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Welcome to St Brigid Press


traditional letterpress printing and bookbinding

in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia

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Welcome to St Brigid Press


traditional letterpress printing and bookbinding

in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia

Letterpress printing is a communion —
of centuries-old techniques, the sculpted metal and wood letters themselves,
and the daily bread of language.
— Emily Hancock, printer

Emily Hancock, proprietor of St Brigid Press, in the bindery room.

St Brigid Press is a letterpress print shop in the Blue Ridge Mountains of central Virginia. Emily Hancock is proprietor and printer.

We are dedicated to learning, practicing, and passing-on the art and craft of letterpress printing with hand-set type, hand-carved illustrations, foot-powered presses, and hand-sewn books.

We hope you enjoy the items made at the Press as much as we enjoy creating them.

St Brigid Press was born out of a passion for language:

Emily Hancock has been reading and writing poetry since she was in elementary school, and worked as a bookseller for Stone Soup Books and Cafe in Waynesboro, Virginia for 6 years. In the Autumn of 2011, that life-long love of classic and contemporary literature began to discover its unique expression through the handcrafts of traditional letterpress printing and bookbinding. As she slowly acquired antique printing presses, type, and equipment, she studied the centuries-old techniques with master printers, through deep reading in the field, and a Winter Residency in Letterpress at Penland School of Crafts.

Since then, Emily has created books, journals, posters, prints, bookmarks, and coasters, saying, “I am enjoying each project in the Shop — it is an honor and a great pleasure to spend my days caring for language, and for the traditional handcrafts that bring the written word forth into being and share it.”


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Our Handcraft


Our Handcraft


Working with language on an intimate level, from the first ephemeral thoughts of a poem, to the physical sculpture of the letters themselves —
all collaborating to offer beauty, from experience to expression.
— Emily Hancock

What we create:

  • Books:  poetry, essay, and   nature subjects in limited editions.
  • Journals:  blank books, commonplace books.
  • Broadsides, Posters & Prints:  featuring poetry, wood type, and/or original carvings.
  • Plus:  bookmarks, cards, postcards, coasters, gift tags, business cards, and items featuring hand-marbled paper.

How we create:

  • We hand-set each letter and space of our chosen texts with metal or wood type, then letterpress print with century-old presses (either cranked by hand or treadled by foot).

  • In the bindery, we hand-sew books and journals with linen thread.

  • For illustrations, linoleum or wood blocks are hand-carved to create relief prints.

Why we create:

  • We have a passion for language and literature, both classic and contemporary, and wish to share it.

  • We have a passion for handcraft, for the centuries-old methods of printing with movable type on human-powered presses.

  • We believe in creating and sharing beauty, carefully and attentively, with hands, head, and great heart.

 

Each season brings its beauty here in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. This is a central inspiration for our craft.

(From left to right: View of the mountains from our deck; the cherry tree in its glory; new apple harvest from the field; the Japanese maple outside the print shop doorway.)


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Our Tools


Printing Presses & Other Equipment

Our Tools


Printing Presses & Other Equipment

Golding Pearl No. 3

This press is an elegant meld of form and function. Made in Franklin, Massachusetts, in 1909, it was restored by Gary Johanson in 2011 and is running like a top (quieter, in fact, than our desktop laser printer). It is a floor-model platen press, with a chase-size of 7"x11,” and utilizes a treadle and flywheel (think, old Singer sewing machine).

Chandler & Price 10x15 New Style

The prize for heaviest press at SBP goes to this beauty from Cleveland, Ohio — it weighs in at about 15oo pounds, and was great fun to squeeze through the shop door ;-)  Born in 1914, this C&P was a long-time veteran of a printing office in Greensboro, NC, before retiring alongside it’s printer sometime in the ’90s. With its beefy build, large platen, and three rollers, we use this treadle-press for long runs of everything from coasters to books.

Kutrimmer Paper Cutter, 28", circa 2012.

Ostrander-Seymour Handpress

Our newest old press, the Ostrander-Seymour Extra Heavy No. 1 is an iron handpress, built in Chicago around 1915. We are grateful to have acquired this press from master printer Bob Baris of The Press on Scroll Road, and to be working with it to print everything from books to block-carvings.

Metal & Wood Type

We are grateful to house a large collection of metal and wood type here at the Press. Some of the wood type was made in the latter half of the 1800s. The metal type ranges from 50+ years old to brand-new castings by our foundry friends. Whatever the source, these cases full of letters literally make language appear before our eyes, in our very hands. For an ongoing listing of the typefaces we have, please see here.

Challenge Paper Drill, circa 1949.

Poco Proofing Press No. 0

Crafted in Chicago, circa 1910, this is a small tabletop proofing press. The bed of the press is 12″ x 18″ and is traditionally used to “proof” or check printed forms before final production. When the cylinder is cranked, the bed slides under it, providing the pressure needed to “press” the paper to the inked type. This was our first press, and gets a lot of use to proof forms as well as to make prints from small carved blocks.

Guillotine Paper Cutter

This is, literally, "The Boss" here in the Shop. At 23 inches, the long sharp blade will slice through a thick stack of paper like a hot knife through butter. Made around 1895 by the St Louis Type Foundry, we are very careful with this beautiful beast!

 

Challenge 15MP Proofing Press, circa 1964.