Friday, July 26, 2013

Linocuts and Letterpress: Printing Seed Packets and Cottage Food Labels

I've been having fun this year in the print shop, turning out seed packets for saving seeds in.  The Pecan Corner Press is a hobby, and this kind of ephemera is what I usually produce. I use handset type and some fun old cuts.  I've been taking these to the local Farmer's Market since the grasshoppers and deer have eaten all my gardening efforts this year.  The empty ones are great for saving seed and tucking into a get well card or garden club seed exchanges. Some people even said they were going to use them in their little miniature display cabinets.

My Swiss Chard went to seed this year (it is a biennial, and can be harvested as long as it lives - it is never tough or bitter), so I made the linoleum cut and filled these to see how the seed would sell. This is the old variety, Fordhook, and they can be planted in Texas all the way though the fall.

I didn't take a press but I have taken a locked-up chase and it has drawn a lot of interest.  I have a ways to go before I sell enough to pay for my market fees, but this is a good way to support our little market and help it grow.
 When September rolls around, I'll be able to offer more items - we all will. Texas passed a Cottage Food Law a couple of years ago that made it possible to open one's home to sell baked goods and jams. It is a common-sense approach that recognizes that if we know the person doing the cooking, we can decide for ourselves whether we want to eat what they have cooked.  The newest version, which takes effect Sept 1st 2013, is pretty exciting, because it expands common sense to foods that are pretty much going to be safe to eat and allows us to take our products to Farmers' Markets and locally sponsored Fairs, as well as sell from home.

 Here's another place where we - Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Tea Party, Occupy... pretty much everybody but the Socialists and Communists - can come together, I think. We all want personal sovereignty over our food!!!!

 So, in anticipation of HB 970 (still awaiting the final rules to define exactly what items we can sell), I have been carving linoleum blocks to use on labels for my homemade jams, jellies, relishes, sauerkraut, syrups and baked goods. The linocuts, combined with Art Deco era typefaces, give the labels a fun old fashioned look. These are the first proofs of a few of them, printed on dry-gummed paper. I will tweek the colors and ink coverage a bit for the final labels.


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