For over a decade, we at Ecological Fibers have been honored to donate our materials towards the continuation of the Seattle Children’s Hospital Broadside Letterpress project. A collaborative effort betweenSeattle Arts & Lectures (SAL), Writers in the Schools (WITS), Seattle Children’s Hospital, and Partners in Print has led to the production of handcrafted specialty portfolios using our woven Brillianta book cloth material.
Each portfolio contains a curated collection of poems written by long-term patients of the Seattle Children’s Hospital with the assistance of veteran WITS writers in residence Sierra Nelson and Ann Teplick. With the direction of Partners in Print, these poems are illustrated, designed, and printed in a limited run by local letterpress printers under the project name Words of Courage.
At the beginning of every year, Nelson and Teplick compile 20 poems that will be featured in that year’s upcoming edition. After getting the family’s approval, the call goes out to the group of local letterpress printers to see who will be working on the project that year. This call is made by the Director of the Partners in Print Letterpress Program, Jenny Wilkson. A meeting is held between the participating printers, and poems are read aloud and chosen.
The printers are then given a deadline of May to design, revise, and complete their broadsides. Once the finished broadsides are compiled, the final design of the portfolio and prep for the binding process begins. Under the guidance of the Binding and Portfolio Design Co-Leads Bonnie Thompson Norman and Jules Remedios Faye, the printers gather together and hand-bind the portfolios. After completing all the portfolios, they are given to the families where they will treasure them.
This Year’s Portfolio Design
For the 2022 edition of Words of Courage, 21 poems were printed by 26 skilled members of the letterpress community. For the cover, our Brillianta line of cloth in the color Brillianta 4031 was chosen exterior to provide the vivid, stylistic hues that the product is known for. Fixed prominently to the central left section of the cover, a letterpress printed label containing two white outline images of butterflies upon a field of blue houses the title for this year’s collection, “I Would Ask a Butterfly.”
Unlocking the portfolio by removing the flap and remaining cover reveals the freestanding title card in the central panel. Adorning both sides of the title card, Brillianta 4045 provides a warm tone to the portfolio’s interior and eye-catching contrast to the yellow edges that wrap around the exterior cover. Each of these design elements synthesizes into a stunning final product that encapsulates all of the dedication and passion of this project made manifest
This project provides these young poets with a medium to create alternative worlds for themselves to explore through the use of their imagination and creativity. Channeling one’s creativity into art can help bolster a sense of self-worth and confidence, especially in a hospital setting. These individuals can redefine themselves as published poets through their passion for their craft.
Every member of the letterpress community that contributes to this project holds it near and dear to their heart. It provides printers a fantastic opportunity to grow and develop their craft and capture the imagination and courage of these young poets and share it with the world. It truly is a noble cause and one that deserves celebration. We are exceptionally proud to play a part in such an inspirational project, and we look forward to doing so for many years to come.
“Almost every year, some of the poems come to us, and the young poets have already passed away, but the parents have something that was produced and created specifically with their child’s words.”
~Bonnie Thompson Norman Binding and Portfolio Design Co-Lead