Art + Design

A Peek Behind the Dutch Door: The Making of a Letterpress Print Series

We were completely thrilled when Chronicle Books approached us to make our letterpress print series Birds & Blooms of the 50 States into a book. It is a perfect tribute to the series, not to mention an excellent way to display all the prints from our three-year-long project in one place.

We embarked on this print series in 2008 with the objective of creating a letterpress print that featured the bird and flower symbols of every U.S. state. We worked on the prints in batches of three to five at a time. The process was the same for all of them and started out with a LOT of sketching. We researched the birds and flowers, studied the anatomy of each, and carefully arranged the pairs together in a perfect composition.

California was our very first print.

Once the sketch was finalized we drew it in Adobe Illustrator.

The digital files were separated into individual colors and made into a film negative that we used to make photopolymer printing plates. We rented the plate maker at San Francisco Center for the Book—the place where we learned how to letterpress print.

This little plate is for the brown ink color on the blue hen of the Delaware print.

After the plates were made we set up all of our tools for printing.

Each one was printed by hand, one color at a time, on our Chandler and Price 8 x 12 platen press.

We love how the prints look displayed together on a wall!

And we especially love how they look in the book!

If you’re based in the San Francisco Bay area, please join us to celebrate the release of the book next Thursday night, May 9th from 7-9pm at Rare Device, located at 600 Divisadero Street. Signed copies of the book will be available for sale as well as letterpress prints that will be on display until June 6th.

For more information on our work please visit our website,

Purchase Birds & Blooms of the 50 States.

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Photos by Tiffanie Turner.


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