Tag Archives: Ad2

Press Press Merch/Appalachia Press tour

2 Feb

The folks at Ad2 Roanoke had another great event planned for the masses. A lunch-time tour of two of Roanoke’s finest printers’ shops. Enter Press Press Merch and Appalachia Press. My co-worker Suzanne and I made the trip up from Blacksburg for what they called the “Brown Bag Series: The Fine Art of Printing.” We pulled up to an unassuming warehouse-looking building off of Albemarle Avenue. As we walked through the doors, we were welcomed with open arms, warm smiles, pizza, and desserts by Hired Guns Creative‘s Erica and Patrick, along with Greg Szechenyi from Press Press and John Reburn from Appalachia Press.

Greg walked around their print shop, taking us through the production of a normal screen printing job, showing off their massive 10-station, 8-color automatic press and vacuum exposure unit. Running my own screen printing business out of my home, having a shop anywhere close to what Press Press has would have been incredible. Later, Greg showed off their showroom, highlighting various printing techniques like soft-touch inks, 4-color printing, and discharge inks, which removes the pigment from the shirt in a non-toxic way. The whole time we were there, the Press Press crew was working seamlessly and professionally in the background, like there weren’t any strange people wondering around their shop.

John took over and led us a few feet through a doorway, bringing us into the Appalachia Press shop. There was a distinct smell of “Old Stuff™,” which should be a signature Appalachia Press candle scent. You’re welcome, John. Old presses, wood, steel, and iron. *Deep breath…ahhhhhh. What a lovely smell that is. As he led us through his workshop, John shared a brief history of how he got into letterpress, what he uses each piece of machinery for, and then explained the printing process for various letterpress jobs. There are some different processes that he goes through based on the type of job that comes in. Whether it involves hand-cut stencils, sending art out to be made into a block, or screen printing, every job always includes lots of hands-on work. Getting his hands dirty and lifting heavy equipment is how John stays fit. Having a new retail store in downtown Roanoke, a steady stream of online shoppers, and many resellers all over the country keeps Appalachia’s presses moving. John is working on plans to run a few workshops this summer, so stay in the loop on their Facebook page.

Thanks again to Press Press Merch and Appalachia Press’s hospitality, and to Ad2 for hosting such a wonderful event. And for those who couldn’t make it out, nanny nanny boo boo, stick your head in doo doo. You missed out.

Moveable Type Truck

26 Nov

On Friday, November 18, the Moveable Type Truck rolled into Roanoke, VA to share a lovely evening with the Ad2 Roanoke crew and anyone else who happened to walk by. Kyle Durrie, a letterpress printer from Portland, Oregon and the proprietor of Power and Light Press has been driving her converted 1982 Chevy step van/mobile letterpress print shop around the country sharing her love of letterpress with the masses. She’s been making stops at “libraries, community gardens, galleries, street fairs, farms, universities, back yards, and everywhere in between” since June of this year. Kyle’s plan is to continue the tour until March/April of next year, if not longer. I’m not sure how many miles she’s logged so far, but that’s going to be one hell of a cross country road trip!

As guests stepped into the van, Kyle met them with a smile and a greeting. There was a well-worn guest book next to the air-ride driver’s seat, and loads of printed materials were stuck to the sides of the interior with magnets. Guests came in, got a quick tutorial of how each of the presses (a Showcard sign press from the mid 20th century, and an 1873 Golding Official No. 3 tabletop platen press) worked, then were encouraged to print their own signs and coasters. On-lookers huddled in the van to see the printing in action, while others warmed up in a very cool vintage clothing store and coffee shop called Freckles or a grabbed a stiff drink at Lucky, the bar next door.

I was introduced to Kyle and asked if she would mind me asking some questions. She kindly obliged and I went on to fumble around with some questions.

Designblinks: What got you into letterpress?

Kyle Durrie: I randomly signed up for a class about six years ago. Because I was unemployed, I needed something to do. I had done printmaking and other kinds of printing in college, but never any letterpress. I took this class one winter and fell in love with it, stuck with it, did a few apprenticeships with different printers and started my own thing a few years ago. It was a little bit daunting (starting a new company), being that it was right when the recession hit, but I hadn’t had a business before the recession, so I didn’t have anything to compare it to.

Designblinks: Where has been your favorite stop so far in your travels?

Kyle: I never know how to answer this question. I’ve had a lot of really, really great visits. I’ve had zero terrible visits. I’ve had some that are less good than others, but nothing has been a total wash. I had a really amazing time in this town in Utah called Creek River. It had little to do with printing, but I just met some great people there who were really inspiring. I was Louisville last weekend and that was really fun. Every place is different. Sometimes it’s the people I meet, sometimes it’s the geography of where I’m at. I feel like every place has something really good to offer.

Designblinks: Have you ever felt the urge to abandon your trip and just head home?

Kyle: No, I had the urge to take a week off the other day. I felt that urge pretty strong, but I haven’t wanted to go home, just wanted a little time out. I kind of overbooked things on this trip, and have had very little time off and it’s catching up with me right now. But I don’t feel the need to call it quits. I’m still really excited about everything to come.

Designblinks: The first tour was funded by Kickstarter.com, correct?

Kyle: Well, this is the first tour. Kickstarter funded the first steps of the tour. It allowed me to buy the truck and to do all of the customization, then by the time I left to go on the tour, all that money was gone. I vastly underestimated all of that. Kickstarter gave me the seed money to get the project going. And now that I’m traveling, I’m basically funding it by selling my work, taking donations, and teaching workshops. It’s kind of just breaking even, but it’s breaking even, so it’s good.

Designblinks: What’s your current favorite artist or album you’ve been listening to, either on the road or while you’re stopped?

Kyle: I just realized that the CD player doesn’t stop, so this has played through about eight times tonight. This used to be a favorite, but I can’t listen to it anymore. I’ve been listening to a lot of old country songs. Those are good for traveling. Willie Nelson.

Designblinks: What do you hope people will come away with from this experience?

Kyle: One thing I’m excited about offering people is a chance to work with their hands and to make something. I think a lot of us get trapped behind our computers a little too much. I love my computer. It’s invaluable to me, but it’s a very different experience to just play with your hands, get a little bit messy, and make something. There’s a feeling of accomplishment or satisfaction. I’ve gotten some good feedback from people that that feels good for them, so I feel good about being able to offer that.

Designblinks: Do you think that’s what drives you, no pun intended, to keep going?

Kyle: Yeah, I think so. It never gets old.

Designblinks: Thanks for talking with me and thank you for coming to Roanoke!

Kyle: Sure! Thank you, my pleasure!

It was a fantastic evening. Designers and non-designers alike had a great time spending some time with Kyle and her awesome letterpress shop on wheels. Thanks again to Kyle for stopping in Roanoke and to Ad2 Roanoke for making it happen! To those of you out there that will be near an upcoming stop, you should really go. It was a great time. Best of luck to Kyle as she makes her way back to the west coast.