We’re always envious of our Makers’ ability to follow their dreams and turn their passion and creativity into a business, but everyone discovers their calling in a different way. Kristen Ley of Thimblepress explains the path she took that ultimately led to creating her line of vibrant scarves, totes, paper goods, and party accessories.
Kristen: Having discovered letterpress years back and taken a class in Charleston on it, I decided to figure out if owning a press was a reality. I contacted TJ Ray of the AG Museum Print Shop in Jackson and asked him if he could meet to talk about printing. He willingly agreed and I spent an afternoon exploring the different presses. He put me in touch with Ed Inman, who I consider to be one of the best letterpress artists around. Ed welcomed me into his home and let me further discuss the art of letterpress with him. I was determined to own a press. After months of searching, I found a 1925 Chandler + Price Platen Press in Lexington, KY. I made the drive up there with a friend and we picked up the 900 lb. press and drove it back on a trailer to Jackson. After three moves around Jackson, it finally made a home in my garage. I stared at it for quite some time, asking myself "what have I just purchased"? While all of this was happening, I was also relearning how to sew. I had learned from both my grandmothers, but I guess the saying "if you don't use it, you lose it" is true, because I definitely had forgotten. I loved sewing and I knew I wanted to somehow incorporate it into whatever I would end up doing with the press. I then began researching and acquiring all the supplies needed to open up shop. I called Ed Inman and told him my letterpress needed a "doctor's appointment" to make sure everything was okay and I had the green light to begin printing. He graciously went through the press with me — he had so much patience!
After I had everything set up, I began creating illustrations and designs that I could get processed into polymer plates to print on the press. There is so much beauty in a single letter; knowing it has been forming something larger, a sound, a spoken word and pressing against paper with ink for possibly longer than I have been alive is amazing. Letterpress is a vast, new world for me and I am just getting my feet wet. Did you like this story? You’ll probably like these as well!