Nancy Hill of Hazel & Violet Letterpress, is a fine press printer who calls Phoenix, Arizona home. The colorful and inviting letterpress studio (which matches Nancy’s personality to a T) is also a teaching facility and commercial print shop with roots in the community. She was kind enough to give us a shop tour of her printing paradise.
AROUND THE SHOP Lighting…[we have] a bunch of LED flood high up on a 20′ wooden ceiling. The overall lighting is good, however, specific lighting (like to take photos) sucks. The floor plan changes annually but I think we have it right now. Production presses (Windmill, C&P) are in the back and the proof presses are in the front… type is everywhere. Decorating style: posters and prints on every square inch of wall space in no particular order. Floors are concrete.
PRIZED PRINTING POSSESSIONS Oh hell, I love it all. I love all my presses and most of my type… I also dearly love my big-ass working table… where I can spread out projects, work in progress, and new ideas.
SHOP SIZE The whole space is about 1500 sq. feet, but I sublet about 600 of it to an art collective for their gallery.
AROUND THE NEIGHBORHOOD The building is everything! It used to be Braggs Pie Factory (yes, they made pie exactly where we now print). It now houses a coffee shop, restaurant, beauty salon, head shop, art studio, a puppet shop…. and ME. Our neighborhood (downtown Phoenix-adjacent) is called Historic Grand Avenue…just an incredible neighborhood. The owner of my building is an artist and has completely decorated everything in front of the building and the entire street is amazing.
TYPE OF SHOP We are an open-to-the-public retail space, workshop space, and printing studio. We are open almost every day. We also have events on First and Third Friday nights for an art walk. We have a poster set up on one or two of the proof presses and anyone can come and print a free poster. The last First Friday we had a bit more than 200 people.
- Heidelberg Windmill
- C&P 10×15
- Repress #1 Proof Press
- Potter #2 proof Press
- Long-master Showcard Press
MOST VALUABLE TOOL Probably the Windmill. We do wedding invites on this one. But the C&P is what we print all of our cards, stationery, and coasters on.
FAVORITE INK I use a variety of inks. If I need a specific PMS color I sometimes go with Southern Inks (good guys). But these days, my pressman mixes ink colors – which certainly saves money. My stay-open black ink (forms black )that I use ALL THE TIME I get locally at Quality Inks.
CLEANING SOLVENT OF CHOICE Speedy Wash from Kelly Paper. To clean up I use white random rags by the pound from Ace Hardware.
BASE SYSTEM & PLATE OF CHOICE Boxcar. Boxcar. Boxcar. Love you…Never use anyone else. I do occasionally use Owosso when the client wants a cut. I also went to an Industrial supply house to get an 11×17 tool plate aluminum base. (sorry)
FAVORITE OIL LUBRICANT Whatever. all-purpose stuff.
BEST CLEAN-UP RAGS Rags by the pound from Ace Hardware. Best deal.
PIED TYPE? Nope. I have a few old tied-up forms that people have given me over the years. Weird stuff from the 40s and 50s. Eventually, I’ll dump them in the hell box (can) and run them upstate to Sky for credit on some new type.
ORGANIZATION TIPS No secret…constant vigilance for stuff not in the right place. Also, I am the queen of spreadsheets… so, there is always a plan.
PRINTING ADVICE The old rules don’t apply.