Pressed Ephemera | Christine Fwu

Pressed Ephemera

A Critical Look into “What Used to Be”

Pressed Ephemera examines the intention, meaning, and care behind printed precedents. It is a research and process based project that begins with an exploration of how history has affected the ideals and aesthetics of print design in each time period. The project then moves into the most meaningful and important aspect: the making & the experience. In order to capture the limitations of the past, I went on a journey of following old processes. Each period and its printing method has been meticulously researched, explored, and printed with different materials. The results are a series of intriguing and handmade ephemera.

View the presentation here.

View the process book here.

View the journal here.

The final project piece are two Pressed Ephemera metal stamps that I made for the foil stamping process! This logomark can be used on cards, and it would be used on the cover of my process book.

In this project page, I will take you through Ikigai Exercises that led me into my project, to creating Printed History pieces that take on the design styles of each period, and the Old Processes that show my process and experience of making. Then finally, the final Multimedia Posters and Process Pieces & Tags are displayed. The Postcards at the end are takeways for the project that give a sneak peak into the design styles and experiences of making from the multimedia posters.

I hope you will enjoy diving back to a time when creation was well thought out, cared for, and meaningful. Hopefully you will find appreciation and curiosity in being immersed in all of the printed ephemera, as much as I did.

Print, Handmade Processes, Research & Process,
Typography, Creative Direction, Critical Design,
Exhibition Design, Experience Design

Core Typeface
— Adobe Jenson Pro: Robert Slimbach, based on Nicolas Jenson (1470)

metal stamps: magnesium die + aluminum block
foil stamper · assorted metallic foils


Ikigai Exercises

Below are four project exercises aimed at exploring my thesis idea and diving right into making generatively. Ikigai is also known as “the meaning of life”; if one succeeds in each of these four sectors then one would lead a fulfilled, rewarding, and valuable life as a whole. These mini projects helped me to to reflect on the value and importance of my project through making. Through these explorations, I became certain that I wanted to do this project.

What You Love

I really love flowers and my thesis looks into design styles of the past. So I made a floral Tetley tea box redesigned in old style.

Paper packaging was popular in the past as they could be reused and recycled. Tin packaging was also used abundantly as they could be kept around the house to hold other objects. For future explorations, I could create a stencil and paint on a tin can or box.

What You’re Good At

I am good at planning, organizing, and making calendars. For this exercise, I made a daily challenge calendar of design’s past with prompts everyday to explore this topic.

Using the form of an advent calendar, which was first made in Germany in 1851, everyday is an open door to a new challenge that was helping me to direct my research.

What The World Needs

When thinking about what the world needs, I realized that much of the general public lacks appreciation and curiosity. To generate more of this, I decided to create a little exhibition that includes a typewriter, old books and objects, and an interactive section with metal type and foil stamp samples.

I made a Retro & Vintage Night poster, along with tickets to this little event. I also made a Little Book of Oldstyle Designs to showcase design styles through periods of time.

What Makes You Money

For what can me money, I was thinking about how dissemination to a wider audience can get people to start seeing the value in old objects and ephemera.

The website mockup I have created includes the history of each of the periods, designed in the style of that time. It would also have a shop section where people could purchase old style objects and ephemera.


Printed History

These Printed History (digital laser prints) showcase the design styles and history of each period. My project timeline begins with the Renaissance period (1400–1600), through to the Enlightenment period (1700), and ends off with the Decorative Arts period (1800). Through my research, I looked into the printed forms that existed each period, designed in that context, and included its history as text for these printed pieces of ephemera.


Old Processes

The Old Processes (handmade prints) display the printed history pieces that are remade by hand through Letterpress & Etching, Silkscreen, and Cyanotype. Through my experience of making, I learned to take time and to think critically about each design decision I was making. I became more careful and thoughtful in my work throughout all of these processes.

Letterpress & Etching · Process

Silkscreen · Process

Cyanotype · Process


Posters & Process Pieces + Tags

These multimedia posters invite you to interact and engage with each period and their handmade prints! The process pieces + tags will take you through numerous iterations, and they embrace the imperfections that are a result of these handmade processes.

Note: Many other print processes exist in each of these periods, but these are the ones I have chosen due to accessibility and my interest.

digital prints: colour laser prints
handmade prints: letterpress & etching, silkscreen, cyanotype

Multimedia Posters

Process Pieces & Tags · Letterpress & Etching

Process Pieces & Tags · Silkscreen

Process Pieces & Tags · Cyanotype


Postcard Takeaways

These postcards are the takeaways at my exhibition. The portrait ones with Design Style talk about type and how aesthetics were affected by history and ideals of the time. On the other hand, the landscape ones with Old Processes
talk about the making process with each of the printing methods.

Christine Fwu


I am a communication designer with a focus in print & publication design, visual identity, creative direction, and typography. I am driven by the generative process of design, its multifaceted nature, and the meaningful conversations that are produced from it.

My interest lies in leveraging critical thinking and history to inform my practice and design. The intrinsic meaning and beauty in handmade processes intrigue me and I am always looking for opportunities to integrate them into my ideation and production. In creating purposeful designs and systems, I enjoy using story-telling and co-design methods for engagement and collaboration.