The Art of Letterpress: My Story

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I woke up to the birds chirping and I didn't need my coat! Spring is right around the corner.  In this second post of my series of the Art of Letterpress,  I'm going to focus on the subject of my handmade book:  ballet. Since so much time would be spent making this book, I knew I wanted it to be about something really close to my heart.  I wanted to enjoy the process of creating the delicate linoleum cut illustrations.  I have been dancing all my life–rigorously studied classical ballet all through high school– and though I knew I wasn't going to pursue a professional career,  ballet has always been my passion.  I enjoy the rituals of performing. I'm teaching ballet now and I do still dance and perform with The Moving Company, UNO's modern dance company. All those years of ballet, time spent developing my technique, has helped me considerably and I feel grateful for the experiences that world has given me. So in the end, I decided to make my book about ballet and in particular, a memorable Nutcracker performance.

Me in my Chinese dancer costume and my little sister as Clara back in 2005 in The Nutcracker!

It was 2005; I was dancing as a Sailor in the battle scene (the battle took place on a ship with sailors and pirate mice) a Chinese dancer with a pretty pink parisol, and my favorite, a Snowflake. I was a Snowflake for 4 years, and I just loved the part.  To me, the snow scene is the most exciting part of the ballet, the music is so magical. And the paper snowflakes swirling onstage are amazing! That particular year we were waiting for the first snow, and on the day of opening night, the sky was heavy.   It was a perfect Nutcracker, I was in my prime in my high school ballet career and my younger sister was dancing as Clara.  Excitement was in the air  for opening night and the chance of the first snow. I know you readers who have been in the Nutcracker know the particular excitement I'm talking about! 🙂

My workspace in the book arts lab, with my linoleum cut blocks after their first proof. Next post I'll tell you how I made them!

I could have written a full size 30 page childrens' book describing all the sights and sounds and smells of dancing in the Nutcracker, but for this book I chose to be more focused.  I made it fairly simple and short, with the spotlight on my role as a Snowflake. In the course of the story, it follows the process of auditioning,  butterflies included, getting the part, rehearsing, dress rehearsals, opening night, and the rush of being onstage in the snow scene blizzard while the first snow was falling softly  outside at the theatre.  Here is a photo of my linoleum blocks, and next week I'll explain the process of creating the blocks and illustrations.

Happy art-ing and craft-ing and dancing,

Emily

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