You may know that The Dolphin Studio is a hand screen-printing company that my parents started back in 1971. It all came about because my parents (and consequently me and my sister) make a lot of really good and long time friends as we walk this planet.
Back in late 1968 Primm and John (my mom and dad) were working at conjuring up something special to send all their far-flung, dear friends and extended family for Christmas. Deciding on a calendar – and both being artistes, it was agreed that they would make 40 calendars to gift away. They would create each page with a different technique. There were months made with line drawings, watercolor paintings, block prints and a page that was silk-screened. From that gift idea and specifically, that screen-printed page, The Dolphin Studio Calendar sprouted.
Many recipients sent letters asking if there were calendars for purchase to send along to others as gifts. My parents were flattered at the overwhelming response and spent the following few years consumed with landing new jobs and moving their young family from Ireland to Stockbridge Massachusetts.
In 1970 the idea was revisited. Primm and John set to work developing a system of how calendar production worked best – the first thing they decided was that the entire 1971 calendar would be screen printed and that we would all participate in designing the months of the year. I was 5 and we printed 100 calendars that year – gifted 40 and, much to everyone’s consternation, sold every last one of the 60 additional printed.
Every year, since then, we have printed a growing number of The Dolphin Studio calendars. My parents sometimes printed other things like Christmas cards and an occasional wedding invitation too. As time passed the circle of calendar-month designers has grown to include three generations of ffrenches.
Sadly, my dad passed away in 2010 before he had completely handed off the actual printing aspect of production. With a few trials and errors we are really excited about our current path forward. Before I tell you all about that, let me just say, that this year we made 2200 Dolphin Studio Calendars. Most months have two colors and there is a cover so if you do the math, we make 28,600 pages of prints with 57,200 pulls of the squeegee. That is a whole lot of elbow grease powered hand printing! We are all employed in ways that do not allow for us to give as much of our schedule to the printing aspect of production as my father was able to give. So. . . . we have hired a master print maker to head up our newly developing collaborative print shop located at Shire City Sanctuary in Pittsfleld, MA.
Our first project together is a commemorative print for my dad. This is a four color image - using our traditional format 12”x24” on recycled cover stock. It is a numbered edition of 136 signed by Bill Clements – print maker and, yours truly – translator (from a ceramic wall panel to screen print).
If you would like to be entered in a random drawing to win your signed and numbered copy of this beautiful 4 color print, leave a comment here and LIKE The Dolphin Studio facebook page. Thanks for playing along. Looking forward to your comments!