Love was in the air and on the presses at Frederick Book Arts Center Sunday where over 100 people visited throughout the day to make Valentines.
“Valentine’s was always my favorite holiday growing up, I think because of the arts and crafts aspect of it,” said Johnny Carrera, executive director. “And there really wasn’t any other big celebration … in Frederick doing a Valentine’s thing so we said ‘oh, the Frederick Book Arts Center, Valentine’s will be our holiday.’”
The Frederick Book Arts Center opened March 22 last year and offers classes in subjects such as book binding, letterpress, digital photography and printmaking while embracing historic techniques and technology.
Elena Johnston is a senior at Oakdale High School and she’s been interning at Frederick Book Arts Center since July.
She attended the event with her family and said she most enjoyed learning, both Sunday and throughout her time interning at the Arts Center, about letterpress printing and printmaking.
“I’m a photographer, I never really knew that much about it so learning letter-pressing and learning that trade and art has been just incredible,” she said.
As an intern, Johnston has participated in putting together The Ephemeral, a hand-set, hand-printed newspaper, and has created a field trip program for Frederick County Public Schools.
The program allows students to come to the Arts Center, print poems onto presses and bind them into a book.
“As part of the field trip we talked a lot about the history of printmaking and letterpressing and everything so it directly ties back to a lot of what students learn in history class and also it’s very important to be engaged in the written word in the arts in general,” she said. “There is a history behind the books that you read on an everyday basis, and the newspapers you read.”
Johnston said she’s very grateful for her time at the Arts Center and that it helped her figure out what she wants to do in life.
She’s planning on majoring in art history and museum studies at Loyola University.
At the event, visitors were able to make pop-up Valentines using a 20th century Vandercook cylinder press, a 19th century Challenge platen press and a hot foil stamping press.
The stamping press was given to the Arts Center by Hood College.
Visitors were also taught to make paper flowers, and children had access to crafting supplies to make their own Valentines.
Frederick Mayor Michael O’Connor also stopped by.
Teresa Cochran has taken classes at the Arts Center before, but said she had never tried letterpress printing before.
“All their activities are really nice,” she said. “It’s like adult arts and crafts.”
Cochran said she loves doing new things and that the arts are important in people’s lives.
“I don’t think you can be fully human without the arts,” she said. “To be able to engage directly, hands on with more sophisticated but still simple ways of making, I think is of such value to the community.”