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Handmade Letterpress Valentine’s Day Cards Available from The Sign of the George Press & Gallery at King

BRISTOL, Tenn., Feb. 1, 2016 – King University’s Digital Media Art & Design (DMAD) program is creating handmade letterpress Valentine’s Day cards utilizing a turn-of-the-century platen press at The Sign of the George Press & Gallery located in the Fine Arts Theatre on King’s main campus in Bristol, Tenn. The community will be able to select their Valentine’s Day cards during a two-night open house event in the Press Gallery on Monday, Feb. 8 and Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016, from 4-8 p.m.

“We are excited to host this two-night Valentine’s Day open house event. With this project, our hope is to draw folks from the community up to King to see one of the unique features that we have to offer our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the community,” says Joe Strickland, assistant professor and chair of Photography and Digital Media at King University. “The open house event will take place in the press room, so people can come in and see where these cards have been made.”

“Unlike the Christmas card sales, which in large part took place online, people will have to attend The Sign of the George open house events on Feb. 8th and 9th to purchase the cards,” adds Lee Jones, assistant professor of Photography and Digital Media. “This adds another layer of specialty to it.”

The Valentine’s Day cards will be handmade on the press by DMAD students under the supervision of Stickland as well as Jones, and David Winship, adjunct professor for Appalachian Studies at King. “We will all get together and pitch ideas, and come up with some cards we want to print,” says Strickland. “Part of this is teaching students how to make a product that appeals to potential customers; we will have a group brainstorming session in which we walk ourselves through that process.”

Once card designs are determined, the illustrations created by students through design software will be sent to Owosso Graphic Arts in Owosso, Mich., where artisans create the individual blocks to be used for the letterpress. Owosso is one of the few companies still in existence that creates dies and blocks for old-time letterpresses.

During the 2015 Christmas season, King’s DMAD program created and sold more than 600 handmade letterpressed Christmas cards.

“The reception has been great for this authentic product that people are really relating to,” says Strickland. “The Valentine’s Day cards, just like the Christmas cards, will be handmade right here at King.”

“Our students have been very appreciative of learning the art of the letterpress,” says Jones. “This process forces them to slow down and smell the ink, if you will, and pay attention to what they are doing. There has been a real resurgence of authentic, hands-on products across the country. We are allowing students to do that. With our program, we like to say we have hands in the old processes and the new processes; this is one way we can introduce this old process to a new generation who have probably never been around it.”

Funds received from the sale of the Valentine’s Day cards will go back into The Sign of the George Press & Gallery to revamp the space, and toward the purchase of additional materials for future projects. All types of payment, including cash, credit, or check will be accepted. The Sign of the George Press & Gallery is located in the Fine Arts Theatre on King’s main campus in Bristol, Tenn. Parking will be available near the entrance of the Gallery.

For additional information, contact Joe Strickland at 423.652.4709,, or visit


King University is a Presbyterian-affiliated, doctoral-level comprehensive university. Founded in 1867 as King College, the University offers more than 90 majors, minors, pre-professional degrees and concentrations in fields such as business, nursing, law, medical and health sciences, pharmacy, education, and humanities. Graduate programs are offered in business administration, education, and nursing. A number of research, off-campus learning opportunities, and travel destinations are also available. King University is a NCAA Division II and a Conference Carolinas member with 25 varsity sports. For more information about King University, visit King University does not discriminate against academically qualified students of any race, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, age, or disability. King University is certified by SCHEV to operate locations in Virginia. For more information on SCHEV certification, contact the King University office at Southwest Virginia Community College, 309 College Road, Richlands, VA 24641.