i’ve officially caught the letterpress bug. For years i have been trying to take a class to learn about and make letterpress items. I was aware of classes offered at Art Center as well as Otis, but i couldn’t seem to make the evening class times. Alas, i had put it on the back burner like many of my other interests.
A few months ago, my boyfriend stumbled on a new boutique shop in our neighborhood, Freshed Pressed, that was created to bring the art of silkscreening to the public. In this same vein and spirit, Lala Press have done that for letterpress. I feel so fortunate to only live two miles away from this oasis of a print studio. Upon entering, i knew this was my kind of place. i had signed up for the business card workshop which takes place one day on the weekend. perfect. Upon entering the industrial gate, i was welcomed with a garden of bamboo and succulents. It was a complete hidden treasure, right down to the fresh baked goods from porto’s that awaited me innocently on the table. good food. check. good company. check. good design. check. The day was turning out just perfect.
The industrial space was so neat and tidy that it did not seem like a working print studio. Being in such an industrial space with tons of machinery brought me back to my college years where i would spend hours in the print studio or the sculpture lab. I was excited to actually make something tangible as opposed to creating things that only exist in the digital realm.
The contrast of the brightly painted walls, fresh cut flowers, and the immense presence of several Vandercook letterpresses and Heidelberg commercial letterpresses sitting cloaked in drop cloths was quite peaceful. I later found out all these presses were named by the owners, mable and tianyi and they all had their own special history and story on how they were acquired. Listening to Mable talk about them was very endearing, and at times, it felt like she was talking about her giant, 2 ton babies. In a sense, they are like orphans that have found their forever mommies. These presses are no longer in production and have sometimes been neglected for many years and need to be given a lot of love to be restored to their current state.
i was in a bit of a daze and in awe of what these two women had created for themselves and have also shared with anyone interested: an idyllic creative workspace doing exactly what they love to do: being around big machines and creating delicate, precious products with them. They have captured the true spirit of generosity of both their time and their extensive knowledge.
The studio is maintained by both companies, tiselle and lala press, but they work independently on their own creative commercial projects. lala press mainly runs the workshops. Soon, they will both be unveiling a line of retail goods at the annual stationery show in NY. i can’t wait to see those. For more back story you can check out their extensive website about the workshops that are offered and studio rental time as well.
Now that i have taken one workshop, i am eligible to rent studio time and my gears are already hard at work thinking about my next print project. The business cards came out better than i could have hoped for and i had some extra time so i made some note cards that have the Wallflour logo “blind embossed” on them. tres chic. This is the most pro looking “DIY” stuff i have ever done.
i’ve taken metal smithing classes and knitting classes and to this day, still buy jewelry and scarves and knits because what i create just isn’t up to snuff with what i can just go out and buy. It would take years to master those crafts. this access to letterpress was quite the opposite. i was able to make completely professional looking cards, using the design knowledge i already had, and some elbow grease (and of course invaluable instruction and help from the workshop and mable). of course, it would still take years to master letterpress but at least the end result looked professional. quite possibly the closest thing to instant gratification and without the calories.
so one could say in making my calling cards, i have found my calling.