, enthuse and entertain children through literature and the arts. Since that's an ethos I wholeheartedly support, and I liked the look of what they were doing, I reached out to see if there might be a project we could do together — a printing workshop for their May festival, perhaps? After a little letterpress demo at my studio, Bookfest got so excited that they asked me to join them on their stand at Shrewsbury Flower Show for two days in August 2017. But what to print?
The Bookfest tent hosts a book swap, whereby children can bring their unwanted books and exchange them with others for free. Those without books to swap can choose books in exchange for a donation. The whole idea is about passing on the books you've loved so that others can enjoy them too. I suggested the idea of printing a Bookfest-branded bookplate with space for name, date and rating (one, two or three hearts, as outlines to be coloured in). With space for five entries, we hoped the bookplates would spread the word (literally) long beyond the festival.
Using a combination of freshly cast and vintage metal type and ornaments I set the design by hand and picked a purple ink to contrast with Bookfest's branding. Visitors to the Bookfest tent were able to have a go on my Adana 8x5, talk letterpress as much as they liked, and take away their own freshly printed bookplate (safely stored in a paper bag, mind you, so that the wet ink wouldn't smudge!)
I had a fantastic two days printing hundreds of bookplates with people of all ages. Many thanks to Bookfest for inviting me, and to everyone who dropped by, chatted, and had a go on the press.
Bookfest’s main festival happens in central Shrewsbury this May. There's heaps of good stuff going on, including workshops from Aardman Animation. There would have been a Mostly Flat printing workshop too, but sadly there was a problem with the venue. Maybe next year! Watch this space.