Michigan Celebrates Gwen Frostic Day

Declared 40 years ago in 1978 — Wednesday is “Gwen Frostic Day” in Michigan.

“These 12 functioning presses make that same movement about 42 times per minute at Gwen Frostic Prints in Benzonia,” says Bill Frostic, Gwen’s nephew. “Each press has its own air pump picks up each sheet of paper individually with a suction and there’s a gripper that grabs a hold of the piece of paper and swings it around and presses the paper against the block and drops it off on the other side.”

It’s the same routine that’s been happening since the 1950’s when Gwen opened the shop.

She was an artist, an author, and an icon in Michigan.

“Gwen cut all the original designs in a lenolium block and we use those right in the press,” he said.

The blocks she carved in the 1950’s are still used today.

Printing supervisor and Gwen’s nephew, Bill, watched her sketch these designs when he was a kid.

He remembers how she’d stop along the highway while they were driving to sketch anything that would catch her eye.

Bill says the raccoon is his favorite of them all.

“Because he’s clever little fella,” he said.

However, the raccoon and the other designs have gained attention worldwide.

“She thought if she had a unique, special product and special place, people would come and they did they come from all over the world , Iran, Arkansas, New Zealand,” she said.

Gwen Frostic passed away in 2001.

Here — her creations and designs live on.

“Probably since 2000 we haven’t had any new designs since she did all the designing and cutting of the blocks,” he said.

All of Gwen’s unparalleled designs are stored in the unparalleled building.

“There was no architectural drawings, it was just all in her head and she would tell contractors ‘just roll those rocks up there and cement them,’ she didn’t want anything to look uniform,” said Kim Forshee, the owner.

A 23,000 square foot building to hold her precious work, leaving behind a legacy that will last  many lifetimes.

“The memories it’s like this building holds just a wealth of memories, it’s just special,” she said.

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