As our design community integrates more handmade elements into their work and produce smaller runs, it's good to know that we have traditional shops here in SoCal who take the craft of printing seriously.
Importing English Tradition
Apparently, you can take the girl out of the Old World but you can’t take the Old World out of the girl. Sharon Shin, the owner of Papermum Press, learned to print at The Armory Center in Pasadena. She then moved to England to refine her craft and also learned the age-old arts of bookbinding and box-making at the famed Shepherds of London. She brought back stateside working as a teaching assistant for five years at Archetype Press at the Art Center College of Design.
Print production at Papermum Press is driven by a 1956 Heidelberg Windmill, a Swiss FAG flatbed, a 12 x 18 Chandler & Price treadle press, and a 1894 Golding Official press from England. Shin can combine old handset wooden or metal type with modern photopolymer plates.
Who: Papermum Press
Where: 414 Rolyn Place, Arcadia, California 91007. Visits by appointment only.
Passion for the Craft
Some remarkable companies have launched from a garage. Take Just Vandy, which started in a garage as a Vandercook proof press restoration project. True love grew for the meticulous attention to detail and craft, and owner Heather Mitchell began offering custom printing services.
Excited about her new love for the Vandercook proof press, she decided to seek out others with a similar devotion. After connecting with aficionados, she showcased 100 artisans in The Vandercook 100.
The studio offers custom printing services for invitations, business cards and more. Just Vandy also has a line of letterpress stationery characterized by its expressive typography, use of space and color.
Who: Just Vandy
Where: Torrance, California. Visits by appointment only.
It’s not easy being green, but Invite Site/3Muse Press seems to be doing it beautifully. The company is the largest user of 100% PCW papers in L.A. Just about all their papers are sustainable including their alternative fiber papers such as cotton, hemp, mulberry and more. And they print with linseed (flaxseed) oil-based ink, which is better than soy.
Owners Scott Rubel and Helen Driscoll operate their invitation companies from a huge 5,000 sq. ft. studio in El Sereno, Los Angeles. Production is handled with five Chandler & Price handfed platen presses, a 2-color AB Dick for offset and a Kluge for diecutting. They can print on deckled handmade paper, diecut, and mix letterpress printing with offset and digital printing.
Who: Invitesite.com / 3Muse Press
Where: 5390 Alhambra Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90032
Learn About Letterpress
Would you know how to print on a 1928 Chandler & Price New Style or a Vandercook Universal 1 press in an emergency? Classes and workshops such as “Experimentations in Letterpress Printmaking” and “Vandercook Letterpress II” might save you. You can start your education at Panorama Press, at the International Printing Museum or at the Irvine Fine Arts Center. Panorama Press owner Madeleine Zygarewicz will teach you a thing or two about the art, craft and obsession of letterpress.
With over 17 years of printing experience, Zygarewicz combines new methods with old technology, using photo-polymer plates, handset type and carved linoleum blocks. She offers both design and printing, as well as customized flair—such as edge painting, die-cutting, and corner rounding.
Who: Panorama Press
Where: East Hollywood, California. Visits by appointment only.
Of course you can find made-to-order jeans on the Westside of LA, but who knew you could find haute couture stationery? At SweetWater Letterpress, everything is custom. They blend modern design with the meticulous craftsmanship of letterpress printing to create one-of-a-kind pieces. Owner Marc Wilczak and his team were designers and typographers before we were printers, back when everything went to print.
The team crafts their unique items with a pencil and paper. Their final work is printed with their antique equipment; a 1951 Vandercook No. 4, a 1951 Vandercook No. 1, a 1962 Chandler & Price Model N, a 1966 Kelsey Model U and a 1921 Golding Pearl paper cutter.
Who: SweetWater Letterpress
Where: 10054 Culver Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232