& baby makes 3!

March 3rd, 2011 by

Some friends of mine are having their first baby in a few short months from now. Joey and Leslie are super special to Daniel and I because they sort of played match maker when we were first getting to know each other. They are having a baby boy and I am helping with her shower so why not make a letterpress invite!!!

Dianna and I have been dying to make some “baby” templates, and this is the first one. You will be able to order this one for yourself as a shower invite or a baby announcement so keep checking back.

So on to the pressing — proud to say this was Holland’s (our C&P) first job!!! Thanks to Daniel for getting him in working order. Everything went really smoothly and we are very pleased with the outcome! For this job we used Mr. French Muscletone 140# paper, process blue ink, and kraft envelopes… Super simple and absolutely adorable. Hope you enjoy them.

just ripe | silent auction

January 19th, 2011 by

Last weekend Dianna and I attended a silent auction for Just Ripe. Dianna met Kristen Faerber, founder of Just Ripe, while volunteering with her this summer to raise money for Knox Heritage.  It was nice of her to think of us when coming up with her donation items. Many friends of Just Ripe donated some beautiful things to be auctioned with all proceeds going to this great new venture. Just RIpe is all about connecting the consumer and the grower. Started by the vision of 5 talented women, they use local produce, dairy, and regional products in their recipes. Their storefront space at the Daylight Building in downtown Knoxville, will stock local produce and offer delicious prepared foods, including a seasonal menu. While the storefront space is still under construction check them out at the Farmer’s Market in downtown Knoxville (Market Square wed & sat).  I hear their chocolate truffles are fantastic and would make any sweetheart happy on Valentines Day.

Fourth Year donated a pair of custom silhouettes, and while we were there we had the opportunity to do a little shopping ourselves.  I bid on a wonderful old storefront door with so much character. I look forward to getting it in place and giving you guys an “after” shot to go with the “before” picture below. Dianna was the highest bidder on a set of books “Keeping Chickens” and “Canning and Preserving” by Ashley English.  We really enjoyed ourselves – good food, good music, and great company.  We are thrilled that Just Ripe is opening up a storefront space and we plan to continue supporting them along the way.  If you missed your chance to bid on the silhouettes visit our etsy page or email us to order your own.

letterpress bookmarks

January 7th, 2011 by

Last month a pair of our friends asked us to print letterpress bookmarks as wedding favors for their chic New Year’s Day wedding. Ashley and Erik studied Architecture at the University of Tennessee during the same period Emily and I were in school.  They were each top of their class, are positively brilliant, and without a doubt perfect for each other.

After we received the file from Ashley we got started. The design was simple and elegant with a quote from Lebbeus Woods.  It was a great job for us novice printers to tackle.  Our intent was to laser cut delrin to make the plate in a similar fashion as our business cards but the font was so small it would have been risky. We opted for a magnesium plate to keep everything crisp.  During this process the image is chemically etched into a magnesium plate and then mounted onto a piece of wood to get the type to registration height. At first glance the text on the plate looked far to small to print clearly but after inking up the machine it turned out to leave a beautiful impression on the Crane Lettra 100% cotton paper.  Although the tone was not as solid as one could achieve with other printing techniques the salty effect added a depth of color and texture in the areas of the solid black circles.

Not only was the mag-plate the best choice for printing this job but it is was also beautiful.  I included the plate as part of their wedding gift and I hope it is something they treasure.

Congratulations Erik & Ashley!  We are incredibly happy for you both and wish you a marriage full of love and happiness, thank you for including us in your wedding day.

Now I just need a good architectural design book to pair with my bookmark.

wooden save the date postcards

December 27th, 2010 by

We hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas, it certainly feels like winter with all the snow these days.  Receiving one of these postcards may help you shake off the winter chill and look ahead to warmer days. Maxi & Seth are getting married this spring. They love cycling and he actually proposed as they were on a tandem bicycle ride.  Their wedding will be modern with a vintage undertone and and take place in the foothills of the Smokey Mountains.  The invitations needed to be thoughtful and enticing.  After the design was complete we sent it off to be printed on a 2-ply wood veneer. They turned out wonderfully and I have been assured that the postal service can mail wooden postcards without a hitch. Would you like to find one of these striking postcards in your mailbox?

holiday e-card

December 17th, 2010 by

My day job as an intern architect typically keeps me busy with drawing, coordination, and sometimes actually designing but in December I have the opportunity to design our firm holiday card.  Last year (click CDP holiday card 2009) was the first time we switched from a traditional envelope and stamp card to an online version.  I have been thinking, for longer than I probably should, on how to build off the same character of last year’s but make this one even better. You may disagree if it is better, but I can assure you it was more complicated. Turn on your sound, sit back in your seat and enjoy this small break in your day.

What does this woodland scene have to do with architecture you might ask? As designers we are thinking year round about how to improve the spaces of others and during the holidays it becomes even more important to be sure you are surrounded by loved ones and decor help you feel comfortable and cozy. These little squirrels are improving their space too and working darn hard to do it, I respect their persistence and attention to detail.

How was this possible?  I designed the scene in Illustrator.  Then I separated each frame out in order to create the illusion of movement, in a similar fashion to a flip-book. Chris, a co-worker, used Flash to thread the scenes together.  There he added the zoom effect, falling snow, and the Nutcracker tune.  It is a really fun way to touch base with our clients and friends as well as make new ones. My hope is for it to put a smile on your face while “gearing you up” for the chilly winter and Happy New Year.  For more information about CDP (Cockrill Design & Planning) please visit their site.


diy Christmas Cards: Potato Stamp

December 14th, 2010 by

Dianna and I had really hoped to get “Holland” (our C&P letterpress) up and running in time to print Christmas Cards, but its not ready just yet, so I settled for a simpler technique — Potato Stamping! I’ve seen it done many times before creating some adorable fabrics. But here’s how I did it!

I started with some mini cookie cutters I found at Hobby Lobby (you can always draw your own design onto the potato), one medium/large potato, a pearing knife, an ink pad, and paper. First you cut the potato in half and take the cookie cutter of your choice, center it, and press down firmly into the potato. With the cookie cutter still in the potato, cut about 1/4″ from the top, throwing away all the excess potato edges. Remove the cookie cutter, and voila you have your stamp!

Next, choose your paper. I used some leftover paper from a wedding we did for a really fun couple (Jennifer + Brian). The paper was used as confetti for when they walked down the aisle and it has wildflower seeds in it! Cut the paper down to size (mine are 4″x6″ postcards) and stamp away! Make sure to ink your stamp well the first time and maybe use some test paper too.

What do you think? While I was at it I also made some gift tags for Christmas presents! Try it yourself the possibilities are endless!

Coptic Bound.

December 9th, 2010 by

How does a graphic designer showcase their work at a meeting with new clients or even friends for that matter? You don’t want to open a website and fumble through online images, the whole beauty of our work is its tactility and texture. We wanted our clients to be able to hold our work and get a good feel for its materiality and proportion with a little more finesse than toting around a manila envelope.

We studied the small sketchbooks that I made themed from Dianna’s wedding fabrics and wondered if we could make a bigger, bolder coptic bound portfolio book with the same character of the mini versions. And, while we’re at it why not stitch fabric pockets to house each project.

What is Coptic Binding you ask? Coptic Binding is dated back to the 2nd or 3rd Century AD. The name comes from the “copts”, a name given to Egyptians who converted to Christianity in the 1st century. This method was a variation of carpet weaving and they used it to hold their papyrus books together between wood covers (beautiful I can imagine)!

Why is it so great? Not only is coptic binding striking but it is also functional and here at Fourth Year Studio we are all about getting the most bang for your buck.  It is great for sketchbooks because when opened to any section, be it the first page or the last, the book lays flat. There’s no using one hand to hold the book open while the other is drawing. There is something to be said about a hand stitched binding versus a saddle stitch (staple) or coil binding.  Due to the size of our book it took two people; one to pull the thread and another to keep the book tight.

How do you do it? There are several tutorials on line, but in college I made my first coptic bound book during a graphic design class and since have made more than a dozen books from those same instructions. You start with 2 covers (matte board, chip board, or thin wood work great), at least 5 signatures (folded sections of paper ex. if your book is 4×6 then your paper is 8×6 folded horizontally — you can put as many sheets in a section I like to use 3), waxed thread (you can get online — try etsy), an awl, and a large enough sewing needle to thread a 3 or 4ply waxed thread. If you are interested in trying it for yourself use the web to search for tutorials or for detailed illustrations reference Volume III Non-Adhesive Binding: Exposed Spine Sewings by Keith Smith.

Do you think this technique will showcase our product well?

Weekend Branding…

December 6th, 2010 by

My sister (Jamie) typically calls me daily or vise versa, as we are super close! So it was no big deal to get a call from her while getting some supplies at Home Depot to clean up “Holland” (our C&P letterpress). The surprise came when she asked if I could come up with a name for her and create a business/calling card for her. Still no big deal except there were less than 6 days to do it (she’d entered a trunk show last minute)! Luckily I know her well and have seen most, if not all of her work so it was pretty fun to do a quick design charrette.

Jamie is really great at portrait photography especially involving sweet children, and she is also a painter! Her husband is currently in pilot training school with the United States Air Force, so we decided that we could play on the beginning of that exciting journey. Check out the designs below, which is your favorite? Jamie picked “pretty plane j”. Good luck with the trunk show!

See below some of Jamie’s sweet photography and paintings!

Business Cards | first run!

December 1st, 2010 by

Dianna and I were given the opportunity, by a friend, to test run a C&P letterpress just like our “Holland”. You know just to make sure we were comfortable running such a large machine that we were reminded numerous times, “could crush our fingers” before we actually purchased one and went through the trouble of bringing all 1200 lbs. of it home. Needless to say Dianna and I were so excited and we couldn’t wait to try our hand at the craft we had just started learning about. So one Saturday we got together with our friend Larry of Larry B. Newman Printing and his C&P.

We started with a design we had previously created and separated the color for three plates (2 for gray ink, 1 yellow). Next we fired up the laser cutter and etched our own plates from a plastic material called delrin. I guess the first times not always a charm because we learned a lot about the design and the laser cutters plate-cutting limitations, so a quick redesign and 3 more plates later we were ready to lock our plates into the chase and get started!

With the chase locked up and in place we dove into the ink collection for the first run. Luckily we found a few inks that would work straight out of the can and didn’t need to be mixed. Our friend Larry even gave us lessons on how to “walk” the paper and get it ready for feeding. After inking the disk just right Dianna and I both printed for the first time our very own business cards. We each printed the gray portions of our cards then cleaned up the machine and re-inked it for the yellow.  When the yellow fully covered the ink disk and rollers it looked neon green (yikes!) but as soon as it hit the white paper it was a nice shade of yellow again.  There were areas where overprint caused the ink be printed in spots that it shouldn’t be, so we embraced the use of frisket to mask out the design.  This protected the areas a paper we wanted to keep white.  After printing, trimming, and rounding the corners we each had a stack of fully functional, hand printed business cards.  Thanks to a lot of nerve and verbal coaching from Larry I’d say our first try was not only a HUGE lesson learned, but a success. Now we can’t wait to get “Holland” cleaned up and get our first job going!

Moving Day!

November 22nd, 2010 by

When we first decided to purchase a letterpress we did our homework.  We compared the various antique manufacturers and models.  We explored technique, design process, operation and we fell in love, but we never really considered the complications with moving one.  This summer while visiting Stubley Knox Litho, a print shop established in Knoxville in the late 1800s, I inquired about the beautiful Chandler & Price letterpress machine hanging out in the back.  Like most print shops there were so many machines in their space that it was a bit overwhelming, but I could easily recognize a C&P.  It turned out that the press was no longer in operation but with a bit of cleaning up would still work just fine.  This was an exciting day indeed and we end up purchasing “Holland”  Since we are currently a home based business it took 3 months to figure out the logistics of actually moving it into Emily’s basement.  During this time we learned as much as we could about the supplies we needed to obtain and had a few practice lessons on how to operate our machine without injury.

We were now very anxious to move our new presses into place.  We are watching our pocketbooks so paying a mover really wasn’t an option, so with the help of an experienced lift truck operator and his truck we used teamwork to make it happen.  There were certainly a few scares throughout the afternoon but ultimately we were able to move both presses with relative ease.  My only hope is that Holland and the little proofing press will be happy and creative in their new home.  Please enjoy the timelapse video.

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