Ilse Buchart Nesbitt

Ilse Buchert Nesbitt


Ilse Buchert Nesbitt (born 1932 in Frankfurt, Germany) spent her youth in Japan before studying art at the Art Academies of Hamburg and Berlin. She focused on woodcuts, lettering and typography. In 1960, Ilse moved to the U.S. where she taught typography and book design at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence R.I.

Ilse, together with her late husband, calligrapher and type historian Alexander Nesbitt, started The Third & Elm Press in Newport, Rhode Island in 1965. There they design and print woodcuts, small books and note paper. From here on, Ilse has had numerous one-woman and group shows in both the U.S.A. and Germany. Her work can be found in libraries in the United Sates in New York, Chicago and Providence among others and in Germany in the libraries of Hamburg, Leipzig and in the Klingspor Museum in Offenbach, as well as numerous private collections around the globe.

The wood used for the cuts depends on the delicacy of the design. Large, bold woodcuts are done in pinewood; more detailed designs require a finer grained wood, such as cherry or even maple. A few years ago the artist began making her own paper, feeling that the frequently rather large areas of paper around the prints should properly be part of the artistic expression. To make the paper – a modified version of Japanese paper – the bark of various shrubs (mulberry, Rose of Sharon, etc.) is cooked, then beaten and the resulting pulp floated in water, then with the help of a mold it is passed onto wooden boards and set out into the sun to dry. The sheets vary in color and texture according to the fiber used and the amount of cooking and beating. The physical limits of vat and mold restrict the size of paper; the larger prints therefore have to be pulled on commercial Japanese paper.