Downtown Writing and Press



swapWell, I’m finished with the print for the Ladies of Letterpress swap. I am not as happy as I thought I would be, but here’s what I’ve learned:

  • don’t run the print through the press with three different forms of type. (I couldn’t keep the straight as you can see especially on the bottom. Trying to register the orange was– trying.)
  • don’t ever print 100 of anything without doing a full test print on ONE. (I realized after printing the brown tree on 100 that it should have been higher, and I would have made significant other changes as well.)
  • write out everything before you set it. (duh, I was revising the poem and the colophon as I set it- stupid!)

I had a great time getting input from friends on Instagram— and the comments were a huge help. But next time– I’ll be prepared and it won’t take me three press runs and, oh, at least four full days of setting type and printing.

Oh, and I’ve ordered new quad guides, which will help me register to keep the lines straight. The adhesive ones don’t seem to stick for me, thus the ever-moving prints and crooked lines!

 November 19th, 2015  
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A Swap….

Hello people interested in letterpress printing,

I’m recovering from a bout of vertigo– not fun when you want to stand at the press all day.

I am participating in Ladies of Letterpress swap, which means I am creating 100 5×7 posters on my little press. Not only that, I’ve decided to do two colors. This means three passes for each poster- one for the tree, one for the leaves, and one for the poem. Oh, and probably a fourth since I want to put a colophon on the bottom. Seven gazillion hours later, and I’ll have 100 prints to share!

Like my drying rack?


 November 17th, 2015  
 learning, letterpress  
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First Friday


I’m always exhausted on First Fridays, not that I am complaining. It’s really my body that says– “enough.”

I’ve been up since 5am, a normal time for me, so by 6 tonight, I am plastering on a smile, hoping people don’t see the weariness in my eyes.

Even so, First Friday of Fredericksburg gives artists a wonderful opportunity to show what they do. We are hosting Carol Josefiak, whose work I love. And I also have a chance to talk about letterpress printing!

Stop by if you are local. Or even if you’re not. I promise I’ll be awake.

 November 6th, 2015  
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Missing You

Well, it’s true.

On the other hand, cardisn’t it great fun to send a hand-written note to someone, letting them know how much they are missed? So much better than an email. A handmade card is a gift.

You know it.

This is 14 pt sans serif bold italic with a squiggly ornament. In teal on white cotton paper.

 November 1st, 2015  
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Home Sweet Home…..


I’ve been traveling. To printers’ fairs (Lancaster, PA), workshops (Chicago, Starshaped Prss), classes (Charlottesville, Calligraphy) and a short trip to New York.

Needless to say, my head is spinning.

But that’s ok because I’m learning. Still. After two years of having my presses! Today I had great success with less ink, figured out a better way to layout a card, and used the cute star ornaments Jen @starshapedpress gave me.

I love the way the shadows hit my type case in this photo by Khirstie Smith, our intern. I’ve said, being my my shop is meditative, calming. And I’m looking forward to being home for a while.


 October 25th, 2015  
 home, letterpress  
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Selling– or Not


My husband is in the middle of the volunteer project in which he must ask for money/call people/sell an idea. He was wringing his hands over making the calls.

“I’m the farthest thing from a salesman there is,” he said.

I know that about myself, too. I’ve tried to sell– toys, books, programs, ideas. I don’t sell easily. So why do I letterpress print cards and posters and try to sell them? I love what I do.

But that doesn’t make the selling any easier. When I look at statistics for my shop, I have to ask myself the tough questions: do people like my work? is it the way I present the cards? have I advertised enough?

These questions are important (I’m about to re-do all the photographs on the site). But I know something else. I print because I love to do the work. So, no, I am not a salesperson. I am a printer who really enjoys getting her hands dirty and creating something. There are hundreds of letterpress shops out there, so I have to do this because it matters to me.The_Letterpress_Journals__Typoholic_-_Print_Magazine

Yesterday I spent hours troubleshooting a card I was working on for Fredericksburg Main Street. Though the process was frustrating, when I finally finished I felt a huge sense of satisfaction. Yeah, there it is, I thought.

I guess I’m learning to have faith in myself and my art. And that’s a huge step.





photo: Print Magazine, The Foolproof Press

 October 15th, 2015  
 creativity, letterpress  
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Lancaster Printers Fair


I don’t know which I liked more at the Lancaster Printers Fair– meeting/seeing old friends or getting new stuff! Wood type from from John Barrett at Letterpress Things and Virgin Wood, a handmade book from Leland Manufactory, cards from Sea Heart City Press and Typecase Industries, and a letterpress t-shirt! Mostly, though, I loved connecting with like-minded printers, who continue to amaze me with their willingness to share and help.


 October 12th, 2015  
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I’ve always said I print what is in my head. These days I’m thinking about peace. Rick Hanson, author, wrote in his recent newsletter:

“I’ve been reflecting about my tendencies to get attached to views and outcomes: to how I see things and what I hope happens. Normal, sure, but this attachment – this fixation, drivenness, holding on past the point of wisdom . . . no matter how subtle – is still a source of tension, stress, conflicts, and suffering for me, and often for others.”

I think that’s true for so many of us. I am working on being less in the past or future and more in the present. It sounds like such a cliche these days when it seems that mindfulness is so much in the news. But there is a calm truth about the benefits of staying in the moment.

“Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t).” – James Baraz”

 October 7th, 2015  
 letterpress, mindfulness  
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A Month

FullSizeRender (24)The past month was difficult, but it’s over. I spent yesterday working in the shop, and I think I’m finally getting the hang of this. Each new print job meant more packing, less packing, more tape, less tape– because each form is different, depending upon whether I am using metal type, wood type, or polymer. I managed to get out a few holiday cards and a few quote cards. Yay me.

In two weeks I get to visit Jen at Starshaped Press in Chicago. I’m looking forward to learning from her. Nothing like being around a master! And so what if I’m still working on it at 63. I need to realize that’s pretty cool in itself.

 September 30th, 2015  
 learning, letterpress  
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I first heard of Joseph Campbell in college, which was more than half a lifetime ago. His words resonated so deeply. But I’m not sure I understood them fully until recently. Bliss. To me, bliss is more like “flow,” as in Csikszentmihalyi’s research.

“The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times… The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.” ~ Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

It’s what happens to me when I am working on the press. Last week a friend brought by some ink he didn’t need any longer. Not standard letterpress ink, but what the heck. I’ve heard of using other types of ink so I wanted to give it a try.

The first few attempts were bad. I ran down my list of possible problems: not locking up the type correctly, not enough or too much packing, too much ink. Nothing corrected the bleeding I was seeing. I assumed the ink wasn’t going to work. And then I had a flash- what if the brayer isn’t getting the ink on the type well enough? I was using my proof press not my platen press to test this. Bingo! After I cleaned up the press and tried a different brayer, the sample print was much better. I fooled around a little more with paper thickness, and then called it a day. Hours of trying this and that had flown by. And in the end, I felt as satisfied and full as I have after a delicious meal and wine.

Pure bliss.


 August 29th, 2015  
 business, creativity, learning  
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