Just out from Royal Mail are these colourful Animail stamps. Designed by London studio Osborne Ross, their brief was to design something out of the ordinary, that would appeal to children.
The six stamps, like the 2013 special edition Dinosaur stamps, break out of the usual rectangular format, with parts of their bodies extending beyond the stamp area.
In this case the feature is taken further, with the Animails arms, feet or tails designed to fold round the edge of the envelope, making them hang or cling in place.
I’m a big fan of Royal Mail’s special edition stamps and Animails rank very highly, but my benchmark is their 2003 Fruit & Veg edition.
Designed by London agency Johnson Banks these were rectangular stamps featuring large photographs of fruit and veg, with portions extending top and bottom. DIY fun was supplied with a set of adhesive stickers. You just peeled and stuck any features you wanted, to create a unique stamp.
Again it was probably a range designed to appeal to children, but in true Blue Peter style, it gave everyone the chance to get creative!
Another special edition, launches on July 7th, to mark the 50th Anniversary of Pink Floyd. The range includes these six featuring their most popular album covers.
And if you fancy coming up with an idea Royal Mail also welcomes ideas for future designs.
My latest find is a curvy green Bull made by Lotus Pottery, Devon. He’s a deep olive-green with a daisy motif in soft speckled blue, on either side of his flanks.
The design, by Elizabeth Skipwith, is called Petal on Sage and there is also a blue version, called as you might expect, Petal on Blue.
The bulls clean lines and smooth curves make it very tactile and I love the hint of a tail swished up to the side. His head has simply suggested features and horns sweeping up to points, that have (so-far) avoided any damage!
The bulls were produced in the 1960’s to 70’s in several sizes, ranging between five and thirteen inches. There were slight variations to their shape and being hand-painted and glazed, variations to the colour, which ranged from a light grey-green to olive. The size and style of the daisy also varies, with motifs of leaves, ferns and interlinking circles motifs also featuring. Some bulls can also be found with a few tendrils of hair between their horns.
There were other animals in the series too, a bird, owl, cat and a horse’s head, but it’s the bulls that have proved most popular. I’m on the look out now for more – I fancy a large herd, their differences will make for a great display.
The design was also widely used on a variety of kitchen ware and novelty items, including dishes, bowls, egg cups, vases, planters and candle sticks.
Lotus Pottery, started in 1958 by Elizabeth and her husband Michael, produced a wide variety of designs, colours and glazes, but Petal on Sage proved the most popular.
At the peak of its popularity in the mid-seventies, Lotus Pottery attracted tourists to view the pots being thrown and to buy their products. Sadly the pottery ceased production in 1999, but it’s still possible to find distinctive Lotus ware quite easily.
One to keep that group of people who are keen on print and steam engines happy this summer, is the Big Steam Print project, being organised by Ditchling Museum of Art+Craft.
The project involves turning a 90-year-old steamroller into a giant printing press and taking it out on tour, bringing print into the community.
Over thirty letterpress artists, illustrators, graphic designers and print makers, including Rob Ryan and Angie Lewin, are involved. And they, along with local schools, Brighton University, London College of Communication and artists collectives, will be creating large artworks to be printed beneath the steamroller’s drum.
The project is being crowdfunded through Art Happens and different levels of donations will receive rewards, including a Big Steam Print tote bag, an Anthony Burrill poster and the chance to ride the steamroller over your own print. Steam Heaven.
Also at Ditchling Museum each weekend in May, there is the opportunity to carve your own designs into a collaborative piece, to be printed during the Big Steam Print at Ditchling Village Fair on 18 June.
Printing Tour Dates:
28 March – Amberley Museum & Heritage Centre
23 – 24 April – London Transport Museum, Acton depot open weekend
22 May – Brighton on the Level, as part of Brighton Festival
18 June – Ditchling Village Fair
Plenty for everyone, not just the enthusiasts.
New Year and a new friend. I found him browsing in a charity shop (me not him), and nabbed him quick. The Hong Kong stamp beneath a foot rules out his origins as a Hans Bølling, but he’s obviously a copy of the famous design.
The original duckling and larger mother duck were designed by Hans Bølling for Torben Ørskov & Co. in 1959. Carved in teak, they were allegedly inspired by a famous newspaper photo, of a Danish policeman stopping traffic to let a family of ducks cross the road.
The photo has proved illusive, but I did find this travel poster by Viggo Vagnby, from the early 50’s, that could have sparked Hans’ creativity.
Mine may not have the line and form of the originals, but he makes me smile.
Happy New Year.
This Wood Type Specimen book was a much appreciated gift from a vintage loving friend. Published in 1928 and found in a second-hand bookshop, it was perhaps overlooked because of its well-thumbed condition. It had also been folded in storage, resulting in some tearing along the creases, but there are more than enough pages to make up for the tatty few.
Wood type was created for the printing of posters and other large format pieces, where the use of metal type would have been too costly and heavy at the large size needed. The catalogue contains specimen text using Delittle’s wood type to showcase the various fonts for sale including rules, borders and decorative ornamental flourishes.
It’s interesting to read the random words and phrases chosen to showcase a font. I wonder how much of the concert was seen, after those jugs of liquor were drained!
A page of Borders, Ornamental Flourishes and Calendar Blocks follow.
The text below reads “1929 Prices for 3, 4, 5 and 6-line 42 shillings per set; 7 and 8-line 45 shillings”. (Wood type is measured in ‘lines’ rather than the usual ‘point’ with 1 line equal to 12 points).
Robert Duncan DeLittle founded his type manufacturing business in Vine Street, York, in 1988, and it went on to become the largest manufacturer of wood type in the UK, with the business remaining in the family.
DeLittle created his type using seasoned French hornbeam or Canadian maple, which were cut roughly to size and then one side of the wood polished. The letter was carved using a pantograph machine with a craftsman tracing around the template of a letter, and the pantograph simultaneously creating up to two letters in different sizes of the same design. The type was then finished by hand and dipped in oil to harden.
With the advent of phototypesetting and later digital typesetting the demand for wood type fell and the founder’s grandson, Robert James DeLittle, closed the business in 1997.
The remaining machinery and wood type were transferred to The Type Museum in London, which has now become The Type Archive. Based in Stockwell this holds the National Typefounding Collection, which comprises the DeLittle Woodletter pattern collection and plant, along with the typefounding materials of Sheffield typefounders, Stephenson Blake and the hot-metal archive and plant of the Monotype Corporation.
It’s run by the Type Archive Trust, three trustees who are all skilled at using the original equipment. It manufactures type matrices for letterpress printing and runs an apprenticeship scheme to preserve these skills. At present it isn’t open to the public, but there are plans to hold exhibitions and expand its apprenticeship scheme.
For a glimpse inside The Type Archive though, see this photo rich post from Letterpresser, of an evening event there, back in February.
A sunny afternoon trip out, took us to the small village of Slindon in West Sussex. The village is part of the Slindon Estate, which is owned by the National Trust and includes surrounding wood, down and farmland, all set in the South Downs National Park.
We were in the heart of the village to see the annual Slindon Pumpkin Festival. It started in 1968 when the late Ralph Upton stored his pumpkin and squash crop on a barn roof to dry. The colourful display drew attention and he went on to create a mural out of his crop, with a different theme each year.
Ralph’s son Robin took over the growing and display of the pumpkins in 2009 and this year’s display commemorates the Tamar Lifeboat based at the nearby RNLI Station at Shoreham, in celebration of their 150th Anniversary.
There’s heaped squash for sale on trestle tables in the courtyard and you can buy a pamphlet of recipes for any number of pies, curries and pickles, to guide your choice of main ingredient.
Farm cat Ginger enjoying the sun amongst the squashes.
And as a backdrop to the courtyard, a wall of Halloween Pumpkins wait ready for carving.
Slindon Pumpkin Festival runs through into November at 4 Top Road, Slindon, Nr Arundel, West Sussex and a time lapse video below, shows the building of this year’s display by Mark Ford.