With backgrounds in corporate and industrial worlds - nothing to do with printing, binding or even design - imPRESSed was always going to be an ambitious undertaking. However, we have managed to gain a knowledge and insight into a craft that is slowly disappearing and build a one-of-a-kind Studio.
We create personal and bespoke stationery, provide space for artists to express their creative spirits, share adventures and gained knowledge with inquisitive or like-minded souls and educate future generations about the journey ideas had to travel before advent of ‘devices’.
Our Studio must house what is the largest collection of bookbinding and printing tools and apparatus in South Africa. Sourced from roof of old print shop in central Joburg to mealie field in Mpumalanga, from a private collector in Pretoria to a third generation printer in Cape Town (who did not have heart to scrap his heirloom) and countless other places in between.
Many pieces came to us in horrible state and indeed some had to be scrapped, but the great majority has responded quite well to a little elbow grease and everything that is housed in our Studio is fully operational.
With digital everything, there is no bigger statement than letterpress. Huge, heavy machinery doused in oil is the antithesis of our perfect, instantly gratified lives. Sure, modern letterpress is different to what it used to be 100 years ago, in the depth of impression mainly, but the same deep impression is what makes it stand head and shoulders above any other printing method.
The hours of preparation, use of vintage foundry and wood type, custom blocks, selection of fine papers and the smell of letterpress ink will give your project the unique feel of quality, taste and eternal appeal.
We entertain projects as small as business cards, through to wedding and other stationery right up to full size posters and broadsides.
If you would like to be involved in the process, get ink under your finger nails and crank the presses yourself, we can certainly make this happen.
“Searching for ancient tools and machinery was a great adventure. Being able to bring them back into service: great satisfaction. Learning and perfecting skills almost forgotten: a challenge!”
“The trade of Bookbinder has been ranked among the most difficult of the arts. It is incontestably one requiring much care, great neatness, correct taste, and attentive practice, to form a skilful workman and without these requisites no one will ever attain the three great characteristics of good binding: solidity, elasticity and elegance.”
Those words were written in 1835 by John Hannett (alias John Arnett) in his Bibliopegia, a book that became a manual for generations of bookbinders. Today, nearly 200 years later, there is hardly a book to be seen that possesses those attributes. Commercially bound volumes are hardly elastic or elegant, while lots of custom bound books are made to be more of an ornament than object of use. How many books produced or bound today will be still around in a centuries to come? Not many, but we strive to ensure ours will be amongst them.
Books are silent witnesses to countless adventures, treks, wars, joys and tears. They were companions of their previous owners on expeditions and trips and have shared their fortunes and mishaps. Sometimes pampered in the comfort of a chest or bookshelf, sometimes caressed by the sea breeze on the deck of many ships heading to our shores and sometimes being used as field guide on exploration or hunting tour. Naturally they collected many scars during their long lives. Our task is to preserve, wherever we can, the signs of the journey and only repair what needs to be repaired. Dressing them up in fresh cloth or leather will, after all, rob them of their individuality and memoirs of the places they have been to.
We also keep stock of bookbinding and conservation supplies. These are rather difficult to come by in South Africa and since we import them for our own use all the time, it is only makes sense to make them available to others.
You may wonder what modern technology has to do with vintage machinery and old-style print techniques? One reason is we sometimes have to recreate missing piece of wood type or make copy of a block too worn to be used again. Secondly, it allow us to bring modern designs to the world of letterpress.
Occasionally we even complement letterpress or binding work with fine laser engraving or cutting to create a fresh, modern, yet distinctive look.
The technology also allows us to rapidly test ideas and be able to execute one-off projects in an economical manner. Intricate designs can be either engraved or foiled into various materials, something that is either impossible to do by hand or uneconomical for one item.
Due to our connections in the industries we used to be involved in, we still engrave stamps, signs, electrical labels, serial numbers plates and brand stationery, gifts and cylindrical objects. After all, the state-of-the-art equipment - Trotec Speedy, JET, Vision Pheonix - has to earn its keep!
WEDNESDAY EVENING CLASSES
Starting from the New Year we will offer various programs happening over a number of Wednesday evenings, from 6pm to 9pm. The classes will cater for four people at a time. There will be bookbinding at various levels, book repair, hobby letterpress, marbling etc. All will start from basic, introductory levels. We will gauge the interest and announce the calendar and programs by early December.
For the young and not-so-young! Four hour programs ideal for birthday parties or creative get together. Make-a-card, sew-a-journal, make-and-print-your-linocuts, quick-marbling are what we do, but are not limited to.
Please refer to our Facebook page for upcoming workshops.
Should you want to hire the studio to bring your project to life by your own, we are here for you.
FRIDAY OPEN STUDIO
Would you like to come and see what we are all about? Fridays are best - please contact us to arrange an appointment.
This idea was on the drawing board right from the beginning: an ‘underground’ place, strictly by appointment only, where bibliophiles can become themselves. The space we created had to resemble our favourite library in South Africa: The Africana in Kimberley, complete with cast iron Victorian staircase. With time we hope a selection of about 6000 volumes of Africana will grace the shelves, sourced either from our travels or taken on consignment from individuals pursuing different hobbies or directions.
Helping the next generation become aware of the importance of books and printing in developing the world we live in today. Some schools combine visits to our studio into their art programs. Children create their own unique linocut at school and print them on a number of our vintage presses and so learning about both the process and the history.
Most tertiary institutions used to have binderies and printing workshops. Not anymore thanks to budgets, space constrains, and a diminishing pool of skilled operators and technicians. Most designers we work with, all graduates of various art programs, know the tools and presses only from illustrations in their books and manuals. Hands-on visits to our studio will allow the future generation of designers and artists to have a more in depth knowledge and appreciation to the processes, and different avenues to express themselves.
Need a venue with a difference? Team building while printing quirky posters about your boss? We’ve got the coffee and buscuits - you bring your ideas!
BOOK CLUB and SPECIAL FUNCTIONS
Would you like to meet with your besties in a unique setting? We might help with that.
We are not interested in huge editions - there are many commercial places that do that.
Our intention is to create unique items, cards that one will be proud to hand out, wedding invitations that will be lovingly used as a book mark for years to come, and books that will stay in your family for generations.
Click on any of the images below to view a slideshow of what we can offer.
Frankie and Patryk wedding invitation - the type and the outcome
Fiddlewood Studio business cards
Repairing first edition of Jock of the Bushveld
Repairing a tired first edition of Jock of the Bushveld
Checking proof of Birth of Printing in South Africa just pulled on 1853 Columbian
Wedding invitation printed on letterpress
Old embosser in new role
The bread and butter of every book binder - repairing family bibles
Our first invite - thank you Brendan and Zurika for the trust
Ludlow matrix cases
Student arrangement for a Fathers Day poster
Selection of hand printed cards
5 hours, 60 girls, 660 prints - 2016 Kingsmead College Grade 6 letterpress outing
Linocut adopted for doodling booklet
Before the Studio, Vicki putting tabletop Albion through its motions
Vicky printing poster for Francoise on 1960 Korrex
Patryk working the 1920 Chandler and Prince
083 305 8315
082 650 0015
25 Greenacres Drive,
By appointment only