Green Bird Press is a small letterpress printing and bindery operation with a modern, minimalist, and often geeky, approach to design. All letterpress products are hand printed on a 6×10 inch Kelsey press using a combination of handset type and magnesium plates produced from digital files. Various ready-to-purchase designs including cards, coasters, and gift tags are available and new designs are always in the works. All books are hand bound using traditional binding techniques and good quality paper suitable for writing or drawing. Right now, most books are one of a kind and many make use of repurposed materials for the covers.
I’m slowly beginning to offer personalized printed products including monogram and wedding notecards and I’ve been working on some limited edition prints too. I hope to continue to increase my product options over time and I’m always open to working with clients on individual custom projects.
Who is Green Bird Press?
Green Bird Press is run by myself, Susan Porteous, with help from my green cheek conure, a cute and fluffy, often annoying, little green bird named Stormy. Although the little one came up with the press name and lent her image to the logo she really isn’t much help—she’s too small to operate the press and can’t be around even the least toxic inks and chemicals. So while Stormy is napping, squawking, chewing, and generally being a bird, I take care of the rest of the business operations.
In addition to running Green Bird Press, I have a studio practice (you can check out my art work and find out about any current exhibitions at www.susanporteous.net). I used to teach classes and workshops at various places in the Denver area but recently moved to Bend, Oregon where I'm making Green Bird Press more of a full time job.
What is Letterpress?
Letterpress is a relief printing process, using handset type and raised plates, traditionally made from metal or wood, which are locked into the press, inked, and pressed into the surface of a sheet of paper transferring the ink and leaving a physical impression. Letterpress printing has been around since Gutenburg invented moveable type back in the mid-15th century as an alternative to calligraphy. For many years is was the main method used to mass produce the written word but over the course of the 20th century it was replaced with offset and digital printing technologies in the commercial printing world.
At Green Bird Press, I strive to keep the old process alive while incorporating digital technology when I find the need. Text is usually handset from my small collection of lead type while images are designed digitally and made into magnesium plates. There is something equally satisfying about placing each individual tiny letter, comma, and space in a line of text by hand and seeing something you designed on screen as a physical object that you can print from.
The printing process itself is done entirely by hand—text and image are laid out and locked up in the press, ink colours are mixed, and each sheet of paper is individually fed into the press to be printed. For work printed in more than one colour the press is then cleaned and the process repeated with the new form and colour. The process of pressing the type or plate into the paper causes a slight impression but in an effort to protect my press and prolong the life of my type this impression of not overly deep. Printing is a time consuming process, and since each piece is created by hand there can be slight variations in colour, registration, and pressure, but I believe that’s what makes letterpress prints so unique and beautiful.