In today’s digital world there is something enticing about the handmade.
The Redwood Library and Athenaeum in Newport, Rhode Island, honors the 50th anniversary of Newport’s treasure, Third & Elm Press, where handmade is heartfelt.
“Each block [of wood] has a personality.”
Artist Ilse Buchert Nesbitt, owner of the print shop, Third & Elm Press, explains that with hand cut wood blocks each piece is a singular work of art. “Each block [of wood] has a personality. And the carving itself is very intimate...you have to work slowly and carefully, and know when to stop.” Indeed, Nesbitt describes the printing process with hand rubbed color and carefully placed blocks with the same loving and technical approach as a sculptor would.
Completing the creative relationship is Nesbitt’s use of handmade paper for printing. Understanding the characteristics of the sheets leads her to make choices regarding how much pressure to apply. “It is all very individualistic. No two presses are alike.”
The results are images that are both serene and dynamic - a description that could easily be applied to Ms. Nesbitt herself.
Third & Elm Press is located in the historic Point section of Newport, where it produces a variety of original work using handset type, an 1830 Acorn hand press and a 1897 Golding platen press.
The exhibit of selected works are on view in the Van Alen Gallery through Sunday, February 21, 2016. For more information on this exhibit, please visit www.redwoodlibrary.org.
by Sheila McElroy