Tasty Printing Treats At The Hungry Workshop

Beginning on one hot, summer night in Brisbane, Australia, lightning struck as Simon and Jenna Hipgrave decided to take the plunge into letterpress. Flash forward through clouds of contagious printing enthusiasm, a shop full of charm & character, and bucket-loads of unusual printing methods and you’ve got The Hungry Workshop in full force. The pair sat down with us to laugh over their craft’s peculiarities, rich history and one of Australia’s most talented printers.

Simon Hipgrave of The Hungry Workshop shows how to print on a Vandercook.

PRINTING IN PARADISE I love design, print and making things. Either for myself or for other people – it doesn’t much matter. Making things real, that’s what we love about letterpress.

LETTERPRESS WEEKEND My wife, Jenna, stumbled across a historical village on the Queensland coast through a neighbour. Two old chaps, Bob and Ken, were collecting presses and were super keen to pass on the knowledge of their craft. They had spent their whole lives working on these machines and in an industry that was disappearing. Jenna was heading up every weekend and I eventually went and checked it out. Bob and Ken’s enthusiasm was contagious to say the least, and it went from visiting every second Sunday to every Saturday and Sunday. They couldn’t get rid of us. Until one day they offered us one of the presses.

AWESOME IN AUSTRALIA We have a shopfront with our four presses, two Heidelberg 10×15’s near the back and our Asbern Proof Press and Chandler & Price pressed up against the window. Behind the shopfront is our studio, where we do our design work and then a third section which is a store room, with our stock and our guillotine and other bibs and bobs. Above the store room is a small one bedroom apartment where Jenna and I live!

The area itself is located in a suburb just north of Melbourne CBD. The strip we are on has the tram stop right out the front, and a tattoo shop next door. Head out either direction and you’ll run into a pizza shop and a bunch of other restaurants. A little further up the hill is a great pub that is renowned for live music. It’s a great spot. A bit out of the way, but still full of charm and character.

Eye-popping letterpress business card printed by The Hungry Workshop.The Hungry Workshop shows fun and flair for letterpress.

PRINTING MENTORS Bob and Ken taught us everything we know.

DESIGNED TO PRINT We are designers first and foremost and print definitely came second for us. Jenna and I met studying at Queensland College of Art. I worked in advertising and Jenna worked in a boutique design studio for six or so years. I think our creative background really informs the way we print. We really like to experiment and play with the press. Sometimes finding unusual ways, methods or approaches to getting things done.

Type locked up in a chase and extraordinary detailed letterrpress printed pieces by The Hungry Workshop.

THE CREATIVE FLOW It’s always about the brief. Bucket-loads of research, design development and the evolution of ideas are the most important. Once we’ve got a direction locked tight we then move on to execution, which is a much simpler affair if the ideas are tight.

Colorful thank you letterpress cards printed by The Hungry Workshop. More colorful thank you letterpress cards printed by The Hungry Workshop.

FULL TIME FUN We run the business full time, which is a mixture of print and design. Typically there is something going on the press. We have an employee, Adam Flannery, who we think is the second best letterpress printer in Australia. Jenna is number one, and I rank much, much lower. We’ve been doing this for about 3 years now.

PRINTING FEATS I think transitioning from a feeling in our guts on a hot summer night in Brisbane to running a business, full time 1500+ kilometres away in Melbourne is the achievement I am most proud of. Hiring our first employee was another big step for us.

PRESS HISTORY Our first press was a Heidelberg 10×15 platen.

Simon Hipgrave prints on a Heidelberg printing press.

BOXCAR’S ROLE We use the Boxcar Base to get our plates up to type high. It’s a great system and without it we probably wouldn’t be here. Also, when I was getting started with printing I scoured the Boxcar site devouring as much information as I could. You’ve got some really excellent articles and videos!

SHOP TIPS Take your time – as quickly and efficiently as possible.

WHAT’S NEXT We have a surprise or two up our sleeves for 2014 but I don’t want to jinx it, but we’re most definitely going to stay hungry.

Huge round of applause out to Simon for letting us take a tour of The Hungry Workshop!

Walking Through The Red Door Press

Striding through The Red Door Press brought us to the warm & welcoming cheer of Tammy and Adam Winn, shop owners that love soaking up every little morsel of printing they can. The printing duo shared cherished printing advice (and stories!) with us from the Great Northern Printer’s Fair, the Ladies of Letterpress and with the Amalgamated Printer’s Association. We caught up on the tale of their first press (a rescue mission) and what makes their shop oh-so-charming.Tammy and Adam Winn of The Red Door Press are all smiles about letterpress!

PHOTOGENIC PAIR We have been married for almost four years, but have known each other for almost fourteen. Our studio, The Red Door Press, was officially founded in 2012. We had been tinkering with presses and type for a few years before that, but decided to make it official. We became known as “The Red Door Press” because every year we go to the same red door to take a photo. We plan on carrying on this tradition until we’re old and gray.

 Type locked up ready to print.

IN THE SHOP We currently have seven presses – an 8×12 C&P New Series, a 10×15 Windmill, three 5×7 Kelseys, a Vandercook Model One, and a showcard press. We spend most of our studio time working on prints and greeting cards, but also keep a fairly steady stream of clients wanting business cards, wedding invites, and other custom projects. We’ve only just recently started doing craft shows, and are enjoying the experience tremendously. It’s a great joy to be able to share our work with the public at large.

A LUCKY BREAK Tammy has a background in printmaking and design from her time at Colorado State University, and had long expressed interest in letterpress. Adam comes from a technical background which makes him incredibly handy to have around the shop. When an unexpected opportunity to get a press came up, Tammy didn’t think twice.

A treasure trove of wooden type at The Red Door Press.

HEIDELBERGS IN THE HAWKEYE STATE The best feature about our shop is that it’s located about 15 feet out our back door. We converted a two-and-a-half car garage into our shop, so we’ve got plenty of space and it’s VERY close to home. We’ve learned that whenever we get a new press or lockers, we need to rearrange to make the most of our small space. Over the last year and a half our shop has changed quite a bit from acquiring equipment and type. We’ve also been working on getting a spiffy red door attached to our shop.

PRINTING MENTORS We have received so much great printing advice from all over. But since our journey into letterpress is fairly new, some of our most cherished advice is  from a LOT of long-time printers in the Midwest, but most notably three names stand out: Arie Koelewyn from Michigan was the first person we met at the Great Northern Printer’s Fair in Mt. Pleasant in 2012, who has always been so helpful to teach us tips and tricks around printing. Jim Daggs, owner of Ackley Printing, who has been an invaluable friend to our shop as he helped to answer so many random questions and moved in our first Heidelberg. And Dave Peat, an avid type and print collector and long-time member of the Amalgamated Printers Association whose knowledge friendship has meant the world to us.

Caught on camera are Tammy and Adam Winn of The Red Door Press.

DESIGNED FOR PRINT We do both. It was Tammy’s love of design that got her interested in letterpress in the first place, so those skills have proven invaluable in our studio.

THE CREATIVE FLOW One of the most wonderful things about working with hand-set type is it forces you to remain flexible in your designs. You can’t be rigid about your designs when you find out that you don’t have enough of a certain letter in a particular size or font. Being forced to think creatively on how to complete a project has led us to create things that are far more interesting than our initial design started out to be.

FULL TIME FUN That’s the dream, but right now we both work full time. We run our studio in the evenings, weekends and of course have that occasional middle of the night print session. Some day we hope to have a full-time shop to be able to share all the great knowledge about letterpress that we’ve learned with the community.

Letterpress broadsides and printing presses of The Red Door Press.

PRINTING FEATS We’ve only been doing craft shows for a short time, but the response we’ve gotten from the community has been great. Every time someone is excited to buy one of our prints and take it home, it’s a great feeling.

PRESS HISTORY Our first press was our 8×12 C&P New Series – Tammy rescued it from the warehouse of an old pharmaceutical company. They were going to send it off for scrap when Tammy heard about it, and she wasted no time in whisking it away to the safety. Adam was in for quite a surprise that day when he arrived home to Tammy’s new-found hobby. We call her “Minnie” and she dates back to 1926.

Locked-up type with ink at The Red Door Press.

BOXCAR’S ROLE When we were starting to put our studio together, Boxcar was our go-to place to get us started — from ink to a base and everything in between. Since our start we have continued to use Boxcar for our base systems and polymer plates. They have some of the best customer service, hands down. We love that they will answer our silly to complicated questions and are so flexible around our odd schedule.

SHOP TIPS The best things that have ever happened to our studio happened because we got involved in the letterpress community – there are so many great people out there who are willing to share experience and expertise. We’ve met so many great printers and designers over the past couple of years.

We have loved being a part of the APA (Amalgamated Printers Association) and the Ladies of the Letterpress.  We’ve learned things from how the process of cutting wood type works to how use a sheet of newsprint when cleaning your press to help reduce the amount of cleaner you use. We love the opportunities of being able to soak any little bit of letterpress or printing that we can.

Tammy and Adam Winn of The Red Door Press in front of the historic red door.

WHAT’S NEXT Now that we’re done with craft fairs for the winter, we’re just going to get back out in the studio and print as often as we can.  We’re really excited about doing more prints and one of the big things we’ve been getting into is printing on different/reusable materials, so we’ll keep experimenting. We can’t wait to find some more events to participate in 2014 and really start getting our products out into the public.

Huge round of thanks out to Tammy of The Red Door Press!

Pleasant At Pheasant Press

Sarah Ridgley, of Pheasant Press, weaves letterpress magic: from mixing a dash of UK love with her letterpress obsessed research  to seeing her designs come to life on her presses. We caught up with Sarah at her Arkansas print studio to talk shop and the irresistible smell of ink and pulling the first perfect proof.

Sarah Ridgley of Pheasant Press with her beloved printing press.

PRINTING ON THE PRAIRIE Hi! My name is Sarah and I live in Fort Smith, Arkansas. I’m married to a Texan from Dallas (Kevin) and we have one son, Finnegan. I’ve lived all my life in Arkansas except for one glorious year in London after I graduated college. I love traveling and try to visit the UK and Europe as often as possible.

LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT Like a lot of other printers I’ve met, I fell in love with letterpress while researching invitations for my wedding. I became obsessed with it and read everything I could find about printing. I decided the best way to really understand would be to get a press, so I bought one on eBay.  Back then presses were cheap, and I got my Kelsey 5 x7 complete with a cabinet full of type for only $100.  It belonged to a pharmacist and had lots of fun skull & cross-bone ornaments.  I immediately ordered a Boxcar base and my first set of photopolymer plates.

PRINTING IN THE NATURAL STATE I love my print shop! We bought a house at an auction several years ago and the main attraction was the 1600 sq. ft garage. There’s room for our cars, my husband’s workshop, my studio and even a gym.

I have my C&P 8 x 12 and a Vandercook 1 along with my little Kelsey. I recently bought a C & P 10 x 15 that’s in pretty bad shape. I can’t wait to get it restored and running. I used to have a Windmill 10 x 15, but it was just too intense for me. I like hand feeding and I never do huge print jobs, so the setup was annoying.  I stumbled across the Windmill at a local bank auction and got it for only $100! Luckily our family business is industrial so I had access to all the equipment (and manpower) needed to move it to my studio. And back out once I decided to sell it.

Letterpress Arkansas love card by Pheasant Press.

PRINTING MENTORS I’m not sure about this question. I can’t remember who printed all the wedding invitations that inspired me to get involved, but I do know that I first saw a letterpress invitation in the Martha Stewart Weddings magazine.

I am completely self taught, but I had a lot of help from people on Briar Press. I started my letterpress research by reading the book “Platen Press Operation” by George Mills. I was pretty startled to learn that he was from Fort Smith and had a print shop here. I think he died right before I started printing, so I never got to meet him. I always wondered what happened to his print shop.

Fine letterpress printed cards by Pheasant Press.

DESIGN + PRINT I am both a designer and printer. It feels funny to call myself a designer since I’ve never had any formal training in design. But I love designing and seeing it come to life on my press.

CREATIVE PROCESS I get inspired all the time, so I keep track of my ideas with Evernote. Then I usually brainstorm with my husband to refine several ideas and see which ones I want to pursue. Next, I start experimenting with fonts and designs until I can get it to look the way that I see it in my head. That’s the most difficult part for me — getting what I have in my head to come out and look good on my screen or paper.

Luxurious letterpress printed pieces by Pheasant Letterpress.

FULL TIME FUN No, printing is more of a hobby for me. It would be fun to be able to spend all my time printing and designing, but I am not pursuing it as a main goal. Once you have to do that much printing, it would just turn into work and wouldn’t be fun anymore. I still get excited about the smell of ink on the press and the first perfect proof, and I don’t want to lose that.

Printing on a Vandercook at Pheasant Press.

PRINTING FEATS After I got my first press, I practiced all the time. I was really proud that I was able to print my sister’s wedding invitations only a year later.

BOXCAR’S ROLE When I first started printing, I ordered all my plates from Boxcar. I love the Boxcar Base and I love the service they provide. I make my own plates now, but I never could have gotten where I am without being able to rely on Boxcar in the beginning.

SHOP TIPS I have experimented with my setup quite a bit and have found that thin lead spacers or pieces of rule work really well as gauge pins. I just tape them onto my top sheet with double stick tape and make small cardboard tongues to help hold the paper in place. The spacers are nice because they are thinner than the polymer plates so they don’t get smashed by my base. They are also very sturdy and give me a good ledge to help align the paper.

I use baby wipes to clean my hands while I am printing, but not on the plates themselves. You can get cheap ones from Aldi that are great. A giant bottle of hand sanitizer also works really well to get the ink off your fingers. I’ve used Burt’s Bees hand salve, but it leaves behind a residue that sometimes gets on the paper.

Father's Day letterpress card printed by Pheasant Press.

WHAT’S NEXT Lately I have been working on trying to create a cohesive style for Pheasant Press. I am usually all over the place with so many different designs that I don’t feel there is any connection in what I do. I have enjoyed trying different things, but I would like to focus on developing my own style. My favorite eras are Victorian and Midcentury modern, so however those can mesh together is where I want to be.

Big rounds of applause out to Laura for letting us get the full scoop on Pheasant Press!

Trailblazing At Appalachia Press

John Reburn III of Appalachia Press finds joy in the layering of printing know-how, traveling wanderlust, and a true passion for all things letterpress – from small town shops to the luxury design-work of the bigger fish. But that’s not why his excitement is contagious. It’s because he dives into roles that inspire in printing environments that foster letterpress magic. To find out more, we sat down with him and mused over vinyl records, Mexican print shops, and good ol’ fashioned printing basics.

John Reburn of Appalachia Press pores over his letterpress designs

LETTERPRESS WANDERLUST Originally from Frederick, Maryland and Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia but my adult life was crafted by my time spent on the west coast. It’s been a little over 10 years in Roanoke, Virginia – but Southern California was 20 wonderful years that greatly influenced my creativity, aesthetic and career. I launched my letterpress card line from Los Angeles and it was consistently selling in Atlanta and New York City. So, I got out the map and starting looking for options in both those cities and everywhere in between. I had spent my childhood summers in Lynchburg, Wytheville and Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia (so, I knew Southwest Virginia) but Roanoke had the airport, and the price of property was easily doable. It took a year of visiting, researching and “cashing out” of California to find the perfect location and make the move.

When I first opened my doors, I called myself Roanoke Valley Printworks. I sold nationally out of the gift shows in NYC and ATL under that name and business was good. Locally, I was constantly confused with being a traditional printer…being asked to make business cards and xerox copies. So, I remodeled my retail store, fine-tuned the business plan and focused on just my print work. I decided to rebrand to really make a statement about the kind of print work I do. “Appalachia” sets a time, place and mood with it’s history, equipment and locale. It has proven to be a great transition.

LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT I got the basics in high school. I am still using the same printmaking techniques I learned at 17 years old – just using them with more skill and patience. I cut my teeth screening t-shirts for children at a summer camp while in college and I honed my scrappy, low-to-no budget skills into some crazy good shirt designs. It dove-tailed my obsession with primitive printmaking and soon enough it became a technique that I was known for.

Elegant detail work of invitations printed by Appalachia Press.

Years later, my non-profit design clients needed their events to look professional and beautiful without looking like they misspent their funding. My design work was a perfect match. Entertainment companies liked the graphic quality and lush, rich textures. It all seemed to work easily. Maybe too easy…because it was boring me.

We moved our design studio next to a brilliant letterpress printer/designer, Claudia Laub. I was taken by the look and feel of letterpress. The basic, working concept of letterpress was the same as my 2-D, two color printmaking techniques but with new mechanics. It was a perfect match. She explained letterpress while I helped her with Apple/MAC/electronic design. Twelve years later, I am still learning. Whenever I acquire a letterpress, I talk to the previous owner (usually in their late 80s or early 90s). Everyone has a trick or a way of handling a press.

If I have a question, I go online. It seems this is where all ol’, ex-letterpressmen go in retirement. Ask and I receive 7 solutions to any problem. Seven different answers…but one is always right on the money!

Floral and beautiful letterpress invitations printed by Appalachia Press.

PIONEERING IN THE OLD DOMINION STATE I have had some fun studios. But my current studio is my favorite of all. It was originally the Crystal Springs Laundry in an industrial section of downtown Roanoke. A simple one-story building but with character and history. I left as much of the industrial workplace-look as possible, refinishing and upgrading as necessary to make it functional. The loading dock is three feet higher than the ground level, making it perfect for teaching. A student can stand at the rail and look directly down into the press.

Vibrant lettepress printing done by Appalachia Lettepress.

I reserve the cement, ground level for letterpress and production. The upper level is for drawing, cutting, assembly and framing. This shop has a lot of square footage and is a luxury…but I can certainly fill it with projects, ideas and possibilities. Some things just have to sit out and stare at me for months before I know what it will become.

PRINTING MENTORS I have been lucky to have many mentors and been privy to some amazing artist’s studios. As I said, Claudia Laub (Los Angeles) lit the fire. Barry Richardson, my high-school printmaking teacher, set my course. And I travel. For me, traveling answers all my needs…with the added bonus of hunting for more visual inspiration and old stuff. I can’t tell you the number of times I have found random, letterpress print shops in little towns while traveling. And with each find is a person attached with a story, history and layers.

Wooden type and wood-cut ready for printing at Appalachia Press.

I love the emotional attachments people have to things. Especially the places and things that were used to make a living. I guess it’s sweat equity; there is ownership to the equipment that never dwindles. I still feel it in the old presses in my studio and from all the pressmen that have come before me. So, I have to thank all the letterpress printers I have met – from the Ohio Valley to the country of Mexico. I have been obsessed with Mexico for over two decades. Letterpress is not an art form in Mexico…it’s the corner printshop. It’s part of the community. I am impressed.

DESIGN + PRINT I continue to explain to any student who will listen…If you don’t understand how it prints, you can’t design for it. I have always been a printer/designer. I went to the printing plants, big and small. I talked to the pressman. I did my own press-proofing. I am proudly able to design and press my own work.

Vintage letterpress printed goodies by Appalachia Press

THE CREATIVE PROCESS I am a total visual geek. I love faded, comfortable, durable, layered, aged and beautiful. Style, materials, color, and a lush quality. Buildings, landscapes, signage, storytelling and history…exaggerated and playful and deeply rooted. I love provenance. I am influenced by history, antiques, vintage, metal, wood, tarnish, dirt, and kitsch/vintage advertising. They don’t necessarily show up in my work but it drives my design. I like everything to have a story…layers.

To look at a full drying rack of beautifully pulled prints or letterpress is a true joy. Not mass-production – but each one being just a little different than the last. Variations of pressure, ink and alignment are remarkable and beautiful. It’s not about perfection. It’s about emotion put in print. I love the drawing and production side of the work…figuring out the puzzle of layers and lines to reach a desired effect. I get a real feeling of accomplishment from the repetition and tedious detail. It’s my tedious good time.

FULL TIME FUN I am a full-time letterpress printer and printmaker. It’s hard to believe that I walked away from a “legit” career a dozen years ago. I have always been really good at being self-employed. I know how to work and what needs to be done. I like self reliance. I enjoy not answering to anyone and choosing projects by my instincts. I am a good critic of my own work but the general public is always the harshest critic when I choose to create something too obscure/dark/edgy…my favorite things. So, being my own boss, I continue to create them anyway.

Letterpressed anatomical heart over music sheet printed by Appalachia Press.

PRINTING FEATS Having survived a few major career hurdles and tests of will have brought about a sense of accomplishment. Looking back at a lifetime of work is more spooky than prideful. I can not believe how many lives I have lived. I have to give myself a small pat-on-the-back for being willing to reinvent at the right moments. I have had to work hard…keenly focusing on what I really want to do.

Sourcing quality materials and letterpress supplies is difficult.  The economy is always a teacher. Being an outsider in a small “Southern” town is a test but I walk through that ring of fire every day, working, and in business. I am proud to be able to do what I love.

PRESS HISTORY 1913 Chandler and Price 7×11, with a treadle…a pure iron beauty. I now keep four Chandler and Price of different sizes and a Vandercook Proof Press, plus a number of table-top and proofing presses and a manual and hydraulic paper cutter. Collecting is beginning to become a problem…

Foil and metalic letterpress pieces shimmer at Appalachia Press.

BOXCAR’S ROLE I praise any and all online sources for keeping us connected. Boxcar Press has been a great, up-to-date resource for all things letterpress!

SHOP TIPS Experiment, push the limits and be original. Spending time at the press is worth it’s weight in gold. I am a full-time (12 years) letterpress printer and I am a smart, quick study…who thinks I just now am hitting my stride with good, quality work. Yes, I got the technical side down early. Today my press work is solid. That confidence frees me to experiment and push the limits. That’s when the real fun begins.

And music. Music is always on…24 hours a day. I sleep to music. I work to music. I live for music. I own a massive collection of tapes, vinyl records, and CDs. Vintage, indie, alt-country, grassroots, folk is always in the air. But I can pull some classic disco out for those nights that go long and energy is required. I keep a turn table in my studio with everything from the 60′s, 70′s and 80′s. But the greatest invention is the random iTunes playlist…I love not knowing what from my collection is about to land.

Business and Holiday Cards show deft printing at Appalachia Lettepress.

WHAT’S NEXT Now that the economy is getting back to normal, I feel like the new year will be filled with lots of personal work. Yes, I continue to update the letterpress card line and wedding work endlessly, but it’s the side projects and community, not-for-profit work that brings some great creativity. Not having to be so obsessed about the bottom line will allow for some really great design and letterpress project in 2014. Knock on wood…

Massive round of thanks to John for letting us get the scoop on Appalachia Press!

Printing Down Under With Little Peach Co.

We headed down under to catch one of Australia’s letterpress printing powerhouses, Little Peach Co and caught up with Dave & Sara. The Woolloongabba, Queensland print shop boasts a cherished Heidelberg Platen, full-time printing passions, and a ridiculously inspiring clientele that pushes the creative boundaries of letterpress. The friendly duo chatted us up about old-fashioned printing, handcrafted printed goodies, and the hand-made celebration of letterpress. Dave Atkinson of Little Peach Co printing on his cherished Heiderlberg. Elegant letterpress invitation suite printed by Little Peach Co.

AWESOME IN AUSTRALIA DAVE: I come from a design background — from early days studying at Design College Australia to more recently working as an Art Director at an advertising agency — but during the past seven years I was moonlighting as a wedding invitation designer. It was only when I discovered letterpress printing that I made the full leap of faith with my wife, Cath, to open Little Peach Co. in November 2012. It’s extraordinary that what began as an after-work hobby is now my full-time passion designing and printing handcrafted invitations, business cards, and custom stationery from scratch. I couldn’t be happier to go to work everyday.

SARA: Joining Little Peach Co. was a very serendipitous experience for me. I have a background in communication, and had just returned to Australia after working in the States. I literally stumbled across the the studio on my walk home one day and thought – “Wow! It would be amazing to work there!” I popped in on a Monday with my CV and a smile to offer help with marketing and design, and things just built from there. I can’t believe how much we’ve grown and how far we’ve come since then!

IN THE BEGINNING DAVE: When I discovered letterpress I was absolutely fascinated. I had already been designing wedding invitations for friends and family, but found letterpress online and never looked back. I saw vintage printing as an opportunity to use an ancient trade, which provides a real challenge with beautiful and tangible results. Working with the press is obviously quite laborious and time-intensive, but worth every second when you see and feel that exquisite letterpress detail.

Since letterpress is basically a dying art form, we wanted to add to the movement to preserve the craftsmanship of this extraordinary printing method. Lucky for us, we see Brisbane locals turning back to the old ways with a love for vintage goods and we’re excited to contribute to the revival.

Business and identity lettepress printed pieces by Little Peach Co.

LETTERPRESS DOWN UNDER SARA: We currently lease an amazing 120-year old building on Stanley Street in Woolloongabba, Queensland. We feel lucky because having a storefront allows us to meet with clients in a creative environment and show them first-hand the beauty of letterpress and how it all works.

It’s amazing to split our time between the front studio with clients and the back press room with Big Bertha, our 1965 Heidelberg Platen. We always like to welcome new visitors, so if you’re in the neighborhood feel free to drop by for a coffee, chat, and studio tour!

Nautical letterpress wedding invitation printed by Australia's Little Peach Co.

PRINTING MENTORS DAVE: To be honest – I’m mostly self-taught! There were a lot of late nights working with the press and reading my tattered old Heidelberg manual. I’ve had a few experts over the past year offer guidance, but it’s mostly involved heaps of research and a lot of trial-and-error.

DESIGN + PRINT DAVE: I’m originally a designer, and picked up the printing along the way. While we obviously print heaps of our own designs, it’s been great to connect with local designers and bring their work to life. I originally thought we’d focus on our own stationery, but we’ve received so much interest from local designers and it’s amazing to work with people who really value the printing method.

SARA: Since we sort of toe the line between “wedding world” and the design industry, we’ve really enjoyed partnering with our fellow event vendors and local creatives and dream up incredible ideas. In the past year we’ve contributed our letterpress stationery to several styled wedding photo shoots, collaborated with Brisbane-favorite Everingham & Watson to create letterpress soap boxes and business cards, and have an upcoming letterpress tarot card art exhibition event with one of our favorite cafes, Southside Tea Room. We truly hope to continue these types of collaborations in 2014 and beyond.

Colorful and fun lettepress printed pieces from Australian printshop Little Peach Co.

THE CREATIVE PROCESS SARA: To be honest, most of our day-to-day design inspiration for stationery comes from our clients themselves. You should see the big ideas our brides and fellow designers come up with! Their excitement is ridiculously inspiring and always leads us to create the most incredible finished products. Since we specialize in celebration stationery, it’s wonderful to let each client sort of art direct their own invitations and bring out the individuality of each person in their final design.

DAVE: I think it’s important to create a comprehensive creative brief whether it be for a client or one of our own jobs. Brainstorming ideas usually follows, allowing us to nut out all the good (and bad) ideas floating around in our heads. We then decide on the few best ideas we like and start designing.

FULL TIME FUN DAVE: Yes – running Little Peach Co. is definitely a full-time job. It’s always challenging to focus on design and client meetings during the day, but I never mind returning to the pressroom at night for a late night with Bertha the Heidelberg.

PRINTING FEATS DAVE: Well, we’re mostly proud to have made it through our first year as a full-time small business! We’ve received such positive feedback from our clients and the Brisbane community, and love leaving each client with a beautiful tactile product they can cherish for years to come.

PRESS HISTORY DAVE: An Adana 8×5. Definitely not commercially viable, but I learned so much from the hand typesetting and laborious process. Those were some fun early days printing with the Adana in my garage once the kids went to sleep!

Little Peach Co's Heidelberg press, aka Big Bertha.

BOXCAR’S ROLE DAVE: Boxcar Press was an invaluable resource during my early days learning on the Heidelberg Platen. The online tutorials were incredibly helpful, and thank goodness for technology that they could reach me all the way here in Australia. I also use a Boxcar base to print with!

Blue lace letterpress invitation pieces by Little Peach Co.

PRINTING TIPS DAVE: Obviously printing is a finicky process, but we’ve found that some of our most challenging print jobs have yielded the happiest clients. Especially when there are complications, our clients really appreciate total transparency and walking through the options. Finding creative solutions (and sometimes re-printing jobs – ack) shows clients your dedication to creating a perfect finished product. Also, take your time and don’t try to take short-cuts while printing on the Heidelberg. It only leads to tears – trust me!

SARA: We also love providing a personalized consultation experience for each client. Our hands are pretty full with only two of us in the studio, but we prioritize customer service and working closely with clients to create a fun and friendly design process.  It’s always terrific to show people our samples, really dig deep into what they’re envisioning, and make sure they get to meet Bertha the Heidelberg. She loves to show off, and it’s easier to appreciate the printing method if you can see her in action.

Little Peach Co prints up intricate letterpress business cards.

WHAT’S NEXT SARA: We’re taking everything one day at a time, but dreaming big for 2014. We’ve been so consumed with client work during these past few months, so in early 2014 we hope to focus on our Little Peach Co. designs and expand our online shops with more letterpress greeting cards, tags, and prints. Many ideas are in the works!

DAVE: In the next few years we’ll hopefully be able to grow and add in more presses and talented people, but ultimately our aim is to keep producing high quality design and print work for a wide variety of clients. At the end of the day, I started Little Peach Co. as a friendly local studio for beautiful hand-crafted stationery. We hope to stay true to our roots for many years to come.

Huge friendly round of thanks out to Dave & Sara of Little Peach Co for letting us get a sneak peek at their shop!

The 2014 Boxcar Press Valentine’s Day Gift Guide: Part 3

Today we’re wrapping up with our final installment of the Boxcar Press Valentine’s Day Gift Guide with some colorful apparel to show off true letterpress pride and some sensational + geeky cards for that special someone.

Gift Guide Boxcar Press Part 3.

1. From the Cat by Presse Dufour | 2.  I Love You (pink pinstripe & green pinstripe) Letterpress Cards by Pistachio Press | 3.  I Love You, Hot or Cold  by Fishcakedesign | 4. You’re the Cream In My Coffee Oversize Postcard by Pioneer House | 5. Pantone Wall Print | 6. I Love You  by Black Heart Letterpress | 7. I Think We’re a Perfect Match by Eliza Gwendalyn Cards | 8.  You Auto-complete Me by Paperwheel | 9.  Swing Away Lay Gauge by Boxcar Press | 10. Boxcar Press T-Shirt (New shirt designs + colors available! Order yours now!)

The 2014 Boxcar Press Valentine’s Day Gift Guide: Part 2

We’re kicking off part deux of the Boxcar Press Valentine’s Day Gift Guide with some printed delights that are sure to thrill and woo any printer’s heart. We’ve got one more feature to keep the letterpress love going, so check back for the final installment of this series later this week!


1. Peak to Peak Fine Press Book from Chester Creek Press | 2. Broadside Printers Alley Wine (California)  | 3.  Line Gauge from Boxcar Press | 4.  I Love You (Mixed Type) by Black Heart Letterpress | 5.  Love Letters Valentine’s Day Card by Papillon Press | 6. Historical Printing Photographic Reproduction from Denver Library | 7. Serif Typography Wall Art | 8. Pantone Stationery Set


9. Limited Edition Vandercook Proof Press Forest Celebration by Pistachio Press | 10. Valentine’s Card by The Ink on Paper Co.  | 11. You’re My Precious by Letterpress That Rocks | 12. Alphabet of Typography Poster  | 13. Typewriter Key Wine Charms

The 2014 Boxcar Press Valentine’s Day Gift Guide: Part 1

Bring in some loving cheer this year with our Valentine’s Day gift guide for the printer & letterpress lover in your life! Check out some great letterpress goodies and printing supplies that you + yours will be sure to love. We’ll be starting this 3-part series with some of our favorites — tell us about your favorites in the comments section below!

Letterpress goodies for Valentine's Day via Boxcapress.com.

1. CMYK Necklace by Tizzalicious | 2. Meinert Printer’s Ink Wine (South Africa)  | 3. Envelopes and Pocket Frame Cards by Cards & Pockets | 4. Boxcar Press Letterpress Coasters | 5. Set of Virgin Wood type – Aetna 10 line Set

Letterpress goodies for Valentine's Day via Boxcapress.com.

6.  Marbleized Paper from De Milo Design Studio & Letterpress | 7. Bone Folders by Traditional Hand | 8.  Cardiogram Valentine’s Day Card by PalettesCO | 9. I LOVE YOU Oversize Postcard by Pioneer House | 10. LetterMpress App for Mac by LetterMpress | 11.  Gift Bookplates from De Milo Design Studio & Letterpress

The Allure of Ladyfingers Letterpress

From hand-drawn calligraphy, masterminding production workflow and streak of love for hot air balloons, Jenny Tiskus, Morgan Calderini and Arley-Rose Torsone of Ladyfingers Letterpress take the cake when it comes to all that is letterpress. We caught up with the trio as they were busy bustling around their sunny printshop in Pawtucket, RI to chat up AS220′s astounding community involvement and how to effortlessly mix inks.

Printing presses in action at Ladyfingers Letterpress.

DELICIOUS PRINTED EYE CANDY We are the ladies of Ladyfingers Letterpress, a wife-and-wife team who founded a hand-drawn letterpress studio when our own search for wedding invitations revealed a lack of options for same sex couples. We make stationery and wedding invitations for all kinds of people and occasions, including our new wholesale line of greeting cards launched last year in 2013.

Detailed finishing work and letterpress meeting at Ladyfingers Letterpress.

PIONEERING IN PROVIDENCE Morgan loved her first letterpress seminar at RISD so much she changed majors from graphic design to printmaking. She founded Providence’s first community printshop at AS220 where she meet Arley-Rose, the head graphic designer.

OPULENCE IN THE OCEAN STATE Our studio is in an old webbing factory in Pawtucket that’s been renovated into the Hope Artiste Village. Our space is sunny with high ceilings and white walls. We have lots of creative neighbors in the building and the Pawtucket Winter Farmers Market is held just down the hall.

Snazzy letterpress invitations courtesy of Ladyfingers Letterpress.

PRINTING MENTORS The Olneyville scene in Rhode Island exposed Arley-Rose to a community of screen printers. Local printer Dan Wood of DWRI letterpress is a gem and always willing to chat.  Dan donated local arts non-profit AS220’s Vandercook back in the day.  Rick Ring has been a great source of information and inspiration as special collections Librarian at Trinity College and previously as head of the Special Collections at the Providence Public Library.  The Library’s collection includes printing manuals, type specimen books and working library of Daniel Berkeley Updike of Merrymount Press. Rick introduced us to the collection and now Jordan Goffin helps us find printmaking treasures there.Arley-Rose Torsone of Ladyfingers Letterpress carefully letters a piece.

CREATIVE PROCESS When you come into the studio the first thing you’ll notice after the hum of the C&P is Arley-Rose with a micron pen or brush in hand. Our creative process is very collaborative.  Arley-Rose is the lead designer. She hand-letters all of our invitations and stationery. Morgan is the lead printer and keeps track of everything. Our studio has grown to include many folks at this time: Sydney keeps the finances in order, Kat Cummings is our head printer, Jill is our post-production lady, and Jenny is our wholesale coordinator.  There are a host of folks we call in during rush times to help, too.

FULL TIME FUN Printing in-house is something we love to do and an essential part of our business. We are small business owners so some of our time is spent doing other things but the heart of Ladyfingers is Arley’s hand-drawing designs and Morgan’s masterminding production.

Delicate letterpress map details printed by Ladyfingers Letterpress

PRINTING FEATS We are proud to do what we love for a living! We feel so lucky to design and print here in Pawtucket. We proudly employ a small staff of creative folks. We were just featured at the Martha Stewart Weddings party where Arley hand-lettered foil stamped notebooks we made. Morgan just got her hot air balloon pilot’s license for the balloon she built herself!

Guillotine cutter, letterpress printing presses featured at Ladyfingers Letterpress.

PRESS HISTORY We started printing on a Vandercook 4 at the AS220 community print shop that Morgan founded. The first press we bought is our current workhorse, a 10 x 15 C&P.  Last January we bought a Vandercook 219 from another artist in the area. What a dream!

BOXCAR’S ROLE Our type high bases are from Boxcar. Our designs are hand-drawn so we use photopolymer plates all the time. We recently got a Vandercook to print large poster size jobs and those bases are a big help!

SHOP TIPS We use the clear plastic sheets that would otherwise be waste from the platemaking process to mix ink. Easy cleanup!

Hand-inspected finishers deftly look over finished pieces at Ladyfingers Letterpress

WHAT’S NEXT We launched our wholesale line at the National Stationery Show last year (2013) and are so grateful for the overwhelmingly positive response we’ve gotten. We plan to return this year with lots of new designs.

Huge heaping round of thanks out to Jenny and Morgan for letting us get the skinny on Ladyfingers Letterpress!