The Letterpress Quilt Project, a hand-made, one-of-a-kind letterpress quilt, is designed, printed, and produced by Associate Professor Brenda McManus of Pace University and Professor Ned Drew of Rutgers University-Newark.
Those familiar with our work know our shared passion and the story of our 20+ years collecting and building our library of woodblock type. Our collection has been the impetus for the majority of our labor-intensive work, the soul of our creative practice.
Time and time again, our practice has provided us with opportunities to understand the unpredictable moments life can offer. The Letterpress Quilt Project unfolded during the darkest days of the global pandemic in our search for comfort and familiarity during the fear and uncertainty of the time. Seeking solace in the focused, systematic, and labor-intensive nature of letterpress, we chose to experiment with printing on fabric that provided us with a creative source of relief and growth in a time of unimaginable stress.
The three colors (black, silver, and blue), letterpressed 12” x 12” compositions were created in a playful game of chance compositions, utilizing our large woodblock type. Fifty-six square pieces were printed on a white cotton fabric on two Universal III Vandercook presses. These squares were then arranged in eight rows of seven units, sewn together on an old Singer sewing machine in the studio. The border and back are made from a contrasting bright orange cotton flannel sheet, and the binding we outsourced is the only commercially stitched component. Finally, we hand-quilted it with embroidery thread to echo some of the geometric patterns in the typographic compositions. These dynamic groupings of rectangles, circles, squares, and diagonals highlight the typographic forms’ innate structure.
The Letterpress Quilt Project not only serves as a source of comfort in a much-needed time but perhaps, more importantly, a visual reminder of our devotion to preserving the typographic objects we love while expanding their possibilities for others to experience.
Designers / Educators / Typographers / Printers Brenda McManus + Ned Drew