I am a letterpress printer living and working in the Bay Area. I grew up in rural Northern California as the daughter of a poet and a potter, both small business owners: you could say that both craft and entrepreneurship are in my blood. I became a printer because I am a writer, but also a whole-process person: when I became a knitter, I was compelled to learn to spin yarn, and as a writer, I felt compelled to learn how to make books.
Though I came to printmaking through a circuitous route, it is nothing short of a calling for me: I am at my best when I am putting ink on things, and I daily rise to the challenge of unusual client requests and demanding, particular equipment.
Ladybones Print Shop is a place for making extraordinary things. We specialize in creative, unusual custom and collaborative projects. We love to print the weird and the wooly, projects that are a puzzle or a challenge.
When I started the Ladybones, I wanted to bring the multi-method, collaborative print skills I had gained in previous positions to client work and my own practice; I also wanted to continue to use and maintain the vintage machinery integral to the print methods that most excite me. I have a get-er-done, take-no-prisoners outlook, and I knew that I would find like-minded clients and collaborators attempting to navigate the sometimes-frilly world of custom print work.
My biggest goal for Ladybones is to become the shop that you call when… X happens. When your press breaks. When nobody knows what to do with your project or how to help you. When the ink won’t sit right on the paper (or the leather, or whatever you’re printing on). When you need it yesterday. When it’s 3D but it’s got to be printed flat. In order to be that shop, I need to be well-prepared in both experience and equipment. To that end, I have been building my arsenal the hard way: through hard work, restoration of cast-off presses, careful study and hands-on experience. I have also done my best to build a strong network of experienced specialists, mentors and colleagues that I can call upon when the project requires.
I am incredibly proud of the work I have done so far, and eager to do more.
I plan to use the loan in two main ways: first, I need to complete the restoration of two existing presses (a high-volume letterpress and a large-format letterpress) and purchase equipment to bring foilstamping and silkscreen in-house. The restoration costs will be around $1,300, the silkscreen build-out will require an initial investment of roughly $700 (for a self-built washout booth and exposure unit) and the foilstamping press will cost about $1,500 (used). These numbers are significantly lower than they would be if I were planning to purchase brand-new, top-of-the line equipment — growing slowly, practicing frugality, and building my skills by restoring used equipment are all core values for me and my business.
The second thing I need to do in order to grow Ladybones is bring on an employee. I already have an independent contractor who has worked with me on several occasions; I would like to bring her on as a permanent part-time employee (1-2 days a week to start). This will require an initial investment in the form of hiring an accountant to straighten out my record-keeping and set up a payroll system; I anticipate that this will cost roughly $500. The remaining $2,500 will serve as a runway to pay the salary of this employee for 3 months while her efforts in social media marketing and client outreach, as well as her assistance with production, help the business to grow in a self-sustaining manner.