Working on a Collection

IMG_5168I’ve struggled with how to define my work as Downtown Writing and Press.

Not that I have to. But I want to.

After a fabulous conversation with Emily Blistein, I’ve realized I don’t have to give up loving traditional letterpress printing OR enjoying designing on polymer plates. Ta da– my two collections:

The Classic Collection

The Fresh Collection

I’m still working out the details, but come along on the journey!

Home and Jane


This Jane Austen quote appeals to me, but it was a friend who asked me to make a gift card for a friend. Shhhh, that’s all I can say at this point, and I can’t reveal the back.

It’s fun to be challenged to learn new things– like printing on the back of the card, which means lining up everything.

My next challenge is two-color registration. Stay tuned!

She’s Here

Actually, she arrived a couple of weeks ago. But I’ve been busy closing Water Street, moving into my new space at IMG_4865Forage Studio, and figuring her out.

The biggest problem will be having what I need both at home and the shop, something that’s already proven to be an issue. So perhaps over the next few weeks I’ll see if I can duplicate some items like furniture and leading.

Either way, I am SO excited. I love the first card I was able to pull off the press.


When the Dark Gets Me Down




Is it the dark? Or is it the cold rain?

Either way, I struggle (as my dad often did) with this weather. Nevertheless, I must pull on my boots (literally pulling on Birkenstock boots today) and head out. I am attending the University of Mary Washington Student Holiday Market as a vendor. I have to admit– this is not my favorite thing to do. Who likes selling themselves? But if I want to get my work out into the world, I have to, well, get it out into the world.

And what I know about weather is this: it always changes, much like anything, any moment in life.





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.