My Favorite Letterpress Man is a Woman! Meet the Ladies of the Letterpress

Written by in Profiles


Pictured above, Feeding the Soul: Josie (L), TJ (R) and a big old iron letterpress. What else does a woman need?

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Booths 2256 & 2258, Javits Center.
National Stationary Show May 16-19

We introduced four of the eight Ladies of the Letterpress at the kick-off of the paper show on Sunday. They hail from across the country, big cities, small towns with many hobbies and backgrounds.

But they all love letterpress, paper craft and the personal touch. Here are the other four women who are at the show now. Go meet them! Find a list of women owned Letterpress studios in your town or neighborhood.

Sometimes I still think I’m crazy for jumping into this business without having a formal printing or design background. But then I retreat to a land of ink and iron to make something beautiful with my hands and the doubts leave. — TJ Strandberg,


Ink & Iron
Davis, CA
TJ Strandberg

I was raised in Menlo Park, California, a small town in the San Francisco bay area. I attended college at the University of California, Davis where I majored in Economics and Psychology with minors in Managerial Economics and Spanish. In 2007, after a chance encounter with a letterpress wine label (thank you Hatch Show Print and Three Thieves), I fell in love with letterpress.



Be still my beating heart: technology with integrity and a blue collar work ethic.

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So I then went out and bought a C&P 8X12 and a Vandercook 4. At first, I hobby-printed for two years. After seven+ years in a corporate sales position—the last two of which I spent daydreaming of typography and pantone colors—I made the big leap, I started INK&IRON in late 2009.

Sometimes I still think I’m crazy for jumping into this business without having a formal printing or design background. But then I retreat to a land of ink and iron to make something beautiful with my hands and the doubts leave.

I once had a big wedding order — the biggest in career to date — about 250 invitations with three enclosure cards, all two color. I decided to have everything cut down “professionally”. Two of the pieces, including the main invitation had a rectangular frame, were precisely designed so cropping was crucial. When I picked the job up, it appeared that they viewed my crop marks as merely a suggestion. I left in tears with my paper scraps in hand. On a tight deadline, I had to reprint the entire job.  In the end, I am glad I did:  the orange on the first go around had not turned  out the way I wanted. I nailed it the second time.


A Tought Act to Follow:

Let’s hope the marriage goes as well the as the invitation.

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My principle hobby is running. I have run four half marathons over the past year or so. I love the energy of race day and beating my previous race time. Rain or shine most Saturday mornings, I’m up early to run between 6-14 miles. I don’t have kids, unless you count my dog, Josie, who is a rescue and is the sweetest thing ever.



One Year Calendar by Maia Karolina de Raat of Dandy Lion Press: 2 Years in the Making

Dandy Lion Press

San Francisco, Mission District

Maia Karolina de Raat

I founded Dandy Lion Press in 2007 out of a large garage in an old Edwardian building in San Francisco’s happening Mission District. My studio space was originally part of a stable that functioned as its tack room with huge wooden beams spanning the ceiling. Besides running the letterpress shop I also teach letterpress, plate making and linoleum cutting at The San Francisco Center for the Book.

I discovered the craft of letterpress while studying for a Fine Art degree at Smith College in North Hampton, MA. It offered me an irresistible mix of arcane knowledge, antique machinery and beautiful ephemera. My senior year at Smith I handset type and created woodcut illustrations for a short story I had written that I made it into a book. I continued with lino and woodcuts after college, so everywhere I moved I’d locate the local hard wood store and try out what they had for carving. In Amsterdam, poplar worked best, In Washington DC, it was rock maple.

Until I moved to San Francisco I was without a press, but once I got here I discovered the San Francisco Center for the Book. It became my new home away from home. I now own two presses a C&P 8 x 12 Old Style and a Vandercook SP25. I am always lusting for more!

I dream of one day having a large rambling space in the countryside which I can fill with letterpress machinery and the assorted fun bits and pieces that come with it — drawers of lead and wooden type, etc. Perhaps keep a few sheep and chickens would around for company — together, we’d print to our heart’s content.

As for challenges, they’ve changed since I had my child recently. It is hard finding the time to design and print. After a couple of hours working on the press I’m missing the baby; after a couple of hours with the baby, I’m missing my press or my sketchpad.

My mother started her own business when I was little and it’s funny how I now see things from an entirely different perspective.  I appreciate now much more how my mother managed to pull off both responsibilities as a mom and a business owner. Many of current letterpress printers out there today are women — and I’m sure I’m not alone in trying to balance work and children.




Letterpress wheel. (photo by

Pistachio Press

Rochester, NY

Rachael Hetzel

After college SUNY Brockport, I had a sinking feeling that I had missed out on learning letterpress printing because my college didn’t have one.  So I tracked down a press 10 hours away from where we were living at the time and drove out to pick it up.

I ended up going to grad school at the University of Buffalo for printmaking, bringing my press with me!  There, I began incorporating letterpress printing into my work and started printing in the University letterpress shop. Since then I have accumulated several hundred pounds of type and three more presses, which are now housed in my sunny studio on the fourth floor of an old shoe factory in Rochester.

As a printmaker, I have always loved the tactility of prints on good cotton papers and I am drawn to the communal character of a print shop. Owning my own letterpress shop means that I can work directly clients, that my days are always varied, and that I spend my time doing what I love – printing and designing. I’m still excited every time I print a new design or collaborate with another artist on a print project.

I think social media and technology-heavy world overwhelm most of us. A hand-written note on well-designed stationery is the perfect antidote. It allows the writer slow down, put pen to paper and — no matter how efficient email is — show someone that they care enough to take the time to wish them well or thank them.

When I’m not printing I teach drawing, printmaking and bookmaking at the University of Rochester. I’m married to an incredibly supportive husband and we have two dogs (Cassie, a yellow lab and Pancake Sue, a miniature lab mix). We take the dogs to the park as often as we can and enjoy tinkering in our garden, cooking good meals and— every so often — reading a great book.


Paper Mill Designs

Katrina Davenport

I grew up in Overland Park, Kansas, a suburb of Kansas City. After stints in Chicago and Denver, my husband and I settled back in Overland Park just before our 2005 wedding.

I launched Paper Mill Designs in 2006 as a custom-design studio catering to brides. After outsourcing some letterpress jobs, I decided to look into acquiring my own equipment. What started out as a search for tabletop press ended up with the acquisition of a 1,500-pound Chandler and Price floor-model press and cutter. We took a chance trip one afternoon to see a press in action in western Kansas, and started printing on it four weeks later.

I love providing clients with hand-printed products to celebrate life’s milestones. I learn new things about my press and the art of letterpress printing through wonderful communities like the Ladies of Letterpress blog site that helped me develop and grow my business.

What I enjoy most about the art and craft of letterpress work is its hands-on character. I participate in the creation of my products from start to finish, from design to printing, and I love that feeling of ownership of my work and sharing that work with clients. The sentiment behind hand-written notes or formal wedding stationery creates an intimate communication between people. I love the fact that these printed artifacts remain as timeless keepsakes and memories over time.

In my spare moments, I spend time with my amazingly supportive family including my husband, my two dogs, Parker Posey and Penny Lane, and my daughter Avery–already an accomplished blogger at 13 months! (

I am incredibly fortunate to have so many family members in my daily life that support and encourage my creative and business endeavors. Since the birth of my daughter, my respect and admiration have grown for working mothers who achieve the delicate balance between running a successful business and having a happy family. Due to our extremely flexible parents and siblings, my husband and I were able to prep and launch a new line for the National Stationery Show.

  1. 05
    Jerry Burns said:

    “. . . retreat to a land of ink and iron’ . . .I love that! Great article!

  2. 05
    Matt Porter said:

    TJ says she cannot really erase ALL DOUBTS forever, but that at least she can when immersed in the Land of Ink and Iron… everyone, check out the Ladies of Letterpress blog for inspiration and business ideas.

  3. 05

    Love, love, love these ladies! So great catching up with them at the Stationery Show this week. What an inspiration to the letterpress community- keep up the great work all of you Ladies of Letterpress!

  4. 10

    Very nice article! Hope all is well.