The Printing Power of Archie’s Press

Sometimes the letterpress journey takes you by surprise. When we spoke to the incredibly talented Archie Archambault of Archie’s Press, he hinted at the curious turns printing has taken him. From humble beginnings of learning the value of patience & process to his travel-bug that combines printing letterpress maps and exploring new cities. We caught up with Archie to spill the beans on the best kept secrets in the cities he’s traversed through and what destinations lay on the horizon.

Archie Archambault prints on his Chandler & Press in Portland, Oregon.

PRINTING IN PORTLAND My name is Archie Archambault. I’m a designer and letterpress printer in Portland, Oregon.

LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT I first learned letterpress during a short session in college. It was a really thorough 2 week course with Barbara Henry who was militant in teaching us the proper and methodical way to print. Being a rather messy person, I resented this at first, but in reality, learned the value of patience and process. I realized it was a passion when I figured out I could grow a business doing something with my hands.

OREGON AUTHENTIC The studio where I print, Em Space, is in a beautiful old factory building with white floors, white walls, more than seven presses, 10 type cabinets, a board sheer, two guillotines and all sorts of fun equipment that I don’t know how to use. It’s in a great location with coffee and food nearby to keep us going when we have late nights printing. We have two Vandercook 219’s, a large C+P, a small treadle-powered C+P, three hand presses, a large sign press and a small sign press.

PRINTING MENTORS My printing mentors are: Rory Sparks (Director of Em Space) and Barbara Henry who taught me all the ins & outs of the process.

Archie Archambault of Archie's Press locks up a Boxcar Base and displays fine letterpress printed maps.

DESIGNED FOR PRINT I design minimalist maps that explain the major gestures and neighborhoods of cities. It has been a great blessing to find something that allows me to travel, design and print for profit.

THE CREATIVE PROCESS My process starts by visiting a city and meeting as many people as possible and exploring the city as thoroughly as possible. With feedback from the locals and hours on the computer, I create a conversation with the city until everything is in the right place for the utmost clarity. Although printing is only one aspect of the business, it can take up entire weeks at a time. I would love to get a Windmill so I can save my back a little. It really takes a toll on the body.

Festive holiday letterpress cards are printed by Archie Archambault of Archie's Press.

PRINTING FEATS I’m very proud to have finished 17 maps with plans to grow much more in the next year. I’m very proud to have built a great network in every city I visit and to have a completely self-sustained business that feeds me and helps me travel even more!

Archie Archambault of Archie's Press prints fine letterpress maps of Manhattan / New York City.

PRESS HISTORY The first press I used was an Asbern of all things. Asberns have this cool clutch thing on that gets the press into trip, and remains my favorite press to use. It also has a variable carriage so it’s super-easy to adjust pressure. I still don’t own a press, but as my business grows, I want to hunt down anything I can find. They’re going so fast!

Archie Archambault of Archie's Press prints beautifully crafted letterpress maps of Los Angeles.

BOXCAR’S ROLE The first time I tried to order a plate from Boxcar, they immediately called me and told me what I was doing wrong. That was invaluable!

Archie Archambault of Archie's Press sets up a printing job on his Chandle & Price press.

The whole process was so painless and the customer service impeccable. That makes my life as a printer much, much easier.

SHOP TIPS My best piece of business advice is to decide early on if you’re interested in doing custom work or starting a product line. When people visit your website, they want to know what you do. Don’t half-ass either of them. A product line can take a lot longer to get going and is much riskier, but can sometimes offer more freedom in the long run.

A fine letterpress card of vintage engravings by Archie Archambault of Archie's Press.

WHAT’S NEXT I’m going on several mapmaking tours over the next several months including: Milwaukee, Chicago, Detroit, Toronto, Philadelphia, Portland (Maine), Montreal, Baltimore, Indianapolis and Columbus.

Big round of thanks and applause out to Archie of Archie’s Press for letting us get the full story!

Taking A Nibble Out of Sharp Teeth Press

David Johnston is not your average printer. As a part-time printer behind the crisp impressions of Sharp Teeth Press, David has deftly intertwined his passion for bookmaking, typecasting and letterpress printing into a solid printing mecca inside his Oakland, California abode. Armed to the teeth with a insatiable craving of perfection and creativity, we sat down with him between press runs to catch a glimpse of the fun.

David Johnston of Sharp Teeth Press in his Oakland printshop.

PRINTING WITH A WILD STREAK  I’m 28 years old and I live in Berkeley California. I grew up in Walla Walla Washington, a town that has an odd mix of intellectual, agricultural and, at the time, punk influences. So I would work on the farm after school and then go downtown to the punk shows. I was into skateboarding and snowboarding and didn’t really think about art till I went to college and met Jessica Spring. After graduating college I spent four years as a typecasting apprentice at M&H Type in San Francisco.

THE ALLURE OF LETTERPRESS I took a design class to fulfill a course requirement at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma Washington. The class was in the same room as the letterpress and book arts class, which are both run by Jessica.

I saw all the old stuff (a couple of C&P presses and some cases of type) and knew I had to learn about them. Jessica did an interesting thing with the class — she didn’t even tell any of us about photopolymer printing until the very end of the class, when I was trying to work out this complicated image and she let me in on the big secret. The whole class was handset type, carved blocks for images, and hand bound books. The coursework drew almost completely from an artistic and craft-based past, which I thought was an excellent way to be introduced to the field.

A closer look at the presses of Sharp Teeth Press.

WEST COAST WONDERS My shop is in a large and crazy warehouse in Oakland. The building used to be the American Steel manufacturing plant, so it’s got lots of nice features like a few cranes and lots of power. The building is full of artists and entrepreneurs of all kinds. My equipment includes a Vandercook, Vandercook 1, Thomson Laureate, Challenge paper cutter, Monotype Composition Caster, Hammond Glider saw, Kensol hot stamper, and Potdevin glue machine.

David Johnston of Sharp Teeth Press working in his printshop and views of the printshop.

David Johnston of Sharp Teeth Press shows off his impeccable bookmaking pieces.

DESIGN + PRINT  The majority of my design is book design. Occasionally I do wedding and related stationery design for friends, and I do some large-format metal type and linoleum carving prints. But I do quite a bit of stationery printing for other designers.

THE CREATIVE PROCESS When designing for clients, I usually know them fairly well and can gauge what will please them, and draw from their personalities to direct the design. Designing for books is more fun, and carries a bigger risk because of the larger costs involved and the time it takes to make the things. I start with choosing a paper, typeface (I really only have a few that I can cast in-house), and an artist to accompany the text. Once those things are in motion, I can take a look at the title page and then the cover. It starts with the mundane and then I’m comfortable to work towards the interesting.

A 20,000 POUND HOBBY I do not print full time. I work full time for a construction company. I would love to print full time, but I’m still putting all of the pieces together to run an arts-based business. There are a lot of companies around this area that start off with a lot of capital and a product that may or may not make money. I’m trying to avoid that business model, building a company by first proving that it works as a business, and then trying to run it full time. It seems that when I reach some mystery amount of volume and velocity I’ll be able to take it on full time. ‘Til then it’s a 20,000 pound hobby.

David Johnston of Sharp Teeth Press and a impressive letterpress printed book.

PRINTING FEATS I’m most proud of the autonomy with which I’ve been able to set up a typecasting, printing, and binding shop. I took a small loan to buy my first press, which I had professional help moving into my garage. Since then, I’ve done enough business to buy all of my own machines, and I’ve moved a lot of large equipment. I’ve had a lot of help from friends, but I have a well-equipped shop that’s been set up by twentysomethings, including the plumbing and electricity.

David Johnston of Sharp Teeth Press setting up a print run.

BOXCAR’S ROLE The Boxcar bases are instrumental in nearly every print job that I do, be it books or stationery. I don’t have Boxcar make my plates because I can get it done locally by Logos Graphics. But the gridded bases are so key. I’d be such a mess trying to line up anything without them.

PRESS HISTORY My first press was a Vandercook 32-28. Maximum sheet size is 32 x 28 inches. It’s as long as my car.

SHOP TIPS I usually mix opaque white to match Pantone colors when the swatches call for transparent. I’m not sure how those things are supposed to work exactly, but I get a lot better results with opaque.

Also, to help get those really bright, pale colors, I usually run white on the press and then clean it before putting on a delicate color. It’s an extra round of cleaning but assures that your colors will be as bright as possible.

Beautiful printed pieces from Sharp Teeth Press.

WHAT’S NEXT The biggest plan for this year is to print a first-edition text completely from metal type with new illustrations on handmade paper. The text is by Kirk Lombard and the illustrations are by Martin Machado. The project is daunting and will be expensive, but if I can’t print new books on fancy paper then I don’t want to play any more.

Huge heaps of thanks out to David for letting us take a closer look at Sharp Teeth Press.

Printing Is Alive At Press 65

When you tour the sunny and smooth streets of Oakland, California, one spot in particular pops out at you in the fresh and thriving neighborhood: the hidden gem that is Press 65. Tucked away in the impeccably shabby-chic home of the husband-and-wife team, Paola Hurtado, the letterpress printing maven of the creative husband-and-wife duo, sat down with us to blur the lines between design and the art of letterpress.

Paola and Marlon Hurtado of Press 65.

IMPRESSIVE PRINTS I was born in Curitiba, Parana, in the south of Brazil. I moved to the States with my family when I was seven and have lived in various parts of California since. While in high school, I discovered my passion for art; and during my senior year I decided that if I passed the AP Studio Art Portfolio Review, I would take it as a sign that I should apply to art school.

With a passing score, I applied to the Academy of Art University in San Francisco and began studying Fine Art. In 2010 I married a painter/photographer, Marlon of MH6 Photography, and in 2011 we founded Press 65, a husband-and-wife custom design and letterpress studio.

Expertly printed letterpress piece from Press 65.

ARTISTIC CALLING When I started at AAU, I declared Fine Art Painting as my major, assuming this was the logical course for me. However, during my first painting class, the instructor constantly told me I was “rendering” instead of “painting”! This was a huge contrast with my Intro to Printmaking class, during which I found my artistic calling. Once I changed my Fine Art emphasis from Painting to Printmaking, I was introduced to letterpress by Megan Adie of Aviary Press. Megan was my first and only letterpress instructor, as I took her class 4 times!

Gorgeous letterpress wedding piece from Press 65.

CALIFORNIA CREATIVE Six months ago, Marlon and I moved out of San Francisco and into great Hoover/Foster neighborhood of Oakland, California, where we now run Press 65 out of our bright, shabby chic home. In the Press 65 space you’ll find what inspires us and what makes us smile: vintage books, mini succulents, Brazilian instruments, a His Master’s Voice gramophone, and our two adorable cats, Cezanne and Michelle Pfeiffer.

PRINTING MENTORS Megan Adie of Aviary Press will always hold the role of being the first person to teach me the art of letterpress printing. Currently, however, I look to the lovely Macy Chadwick of In Cahoots Press for inspiration, motivation, and mentoring. With a beautiful personality, as well as gorgeous letterpress and artist’s books that speak to my inner person, Macy plays a part in my drive to continue printing. I admire Macy more than she knows.

DESIGNED FOR PRINT For my prints and artist’s books, I design in the sense that I create compositions and book structures. However, I often tell people that I am an artist, not a graphic designer, because for me there is a clear distinction between art and design. With the bulk of Press 65′s business being wedding invitations, though, I am forced to blur the lines a bit and play the part of co-designer, along with my husband. At the end of the day, though, printing – with its complexities, difficulties, and ultimate beauty – will always be my favorite part of the job.

Press 65's mascot cat, Michelle Pfeiffer, and printed piece.

THE CREATIVE PROCESS In my personal work, design is a very introspective, quiet process that mirrors my introverted personality. I allow concept to inspire form. In Press 65′s commercial work, where Marlon and I share the role of designer, form often comes first, because that’s the way Marlon’s mind works. He is frequently very taken by a grandiose idea, as his imagination holds no bounds; and I tend to come in at a later stage to bring the concept and design back down to earth. It’s really a perfect design duo situation: he has the imagination to think up the big picture and I have the attention to detail to perfect it.

Elegant printed letterpress postcard from Press 65.

FULL TIME FUN Yes and no. I print full-time because I am lucky enough to print part-time for my mentor, Macy Chadwick, while Press 65 is currently run as a side business.

PRINTING FEATS I am incredibly proud to have had the opportunity to show my work in printmaking and book arts at various exhibits, both in the States and internationally. I remember my first purchase prize (into the University of Florida Book Arts Collection) as if it were yesterday; and most recently, I am proud and grateful to have had two of my letterpress artist’s books exhibited during the SGCI 2014 Conference. It is also an honor to have designed and printed wedding invitations for my little sister who is getting married this month.

Printing light grey on a Vandercook at Press 65.

PRESS HISTORY I learned to letterpress print on a Vandercook No. 4, and for that reason Vandercook cylinder presses will always be my equipment of choice. In the past couple years, I have grown more accustomed to the Vandercook Universal 1 than to the Vandercook No. 4, as I appreciate one less metal roller, as well as the efficiency of switching from Trip to Print with a simple tap on the gripper pedal. I’m happy to be on my way to acquiring a Hohner Model D platen.

Tools of the printing trade at Press 65.

BOXCAR’S ROLE Since the start of my letterpress career, Boxcar has been a go-to resource for letterpress. Boxcar has everything a letterpress studio could need; and most recently, Letterpress Commons has been added to the mix as a wonderful way to connect printers all around the country.

SHOP TIPS Always “measure twice, cut once.” Letterpress can be tricky business so it’s important to take your time. I’ve found that sometimes, if something strange is happening on the press and I’ve used all my problem-solving juices in vain, it works perfectly the next morning. So don’t be afraid to step away for a bit and come back to a project later. Also, make sure that you love your space: surround yourself with things that inspire you, and always have your favorite music on. Being in an enjoyable printing space allows you to fully delight in the letterpress process.

WHAT’S NEXT We have lots of exciting little plans for the coming year. One that we’re happy to share is a collaboration between Marlon and me. While we run Press 65 together, we have never joined our personal art forces before. We’re thrilled to start a project involving Marlon’s photography and my letterpress.

Big round of thanks out to Paola & Marlon of Press 65 for letting us take a look around!

Absoloot-ly In Love With Letterpress

Plunked down in the vibrant heart of the entrancing Hungarian capital of Budapest (and a easy stroll from the Danube River) sits the thrum and hum of the Absoloot printshop. The sunny, spacious shop houses laughter, good cheer and a heaping dose of the ever-alluring smell of ink and paper. Andrea Hermann, one of Absoloot‘s founders, shares with us stories about the true worth of a good night’s sleep and the irresistible appeal of paper & design.

Judit, Andrea Hermann, Juci & Reni of Absoloot in their bright letterpress print shop.
(from left to right: Judit, Andrea Hermann, Juci & Reni)   

PRINTING HERITAGE We are two gals, Judit & Andrea, who live in Budapest, the capital city of Hungary.  We love paper, we love design and in 2011 we thought about starting our own business involving paper & design. That’s how Absoloot was born. We wanted to work with talented young artists, so we emailed and invited them to participate in our business. They receive a percentage of our sales, so you are an investor in their future with each purchase.

Dazzling letterpress work printed by Absoloot printshop.

IN THE BEGINNING We believe in everyday luxury that you can feel. We bought an Adana table press for our first range of notebooks, but then we found out it would be too small for our ideas. Then we got to know some letterpress printers over here – there are only a handful. One of them is an avid collector of these machines and he sold us a more than 100 years old Joseph Anger und Söhne platen press. We had to renew her a bit and still need newer rollers, but it’s awesome!

Clever notebook printed by Absoloot printshop.

HUNGARY FOR LETTERPRESS We have a nice studio with an industrial feel to it. It’s more like an office where we work on computers, but of course our printing presses have their own corner (we do everything ourselves, unless the job requires different machines or higher volumes) and this is where we hold workshops or exhibitions, since it’s quite spacious, more than 100 square-meters. We love to work for others, to create a nice design and fulfill customer orders, but the focus is on the products of our own brand.

Clean spacious press floor of Absoloot letterpress printshop.

DESIGNED FOR PRINT We are working with a bunch of young, talented designers and illustrators from Hungary and Europe, so we can always help out a customer with the design. We send out the project to our friends and anyone who’s interested sends us a price and some references and the customer can choose from them. It’s a good opportunity because you have multiple choices.

FULL TIME FUN Yes, but we do a lot of other things, too… Organizing workshops, exhibitions, designing our products, going to design markets and so on.

PRINTING FEATS We haven’t really advertised ourselves, yet we’ve got very good reviews from our customers and thanks to this word-of-mouth, inquiries are coming in from all over the world! Our products are starting to gain international recognition, so we’re actually looking for an investor to work on expanding our business.

Letterpress press gear details.

SHOP TIPS Well, we’re beginners, but if there’s one thing we’ve learned: if you’ve been trying to set up the press for hours in vain, that means you’re tired and you should stop trying and get back to it after a good night’s sleep.

Detail shot of the wall at Absoloot printshop.

WHAT’S NEXT Workshops and a series of exhibitions, finding an investor, expanding our brand worldwide, hiring new colleagues and interns and getting new machines for the print shop.

Big round of thanks out to Andrea, Judit, Juci, & Reni for letting us get the skinny on the fine presswork of Absoloot!

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 letterpress 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!