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 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!

Detroit Ink: A Look At Signal Return Press

Settled near the churning Detroit River and a stone’s throw away from Joe Louis Arena and the DIA, Michigan’s own community print shop, Signal Return, thrives in the Eastern Market area. The warm, inviting shop holds an exemplary showcase of helpful staff, the milling buzz of presses running, and boasts a hypnotic clink of rollers working. Lynne Avadenka shows us around this letterpress abode to reveal a gem in the Motor City.

Detroit, Michigan's own letterpress community printshop, Signal Returns.

THE PRESSES We currently have 8 working presses: a Kelsey Treadle press; a Vandercook 325G; a Triumf Proof Press; a Poco Proof Press; a Nolan Proof Press; and three C&P Tabletop presses.

SIZE OF PRINT SHOP  3,000 square feet.

TYPE OF SHOP We are a community shop that offers open studio hours to anyone who has taken 2 classes with us. Currently, we have over 40 people qualified to participate in our open studio. We also have a retail area where we sell prints, cards and ephemera, much of it by artists who’ve learned to print in our shop.

THE LOCATION Our building is located in Detroit’s Eastern Market so on market days we have access to really fresh fruits, vegetables and local products. We are also lucky to be situated within walking distance to some great local eateries; Supinos serves up one of the best pizzas around, Russell Street Deli is a shop favorite for lunch and Germack coffee keeps us awake during those long days in the shop. Our shop is an important part of the expansion of vitality in this historic area.

FAVORITE THING ABOUT THE SHOP Our prized possession is our collection of type. Although we had a pretty good base to start with, earlier this year we got a very large, generous donation of type in excellent condition. This included 2 full cabinets of wood type and 8 cabinets of metal type.

MOST VALUABLE SHOP TOOL
 We couldn’t think of anything for this one…I think it’s different for everyone who uses the shop.

FAVORITE INK We hand mix Von Son oil-based ink and provide use of it to all of our open studio members. If I had to say a favorite color, I would say what we see most coming out of the shop is red. People love to make red letterpress prints!

SOLVENT OF CHOICE We use odorless mineral spirits—the wetter the rag, the faster the clean up!

PLATE AND BASE OF CHOICE We’ve been open for two years, focusing on hand set wood and metal type. A Boxcar base is at the top of our wish list!

WHAT TYPE OF RAG DO YOU CLEAN UP YOUR PRESSES WITH We normally work with inexpensive rags from the local hardware store but ask that people donate old clothes to help out with rag costs for the shop. You wouldn’t think it, but we have to be careful to specify “no underwear!”

FLOORING MATERIAL We have original concrete floors

FLOOR PLAN TIPS Rubber mats on the floor, in front of presses, help legs and backs during long days of printing.

PIED TYPE No, none yet.



ORGANIZATION ADVICE Volunteers! It’s hard to keep on top of everyone who comes in for group workshops so when things start to get crazy around the shop, we pick up a few pizzas and have some lovely people come in and help us sort type and spacing material.



PRINTING ADVICE Everything always takes longer than you think.

Industrial workspace of Signal Returns, a Michigan-based community printshop.

Printing with Port Paper Co.

Travis Deglow of Port Paper Co checks out his beloved printing press.

There is something to the warmth and unique impressions of letterpress which brings out the best in people. Travis Deglow, of Port Paper Co., knows this all too well in the familiar rhythm in his printing abode nestled in his 1-car garage. His daughter (helper and mischief-maker) takes care of filling the shop with laughter and fun in the Canadian shop. Travis takes a break from plastering his walls with all that is letterpress and chats us up about printing principles, dance breaks, and the Vancouver Letterpress League.

BEAUTY AND THE PRINT GEEK Hi, my name is Travis and I’m a print geek. A few years ago my love for paper goods took a sinister turn and developed into a full blown obsession. It was decided the only way to cope with this affliction was to harness its power and start producing my own line of paper products. From this idea Port Paper Co. was born.

THE DECISIVE MOMENT I was working at a commercial print shop here in Vancouver when I came across a business card that had been printed on a letterpress. Everything changed in that moment. It piqued my interest right away and the more I learned about it the more I fell in love, until it consumed me.

The shop I was working at didn’t offer letterpress services but I learned the basic principals of printing from them: Packing, squeeze, ink density and water balance (time to forget this one).

Fun and bold letterpress cards printed by Canadian letterpress shop, Port Paper Co.

BRILLIANT IN BRITISH COLUMBIA I operate out of a very quaint 1 car garage. The walls are covered in shelves that are loaded with cans of ink, boxes full of paper and the odd storage tote full of seasonal and other household items. All additional wall space is plastered with letterpress samples and other inspiring graphic work. Against the one wall sits my little 19″ Challenge cutter and my workbench that houses Eleanor (5 x 8 Kelsey). At the back of the garage stands Dita (10 x 15 Heidelberg Windmill), the newest member to the team. There is no heat in my little sanctuary but there is a loud stereo and the lack of windows shields my neighbors from my work interrupting dance breaks.

Blind deboss and colorful letterpress printed piece from Port Paper Co.

PRINTING MENTORS I don’t know if I have a true mentor. I was fortunate enough to work alongside some great pressman in the commercial shop. I learned a lot from that group. I’m also part of the Vancouver Letterpress League, which gets together once a month. The VLL is a collection of printers and letterpress enthusiasts who meet to share and discuss a variety of print related topics. It’s a great resource. In a way I think we kind of mentor each other as we grow and develop as printers.

DESIGN + PRINT I’m guilty of both charges. Design school is what originally lead me to print and now I have the opportunity to practice both trades.

CREATIVE PROCESS Along with printing full time, I also take care of my daughter during the day. Doing crafts, building with blocks, and hanging out in blanket forts really allows the creativity to flow. When I start a project I outline some base ideas. Over the following couple days, the ideas start to percolate and I start to expand on them. It may not be the most common creative process but it works for me.

FULL TIME FUN I’m lucky enough to be able to print full time and have been doing it for the past year.

Travis Deglow and printshop helper set-up shop at Port Paper Co.

PRINTING FEATS To be honest my biggest accomplishment is having the opportunity to hang out with my daughter all day while I develop and grow my dream job.

PRESS HISTORY The story of finding [the press] isn’t very exciting. I was simply scouring the internet looking for printing equipment and came across a listing on Vimeo for a press in Driggs, ID. I had no idea where Driggs, ID was but after a Google search I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it was located just West of Grand Teton National Park and South of Yellowstone. After some discourse with the owner, I hopped in my car, and set out on my first (but not last) letterpress road trip, and a scenic one at that.

BOXCAR’S ROLE I wouldn’t be very far without Boxcar Press. I work from home and have a 3 year old daughter who is often helping me in the studio. From the start, I made a conscious decision to not have any lead in the studio to help reduce her exposure to known toxins. Without access to Boxcar’s awesome plates there wouldn’t be a Port Paper Co. Not to mention all the great advice and support I have received from them over my many phone conversations to Syracuse.

Travis Deglow of Port Paper Co. reviews his lettepress pieces near his Kelsey.

WHAT’S NEXT Starting [this year] in 2014 I plan to focus my attention on expanded my product line into stores via wholesale.

SHOP TIPS That’s tough, there are so many clichés to choose from. I think the only advice I can offer about letterpress printing is to stay calm. There is no amount of violent threats or foul language that can penetrate the stubbornness of old iron. Don’t even bother, believe me, I’ve tried it all.

Colorful and fun letterpress printed cards from Port Paper Co. and printed by Travis Deglow.

Huge thanks out to Travis of Port Paper Co. for letting us take a cool peek at his wonderful printshop!

Over the Moon for Luna Letterpress

Letterpress has chosen to follow Carrie Durand of Luna Letterpress. From a chance meeting when taking courses while working towards her BFA to a remarkable internship at Sesame Letterpress followed up by a very lucky bid for a Chandler & Price from a friend. Now both a freelance graphic designer and printer, Carrie ponders over beauty of hand lettering and expanding her stationery line. We caught up with her to see where the journey has taken her.

Carrie Durand of Luna Letterpress shows off her Chandler & Price and letterpress cards.

PRINTER-DESIGNER EXTRAORDINAIRE My name is Carrie Durand and I am currently located in Brooklyn, where I live with my boyfriend and my cat. I graduated with a BFA in graphic design from SVA in 2010. I currently work as a full time graphic designer in Manhattan.

LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT I first took a letterpress class with Dikko Faust the second semester of my senior year at SVA. I have always loved antiques and was newly inspired to work heavily with typography. Letterpress is essentially a marriage of those two things, so it seemed like a fun and interesting class to take. Plus, I have always enjoyed working with my hands. Little did I know how much I would grow to love it. I knew I had found my niche.

Beautiful view from Luna Letterpress.

After I graduated, I sent a ton of emails to local studios and shops trying to get some more experience under my belt. I knew I had a lot to learn still and I was eager to gain more knowledge. I finally got a response from Breck Hostetter at Sesame Letterpress and I landed an internship at their studio in Brooklyn. I worked with them once a week for a little over a year. When I first began it was a lot of organizing & stuffing envelope liners but over time I got to print jobs and mix inks and by the end of my internship I was getting paid to design for them on a freelance basis. I loved my time there and I owe a lot of my knowledge about printing and about the business aspect of this field to them.

After leaving Sesame, I had no access to a press so I spent my free time focusing on my lettering. About a year later, my friend Roisin Reilly (an artist and interior painter, who I worked with during my internship at Sesame) randomly bid on a Chandler & Price press on ebay and won. She didn’t know a lot about letterpress but she heard me talk about it every day at work and I think it interested her.

Carrie Durand's well-loved Chandler & Price letterpress printing press.

I don’t think she thought she would actually win the bid on the press but she did and it changed everything for me. She had it installed in the basement of her house (which happens to be a historical landmark in Haverstraw, NY) and I started going upstate to print. My first job was Rosie’s wedding invitations! Luna Press was officially born.

Inking up on Carrie Durand's printing press and beautiful letterpress cards.

PRINTING MENTORS My senior year at SVA, my portfolio instructor was Louise Fili. She was the one who originally opened my eyes to letterpress. Louise is a big supporter of all things beautifully made and she is the person who has inspired me the most in terms of design and production. She showed me the beauty of lettering by hand and the loveliness of paper and print.

Carrie Durand's letterpress cards display expert hand lettering.

PRINTING FEATS Since I work full time as a designer, I work on freelance and personal projects in the evenings and print on the weekends. I’m hoping to eventually transition to make printing my full time job. My biggest project is a line of silly stationery. I like for all of my personal projects to be beautiful but also have a sense of humor. It makes the process all the more fun for me if I can make people laugh or smile when they see my work. I’ve been selling my cards on Etsy as well as some local craft fairs and have been getting great responses so far!

BOXCAR’S ROLE Boxcar has been so helpful to me since the beginning. I was first introduced to them through Sesame Letterpress and I’ve relied on their amazing turn around and customer service ever since. They have been so helpful to me and have answered any questions or concerns I’ve had since day one. I couldn’t have come this far without them!    Carrie Durand's letterpress cards display sass and fun.

SHOP TIPS The best tip I could give to new printers is, trial and error will be your best teachers. It helps to have a great initial training by people who know what they’re doing, but beyond that, read a ton of books and just keep working and eventually you’ll perfect the process. I have come such a long way from where I started from and I still have a ways to go, but the learning process has been so fun every step of the way.

WHAT’S NEXT As for what’s next for me, I plan on expanding my freelance work as well as my stationery line. I have plans to sell at Brooklyn Flea this winter, which is an amazing place to be around other local creatives and network. A personal goal for 2014 to see my cards sold in local stationery stores and boutique shops. Good things come to those who work!

A huge round of thanks out to Carrie of Luna Letterpress for letting us get the full scoop!

Whimsical Fun At Fugu Fugu Press

With the combined talents of illustrator Shino and hands-on printer Ken, Fugu Fugu Press of Pasadena, California has been buzzing since its debut about four years ago. The printing pair muse over moving stories, churning out vibrantly colored letterpress pieces, and talking shop with us about the things they can’t live without, from great design to irresistible jazz.

Ken and Shino of Fugu Fugu bring energy to letterpress!

LAUNCHING LETTERPRESS Shino went to Art Center in Pasadena for a degree in illustration, and worked as a freelance illustrator for about 13 years before starting Fugu Fugu Press. While freelancing she mostly did editorial illustration for print publications and some website work. Freelancing was a rewarding, if sometimes wild and unpredictable experience. She had the pleasure of working on pieces for Time magazine, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, and Penthouse magazine. She did storyboards for movies and illustrations for a number of children’s books, and a regular column for the LA Weekly. It was interesting and fun to get different assignments and work with various art directors, but she’s very glad to be her own “art director” now with Fugu Fugu Press! Ken is a California State University, Chico grad and has a history of joining bands and roaming around the country playing music. He’s also done a fair amount of playing piano for musical theater productions, church services, teaching music to kids, recitals, and has worked on a number of TV shows and movies as a music editor along the way. He also likes puttering around with old machines. When he and Shino set off to launch Fugu Fugu Press he was very happy that his official job would include motor oil, knob twisting, and getting dirty.

IN THE BEGINNING While freelancing, Shino worked for a couple of friends who owned another letterpress greeting card company. She learned how to print on their C&P and Kluge there. They also encouraged her to design for them, which she did.

Colorful lettepress thank you cards cheer up any occasion, courtesy of Fugu Fugu Press.

PERFECT COLOR IN PASADENA Our print shop is officially in it’s 3rd location so far. When we started looking for presses, we followed up on a Craigslist ad for a printshop in downtown LA that was going out of business and selling its presses and other hardware. We bought a Heidelberg windmill, C&P, a big stone imposing table and Challenge paper cutter from the owner Davy Chao at Olive Leaf Press as soon as we saw them… and then immediately started panicking about where to move them all to!

Fugu Fugu Press' Heidelberg Windmill shines up in the California shop.

Luckily, Davy wasn’t in all that big of a hurry to actually close his shop, and we were able to keep the presses right where they were for about 6 months while we looked for another location. This was a very fortunate arrangement as Davy was very helpful with getting Ken up to speed on how to print well on the Heidelberg and C&P. Ken and Davy would often be printing next to each other on separate projects, but it was nice that Davy was always glad to lend a hand…although he wasn’t too sure about the part where you intentionally make an impression while printing!

We did eventually find a place closer to us in Pasadena and made the move. We liked it a lot there in the new location, and stayed there for about 5 years. We did holiday pop-up shops there, and hosted “open studio” weekends where our friends would come and sell what they made. Unfortunately the roof leaked whenever it rained though (sometimes right on the presses or paper), and after a while we started looking to move again. When we bought our house, we did a little garage conversion and moved everything into the garage. People talk about how bad traffic can be in Los Angeles.. but our commute from the kitchen to our printshop is about 30 seconds! It’s great! We’ve talked about maybe opening a workspace kind of shop at a “retail friendly” location at some point, but until then.. things are nice and we’re happy with everything as it is.

PRINTING MENTORS Hiroshi and Karen, the former owners of the company that Shino worked for, taught her how to print. Ken learned with Davy in Davy’s shop before we moved everything to the Pasadena location.  Ken was very glad to have Davy there to help him learn the hidden secrets of running a windmill and getting the printing to look good. As far as inspiration, we looked to the beautiful work of Egg Press and Hello Lucky! among others. Great designs and great printing. They were definitely strong influences early on.

CREATE AND PRINT Shino is the main designer. She doodles constantly, and looks at images everywhere for inspiration. She is an illustrator by training, so her designs tend to be more image-oriented, not calligraphy or type heavy. We toss ideas back and forth all the time to help get ideas going, and Ken has done designs for some custom work we’ve done for people.

FULL TIME FUN Fugu Fugu Press is Shino’s full-time job now.  It has been for about 4 years now. Ken prints and also has a regular thing playing the piano in the bar in the evenings at the Hotel Bel Air, and plays gigs on the weekends in different spots around Los Angeles with his jazz band friends.

PRINTING FEATS The first time we did the stationery show, and started writing orders. It was back in 2008. Getting ready for that show was a major hurdle. Just getting everything printed in time, and getting everything to New York in time, and getting ourselves there in the time took a lot of preparation and, well.. money. And there was no guarantee that we would get enough new accounts to make it worthwhile. We were very happy to come back home feeling good about having done that show.

A chartreuse and grey lettepress thank you card, printed at Fugu Fugu Press, brightens up any day.

PRESS HISTORY A 12×18 C&P and 10×15 Heidelberg.

Ken, of Fugu Fugu Press, hard at work printing on their Heidelberg Windmill.

BOXCAR’S ROLE When we got our presses and got into this business we really felt like there was little to no support group or information to help us along.  We heard about Boxcar Press and visited the site regularly. We were so relieved to see that they had answers, and were making bases and plates, and had easy to find .pdf’s of important and hard to find things like the Heidelberg windmill manual and parts list. (We’ve used the parts list to order parts from press dismantlers and vendors.) And we’re glad to see that Boxcar is innovating and helping push the craft forward. We were just talking to a fellow letterpress friend of ours at the most recent stationery show about Boxcar’s new mechanical “flag” guide for the lay gauge bar that aids in getting the sheet to be printed to slide reliably into the correct position for registration without skipping the pin. We have our own method for doing that.. but are secretly really wanting to give that thing a try…

SHOP TIPS Use violin rosin to get some stickiness on your roller tracks and maybe shim your trucks to get “ghosting” under control. Oil your presses. Whatever you do, don’t die cut directly on the platen. Don’t let any pins you might be using on your guides hit your block, form or wooden type. Don’t “force” your press to do anything in doesn’t want to do.

Fugu Fugu Press appears at a stationary show displaying eye-catching cards and printed letterpress goodies.

Those little “doorstop” shaped sheet lifters you can get to lift the back of the pile on the feed table can absolutely do wonders along with the air blast in getting “double sheeting” problem under control on a windmill. And speaking of double sheeting, there’s that weird little trick where you reach behind the press and lift that little spring loaded piece that rides in the groove back there, and get your flywheel to temporarily spin… backwards. Great for clearing a jam where your press has double or triple sheeted and has gotten locked up, and you can’t manually advance your way through the jam. Our press tech friend Bob showed us that one the last time he was over to our place, and as far tricks and tips go and… yep…that was a good one to learn. These are some of the things that we’ve found that worked for us, but as with anything, proceed with caution and at your own risk whenever trying anything new!! Let common sense be your guide!!

WHAT’S NEXT We will be doing more split-fountain stuff and die-cutting!

Huge heaping round of kudos out to Ken and Shino for letting us get the skinny on Fugu Fugu Press!