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.
A little more on the folks behind the cards:
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.
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.
All three operate on a letterpress belonging to Mika, which hails from the year 1949.
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.
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.
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.Ink 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. Once 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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custom letterpress printing (Paper Works Press)
letterpress printing and photography (Mika Fowler)
photography (Alicia Osborne Photography)
Paper Works Press letterpress cards (Maiden South)