Tag Archives: Paper Works Press

Southern Makers: Paper Works Press

I recently spent a rainy Saturday morning with Alicia and Sheri, the two gals behind Paper Works Press.  I arrived at the studio they share with their mentor, photographer and letterpress guru Mika Fowler, around 10:30 a.m. where I was immediately handed a delicious chocolate-sea salt cookie for Mika’s birthday.  After some quick introductions, we got started, and I knew right away that I liked these ladies.

Paper Works Press, Tallahassee, Florida | Oysters & Pearls

A little more on the folks behind the cards:

Sheri and Alicia, the Ladies Behind Paper Works Press in Tallahassee, Florida | Oysters & Pearls

Alicia, one half of Paper Works Press, is a Tallahassee native and a photographer by trade.  You can find her beautiful work over at Alicia Osborne Photography.

Alicia Osborne Photographer, Tallahassee, Florida | Oysters & Pearls

Sheri came to Tallahassee to study art, education, and printmaking at FSU.  Now she makes up the other half of Paper Works Press while also teaching high school art.

Paper Works Press Letterpress Coaster | Oysters & Pearls

Mika Fowler, who isn’t officially a part of Paper Works Press, plays a very important role in the business nonetheless.  He is Sheri and Alicia’s mentor and shares his studio with the duo.  He is always there offering quiet advice and recommendations and is a constant source of information.  He also offers letterpress printing, photography, and letterpress workshops.  The studio is full of his work and inspiration.

Mika Fowler Letterpress, Tallahassee, Florida | Oysters & Pearls Mika Fowler's Studio, Shared with Paper Works Press | Oysters & PearlsMika Fowler Letterpress Workshops | Oysters & Pearls

All three operate on a letterpress belonging to Mika, which hails from the year 1949.

Paper Works Press | Oysters & Pearls

Letterpress, a form of relief printing, began around the early 1800s, and is still just as popular today as it was back then.  Traditional printing back then used hand set wood and metal type.

Vintage Letterpress Letters in Mika Fowler's Studio | Oysters & Pearls

These days, thanks to computers, technology, and polymers, a photo polymer plate is used for printing instead.  Designs have become much more involved and embellished, but printing is still done one piece of paper and one color of ink at a time.  Sheri and Alicia can have a polymer made of an image you send them, but  they also draw many of their designs by hand.  My logo is one that I drew, which my friend Nikki Rich (of Rich Designs in Bainbridge) turned into my logo, and Sheri and Alicia turned into a polymer printing plate.

Modern Day Letterpress Printing | Oysters & Pearls

The most time consuming part of letterpress printing, as Sheri and Alicia tell me, is the set up.  Figuring out where you want the press to print on the paper, then translating that location to the plate, and then making sure the polymer is inked correctly makes up the majority of the work.Paper Works Press | Oysters & PearlsInk is smeared across the press.  If too much ink is used, the print will be sloppy.  Too little ink will result in a faint print.Letterpress | Oysters & Pearls Mika Fowler and Sheri of Paper Works Press | Oysters & Pearls Sheri of Paper Works Press  | Oysters & PearlsOnce everything is set, printing starts.  The press can be hand cranked by turning that large wheel (I’m sure I’m using all the proper technical terms) or if the motor is turned on, printing goes much more quickly.

The Ladies of Paper Works Press, Letterpress in Tallahassee, Florida | Oysters & Pearls

Printing can be paused by pushing that lever that Alicia has hold of forward.  There’s even a foot brake to slow things down a little, but the person running the press has to stay pretty nimble.  Paper Works Press Ladies, Tallahassee, Florida | Oysters & Pearls

We started out with black ink for the notecards that Sheri and Alicia printed for me.  I emailed them my logo ahead of time which they had turned into a polymer plate.  Now that it’s on file, they’ll keep it for future orders, which reduces the future cost and time involved.Letterpress Note Cards by Paper Works Press | Oysters & Pearls

Sheri & Alicia, Paper Works Press | Oysters & Pearls

After the black ink, we took a cookie break and they cleaned the press.  They had just gotten in some gold ink that they wanted to experiment with, and I was a more-than-willing guinea pig.

Gold Ink for Letterpress | Oysters & PearlsLetterpress by Paper Works Press | Oysters & Pearls

Oysters & Pearls Logo in Letterpress by Paper Works Press | Oysters & PearlsLetterpress Note Cards by Paper Works Press | Oysters & Pearls

The gold looks amazing on the kraft paper, and I’m so glad they experimented with my note cards.  I am thrilled with how they turned out!  And so grateful they allowed me in their studio to watch them be printed.  I learned so much from these ladies, and I’m always excited to support some creative lady entrepreneurs.

Sheri and Alicia, the Ladies Behind Paper Works Press in Tallahassee, Florida | Oysters & Pearls

The sweet, awesome gals of Paper Works Press can create custom letterpress wedding invitations and stationery sets, coasters, business cards, note cards, thank you notes, or just about anything you can dream up!  Visit their website for more information and examples of their work, and expect to see more of it at Maiden South in the Fall.

Paper Works Press on Facebook
Paper Works Press on Instagram

Shop this post:
custom letterpress printing (Paper Works Press)
letterpress printing and photography (Mika Fowler)
photography (Alicia Osborne Photography)
Paper Works Press letterpress cards (Maiden South)

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Southern Makers Series
Due South Makers Market
Anhaica Bag Works

Until Next Time