Newbies - tell us about yourselves…

Tell us about yourselves…

Where you’re from, why you want to get into letterpress and how you were first introduced to it… What’s your end goal (is this a hobby, side business, etc?) What your status right now (looking for a press, restoring a press, learning on a new press, etc)?

And is there a “get to know you” thread around here from veteran members too?

Log in to reply   9 replies so far

I’m an illustrator based in Portland, Oregon.

The majority of my work is screen printed event posters. Music packaging (a bit rare these days), apparel, and occasional advertising work makes up the rest.

I have a background in screen printing and am pretty proficient on a semi-automatic press.

A while back I purchased an old style C&P 10 x15”, tabletop Caxton, cutter, and a huge collection of cuts and type.

The man I purchased the collection from was a veteran printer. I essentially bought his entire basement (and the excavation work that came with it!). I pieced out most of the cuts etc, as my interest is mainly in printing my own work. I did keep a good amount of type and all the shop tools I could ever need.

As a freelance illustrator, my schedule leaves little time for letterpress…but I am in love with the process. Currently my mind is reeling with the possibilities in reproducing my work, both classically and experimentally.

So far I’ve printed a few projects (a bookplate and a card) using Boxcar’s polymer plates and base. Both went fairly well, though I feel as if I’m at the beginning of a long road (and excited about it).

I cannot count the hours I’ve spent digging through the knowledge here on Briar Press! Very happy to formally introduce myself.


Thanks and best wishes,
David V. D’Andrea
Samaritan Press

image: *note: Front illustration is screen printed. Back text and images in red are letter pressed.

*note: Front illustration is screen printed. Back text and images in red are letter pressed.

image: Ex Libris

Ex Libris

Hi all,

I am sitting at my kitchen table writing to you, wondering how to start my letterpress love story (currently in the early chapters!).

Since I can remember, I have had a love for paper and ink. As a scholar I received frequent requests from friends to write (in my own calligraphic handwriting), anything from greeting cards to love letters.

For years I seldomly bought greeting cards, but instead created them by hand - which the recipients of course appreciated so much more.

Texture is an important aspect of everything in my life, be it fabric, wooden carved furniture or modern packaging materials and when I decided to start my own stationery business towards the end of 2012, the beauty of letterpress printing grabbed my attention immediately.

For about 5 months I searched high and low for a suitable press and finally got my “Iron Lady” in May this year. She is a Heidelberg Platen which came from an old print shop nearby that closed down.

We were due to leave on a much anticipated European holiday days after taking delivery of her and admittedly, I couldn’t wait to return to SA to start learning how to do letterpress printing with her!

Through plenty of research, I found the necessary suppliers, a few illustrators and 3 machine operators.

It hasn’t been an easy road but very satisfying indeed! I soon realised that the operators are not always going to be available at times that I may need them, as they had permanent jobs elsewhere and could only assist me after-hours. For this reason, I made the most of the time they could spend with me, learning i.e. how to do the make ready, adjust the impression and generally operate the machine by myself.

In July I printed my first job - wedding invitations for a foreign couple. After that, I acquired a foiling attachment and experimented by foil-printing beautifully designed artwork for gift tags. I recently printed 2 colour Christmas cards and did the scoring - all by myself, which was quite liberating!

A big thank you to Briar Press for being such a resourceful avenue for newbies like myself. I appreciate the invaluable information I have gathered from this site.

My goals for 2014 are to learn how to do embossing, edge painting and book binding and in-between this focus on marketing / advertising for my little business and with God’s grace and guidance these too shall be accomplished!

Kind regards to you all,

Yolandi Ferreira
Expressions Papercrafts
Johannesburg, South Africa

image: image.jpg


image: image.jpg


image: image.jpg


Yolandi, Welcome, to a rather special Club, after reading your post 2 or 3 times and seeing the results of your shots especially the middle one! a little light clicked on and I now have in front of me a book, which would please me to send to you as a welcome gift, providing I dont contravene any customs regulations!!
THE BOOK?=Bookbinding & The Care of Books, by Douglas Cockerell, 5th, edition 1953, revised and reprinted 1973, nothing special in itself, although 21 chapters and over 300 pages, but including 12 monochrome illustrations of books bound, in Pigskin, Calfskin, Sheepskin, Goatskin, Half Niger morocco,? with sides of English oak, Green levant,? Brown sealskin, Grey blue Levant morocco,? White alumed morocco,? and toned Vellum.
The question marks indicating that I do not understand the description, but would like to.!!!
It was given to me by a Lady Finisher/Bookbinder, who came to work at the firm I worked for, for 14 wonderful years, although I was normally running the Typecasting machines, I was frequently in the finishing dept, making humble efforts to keep the finishing machines running, i.e. Stitcher,s Very Noisy Folders, Book sewing Machine, Small perfect Binder, etc etc.
The lady that gave me THE BOOK was originally from Johannisberg, from what firm I know not!
As my disease is mostly Monotype Casting machines, the book deserves to be appreciated by one such as yourself (if you do not have similar as yet) Contact me through B.P. and I will send it on.
I would just Photocopy The Title page, including the typesetting, Monotype Caslon, Typeface, and the Illustrations, because even in monochrome the Tooling and the Gold Leaf decoratation look amazing on the materials used!!!
P.S. The lady, (Helen Praiser) occasionally had us all in fits of laughter with stories of the *Tokoloshe* 40 years ago, No bricks needed then, and still non now, in the U.K. Hopefully?
Please Feel free to contact, & Good Luck… MICK

I have no words.. Except of course: Thank you so much for the very kind gesture! I really would appreciate this book - it sounds very fascinating. I will surely contact you Mick. And no, you don’t need the bricks over there.. These tokoloshes only “exist” in Africa it seems! ;)

Hello, Everyone! My name is Erica and I am currently in school studying for my BFA in Graphic Design. I live just outside Nashville, TN. I always had a paper/stationery fetish and after taking a required letterpress course I had found my true love. I recently purchased a C&P 10x15 Craftsman. I learned to print on Vandercooks so I’m trying to learn the platen press as well, any help would be greatly appreciated! My recent purchase needs a good cleaning but other than that is in great condition. My husband and I have started our own company, Belletete Design, with the goal of letterpress and freelance digital design. I love printing and hope to make a living and life of it!

I would love recommendations for anything, really! Right now I’m looking into product packaging (card boxes, nice presentation, packaging single cards, belly bands, etc), so any advice would be great. If anyone is familiar with platen presses and doesn’t mind being bombarded with questions I will have, feel free to contact me. Thank you for reading and have a great day! Hello to the other newbies!

Also a huge thank you to my wonderful teacher, Kathy O’Connell, and Lance of Williams Stationery in New York.

Hello to David and Yolandi! Beautiful work to you both!

Erica Belletete
Belletete Design

Well, here goes.

My name is David and I’m an aspiring printer. I’ve been a graphic designer wedged firmly in the digital age for nearly twenty years, but long for a more hands-on relationship with design. I also happen to think letterpress could be a useful low-carbon technology for the future and would very much like to be part of that.

Having had an immensely enjoyable time learning on a Vandercock press a few months ago, I’ve finally plucked up the courage (and gathered the cash) to get a little press of my own. I’m extremely short on space, so I’ve opted for an Adana 8x5, which should hopefully be arriving from Caslon in a couple of weeks time. I hope that when space permits I might be able to get a treadle press to be able to work on a less limited scale.

I’m just starting out, so please forgive any newbie errors :)

Descender Press

Addition: and, as if by magic, they called me up to tell me delivery is tomorrow!

Well, here goes from Lawrence, KS.

In my former life, I spent years working with words one way or another, as an author, in the publishing business and as a faculty member at a university teaching a variety of different topics. I have always enjoyed working with my hands and started doing some simple book binding on my own and was taking a basic binding and repair class when I noticed the Vandercook 15-21 in the print lab and asked the instructor about it. Next thing I knew, I was taking the basic letterpress class and from there I just did whatever I could to learn including reading, joining APA, visiting gooses, etc.

I got a Kelsey 5x8 and worked with that for about a year, figuring that if I could print decently on such a smaller machine and somewhat master the basics, then I could move on to a larger machine. Lots of reading on and offline and practice, trying to learn form my mistakes.

The next spring I found out that a close friend’s husband’s father was the former printing teacher at the local high school and he had a C&P 10x15 from the 70s just sitting in the garage and I jumped at the chance to take a look. It certainly had not been turned over in some 40 years, but it looked like it had great potential. So, after finding some very smart people to help with the move and consulting all the info on Briar Press about moving, we got it into my garage on a warm February day. About a month later after it was cleaned enough and oiled enough and new rollers were available, I printed my first piece and I was totally engaged by the beauty of how words can appear and how their meaning can be enhanced.

Turns out that this former high school printing teacher also had a Vandercook Universal I in the barn (we’re talking Kansas prairie here) and while it was the home of many different creatures for many years, and was quite superficially rusty, I thought it had potential. About a year after the C&P was up and running, the Vandercook was moved into a basement room and about six weeks later after being taken apart, “derusted” (lots of lemon juice and vinegar) as much as possible and cleaned up. And, printing on that beauty was even more thrilling given the size of what can be done.

I print now for the sheer enjoyment of this nexus of art and craft and I am taken aback on a daily basis by the beauty of the work that others do. I don’t have much of a sense of design (but am learning) but have bumbled and made it through quite a few things that others thought were quite nice. My greeting cards are sold at several stores around the country and I enter shows when printed material is on the venue. I also tend to focus on words and metal type rather than plates although I have used those as well. I am most proud of printing the words written by the city editor at a small Kansas newspaper entitled “A Kansas Obituary”.

And, here’s my chance to thank the people on this list and the members of APA for the unending patience and help offered. I really love doing this and am lucky to have the opportunity. The vast knowledge that others have from their many, many years of experience is invaluable to us new folks and people are most generous to share. Neil

Greetings all!
I am from the Pennsylvania Laurel Highlands , approximately an hour from Pittsburgh .I am a Screen-printer at a remote printshop located in Ohiopyle PA. Recently, my Boyfriend (also a Screen-printer in Greensburg PA) and I rescued a Chandler & Price 10x15 from being sent to the scrap yard . We are just beginning the patient process of restoring it, and eagerly await the day we can begin operating this fine beast.
We both are lovers and Artists of Print and enjoy creating Woodblock prints, Linocut prints, and handmade screen-printed art . We both are very excited to become printers of Letterpress. As we restore our Press, we are educating ourselves as much as possible . I look forward to meeting many individuals here and gaining much knowledge !