In the Printing Vein at Nane Press

One of the best types of letterpress print shops is cozy (but mighty!) — one where you can kick up some beautiful prints, sway to some good tunes, and enjoy a good scone or cookie (or two) from the local bakery just a stone’s throw away. If this sounds like a printing haven to you, Nane Press (rhymes with rain) in Red Hook, Brooklyn is a must-see. Jennie Putvin will be be slinging ink with a cheery smile on her face when you walk in to her printing abode (just be sure to say hi to Bradley the shopcat while you’re there).Jennie Putvin of Nane Press with her beautiful letterpress printed cards and invitation sets. MEET THE PRESSES I have two presses: a Vandercook Universal I (her name is Phyllis) and a C&P Oldstyle 10×15 (his name is Bill). I love them both and feel so lucky to have met them.

SIZE OF PRESS SHOP A small but mighty 300 square feet!

THE LOCATION My studio is an old church in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Red Hook is a great neighborhood full of artists and makers right by the water, a little off the beaten path. On long workdays (and, let’s be honest, shorter ones too) I always make my way over to the local bakery, Baked. They have a breakfast cookie that is to die for. The pier with amazing views of the city is also a 5-minute walk away. In a city full of tiny spaces, being in a church with 3 stories of open air in the middle is amazing. I sublet from an artist who makes robots and kinetic sculptures, so there is always something interesting happening in the space!

FAVORITE THING ABOUT THE SHOP I have my own space, which is great. And I have a full cabinet of adjustable furniture, which I hear is a rarity. I love the idea of a little perfect set of tools making its way through time, finding its way to my printshop.

I’m constantly rolling through Pandora playlists. Usually I listen to mellow folksy music, but the hiphop makes its way out after 9pm. I also have some large prints hanging up and some gorgeous antique schoolhouse lights I installed myself. We also have an ornery shopcat named Bradley.

NUMBER OF PRINTERS IN SPACE I’m the only printer in the space, and my rooms are private. But there’s a full metal shop on site, which comes in quite handy when you need any kind of a tool for a press repair!

I CAN’T WORK WITHOUT My Schaedler rule. I’m obsessed with making sure things are straight, and I’m totally lost without it.

THINK PINK INK I use Van Son Rubber based inks. I was completely obsessed with neon pink 806 for awhile, but I think I’m currently in between favorite colors. I guess you could say I’m playing the field!

KEEPING IT CLEAN I use mainly Crisco, and then Gamsol Odorless Mineral Spirits to finish. Not having an HVAC system, I looked at a lot of different options when I got my first press, looking for the lowest amounts of VOCs in my cleanup as possible. My system works great, and I haven’t really noticed any wear or pitting on the rollers.

DRESSING THE PRESS I have a Boxcar 9×12 base for the Vandercook. I used to use the 94FL plates, which I loved. I’ve just switched to the KF95 and those work great, too. I’ve just got the C&P up and running, so I have to do some experimenting with my current base, because I want whatever system I have going forward to be able to work with both presses.

OIL OF CHOICE I have a bottle of 3-in-1 that works great.

WHAT TYPE OF RAG DO YOU CLEAN UP YOUR PRESSES WITH I’m all about the roll of reused cotton rags from the painting department at Home Depot. They’re amazing — no lint and heavy duty.

FLOORING MATERIAL When Paul Moxon came by a couple years ago, I think he commented that I had the most uneven floor he’d ever seen. Because the floor has been recovered in the past to preserve and replace the original wood, the floor in my rooms is made of about 3 different materials. This is going to sound totally shady (it’s not though, I swear), but there’s actually a raised spot that gives right in the footpath in front of the Vandercook, so I don’t even need a floor pad.

FLOOR PLAN TIPS In such a small space, I’ve just got everything lining the walls as much as possible. I need every square inch to move around in! But having your ink right next to the press is essential.

PIED TYPE I purchased my first press with a type cabinet and galleys. There’s so much set type in the galleys that I have not even TOUCHED. It’s a project that I keep saying I’ll get to one day…

KEEPING IT ORGANIZED Let everything get into complete disarray until I can’t find anything and I start knocking things over, and then do a major overhaul cleanup. I’m joking (but only a little bit)! I don’t keep parent sheets of paper on hand since I don’t have a guillotine, so I really have to keep my paper and envelope stock organized and separate, otherwise the overrun from jobs builds up and there’s towering stacks of paper everywhere.

PRINTING TIPS Push everything a little too far before you pull it back. That goes for inking, impression, and design. I look back on old jobs and on a lot of them there’s always a little nitpicky thing I would have done differently. But I think that’s part of the process of growing as a craftswoman. It’s important to challenge yourself. Sometimes that extra hour (or two, or three!) you spend on makeready makes all the difference in the world.

Jennie Putvin of Nane Press inside her wonderful pressshop on a Vandercook.

Printing Details At Clove St. Press

One of the first few things you notice when you step inside Clove St. Press is the gentle whirring of the Heidelberg Windmill and the trio of smiles beaming from Daniel Heffernan’s family. This letterpress mecca is a culmination of Daniel’s passion for detail, the love of a good pulled print, and the joy of bringing more letterpress into the world. We caught Daniel between ink runs to catch up on how he maintains perfect registration between life and love.

Daniel Heffernan of Clove St. Press adjusts his Heidelberg Windmill.
Letterpress printed playing cards printed exquisitiely via Clove St. Press and Daniel Heffernan.(Top Notch box designed by Ben Johnston and printed by Clove St. Press)

BRAIDING THE PAST WITH THE PRESENT I’m Daniel Heffernan, a husband, dad, and owner/printer of Clove St. Press in San Diego, California. To me, letterpress printing isn’t a romantic or vintage way to make antique looking prints. It’s a completely viable process for printing contemporary work that has a physical significance today.

A young "printer-in-training" watches Daniel Heffernan print at Clove St. Press.

PRINTING MENTORS Bill Kelly, founder of Brighton Press, was the one who first introduced me to printmaking and steered me towards letterpress. The conceptual environment of that printmaking class was much different than the production one I’m in now, but it was a very important time for me to learn the rituals of printmaking and get some ink in my blood.

LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT Bill, upon observing my art and design work, saw how I was combining typography into my drypoint etchings and wood cuts and suggested that I check out letterpress printing. I’d never even heard of it, but with his recommendation and my limited amount of research I was convinced I would love letterpress.

Beautifully printed details of business cards by Daniel Heffernan of Clove St. Press.

PRESS HISTORY I’m aware that not many people get to say this, but the very first press I ever touched was the press I bought. I knew I wanted a proof press and after about 9 months scouring Briar Press classifieds, craigslist, and ebay, I finally came across this press and pulled the trigger immediately. It was a 1954 Challenge 15MP (Vandercook SP-15 ripoff) that I had shipped to San Diego from Oklahoma City. Now that it’s been cleaned up and is in San Diego, it’s probably worth 2-3x what I paid for it, but I don’t think I could ever sell it.

CALIFORNIA COOL If the shop were a typeface, it might be Akzidenz-Grotesk. Built from tradition, but with all the fluff stripped away. We’re going for more like an operating room and less like a rustic barn. We’re located in the Linda Vista area of San Diego, just below the University of San Diego & the San Diego Mission. We are surrounded by other businesses who are doing rad things, so anytime one of us finishes a client meeting we’re likely to walk them over to our neighbors to check out their hardwood slabs or custom wood eyewear.

Family letterpress love runs abound at Clove St. Press!Critical printing pressroom tools such as quins, roller setting guages, brayers and ink knifes are all apart of a letterpress print shop.

DESIGNED FOR PRINT I am a designer who’s currently a printer. I studied graphic design at PLNU and worked as a designer for the year following my graduation while printing nights and weekends. This design background is extremely valuable in communicating with designers and knowing exactly how to print a job based on their expectations.

FULL TIME FUN Yes indeed, running Clove St has been my full time gig for 3 years now.

PRINTING FEATS Awesome projects have snowballed for me lately – it seems like every time we do a rad print, someone sees it and has a better, bigger project to share with us. A recent project that comes to mind is boxes for playing cards for Dan & Dave Buck. Maintaining perfect register between offset, letterpress, foil, embossing, and die cutting is always a nice challenge!

Finely printed metallic gold ink business cards from Daniel Heffernan of Clove St. Press.

BOXCAR’S ROLE Boxcar was, and still is, one of the few resources available online where you can not only buy supplies, but learn some of the basic functions of letterpress equipment. And they make that gridded piece of aluminum that we all need. We have one for each press.

Immpecable detail and craftsmanship of printed letterpress navy and white packaging via Clove St. Press.(Aristocrat box designed by Dan & Dave Buck and printed by Clove St. Press).

SHOP TIPS Nail the registration. Nail the color. Slice your crop marks in half. Do the simple things really well.

WHAT’S NEXT Take less rush orders!

Huge round of applause out to Daniel of Clove St. Press for letting us take a sneak peak around his wonderful printing world!

Letterpress City Tour: Seattle Style

Over the years, we have often enjoyed taking note of the cities and states and even countries that our customers hail from. There used to be certain areas where letterpress printers were known to be located in large numbers, such as Brooklyn, Chicago, and San Francisco. Now, it’s safe to say that letterpress printers pop up everywhere and anywhere and sometimes, in places that seem to be at the end of no where.

Because we want to know about your turf and how your special place on earth supports your letterpress printing obsession, we’re starting a new Letterpress City Series. We’ll bring you an intimate view of a neighborhood written by a letterpress printer. We want to know what you printers love about your communities, and the must-see spots for other letterpress printers visiting your hometown.

Sara McNally of Constellation & Co. is starting us off with an introduction to Seattle, Washington, where the mountains are visible on the horizon, everyone jokes about the rain, and the place lots of Fortune 500 companies (including Amazon and Starbucks) call home. Sara loves it for many more reasons – today we’ll show you why.

Sara and Brad McNally of Contesellation Press share Seattle trip secrets.

JUST DRIVE My husband Brad and I moved to Seattle in the summer of 2009, two weeks after college graduation. We didn’€™t know anyone, we were totally broke and we were on the job hunt. We’€™d visited Seattle twice before, and didn’€™t have a plan but knew we loved the city. We drove our car from Florida to Seattle with all our earthly belongings. We didn’€™t own any furniture but we brought my first printing press, a 5×8 Kelsey tabletop I’€™d picked up for $100 (all the money I had) at an antique store in college. We’€™ve been in Seattle for 6 years now, and a lot has changed – but we’€™re still spending our money on cast iron and making decisions for love and not logic.

HOMEPORT We live and work in the Magnolia neighborhood of Seattle. It’s north of downtown, and one of the few neighborhoods that isn’€™t a pass-through to another place. It’€™s quiet, surrounded by the Puget Sound, and very beautiful. Magnolia is home to Discovery Park, a 534 acre natural area park. It is the largest city park in Seattle, and includes two miles of protected tidal beaches as well as open meadow lands, dramatic sea cliffs, forest groves, active sand dunes, thickets and streams. (It’s the best place ever.) Magnolia also boasts the Fishermen’€™s Terminal, which is home to the Northwest fishing fleet – giant fishing vessels that spend fall through spring in Seattle and head to Alaska for the summer.

Walking through Discovery Park in Seattle, Washington with Sara McNally.Fisherman's Terminal and boat festival in Seattle, Washington.

Our letterpress shop is in the Fishermen’€™s Terminal, which means several things: I eat a lot of fresh fish. I sell letterpress cards to salty fishermen. When I’€™m having a rough day, I walk away from the shop and go visit the boats.

NOSTALGIC + FUNCTIONAL Seattle is all about supporting local businesses, handmade products, and organic materials. We’€™re also a city that romanticizes history. We cling to the days of the Seattle underground, the gold rush, go West young man. Cast iron fits in well here. There is a decent amount of letterpress here in Seattle, and we are gaining on Portland for being known as a place that embraces and supports letterpress. Seattle has an industrial soul.

Industrial soul of Seattle, Washington with printing presses.

LETTERPRESS SHINES AT THE SEATTLE WAYZGOOSE The letterpress event of the year in Seattle is always the Wayzgoose at the School of Visual Concepts. We’€™ve been involved since 2010, and it’€™s been fun no matter how we’€™ve participated. Steamroller printing, selling our wares in the letterpress marketplace, volunteering at the equipment swap — it’€™s all awesome.

Using a steamroller to print letterpress at Seattle Wayzgoose. Fun!

FAVORITE LOCAL COLLABORATION Located in a forest beside the Raging River in Issaquah, Washington, just outside of Seattle, is Treehouse Point, a rustic bed and breakfast, featuring six hand crafted treehouses that you can spend the night in. It’s a magical place. They contacted us a few years ago to inquire about producing a line of stationery products featuring their treehouses. I did original vector illustrations of each one, and then ordered a mountain of plates from Boxcar to print each of the 6 three color cards and 6 three color notebook covers!

Treehouse craftsman Pete Nelson and his wife, Judy, share a vision of connecting people through personal encounters with trees and nature. The Nelson family owns and operates Treehouse Point, as well as Nelson Treehouse and Supply, where they offer consulting, design, and building of custom treehouses. Their Animal Planet TV show, Treehouse Masters, has become quite popular!

Treehouse Point letterpress cards and treehouse inspiration.

SIGNATURE LOOKS IN SEATTLE Seattle is all about individuality and independence. Our letterpress printers are no exception! The work that comes out of Seattle is pretty diverse. Everyone gets to letterpress on a different path and focuses on different styles, methods, etc. when they get there. I love seeing how different printers infuse their personality into this historic craft.

Fog and Seattle skyline.    Letterpress cards featuring "boats are awesome" and shipyard of Seattle, Washington.

BUSINESS SUPPORT, SEATTLE STYLE I am grateful to have many boutiques in town that carry our cards and prints. I also have many people to call on if something goes wrong, or if I need to bounce ideas off someone, or if I need someone to tell me to just go ahead and buy that new press! My go-to is always Carl Montford. He’s my mentor, my wood engraving teacher, and truly a good friend to my family.

Mt. Rainer illustration via letterpress card by Constellation & Co.

OUT AND ABOUT IN SEATTLE Before moving to Magnolia and the Fishermen’s Terminal, our studio spent several years in Pioneer Square, Seattle’s oldest neighborhood. I loved being surrounded by so much history! Pioneer Square is a pretty unique place with it’s own challenges – but so many amazing small businesses have made it their home. I go back and visit often. I also love Ballard. It’s like Magnolia’s cool older brother. A night with friends in Ballard gave me my first tattoo, something I’ll always be glad I did.

Sara McNally and former Constellation & Co. studio in Pioneer Square.

SEATTLE VIBE Pioneer Square and Ballard are both neighborhoods with industrial pasts that have become very, dare I say, hipster. They are filled with young entrepreneur types who love a good boutique, a strong cocktail, and a flair for the historic.

LOCAL PLEASURES While I’d love to tell you I’m very fancy and know all the five star places, we pretty much just go out for burgers and pizza. Favorite burger places: Uneeda Burger in Fremont (Ballard and Magnolia’s hippy sister), Red Mill Burger in Magnolia, Giddy Up Burgers in Ballard. Favorite pizza places: Queen Margarita or Pagliacci Pizza in Magnolia, Ballard Pizza Co., etc. I also adore the rockfish taco at Little Chinook’s and the cold beer and french fries from the Highliner in the Fishermen’s Terminal.

SHOPPING ON MY STREET Constellation & Co. has great letterpress stationery and gifts! (Self promotion is always in style). I also really love the summer farmer’s market.

Beautiful letterpress shop of Constellation & Co. of Seattle, Washingtion.

NOT TO BE MISSED We love visiting the Science Fiction museum within the Experience Music Project museum in Seattle Center. It’s nerd paradise. We love getting craft cocktails for date night at E. Smith Mercantile. Picnicking in Discovery Park is perfection. Kerry Park in Queen Anne and Alki Beach have the best views of the city. For a quick getaway with a beautiful view, we hop on a ferry to Bainbridge Island or Bremerton.

Shipping boat with anchor in Seattle, Washington.

INSIDER INSIGHTS  It doesn’t rain here as much as you think. Summertime in Seattle is the best thing ever. Everywhere you look you see mountains. Really! Seattle is our favorite big small city – we always run into people we know like it’s a small town.

We’re a super casual city, so you can leave your suits and high heels at home. It only snows here about once a year, and the whole city shuts down to enjoy it. We have too many steep hills to get around! And we really do have the best coffee.

Seattle, Washington letterpress cards and press shop.

Pike Street Press – Seattle and Kirkland, WA
Evolution Press – Ballard, WA
Dahlia Press – Seattle, WA
The Windowpane Press – Seattle, WA
InkFancy Letterpress – Seattle, WA
Farewell Paperie – Seattle, WA
Bremolo Press – Seattle, WA
Myrtle Alley Press – West Seattle, WA
Paper Hammer Bindery and Letterpress – Tieton, WA
Ilee Paper Goods Letterpress – Seattle, WA
Arts and Crafts Press – Tacoma, WA
Hoban Press – – Centralia, WA
Pope Press Olympia – Olympia, PA
Bremerton Letterpress Shop – Bremerton, WA
Expedition Press  – Kingston, WA
Goldfinch Press – Seattle, WA
The Sherwood Press – Olympia, WA

Letterpress Distilling – a letter-perfect distillery currently specializing in vodka and limoncello.
Paper Passionista – a paper boutique offering custom invitations and fine stationery.
Two Bells Bar and Grill – one of Seattle’s best burger places.
Cafe Flora – a great vegetarian option; featured in Food Network On the Road.
Bumbershoot – Labor Day Spectacular; voted one of Rolling Stone Magazine’s 5 best festivals in the US.
Ballard Locks – enjoy a parade of boats and watch the salmon navigate the fish locks
Macrina Bakery – nationally recognized for their pastries with three locations in Seattle.

We hope you enjoyed our first letterpress city guide! Interested in shining the spotlight on your city? Contact us today! And if you’re planning a letterpress-centric trip, be sure to check out the print trip map on Letterpress Commons!

The Creative Muscle Behind Able Bodied Press

John Bethell of Able Bodied Press has transitioned fluidly from one endeavor to another. The translator turned chaplain turned printer has an engaging personality that speaks volumes (and so does he – John is fluent in four languages!). From working with the FDNY as a chaplain to translating Arabic in service of the U.S. Navy, John found the wonders of printing on his Kelsey his true calling. We stopped in with the ever-humorous printer to get the ins and outs of his printing world.

John Bethell of Able Bodied Press

TRANSLATION INTO PRINT My name is John Bethell and I was born and raised in New York City. I’m an Episcopal priest by trade who is spending some time away from regular church work. I was an FDNY chaplain for a few years and now work with the Clemson Fire Department in North Carolina. I’m the uncle to a beautiful set of twin boys who just turned one: Roman and Jude.

Behind the scenes at Able Bodied Press

I spent five years in the Navy as an Arabic translator and I miss it a lot. I’m looking at going back.  I’m also fluent in four languages: English, Spanish, Arabic, and American Sign Language. I’m prevented from getting too boast-y about it by reminding myself that I can’t pass a math test or spiral a football. But I do love language.

LAUNCH INTO LETTERPRESS I went to I.S. 72 on Staten Island (we number our junior high schools there) and Mr. Sprague taught graphic arts. We set and printed our own business cards and notepads and it was amazing. I printed for a bit in high school and then stopped for years. When my sister got engaged, I realized it would be a cool time to relearn the craft and bought a rusted out Kelsey Excelsior on eBay. It’s been a great way to feed my latent introvert.

PRINTING IN THE PALMETTO STATE My dining room has been converted into a print shop – I had to once I picked up the Rear Admiral (on account of his one star). I live in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in South Carolina. Clemson is a great town where football reigns in the fall, if you’re into that sort of thing. Otherwise, we’re not far from the Appalachian Trail.

The at-home studio of Able Bodied Press

Work samples and a peek at the studio of Able Bodied Press

DESIGN FOR PRINT I mostly just print! I’ve been printing full time since February 2015. It had been a hobby for a while. To be honest yet diplomatic, I was working in a place that wasn’t the healthiest fit for a number of reasons. I left my full time job and have a pretty decently-stocked print shop in my house. It’s been great.

SHOP TIPS I’m most productive cranking Wu Tang while I work. 36 Chambers has gone triple platinum in my shop. Try it. Oh – if you include trivia in the comments on your Boxcar order, you might get a reply on your plate when it arrives. Might.

Letterpress Business cards by  Able Bodied Press

THE CREATIVE PROCESS  It’s real tough to get momentum without getting distracted and my least favorite part of printing is cleaning the press even though it only takes a few minutes. Once the press is clean, I can go for hours. It all hinges on having a clean press for me. And there’s the Wu Tang part of it, too.

Letterpressed + edge painted business cards by Able Bodied Press

PRINTING FEATS  It’s simple, but I bought a run down Kelsey Star and the runners were in pretty rough shape. Getting my roller gauge right where it needed to be was cause for celebration. The other would be when I finished my sister’s wedding invitation set. It was pretty basic and didn’t turn out exactly how I wanted it to in my head, but I was pretty proud of it.

FAVORITE INK COLOR + TYPEFACE What a question!  It’s like asking me my favorite Veep or Arrested Development episode — tough to narrow down. My favorite typefaces are Caslon and Porter Sans Block. Caslon’s the first typeface made for English and the Declaration of Independence was set in it. I think it’s got a neat pedigree and it’s pretty solid and classy. Porter Sans Block by Finck is just great fun to work with and look at. My favorite ink colors are Marian Blue (285U) and this yellow green over by 382. The former is the color used in art to represent Mary and the yellow green is my best friend’s favorite color.

Letterpress print samples at Able Bodied Press

BOXCAR’S ROLE Boxcar has helped in a ton of ways – from the free videos to the gauges and guides to the phenomenal (and fast!) customer service, they’re the reason I’m able to work as much as I do.

PRESS HISTORY A 5×7 Kelsey Excelsior named Swabbie. A few months ago, I found a decent Kelsey Star on Briar Press.

The 5x7 Kelsey Excelsior at Able Bodied Press

WHAT’S NEXT I just saw the Indigo Girls in Asheville in concert for the first time two weeks ago, so I can basically close the books on 2015. Who knows what’s going on next year.

Huge round of applause and thanks out to John for letting us get a sneak peek at his wonderful printing abode & world at Able Bodied Press!

El Calotipo: Slinging Ink In Spain

If you meander past the Roman Ruins, the craftsmen workshops, and the musical festivals in the San Pablo District of Zaragoza, Spain, you’ll find the hidden gem that is El Calotipo Printing Studio. Carla Nicolas started her letterpress print shop in 2011, and recently took the time to sit down with us to talk shop. She shared her story about starting up a modern letterpress print shop amongst the hustle of the ancient Spanish city.

El Calotipo Printing Studio Calotipo-IMG10

THE GAME IN SPAIN I’m Carla Nicolas. My background is a Bachelor of Arts in printing and printmaking techniques and I completed my artistic training at Massana School of Barcelona, Spain. It was at this Arts and Crafts school where I learned experimental and creative paper editions techniques (Artist’s Books) and first got involved with the manual printing. I’ve scoured some printmaking workshops both in Spain and foreign countries (Betanzos CIEC Foundation, Edinburgh Printmakers, or Pyramid Atlantic Art Center of Maryland, USA). After an artistic residence at Pyramid Atlantic where I taught workshop classes and also took part in some graphic art exhibitions, my passion for letterpress printing began.

In 2011, I started to build and shape my studio “El Calotipo Printing Studio” where we combine the most commercial version of handmade printing (business cards, wedding invitations, posters, restaurant menus etc), graphic design, and my own hand edited personal work.

El Calotipo Printing Studio

ALL ABOUT PRINTING El Calotipo is a printshop and design studio in Zaragoza, Spain and we also carry out some little bookbinding jobs. The printing techniques we work with are: screen printing, printmaking, hot foiling, and letterpress printing.

What I most like of my job/studio is not tangible or physical (in that case I would say “any of my presses”) but the uninterrupted search of new materials and ways to work them. We learn much from our mistakes (and the time spent finding reasons for those mistakes) as well as how to succeed creating products that nowadays are really difficult to find on the market. That entire process produces a constant and highly satisfying learning rhythm.

Since the beginning in the studio, we always looked for the link between graphic design and the most pure manual type of printing in order to manage optimal results regarding product quality.

El Calotipo Printing Studio

SPANISH BEAUTY Our studio is located at San Pablo District, one of the most ancient ones in the city of Zaragoza. Just around 200 meters from us are some Roman ruins that were built between the first and third century A.D. and are popular for visitors. This district’s history was formerly occupied by craftsmen workshops and that´s why streets are named after the former workshops there, such as Armas or Street of Weapons. With our downtown city location, we are surrounded by museums and tourist attractions. At Las Armas, we share spaces with other workshops. In addition, our neighbor is a culturally active musical center. Although we are established here, we hope to soon find a bigger studio where we can keep growing and enjoy our machines.

El Calotipo Printing Studio

PRINTING MENTORS From my time as a student, there was a person who especially believed in my possibilities as a printmaker, the artist Silvia Pagliano. She was my teacher in the beginning and my mentor from that moment on. She introduced and recommended me to the finest studios in Spain so I could keep learning. I applied my etching knowledge to letterpress, where I had no mentors. I adapted to the machines and techniques that we work with.


PRINTER THROUGH AND THROUGH I am printer and printmaker and I have no design notions per se. My co-worker, Nelson Moya, is our graphic designer, and he is the one dedicated to that part of our enterprise. We offer design, design + print, or just printing jobs for others’ designs. I am a full-time printmaker and that’s been my only job since 2011. As any craftsman, I have printed a lot of hours, as you can imagine. I also print my own artwork on my free time.

THE CREATIVE PROCESS For our design process, first we have to know the client, find out their needs and preferences. We have an in-depth meeting in order to understand and define the clients’ ideas the best we can. Very often, we always reach that necessary client-designer connection, although sometimes the task becomes complicated when the client or ourselves haven’t been able to convey our ideas fully. You just keep working and making changes until the client is satisfied.

When a job requires design + printing services, we have to educate the client: the final result will never be exactly the same as the computer screen as there are all the factors that influence a handcrafted outcome (the paper selection, the printing technique, the ink drying, etc.). We try to realistically portray the final results are as exact as a handcrafted job permits. We are proud of our finishing quality and we have a customer base that is increasingly knowledgeable and demanding of our best efforts. Customers often start with something they saw in our portfolio or RSS and the final design can mean different material and technique selections.


PRINTING FEATS I´m proud to have started El Calotipo Printing Studio, although the beginning was tough. At the time, Spain was in the midst of an economical crisis, so I had a lot of doubts and fears knowing it would be a really difficult path. Two years ago, Nelson Moya joined me due to the amount of work already existing, and I needed more assistance. We just recently hired our first worker, Laía (which was unthinkable for me two years ago).

Watching how a highly-beloved project grows, something you built with so much dedication and effort, that is what I am most proud of. I remember the first international incoming jobs and how happy I felt. From that point it became something usual and now we receive daily design and printing assignments from other countries. Another achievement I can point out is the fact that I never let myself get negatively influenced by those people who didn’t share any faith in my future when El Calotipo was just an idea. You have to be brave to start such a kind of project, and if we realized we were already living in a deep economical crisis….well, it is natural that they called me crazy! I’m proud to be a stubborn person and after much sacrifice, four years later, I can already look back and feel satisfied with what I have already done. That is my pride, my braveness and stamina that made me able to work in a field I studied in, pursuing my vocation and I am so happy for that.


PRESS HISTORY My first printing press was a little bookbinding and relief press. The first proof press press was the FAG Control 405 SwissProof Press.


WHAT’S NEXT  La Calocleta (“The Calocycle”), a printing workshop on wheels built by our neighbor, Alfredo, an industrial designer at Undo Studio. We´ll send some pictures. I would like to fly back to the United States next year and apply for a residence at Hatch Show Print in Nashville. It is a place I would have loved to visit a lot of years ago…


An immensely huge round of appreciation and thanks out to Carla of El Calotipo Printing Studio for taking the time to let us get a glimpse of her beautiful printing world!

Entrepreneurial Spirit At Ruff House Art

From day one back in 2009, Jill Shepherd of Ruff House Art had an entrepreneurial gleam in her eye as she started her business out of the basement of her home in southwest Kansas. Fast forward six years later, and you’ll find that Jill has expanded her letterpress company into a solid brick and mortar retail shop featuring the whirl of a 1915 Chandler & Price, the laughter of her daughter as she skirts through the shop, a full custom-invitation & wholesale everyday line, and of course, the warmth of Jill’s smiling face as she greets you when you come into the shop. We caught up with Jill between press runs to learn about her inspiration, how she got started, and what made taking the plunge worth it at the end of the day.

Ruff House Art shop

ROOTED DEEP IN THE MIDWEST I grew up in a small, rural farm town in southwest Kansas and went on to graduate from the University of Kansas with a BFA in Graphic Design in 2004. I spent several years working in marketing & branding as a designer. Coming from a family of farming entrepreneurs, I had always daydreamed about owning my own business someday.

Due to the struggling economy, I got the opportunity to pursue that dream when I was let go at my corporate job due to downsizing in early 2009. Initially, I envisioned doing what I had been doing, marketing, but on a freelance basis. During this time, I was asked by several friends to design wedding invitations and I quickly realized that was way more fun than corporate marketing! So, I said goodbye to the corporate world and went all in to the stationery world. I grew my wedding line, eventually added a wholesale/everyday line, and most recently expanded again with a brick & mortar retail shop!

Jill Shepherd of Ruff House Art

TRY, TRY AGAIN (AND REPEAT AS NECESSARY) At the start of Ruff House Art, I didn’t envision it turning into a letterpress company. I had taken a letterpress class as an elective in college, so I was familiar with the printing process, but I didn’t start Ruff House Art with a press from day one. About a year into it, I was gifted my first press by a friend’s family. It had been sitting in a warehouse for 30 years and they weren’t even sure what it was or if it worked. They asked if I wanted it and of course I jumped at the opportunity. It had been a while since my college class and I wasn’t familiar with this type of press (platen). I restored it and taught myself how to use it. It was a lot of trial and error, a lot of frustrations, a lot of asking other printers for advice and doing research, but eventually I found my stride and felt confident enough in my printing ability to add letterpress to my wedding line. Shortly after, I decided to add a retail line, focused primarily around letterpress.

Letterpress coasters by Ruff House Art

Letterpress coasters & cards by Ruff House Art

WINDOWS TO THE WORLD Up until this year, our shop as located in the basement of our home. In November of 2014 we moved our presses to downtown Lawrence and opened up a retail brick & mortar shop with a print/production studio in the back. We have big windows that look from the shop into the studio so customers can see the presses in action. It has been so fun to watch the community get involved and to hear how many people actually have some connection to letterpress. Whether they have taken a class, their fathers/grandfathers were printers, or they used to own a press. We also get asked on a regular basis if we actually use the presses or if they are “just for show” which always makes me giggle. When we are pressing, people gather around and watch which is so fun (and a little nerve-wracking!). My very first press is still the press that we use the most – a 1915 10″ x 15″ Chandler & Price.

Letterpress wedding stationery suite by Ruff House Art

A STUDIO WITH MANY PREVIOUS LIVES Lawrence is full of history and Mass Street (downtown) is the heart of the city. Our shop/studio is located in one of the oldest buildings in the city, built in 1858. The building was built by the Miller family who were print makers (how cool is that!) and it briefly housed the first post office in town. in 1862 it was taken over by the House Family and ran as a clothing store. It went on to house a Furniture Store, Daylight Donuts, and a brewery. It amazes me to sit here and hear about the people & stories that have passed through the door and it is so fun to now be a part of that history.

Ruff House Art print shop & paperie

FAMILY AND LETTERPRESS COMMUNITY INSPIRED I am mostly inspired by my everyday life. My husband and our friendship, my daughter and her laughter and all the wonderful people I have met in the stationery industry. There are so many truly wonderful people in this industry and I love how it is more of a community that supports each other rather than a competition. I am driven everyday to make a positive impression on my daughter so that she will learn the value of hard work and determination, just as I did from my parents.

Ruff House Art work samples

FULL TIME AND THEN SOME I feel like I wear nearly every hat that could be worn. I am the designer & printer for Ruff House Art. I am also customer service, sales, shipping, buyer, retail associate & mopper. When you own a small business you tend to learn how to do everything and be able to juggle that work load.

In my dream world, I would have way more time to design, and my line would be constantly evolving and full of wonderful things. But the truth is, I have to pencil in design time and sometimes that gets pushed to next week!

Ruff House Art is my full-time career. It has been my full-time job since day 1 in 2009, and I have been fortunate to have grown it over the years to be able to support myself & my family. It’s tough, demanding and at times all consuming. This business (or any self-owned business I would presume) is not for the weak of heart. It takes dedication, hard work and lots of coffee. But at the end of the day, as I shut the lights off and lock the doors, it is all worth it – so worth it.

Ruff House Art shop

WHERE IDEAS ARE SPARKED As I said, I am inspired everyday by normal life. And often the start of a card or product is a seed that gets planted by something my daughter says or an experience I have had. Such as our “Eat Cake For Breakfast Card” – growing up, my mom would occasionally let us indulge a little at breakfast with a cookie or piece of cake or brownie.

I in turn do this with my daughter without even thinking, even though my husband about dies each time he sees me sneak a cookie to her at breakfast! So I thought, everyone should be able to eat cake for breakfast on occasion! A card was born. From the spark of an idea, I wrap up the design on the computer and send it off for the plates to be made and turned into a letterpress card.

THE COMPANY WE KEEP I am proud of so many things that Ruff House Art has accomplished over the years. We have been featured in some really great magazines alongside other great artists. And our garden cards were featured on the Today Show for Earth Day! I have also had the privilege and honor of working with some great national retailers such as Paper Source, World Market, Nordstrom & West Elm.

In addition, I have been nominated 2 times for the Louie Awards (once for our garden cards & once for classically printed wedding invitations). We took home the Louie in 2014 for Classically Printed Wedding Invitations. That award was even more special as it was won for the invitations for my husband and I!

Ruff House Art samples

BLAZING A TRAIL It’s funny, in my mind, I feel like I am always just kind of “winging it” in my own way. Since I was self taught, I feel like I likely don’t do things the same way other printers do. But who says there is a right and wrong way as long as it works! Since opening our public space, I do feel I have gained confidence in my skills & techniques, offering advice to others who are just getting started in the printing business.

A BIG TO-DO LIST The opening of the brick & mortar put a pretty big stall in the growth of my own wholesale line. It has been all consuming and demanding learning how to balance another facet of my business. But I do think things are smoothing out into a well oiled machine and I am really looking forward to getting back into the growth and marketing of my own line. Being in the shop everyday has also given me great insight into what the consumer is drawn to and really looking for. I am going to take that knowledge and grow my own line accordingly. I am really looking forward to a release of new cards and coming back to my own product line with fresh vision.

Huge round of thanks out to Jill for letting us take a fresh look into the wonderful world of Ruff House Art (and then some)!

Letterpress Blooms at Maude Press in Creative South Pasadena

Dee Cutrona of Maude Press is sustained daily by the artistic flavor of her community and the people she considers mentors. She recently welcomed us in for a peek at her studio and shared how she got her start in letterpress — as well as the path she’s set herself on for the future.


BY ANY OTHER NAME Well, I suppose the first thing you should know about me is that my birth name is Christen and I can thank my sister for calling me “Christie Dee” the first time that she saw me. This, of course was shortened to Dee and here I am!

NECESSITY DEMANDS ACTION I first got involved in letterpress when I met a gal, Mable, in a design workshop. She was operating a letterpress studio and we thought, hey, let’s start a greeting card line! And so we did, and we called it Dee&Lala. In a funny way, I learned letterpress out of necessity–we were selling cards all across the U.S. and abroad and printing all day to keep up!


LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION I print in a studio right in my neighborhood of South Pasadena. What’s so great about the space is that I share it with a cake company, so the smell of baking cakes fills the air and it’s a team of girls, so we have this nice camaraderie. My favorite thing about my studio is that it’s nestled among traditional craftsman homes and tree lined streets, so my commute, whether by bike or car, is idyllic.


WALKABLE AND WONDERFUL SOUTH PASADENA is a hidden gem. It’s like this magical little pocket of Arts and Crafts architecture, cafes, family friendly neighborhoods, lots of art, music, festivals, parrots — yes parrots — and small independent shops…including Annika Buxman’s De Milo Design Studio & Letterpress [check out the profile we did on Annika’s studio a while back]. It’s an 8 minute metro ride away from downtown Los Angeles, so, in my opinion, it’s the best of both worlds. We actually have a small museum up my street — Meridian Iron Works — wouldn’t that be a great place to print!

SAGE ADVICE I considered Mable as my first printing mentor, and since that I’ve learned so much more. I do have a friend in town, who has a beautiful, very traditional, letterpress studio. I assist him with his printing as much as I can and consider him not just a letterpress mentor, but a life mentor. I also had design and style mentors in my Gramie and Grandad. They lived life to the fullest, did it with style and I am influenced by that philosophy daily.


INSPIRATION + THE CREATIVE FLOW I do not print full time. My days and weeks are equally balanced between designing and printing. I am planning to print more pieces for retail, so I’m anticipating more time at the press. As much as I appreciate the authenticity of working with type, I’m just so wired to be able to tweak and manipulate words and images digitally, so my process is more modern. I’m a digital artwork to photopolymer girl. When I first started Maude Press, I was working with magnesium dies, but I quickly switched back to photopolymer for the consistency and because the process isn’t toxic.

I enjoy working with fun wedding couples like Sheila and Casey. They wanted chic and modern and since they wanted a map, we decided to play with layers, a pattern and die cutting to add dimension. So much opportunity to be creative!


PRIDE IN THE ROAD I’VE TRAVELED Launching Dee&Lala was a huge accomplishment. I am/was really proud of our brand and the illustration work that I contributed. A lot of that work was very personal to me, so it meant a lot that our line was so well received. I still have a stack of samples. I still truly love them, even after printing them over and over and over…

I am equally, if not more, proud of launching Maude Press. It has been a wonderful experience so far and now that I’m about 4 years in, I’m ready to take it to the next level. I love the custom side of what I do, so it’s truly been a pleasure.


THE FIRST LADY AND NAMESAKE I wish I could list off a tally of presses, but to date, my only press is Maude, my 10 x 15 New Style Chandler & Price. She’s a work horse, but I can’t say I wouldn’t mind a cylinder from time to time..maybe someday. Maude is named after a movie that is a personal favorite of mine — Harold and Maude.



MUTUAL RESPECT FOSTERS GOOD RELATIONSHIPS Not only is Boxcar super informative and amazing, you provide my plates and plant trees when I purchase enough! What I like most, though, is your true love for letterpress and the letterpress community.

SHARING FROM EXPERIENCE Acetate is my friend.  Not only is acetate great for packing, I actually tape it down to my platen to register my artwork. I tape the acetate to the platen, ink the form and print on the acetate and then I register the paper to the print on the acetate. It saves so much time and helps with those hairpin registration jobs.

I’m a fan of Van Son Holland Ink (rubber or oil), but if you want a good rich black ink, my friend introduced me to ‘Sable Black SO 1 lb.” from Graphic Supply, Inc. — it is THE best black I’ve printed so far. No need to add a little warm red to this black– it’s gorgeous au naturale.



LEAPING OFF THE PAGES IN 2015 This is the year that I’m finally ready to produce more products for retail (mainly for my own site and a few local shops). Nothing major, no reps or stationery shows, just exclusive MP products to share with the world. I have pages of ideas that I just have to bring to life–it will feel like old times. Oh! And this year, hopefully, I will finally actually print my own stationery and if I’m really on a roll…holiday cards!!!

Thanks Dee for the glimpse into Maude Press. You are moving ahead full speed and you embody a quote from your favorite movie  “Try something new each day. After all, we’re given life to find it out. It doesn’t last forever.”

The Creative Buzz of Wasp Print

Through nearly a decade of printing adventures (from printing with Hello!Lucky to opening up shop in his current printing abode in the creative neighborhood hub of East Williamsburg, Brooklyn), Nicholas Hurd of Wasp Print continues to deliver whether it’s serving up a fresh batch of letterpress printed goodies or being inspired by the non-stop creative forces that swirl in New York City. We were able to catch Nicholas for a hot minute to talk shop, where to get the best delivery for those late night print runs, and of course… the mesmerizing awe of watching a Heidelberg Windmill & his beloved Vandercook in action.

Nicholas Hurd of Wasp Print shop in Brooklyn

CREATIVE MAVEN  I am a printer, artist, tattoo collector, maple syrup snob, whiskey drinker, paper fanatic, amateur gardener, drummer, and lover of ink. I live in Brooklyn with my wife Erin, who is an excellent printer on the Vandercook and a poet & writer. We have a 9 lb chihuahua named Reno, who is an extremely accomplished and obsessive fetcher.

Nicholas Hurd of Wasp Print shop in Brooklyn

LETTERPRESS OBSESSED I was first introduced to letterpress while studying printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute. After spending three years learning etching and lithography I was excited to print something where the machine was doing most of the work and large editions were made with ease. After school I worked for 4 years mostly printing greeting cards for Hello!Lucky. They were a wonderful company to work for and it gave me a lot of experience in production printing. The deeper I waded into letterpress printing the more obsessed I became. It’s pretty much the only thing in the world that makes any sense to me.

Letterpress samples from Wasp Print shop in Brooklyn

EAST WILLIAMSBURG WONDER I share the space with another awesome designer/printer, Dan from Sheffield Product. We both love collecting old equipment but operate in a tiny space. Together we have a 10×15 Windmill, 219 Old style Vandercook, 305MC Challenge Paper Cutter, a ton of type and other little bits of equipment. We’re located in a big warehouse building in East Williamsburg in Brooklyn. I print a lot of business cards and some personal stationery as well. I love the hustle and bustle of the city and feature quick turnaround times for those New Yorkers who are moving at lightning speed. We also love collaborations with artists and making political posters with hand set type.

Nicholas Hurd of Wasp Print shop in Brooklyn

DESIGNED FOR PRINT I’m both a designer and a printer. I enjoy designing but really love collaborating with other artists and printers. It is fun to work with people who don’t understand the process because they always bring something new & challenging to the table.

CREATIVE INFLUENCES I really enjoy looking for old printed design elements. I love bright colors and patterns. New York City has a wealth of inspiration for me. Hand painted signs, architecture, and mosaics all influence my design work. A meandering walk through the city always leads to exciting inspiration. I once made a design based on chewing gum on subway platform. I was designing something that looked spacey and noticed that the gum on the platform looked like planets in a solar system.

Letterpress samples from Wasp Print shop in Brooklyn

Behind the scenes at Wasp Print shop in Brooklyn

FULL TIME FUN Yes, this is a full time operation. After working for other printers and stationers for 10 years I finally set up my own shop a year ago. I work some seriously long hours. Fortunately there are tons of awesome food delivery places nearby and Fleetwood Mac albums to keep me sustained. I see a lot of old printers going out of business who are not keeping up with the design aesthetic and print needs of people in this city. It’s sad to see them go but they are operating on an outdated model of what printing is presently used for. I have found that there is actually a huge market for printing and letterpress. There’s a real longing in this digital age for a well made and tangible object.

PRINTING FEATS I love making wood type posters and every time I make one I am proud of it whether it’s a political poster that I can distribute at a demonstration or a poster for a local whiskey distiller.

Letterpress Posters by Wasp Print

BOXCAR’S ROLE The Boxcar Base and plate system has been great to letterpress printers everywhere. Plate switchover on a Boxcar Base is the easiest and fastest system.

PRESS HISTORY I learned how to print on Vandercooks but the first real press I ever bought was a Windmill. It really is the most beautiful machine. Once you start using one of these it’s hard to go back to any other machine. The feeding, registration, inking and impression are all top notch with this press. It looks like a perfectly choreographed ballet every time I turn it on.

Heidelberg Windmill at Wasp Print in Brooklyn, NY

SHOP TIPS I keep my best tricks a secret, but the best advice I can give anyone who is interested in letterpress is to have patience and enjoy the problem solving aspects of the work. We do this not because it is easy but because the finished product looks great. Expect every job to be a struggle – you might have to fight the paper, ink, press or design- but hopefully not all four.

Letterpress samples from Wasp Print in Brooklyn

WHAT’S NEXT I plan to keep on printing, expanding our equipment and making more posters with members of NYC’s passionate and amazing activist community. I would like to get into making ‘zines and books too!

Huge round of thanks out to Nicholas Hurd of Wasp Print for letting us take a peek into his inspiring world of letterpress!

Have Press, Will Travel

Meet Erin Fae, a self-proclaimed dreamer and printer. Last year, she dreamed of putting a new spin on letterpress. With visions of a traveling tabletop press and a new set of wheels, the Press Cycle project began. Erin explains how her idea took off with the help of others who shared her slightly unique vision.

Erin Fae of the Press Cycle

In 2013, I bought an 8×5 Adana on Trade Me from a woman in Christchurch, New Zealand. She was so excited that the press would help teach people printing at Alphabet City (the community art space I used to run) that she offered me a bonus press for free: an Adana 5×3. As soon as the small press came into our lives, I knew this gift presented an opportunity to be able to share letterpress printing with even more people than those who wandered into our studio.

I was returning to my beloved home of New York City for the summer of 2014. I knew I wanted to run a portable print project that would take letterpress printing outdoors and into various communities. I wanted to expose as many people to letterpress printing as possible and find a way for people who had never heard about letterpress to try it out.

The dream came to fruition with the help of Press Cycle Kickstarter and over a hundred backers.

I called the project The Press Cycle: Letterpress on Three Wheels. Running the Kickstarter meant I was able to purchase a vintage Schwinn Tri-Wheeler adult tricycle and outfit it with a custom box (built by the super talented folks over at Nightwood in Brooklyn that converted the tricycle into the mini studio). I had originally thought that the project would use magnesium dies for printing…and had started an order when I got a pretty magic phone message.

Letterpress printing by The Press Cycle The Press Cycle in NYC

When Boxcar told me that they wanted to donate a base and a page of plates, I was beyond thrilled. By nature, I am every shade of enthusiastic: I had a solo dance party in my borrowed Brooklyn apartment. This wasn’t just because the donation helped the project immensely, but because the Press Cycle is all about collaboration. I wanted every stage of the project to be about collaboration and community, and teaming up with Boxcar meant this was evermore true.

The Press Cycle on tour

The project wrapped up in September. How did The Press Cycle go on the slightly more inky streets of New York? I think it went marvelously. I said from the beginning that even if one person learned about letterpress, all the work would be worth it. By the end of the Summer, not one person, but hundreds of people in different Brooklyn and Manhattan neighbourhoods got to try out letterpress printing. We even took the press to the Greenpoint branch of the Brooklyn Public Library for their Greenpoint Handskills workshop.

I love teaching printing and one of my favorite things in the world is watching people pull their first print. Even if they’ve watched someone else do it, even when they know what is going to happen, doing it themselves is always a wonder. One woman told me that she needed something to make her day and that the Press Cycle did it. An older man in Brooklyn told me about how he printed on a hobby press in high school. Young children were especially amazed at the instant nature of printing, that they could pull one lever and make an image—no waiting for something to come out of a machine; they had the power to do the work.

Erin Fae of the Press Cycle

I handed out pamphlets to anyone who printed since most people didn’t have time to hang out and chat. I wanted everyone who encountered the Press Cycle to know that they were helping keep letterpress printing alive and are part of a long lineage of printers, even with just that short encounter. All printers matter. I hope that some of the folks who tried letterpress for the first time went on to learn more about printing. Who knows?

Letterpress printing samples from The Press Cycle

Maybe someone will take a class, maybe someone will one day have their own press.

It wasn’t all roses. Before I put up a giant laminated sign that said “FREE (Yes, really)” it was sometimes hard to lure people into printing since New Yorkers were suspicious that I was selling something. Also, I was somewhat limited by being a human. I didn’t have the power to wheel the 100+ pounds of Press Cycle as often as I would have liked, and needed to give my body time to rest and recharge.

Letterpress printing with The Press Cycle

What was always amazing was the community that came together around this project. I collaborated with various artists to make the images for the plates; Boxcar’s amazing donation; the enthusiasm of letterpress printers online and off; and the amazing backers on Kickstarter. People coming together around learning and creativity is always humbling and wonderful. I feel grateful that I was able to lead a project that gave so many people a peek into the world of printing and how letterpress works.

Burning Bright At Small Fires Press

New Orleans is the home of soulful jazz, the po’ boy sandwich, and a famous pirate or two.  And sure, it is frequently steamy-hot, but that is the chosen locale of the letterpress print shop Small Fires Press. Husband and wife team Friedrich Kerksieck and Gabrielle Trimm took to New Orleans like true natives and have set off some major sparks in the growing letterpress community of The Big Easy. Step into their workspace and you may smell something unexpected blending with the usual print shop aromas…is that pie? To celebrate their one year anniversary of printing and bookbinding, Friedrich and Gabrielle gave us a peek inside their studio – take a look.


Bienvenue En Louisiane Our studio is in the front parlor of our New Orleans shotgun style home. The windows and natural light are a necessity and favorite feature. We have overhead lighting, but mostly use a 3-bulb floor lamp by the press and let the sun do the rest. We keep it simple to maximize space, but keep a California job case drawer on the wall to house little figurines and some framed art for inspiration. The red handles on the paper cutter and guillotine serve as ‘pops of color.’

Streetside Studio Our building is a pink double shotgun in the Saint Roch neighborhood in New Orleans. The studio is set up in the first room and we live in the other three rooms of the house. The studio is 14×13’.

Better Than Gumbo Our most valuable tool has gotta be our Vandercook #4, of course.

Dressing the Press We’ve been using a 13” X 19” standard Boxcar base I got when I purchased the press five years ago. I generally stick to the KF95 plate.

Fluorescent Favorites I bought a set of blue, magenta & yellow neons not too long ago. I don’t usually get much call for them in the job work I do for clients, but whenever I’m doing a creative project I usually go right to those cans.

Green For Clean I put a little bit of vegetable shortening to loosen the ink up & use some shop rags to wipe everything down with. Then I go over everything again with some simple green or mineral spirits depending on what color is going on the press next.

Loose Bits I don’t have any pied type any more – the small bit that was left got abandoned when we moved from Memphis last year, but I’ve still got a few drawers of type that need to get reorganized.

Less Is Better I’ve found that I work better with a little less tabletop space. I tend to fill up what ever is available and am bad about putting projects away unless I have to. In Memphis I had a folding table set up in the middle of the space to work off of and the top of my flat files collected odds and ends. Now I’ve ditched the table 95% of the time & just work off the flat file. Now there’s a lot less to knock over or walk around.

Studio Cats Working from home is convenient and comfortable. It’s nice to be able to do some slow cooking or pie baking in the kitchen while there’s ink on the press. We can trade off on household tasks and printing tasks when needed and everything is all in one place. Our two cats keep good company. Bip has a bed right at the end of the press & he sleeps there while I’m printing away.

Collaborate For Inspiration I think that the very best practice is to print every day. Nothing will keep you fresher. That, and always be curious – especially with visiting other presses and print spaces. I love that in New Orleans there are so many new and established printers. My favorite thing to do is to go print a project with someone else and see how they work – what they do for makeready & the rest of the process. Everyone does things a little differently and you can always pick up a good tip or two.

Small-Fires-Press-letterpress-2 copy

Our thanks to Gabrielle and Friedrich at Small Fires Press for the southern hospitality; continue to let the good times roll!