Ladies of Letterpress Conference 2012

It’s been a while since the Ladies of Letterpress Conference in Asheville, so I figured it might be time to share a little bit about it.

The conference kicked off on Thursday with a tour of Asheville print shops, and we were the first stop on the tour. It was awesome and humbling to have so many printers in the studio. We made sure that the studio was in ship shape, and cleared away the cobwebs that had settled in over my maternity leave.

I wanted to give a little favor to everyone who came out, so I printed up some Artist Trading Cards to hand out.

They’re based on a queen of hearts card, and the queen is holding an ink knife and printers ruler, her cloak is adorned with flywheels, and the pattern on the back of the card is made up of flywheels.

Everyone arrived via the LaZoom bus!

I was super shy at last year’s conference so it was so nice to have everyone over and meet a bunch of people in my space.

And just had to add my sweet boy and I hanging in the studio after the crowd left. 🙂

The rest of the weekend was full of great panels and a great reception with keynote speaker Abigail Rorer of The Lone Oak Press. She makes incredible woodcuts – you wouldn’t believe the detail. Another highlight was meeting and spending time with Rachael and Jake of Pistachio Press. They were kind enough to join Alex and I for dinner one night and let us pick their brains on all things letterpress and running a small business. Pistachio Press is a role model for us, and we’re delighted that the world of letterpress is small and kind enough to share information with each other.

Proud to be a lady of letterpress!

Its so many different kinds of tasty….

My husband, Alex, is a man of many talents. He makes beautiful pottery and beautiful babies, he’s a handyman who built a functional and gorgeous studio with his bare hands, he cooks delicious food, and he makes digital collages of 80’s A list celebrities eating snacks in a manner that is always sloppy and often sexy. Of all of his interests, it is his passion for snacking celebrities that inspired his first letterpress greeting card. So here he is as my first guest blogger — my favorite man and snacker, Alex Lissenden:

There is something about the smell of a fresh Xerox copy that takes me away. This sensation generally lasts for just a moment until the paper transforms back into its cold, colorless, strictly functional form. On a good copy, I can get a solid 10 seconds of sniffing and coddling in before it goes lifeless again. Kinko’s can get awkward fast.

The ability to keep copies warm, tactile, and scented with their process is what makes Letterpress so appealing. I knew nothing about it until Nicole began working at a local print shop here in Asheville a few years ago. The whole medium can be traced back to a 14th century guy named Johannes, my second favorite Gutenberg1. As a blacksmith, goldsmith, publisher and printer, Gutenberg wasn’t that unlike the newest generation of letter pressers who simultaneously handle the design, color theory, ink mixing, physical printing, shop and business management aspects without losing a beat. It’s literally a renaissance medium, requiring figurative renaissance shop keepers.  In keeping with the tradition of using outdated but incredibly efficient machinery, I designed my first card using Microsoft Paint on a used Asheville High School IBM2.

If the image looks foreign, go watch the movie Ghost, you will not be disappointed. If it looks delicious, then you had a similar childhood to me 3. I’m planning to make some counterpart cards to accompany Mr. Swayze, most likely including other 80’s/90’s film studs enjoying equally sexy snack breaks. If you want to tape this card to the inside of your fighter jet cockpit, or you simply want to mail one to a friend, you can get them here.

1 2nd only to Steve, of course

2If faced with a great deal of stress on a cold and dark day, this computer is old enough to legally purchase a pack of cigarettes, though Mink Letterpress would recommend against it.

3This applies to both the push-pop eating, and making out with Demi Moore (or Patrick Swayze for that matter).

Future Mink Pressman

Meet Asher Bruce Lissenden, love of my life and future (unpaid) employee of Mink Letterpress. Born June 11, 2012 at 5:09 am. 8 lbs. 14 oz. 21 inches.

I knew when I wrote my first blogpost comparing childbirth to moving my new press that I’d one day have to eat my words. So here it is: 11 days overdue and 58 hours of labor later, I officially retract my previous statement suggesting that childbirth and press relocation are in any way comparable. Birthing a baby is harder. Like, a lot harder.

But I’ve never done anything so worthwhile in my whole life.

Summer Break

Wow – what a spring!

When I quit my day job in late October, my goal for 2012 was to secure and complete 12 wedding jobs in 2012. Here we are, 5 months in, and I’ve got 17 2012 weddings under my belt. Since I’m taking some time off in anticipation of our baby’s birth (4 days overdue now!), the spring felt like the time to push and do as much work as possible while I had the time. Some have been completely custom, some have been based on previous designs that I’ve done, and a couple I printed using a couple’s own design. I’m proud of all of the work that I’ve done and humbled that the requests came pouring in like they did. Because of my timeline, I had to turn many couples away, but am psyched to gear up again in full force after the summer. Thank you to all of the couples who have trusted me to design and/or print the invitations for their big day! Each one of you has contributed to my dream of self-employment and work-at-home motherhood. In the process, I learned a lot, made some mistakes, and got a better picture of what I want my working life to look like in the years to come.

So I’m taking some time off for a little while. I hope to continue to sell retail goods online during my time off, but the custom shop will be shutting down for the summer. I have some exciting ideas in the works for what Mink Letterpress will look like in the fall and 2013, including new retail products, a badass 2013 calendar, and a Wedding Collection. We’ve experienced a tremendous amount of growth in the last year, and I’m excited to continue to grow in the year to come. I don’t expect this to be easy with a newborn, but I am confident we’ll find a balance.

Here are a few shots of some of the weddings I’ve printed in 2012. I haven’t had a chance to shoot everything I’ve made yet, but I will follow up with complete posts and more pictures of the custom suites in the weeks and months to come.

Brook & Tim

Krystal & Kevin

Laura & Logan

Carmela & John

Melanie & Scott

Rebecca & Brad

I’ll be sure to broadcast when the littlest Mink arrives – any day now! Be looking forward to some seriously awesome birth announcements.

Melanie + Scott: Wedding Invitations

I met Melanie on the first day of pre-school. She has been like a sister to me ever since. In our world, its normal for people to grow apart. Maybe Melanie and I haven’t because we’ve been a part of every stage of each other’s development thus have a deep understanding of each other. Maybe we’re simply soulmates fated to have found each other at a young age (we were also born in the same hospital by the same doctor in Tennessee 6 weeks apart). Probably both. Either way, she’s the kind of friend that once you find, you just don’t let go of.

She first laid eyes on Scott when we were 10 and Scott and I played baseball together. In high school, she made him hers. After dating for the better part of a decade, Scott asked Melanie to be his for life. I couldn’t be happier that Melanie has found a man like Scott. He’s just wonderful.

They’re getting married next weekend. Coincidently, I also have a baby in my belly due to arrive next weekend. Keeping my fingers and toes crossed that he holds out so that I can see Melanie and Scott get married, but if not I know they know how much I love them and that their little nephew will love them just as much.

Without further ado, their wedding invitations. From the beginning, Melanie and Scott liked the idea of having a wedding “logo” to be used on their invitations, thank you notes, favors and various other spots throughout the wedding. They are from the mountains of Asheville and are exchanging vows at a beautiful mountain venue, so we incorporated a mountain image into their logo.



We decided to keep the vibe of the invitations relaxed and simple – black ink on chipboard, tied together with striped black and white baker’s twine, and bring in a pop of color in the envelopes.







We coordinated the labels with the invites, doing a large wrap style label.


Thanks for looking! Congrats Melanie and Scott!

Southern Weddings Magazine: Southern Hospitality Feature

The folks at Southern Weddings Magazine asked Asheville Event Company to be their Asheville experts and Mink Letterpress to design a tote bag for their Southern Hospitality feature. For this feature, they ask their expert to pick items that represent the town to pack into a tote bag to give to wedding guests. Coincidently, Asheville Event Co chose Sweet Betty Bee’s Honey to include in the tote – and my brother Erik Minkin did the awesome logo design for it! Check out the full post here.

Asheville is about so many different things – from the natural beauty of the mountains, to outdoor sports, wildlife, art, music, food, beer… the list goes on and on. I wanted to try to include as many of these aspects of Asheville life and culture the tote as possible. I hope you enjoy what I came up with for the design. If you have a need for it, feel free to download the pdf from the post!


Krystal + Kevin: Wedding Invitations

Krystal and Kevin are a couple from New Jersey having a vintage French garden inspired wedding this May. For their invites, they wanted to incorporate their wedding colors, the flowers they’ll be using (peonies, sweet peas, garden roses, lilies of the valley, and tulips), their initials in some type of monogram, and their two dogs. Here is what we came up with:

The floral background of the invites repeats as the envelope liner.

We had a custom wax sealer made using the couple’s initials

Beautiful calligraphy by Samantha Martin of Curlicue Designs.

Posts to follow with their day-of paper goods. Congrats Krystal and Kevin!

The New Studio

It was only seven months ago that Alex and I started wondering… What if we don’t go on this round the world, year long trip we had been planning? What if we kept our jobs, kept working toward what we’ve been working toward, saved all of the money we were planning on spending on travel, built a studio and started thinking about a family?

While our dreams of traveling will never go away, the idea of removing ourselves from our home, budding business, and dog for an entire year began to feel less appealing. We still want to go all of the places we had planned to go – but now spreading those places out over our lifetime seems to sound better to us than cramming them all into a year.

So seven months ago we started planning, building and growing. Now, here we are, six months pregnant with a gorgeous studio in the backyard.  Things can happen quickly when you decide what you really want, I suppose.

Alex designed the studio and then built it with the help of his dad, a contractor, and lots of helpful friends and family members. Have I mentioned he’s the best husband in the world? He gets off work everyday and works on painting, sawing, hammering, calling inspectors and permitters, talking with locksmiths and electricians – whatever he needs to do to make it a reality. Not only that – he actually seems happy to do it. Of course it’s a huge project that comes with frustrations, but he’s excited to see it all come together. His level of commitment to this project astounds me. How many people get to spend their work week in a structure that was built just for them, with love in every nail and board? I’m a pretty lucky lady, that’s for sure.

So here it is. Eventually, the outside will be painted grey to match our house. Other than that, it’s pretty much done.

Before. It’s hard to remember our yard looking like that!

Digging the foundation. Our yard was once the neighborhood dump – you wouldn’t believe the things that we pulled out of there. Everything from car parts, to tricycles, to mattresses to a 1964 World’s Fair snow globe.

The completed concrete slab.

Alex and his dad, Bob, in the early building stages.

And we’re vertical!

I’m just putting this picture in to prove I was there (even though I was 8 weeks pregnant and napping and puking every moment aside from this one.) Also pictured is Bob’s lady, Marty a.k.a Handywoman Extraordinaire

By the end of that first building weekend, framing was complete, all windows and doors (found at the Habitat for Humanity Home Store and Craigslist) were installed, and the whole thing was wrapped in Tyvek. We had many helping hands that weekend, and are still trying to figure out a way to pay back that debt.

Over the course of the next few months, we were ready to go with insulation, drywall, power, internet, lighting, trim and siding. We moved in my press – which was far easier this time but still gave us flashbacks of our first move. We moved the paper cutter, paper drill and cabinets. We painted the walls and furniture and hung some posters.

All moved in:

the press and storage

The paper cutter and consultation/lounge area

office/design area

Now, I’m working here all the time and could not be happier with the way it all came together. Feel free to pay me a visit!

2nd Edition – 2012 Calendars

Due to an overwhelming demand to reprint, our 2012 Vintage Handkerchief Calendars are now available again in the etsy shop. Being that it’s mid-February and there are only a couple weeks left to have all 6 prints be relevant, we’ve reduced the price. If you missed them the first time around, you can now pick one up. They also make for great framed prints, should you not have a need for a calendar at this point. Thanks for checking them out and for all the love that contributed to the need to reprint!