Tag Archives: paper

Omaha Magazine Helps Fight Deforestation

May 24, 2017 by

Did you know that Omaha Magazine Ltd. has joined an innovative program to help fight deforestation?

The initiative, called Print Relief, plants the number of trees equal to our printing needs by calculating the trees consumed by the printing of our magazine. They plant the number of trees equal to our tree usage in endangered forests around the world.

In the next year alone, this international program will allow us to be responsible for the planting of almost 10,000 saplings in biomes around the globe that have been ravaged by deforestation.

We know that you’d never dream of tossing a copy of Omaha Magazine (heaven forbid), but you can do your part by recycling all of the other paper materials that pass through your home.

Just so you know: Omaha Magazine doesn’t clearcut the rain forest to get its paper stock. For the most part, the wood used to make the pulp for our paper is scrap wood, salvaged wood, or wood from trees that were planted like any renewable crop. It would be a lie to say the production and distribution of that paper doesn’t have an environmental impact, but it is much smaller than widely believed.



April 13, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

A boozy brunch between girlfriends, a meeting of coworkers over coffee, a couple splitting a glass   of wine—conversations captured around the city, all serve as fodder and inspiration for Brion Poloncic’s work. In the quiet corners of Omaha’s local coffee shops and wine bars, Poloncic puts pen to paper, his ear tuned into the surrounding babble, creating art that he feels represents those around him and the experiences they discuss.

But don’t expect a still life of women gossiping between sips of their Venti mochas. As a visual artist, author, and former musician, Poloncic is a man of many hats but always remains a creator of thought-provoking and idiosyncratic work that paints middle America in a psychedelic wash.

“I’ve always fancied myself an artist,” Poloncic says. “My art is an affirmation of my peculiar skill set, and it just so happens to make me happy. It’s my own blend of therapy.”

It was through chance that Poloncic was first bitten by the creative bug. After he didn’t make the baseball team, he traded mitts for guitars and started writing music. A fan of everyone from Pink Floyd to Johnny Cash, he parlayed his early love for listening to his parent’s records into seven albums, all released under the moniker “A Tomato A Day (helps keep the tornado away).” A prolific songwriter, his discography is filled with character and colorful song titles, including ditties like “You Little Shit” and “Weirdo Park.”

For Poloncic, music wasn’t enough. He needed to sink his teeth into his next artistic outlet. So when a friend needed help setting up an Iowa art studio, he asked Polonic to draw pieces that illustrated his career. With no formal training or experience, unless coloring backpacks with magic markers counts, he dove in.

Two years later, Poloncic sold his first piece at a gallery in Lincoln. He has also shown work in Omaha and Kansas City and has a collection represented at Gallery 72, all those diploma-yielding pros be damned.

“My art isn’t constrained by my knowledge or training, and I think this makes me naturally less critical of my work,” Poloncic says.

Filled with abstract shapes, haunting faces, and stark use of color, his off-kilter yet original drawings mirror the tone of his written work. Through The Journal of Experimental Fiction, he published his first book Xanthous Mermaid Mechanics in 2012, following this up in 2014 with his second printed work On the Shoulders of Madmen. Both explored concepts of the subconscious mind, and the novel he is currently working on will follow suit.

“I’ll be surprised if anyone can read it,” Poloncic says. “It’s got no characters, no story arc, and isn’t about anything in particular.”

And he admits this is his niche, comparing his art to improvisational jazz or free-style rap where “things just happen.” For whatever he’s working on, he says the hardest part is just getting started. Once that happens, everything else just falls into place, and if he can’t get over a block, he always has another craft to turn to.

“If I stumble off the creative wagon with drawing, I get back on with writing and vice versa,” Poloncic says. “As you work on one, the other comes right along with it.”

This article was printed in the March/April 2017 edition of Encounter.

Sweet Design
 from Sweet Afton Studios

January 15, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

It’s not often that a grocery list grabs people’s attention.

But that’s exactly what happened the other day at a restaurant for Krystal Leichliter and her husband Ryan. Krystal and Ryan are the owners of Sweet Afton Studios, a design and letterpress studio. Krystal was using an extra card from a recent project to write her grocery list. A waitress, mesmerized, came up and immediately started feeling the back of the card.

That experience spoke volumes to Krystal, because she says she saw how much letterpress really jumps out to people. As she explains, the paper used for letterpress is made of 100 percent cotton, so it’s very soft and tactile.

While Krystal and Ryan founded Sweet Afton Studios in 2011 after they obtained a letterpress, they have expanded their business to designing business cards, wedding invitations, signs, logos, banners, and more. Their goal is to make brands, gifts, and even everyday products stand out with an exceptional and personalized design.

Krystal is the designer at Sweet Afton, while Ryan runs the press. Krystal had worked in advertising for years, but decided she wanted to leave the corporate setting. She had always loved beautiful paper, and after designing wedding invitations and logos for friends, letterpress and design were disciplines she thought she and Ryan could work at full time.

“It was really just a desire to pursue being creative and doing the things I love,” says Krystal.


But the couple got more than they bargained for when they purchased their first letterpress, an approximately 1,500-pound behemoth that Krystal says “looks kind of like a time machine.”

“It wasn’t attached to electricity, so we couldn’t really see it, and we just kind of bought it in faith that it really was going to work,” Krystal says with a laugh.

Through internet research, assistance from a letterpress studio in Lincoln, and many sleepless nights, Ryan and Krystal had their first creation two weeks after they bought their letterpress: wedding invitations for a friend.

“We were crazy,” Ryan admits.

Now, once a client is set on a design, Krystal and Ryan can turn around a finished product in about two weeks. As they say, letterpress is a very labor-intensive process. Once Krystal and Ryan have a finished design on the computer, they will get to work creating polymer print plates to imprint with different layers of the design. Each color has to have a separate plate, so if a design has three colors, Ryan has to run it through the letterpress three times.

“It [letterpress] is an art, and it’s a product of time and labor. You can’t just do what you see on the computer on letterpress.”
– Jara Sturdivant-Wilson, customer of Sweet Afton Studios

Krystal mixes the different-colored ink by hand. Finally, once the plates, the ink, and the paper are ready to go through the letterpress, Krystal and Ryan will sometimes print hundreds of extra copies, and handpick the ones to give to clients.  “With letterpress, the thing that makes it so beautiful is that it’s hand-done, and that means that each piece is going to be unique,” says Krystal.

Jara Sturdivant-Wilson, a customer of Sweet Afton and a former neighbor of Krystal’s, agrees. She reached out to the Leichliters when she wanted to give her husband a gift with a more personal touch. Sturdivant-Wilson admitted that she didn’t have many ideas when it came to designing a gift, but that Krystal was very helpful, meeting with her throughout the process at coffee shops.

Eventually, she ended up with a calendar and a set of cards that catered to her husband’s interests. For example, one page of the calendar was designed with her husband’s favorite softball team in mind, while some of the cards featured a line-drawn picture of his dog. “It [letterpress] is an art, and it’s a product of time and labor. You can’t just do what you see on the computer on letterpress,” says Sturdivant-Wilson.

As they have learned the ropes of letterpress, Krystal and Ryan have had the time to expand their design business beyond strictly letterpress projects. One of Sweet Afton’s newest clients is the Seattle Children’s Museum. For the museum’s new displays every month, Krystal will come up with a design concept for the overall exhibit, and then work on designing signs, banners, and buttons for employees to wear. Ryan is also getting his chance to dive into design; he earned a degree in animation last year, and he plans to offer animation services to customers, as well as help Krystal with her dream of designing a children’s book with an animated component.

As their customer base has expanded, mostly through word-of-mouth, Sweet Afton Studios has started doing more business outside of Nebraska, everywhere from California to New York and even Spain. Krystal and Ryan have even had a few companies approach them about carrying some of Sweet Afton’s cards in their stores. But for now, Krystal and Ryan plan to keep all of their business online, on sites such as Etsy, The Knot, and Dribbble. While they were considering opening a storefront, they enjoy the flexibility of working from home. Krystal also wants to be able to devote more time to working on children’s illustrations.

“It’s all about having fun,” says Ryan.

Q&A: Valeria Orlandini

August 27, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Valeria Orlandini has made a career of preserving works on paper and photographic materials, many of which are proudly displayed in fine homes and museums worldwide. Ensuring that the rich stories, family memories, and important lessons they convey live on for future generations is a job she takes very seriously.

Q: Tell us about your work as a preservation specialist. Who are your clients? 

A: Orlandini Art Conservation was established in 2004 to provide the highest quality conservation treatment and preservation services for a broad range of paper-based objects: historic manuscripts, prints, printed documents, watercolors, drawings, paintings in all media, collages, contemporary works, pastels, and posters, as well as parchment, ivory, and photographic materials. Regardless of whether you’re a discerning collector or a family seeking to preserve precious documents, my goal is to provide all clients with the same exacting standards required by major art and archival institutions. My clients are mid- to high-end collectors and custodians of artistic and valuable and irreplaceable historic materials from holdings in museums, archives, libraries, private owners, and corporate businesses. I work in a wide range of projects and budgets.


Q: Where did you receive your education and training in art and art conservation?

A: I hold a B.F.A. from the National School of Fine Arts in Buenos Aires; a M.F.A. from the National School of Fine Arts in Buenos Aires; and graduated in 2002 with a M.S. and a Certificate in Art Conservation in Paper and Library Science at the University of Delaware/Winterthur Museum Art Conservation Program in Newark, Del.

Q: When did you first discover your love of history? Why are you so passionate about preserving it?

A: I have always been an art and history geek! I grew up with artists in my family, and as a child I would dig for old artifacts at my grandparents’ homes. I think that from that very early age, I became aware of how real history can be. Also, I come from a family of collectors and art and architecture lovers. Just about every member of my family collects old artifacts and memorabilia of previous generations. I grew up with a real sense of the importance of the past.

Every day, the vision of artists, the identity of people, and the very evidence of history all threaten to disappear. Left alone, old buildings will crumble, the Declaration of Independence will disintegrate, and the photographed faces of battle-weary Civil War soldiers will fade away, among other artifacts. The cultural patrimony, so painstakingly created over thousands of years, is surprisingly ephemeral with the ravages of time and the indifference of a disposable modern culture its biggest enemies.


Q: How does your work interplay with home interiors and historic home preservation? 

A: As a collections conservator, I work very closely with interior designers, architects, engineers, and maintenance personnel to secure the building envelope where we protect objects from extremes and fluctuations in exterior temperature and moisture as well as light, dust, and gaseous contaminants. We frequently assess and measure temperature and relative humidity characteristics of air surrounding collections, as well as patterns of use and handling protocols. The conservation mission recognizes the need to preserve the unique character of both historic structures and artifacts. No two collections are identical.

Q: What have been some of your most interesting past projects?

A: While working in a number of studios and labs, I’ve had the privilege to treat an array of fascinating objects: Old Master paintings; Japanese woodblock prints from the Edo Period; ancient Korean rubbings and manuscripts; original newsprints from various American cities upon Abraham Lincoln’s assassination from April 1865; John James Audubon’s “Birds of America” folios; original documents of the Founding Fathers; and many others.

Most notably in 2010-11, I participated in the conservation treatment of the Thomas Jefferson Bible Project at the National Museum of American History, at the Smithsonian Institution. I worked with a team of conservators and scientists, conducting materials analysis, assessing aqueous stabilization treatment options, considering appropriate micro- and macro-environmental conditions, and a variety of other tests to help preserve this national treasure.


Q: What projects have you worked with since moving here?

A: I have treated several objects from the Durham Museum. This museum stands as a magnificent reminder of a bygone era and allows generations to come together to learn, to share, and to remember.

Also, a very rewarding project that I carried out last fall was the treatment of an original Wright Brothers Patent Document [No. 821,393] for the “flying machine,” circa 1903-06 that was brought to my care from a private collector in Iowa. This was a really interesting study piece about the history of aviation and contains five original signatures hand-inscribed in iron gall ink by the Wright Brothers: Orville (1871-1948) and Wilbur (1867-1912), witnesses, and attorney.

Q: What advice would you give those looking to preserve family heirlooms? 

A: The American Institute of Conservation and Historic and Artistic Works (AIC) has developed guides for caring for your treasures at conservation-us.org. There’s also a book by Heritage Preservation entitled Caring for Your Family Treasures that can provide folks practical advice and easy-to-use guidelines on how to polish silver and furniture without diminishing their value, as well as creating safe display conditions for artworks, ceramics, dolls, quilts, books, photographs, and other treasured collections. These are tips with clear and understandable information on how to care for beloved family treasures.