A while back, the hefty Ladies of Letterpress gift book — really an information-packed opus to the craft — crossed my desk. Published by Princeton Architectural Press and coming in at an impressive 192 pages with 86 removable posters, this is a treatise to both the craft and the LoLP group. That international organization was founded by Kseniya Thomas and Jessica White in 2009. Today, the group, which in the spirit of equality is open to men as well, is over 16,000 members strong — and with good reason.
As a community that shares its collective adventures in commercial, fine press, art and zine printing, members are encouraged to ask for advice and learn from other printers, share resources, and get inspiration for your own business and work, “all for the love of letterpress,” their website describes. “Our mission is to promote the art and craft of letterpress printing and to encourage the voice and vision of women printers.”
More than just a forum for the exchange of ideas, however, these shops (many of them one-woman-run) represent a huge array of talent — which the book is testament to. Also setting it apart from other letterpress compendiums, each image is accompanied by details of paper, inks, and press used in its creation. Unsurprisingly, Mohawk papers are all over the place.
Here is a round-up of diverse and gorgeous usages of Mohawk Superfine, the finest printing paper made today. This lovely Red Monogram Print, inspired by a vintage French embroidery pattern and run through the press twice, is from Kim Austin of San Francisco’s Austin Press.
From Firebrand Press, Vievee Francis’ poem “Beast and Beauty” is showcased alongside woodcuts and photopolymer text on this broadside. Amy Thompson of Paper Boat Studios in Reno, Nevada, created these Rhombic Dodecahedron and Decadhedron 3D Garland Kits. There are eight of each shape in varying colors, packaged with string for hanging.
These gorgeous flower greeting cards are from Robinson Press; founder Rachel Robinson gives German botanical illustrations a color rendition on her Chandler & Price. Like much of Studio Ephemera’s output, this oversized rehearsal dinner invitation uses the house’s collection of vintage engravings as well as wood and metal type in more modern contexts. And this tiny print from Portland’s Stumptown Printers uses squares and colors to represent a part of the hive — new eggs, larvae, capped brood, pollen/bee bread, nectar and honey. With its ability to look great as it enhances a given design’s sustainability with high amount of PCW, Mohawk Loop is a favorite of letterpress printers and accordingly makes appearances throughout the book. The below design, from Cadre Press, uses ornamental cut and metal type with oil-based ink.
This removable poster, created by Full Circle Press, consists of a repurposed detail from a 1960s poster created by the father of founder Judith Berliner.
Be Local postcard set from Hartford Prints! is a lively part of a grassroots effort to support the community.
And this design from the same house uses old copper printing plate used for dental charts.
Rounding out this group — and injecting some modernism — is the lettepress stripe series from Just Vandy. Each stripe on these limited edition prints is run through the press separately.
Mohawk Options, featuring the company’s exclusive Inxwell surface technology, combines the tactile feel of uncoated paper with the ink density and sharp detail of coated. I had no idea that Smudge Ink used it for their sleek “Happy birthday from …” range!The intense black and texture of Mohawk Carnival sets the stage for this valentine from Southern Pest Prints. It was printed by the New Orleans press using a polymer plate with silver ink.
And Jenna Rodriguez also selected Carnival for her Running Thoughts, part of an accordion book that collects thoughts from strangers met while traveling on Chicago public transportation.Stumptown Printers selected ultra-luxe, American-made Strathmore pure cotton for a book, The Grievous Demise of Mr. Whitley Rackham. Composed digitally, the tome is printed in two colors.
That paper also makes an appearance as Pure Sweets labels, created by the cleverly named Vote for Letterpress. Yum!
Vote for Letterpress also selected Strathmore for these colorful Shirah wine labels, made using split fountain printing.
Finally, Jenna Rodriguez’ fabulous manifesto for the 21st century community — very fitting for the entire tone of the book — is printed on Mohawk stock, but it’s a little mysterious — the specific grade is not noted. The accordion book features a collection of statements about creating a community. Designed with Celene Aubry, it’s entirely hand-set in metal type.
In writing this post, I feel I’ve just scratched the surface of this great compendium of visual treasures — as such, I’ll be looking at it again and again. The cover price is $40, but I found it for just $26.36 at Amazon here. For all that lovely design not to mention 86 posters, that’s a real letterpress steal!