November 23, 2012

Bears Eat Berries Press

There's something about the tactile experience of a letterpress creation! 
The impression of image and words is a delight
not only to the eyes, but also to the fingertips!
"Bears Eat Berries Press" knows how to show off the art of letterpress to its best.

Here's the 2012 Holiday Collection~

I met Laura while we were participating in the Lititz Main Street Christmas Market.
We've kept in touch and when she agreed to do this interview, I was delighted.

Your talent shines through in each of your designs! Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hi, I'm Laura. I am a (trained) graphic designer and self-proclaimed letterpress printer. I say self-proclaimed because I've never had any formal training on the press but I've had hundreds of hours of patience, practice and sheer will to get me where I am today. Where I am today is owner of my little letterpress and design shop called Bears Eat Berries Press.

So I must ask. How did you come up with this unique name? It's terrific! 
Well, I love wildlife and nature. (I once majored in Wildlife Management for awhile in college!) I wanted to reflect those passions into my work and into my name. When we would go camping in CA when I was a kid, my cousins and I would sing songs about "bears eating berries" and I've never forgotten those fond memories.

Please explain the letterpress process.
Letterpress printing honors the traditional form of printmaking, like the Gutenberg press. I own and operate a century-old press that is foot-pedal operated. Originally, you took pieces of metal or wooden type that you built into whatever you needed to print, one letter at a time.  Nowadays, most printers (and me too) design on their computers and have their designs made onto thin polymer plates. Once the design is locked up into the press, I take my hand-mixed ink and spread it onto the ink plate.  With letterpress printing, each ink color is done separately. So if you want three colors, the paper goes through the press three separate times.  Next, I register the piece of paper I want to print on, usually thick, 100% cotton paper because it gives such a wonderful "bite"/impression. Then I print away! If I am doing a job that is 150 invitations, I feed the press 150 times with each paper for that one color. It's a time-consuming, get-your-hands-dirty type of process, but it results in a beautiful, unique paper product.

What led to your decision to begin a letterpress business?
I had been a working graphic designer for a number of years. My sister was getting married, and she and her fiance wanted letterpress invitations. Naturally, I wanted to design them, but I didn't know the first thing about letterpress other than what it looked like.  I did a little research and started thinking, "You know, I can do this!" So, I drove up to Ithaca, NY, and bought my first press without even touching one before.

I'd love to hear about how you acquired the large press you're using now.
I operated my first press for awhile as I taught myself how to print. It's a small tabletop press, which I quickly learned is very limited in terms of printing. I needed to go bigger. So about two years ago, I found a press up for sale by a retired printer in Harrisburg, PA. After 12 hours of maneuvering the 1100 lb. press up his basement steps, I was finally the proud owner of a Chandler & Price floor press. 

You create gorgeous wedding designs!
Thank you! 100% of each wedding invitation is custom. I work with each client on what they want, and design each piece to make their invitation unique. Letterpress invitations are not only like little gifts sent in the mail to each guest, but they're also wonderful keepsakes for the bride & groom. 

What inspires your creativity?
I am inspired by simplicity. I think it's really difficult to execute simplicity in design. I am constantly trying to challenge myself on that. Japanese design really excels in simplicity and I frequently look toward that type of design for inspiration.
I am also inspired by nature. The textures and patterns created in nature never fail in my book. From the texture of tree bark to the shape that the sun creates on a mountain, I always find perfection in nature. 

View Laura's remarkable handmade paper crafts at these locations: 


  1. Wonderful! Thanks so much for sharing my story!

  2. Great story! Educational too! Love the paper crafts!

  3. Laura - my pleasure!

    Shelley - Thanks - so do I! Interesting, isn't it?


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