THE INITIAL IDEA
Lauren Eggleston, Sackets Harbor, needed an artistic outlet from her history studies during her time at Wells College, Aurora. She’d been exposed to the art of letterpress printing as a teenager, as her piano teacher’s daughter had a press of her own. As she was looking to do something a little different from her regular studies, she took up letterpress printing for herself and ended up minoring in book arts at Wells. Following her artistic instincts, Bedford Creek Press, a small run letterpress printing shop, was born earlier this year.
Those looking for custom-designed stationery, greeting cards, postcards, gift tags, mailing labels, invitations, envelopes and bookbinding. Bedford Creek Press specializes in limited-run letterpress printing projects using an antique 1909 Chandler & Price platen press printed on high quality papers made in the United States.
The art of letterpress printing dates back to Johannes Gutenberg and the invention of moveable type. Though the process Miss Eggleston uses to produce her one-off pieces looks archaic, with a giant spinning metal wheel and heavy printing plate, the outcome is anything but old-fashioned.
“When I was attending Wells College, they had coursework that was centered around book arts and letterpress printing and I was lucky enough to start taking it when I was a freshman,” she said.
Miss Eggleston continued along her printing journey by completing internships at Bixler Press and Letterfoundry, Skaneateles, and the Frick Collection, New York City, and learning from Starshaped Press, Chicago. After graduating from Wells, she decided to study geology at SUNY Potsdam. Needing an outlet for her creativity, and fueling the urge to use the antique printing press she purchased from a defunct print shop in Lowville, she now returns to her Sackets Harbor home on the weekends to fulfill orders. Orders that have included wedding invitations, Christmas and holiday cards and a special project for the Battlefield State Historic Site in Sackets Harbor.
The process of setting type and images can be time consuming, but the result is unlike anything one can find in the aisles of a drug store. Pulling from more than a dozen drawers full of type, Miss Eggleston creates her vision in either type or images, which are set in polymer at Boxcar Press in Syracuse, locked inside a chase. The chase is secured to the platen press and Miss Eggleston inks the type and images with a desired color. Depending on the project, Miss Eggleston uses the Pantone color chart to mix any color imaginable and takes several turns on the press to achieve the desired colors in the design.
“You really have to learn the tricks of letterpress printing before you decide to just jump in,” Miss Eggleston said. “Printing is where the phrase ‘Mind your p’s and q’s comes from,’ because when you’re setting up type blocks those two look alike.”
While Bedford Creek is currently a side project to her full-time schedule as a student, Miss Eggleston is making the investment in the business’s future. Applying for a federal employer identification number, a doing business under an assumed name certificate and establishing a website have allowed Bedford Creek to begin building a reputation as a new business in Jefferson County that is offering a product unique to Northern New York.
IN FIVE YEARS
“In the future, I have two hopes,” Miss Eggleston said. “The first would be for the press to have its own space, its own storefront, where I can display everything we’ve done and have room to expand. Or, I’d like to invest in a flatbed cylinder press.”
Despite not yet having a dedicated storefront, Miss Eggleston has begun shopping the Bedford Creek brand around to the community. A selection of her letterpress goods are available at Calla Lillies, a locally owned gift store on West Main Street in Sackets Harbor. Miss Eggleston also attended her first craft show during the pre-holiday shopping blitz.
“I’m building clientele by word of mouth and I would like to do work with the Seaway Trail,” she said. “In the future, I’d love to be able to host classes and teach children the art of letterpress, so they can start to learn.”
Where: Sackets Harbor
— Kyle R. Hayes