By: Heather Sorensen and Nathan Simon, owners of Ole Timey Letterpress Studio
Quickly. Faster. I need this yesterday.
In most every aspect, life pushes us into a faster pace, year after year. We then wonder, “Where has the time gone?” I think we all feel the need to cram each day with far too much stuff, yet we crave a slightly slower pace and a chance to pause and enjoy the present moment. I know my family and I sure do. This is one huge reason we at Ole Timey Letterpress Studio are drawn to the artisan craft of letterpress printing. It is a slow, creative process that cannot be rushed.
In our studio, we create every project from scratch, working with some equipment that pre-dates the American Civil War. We set movable type, letter by letter, creating intricate puzzles with wood and metal. We print each page by hand, one at a time, on our heavy cast-iron printing presses. Every single print is unique. Every project we create is one-of-a-kind. Walking into our letterpress studio is like walking back in time. No computers—just good ole’-fashioned tools and creative minds building beautiful artwork with our hands, getting lost in the work.
Our type, presses, and tools—they all have their own history of where they came from and a story of how we came to find them. Collecting tools for this style of printing is a slow-paced hobby all in itself, and these items are very rare and usually need a little TLC. We have been actively collecting for many years, and we aren’t the only ones. Letterpress printing is alive, I can see it in the lack of inventory and rise in prices for tools, wood type, and printing presses.
Although many of the newcomers to letterpress printing are using digital means to create their designs, and are making photopolymer plates to use on bases in their presses, rather than the old-school, hand-set process, I’ve definitely noticed a resurgence in letterpress printing, and it is extremely exciting to see so many old, rusty presses being restored to their former glory and used once again. While the get-it-quick printers will always have their place, I feel the appreciation for thoughtful, handmade art is growing, largely due to the desire to just slow down a bit and enjoy the process.