When I last visited Blue Barnhouse before their departure from Asheville, NC to Wilmington, NC, I was informed about an organization called Ladies of Letterpress. My initial response was naturally “hey! I’m a lady! I love letterpress!” I visualized a small local group of printers, similar to knitting circles and neighborhood quilters. When I went online to investigate further, I learned that it is a national organization with representative printers from nearly every state. I felt very lucky that the upcoming conference was to be held in none other than Asheville, North Carolina. “Hey! I live there!”
When I walked in for the first panel, I started spotting some craft, letterpress and blog celebrities. I mostly kept to myself but it was super cool being in the presence of other printers just starting out, veteran printers with established businesses, and top tier printers whose work I know and admire. Panels focused on topics like starting a letterpress business, using social media to share and promote your work, and what the future holds for letterpress.
In addition to the panels, there were also various demos and events held at Bookworks, including paper making, tabletop press printing, and die cutting. I’ve heard that die cutting can tear up your press, so I’ve been debating looking for another press that’s not in great shape so that I could dedicate it to die cutting. But I learned how capable my press is of this kind of work – and it really opens my world up in terms of what I can create on my press. After seeing the demo on a press very similar to mine, I’m confident that my press can die cut without harming itself.
On Saturday night, a classy reception was held at the Venue, where the keynote speaker, Judith Berliner of Full Circle Press, gave her speech. It was moving, entertaining and inspiring. She printed broadsides for all of the attendees, with the following words by Beatrice Warde. I will hang it in my new studio that my handy husband is in the process of planning.
“This is a Printing Office. Crossroads of civilization. Refuge of all the arts against the ravages of time. Armory of fearless truth against whispering rumor. Incessant trumpet of trade. From this place words may fly abroad, not to perish on waves of sound, not to vary with the writer’s hand but fixed in time, having been verified by proof. Friend, you stand on sacred ground, This is a Printing Office.”