Over the last few months, sending cards to loved ones and little daily reminders of hope and happiness became more important than ever in our everyday lives. So, if you haven't yet discovered Aspen Press, you're in for a treat. Precisely hand crafted paper products that will certainly put a smile on your face and as any stationery lover knows, there's no such thing as too many notebooks! We caught up with Pat, to find out more about the process of letterpress and how she began her creative journey.
Pat outside her studio in Suffolk
How long have you lived in the picturesque village of Orford in Suffolk, do you enjoy spending time exploring Suffolk?
I moved to Suffolk over thirty years ago. At first we did an enormous amount of exploring Suffolk but now it is more about days out and finding new places.
How did you discover letterpress and what do you enjoy about the process of printing?
I have always had a keen interest in paper, words, language and lettering and have experimented with many different disciplines; calligraphy, drawing, painting etc. One day, I can’t remember how or when Letterpress crossed my path and I immediately thought that this was for me. I signed up for a Letterpress course at Central St Martins School of Art and haven’t looked back since. Letterpress is everything I thought it would be and more.
Your cards and stationery often use quotes; tell us a little bit about what inspires you.
My inspiration is all around me, I know this is a well used phrase but it is true in my case. I have been gathering quotations for as long as I can remember and I keep them on paper and in my mind. Now of course a lot are screenshots on my phone.
How is sustainability an integral part of your supply chain and processes?
I use an old printing press which was built in 1910 and is operated by human power, me! The lead type that I use is either old type which has been in use for some time or newly cast type. In every type room there is a box called a Hellbox into which goes all the broken and damaged pieces of type. Type is made from a mixture of lead, tin and antimony of which there is a finite amount around so every printer sends their Hellbox to a type foundry where it is melted down and made into new type. I prefer to use paper that is milled in the UK from companies who have strong eco credentials. Nothing is wasted in my print room as rejects are used for testing. I enjoy using the process of handset movable type which was developed in the mid 1400’s and which is more or less the same process I use today.
Printing Press in the Aspen Press studio
Do you have a favourite product to make or a best seller?
My best seller is my pocket notebooks which I make by the hundreds. I get lovely feedback from my customers, such as “I can never have enough of your notebooks,” or “they are so handy I always have a few around”. My best selling card ever, is 'She believed she could so she did', which probably reflects the type of people who love Letterpress.
What small businesses or brands are you loving at the moment?
I am constantly impressed with the number of young people who have started up small imaginative businesses and their skills at using social media etc. I met Andy Greenacre a few years ago at the first Old Jet market I attended and I am so impressed at how he has embraced the hand made market with his physical markets but more than that the success of Makers Markets from Home since the lock down. In the short time it has been operating it has amassed almost 8.000 followers. I love being part of the Alde Valley Festivals and have met amazing artists there such as jeweller Eilidh Allam, bag maker Vandertas and Herbalist Herber and Co. There are really too many to mention, but I can’t not mention Buzz Mitchell’s sea glass jewellery and her wonderful drawings. Megan I also love what you are doing and how you do it. Your creativity is amazing as is your attention to detail and last, but from far least, your beautiful paintings. My stationery drawer always contains some of your cards.
I do enjoy music while I work. My tastes are wide are varied, Leonard Cohen, Ian Dury, Nina Simone, some classical, carols at Christmas time, Christine and the Queens and good old Kenny Rogers to name just a few. I also love audio books which I listen to while hand stitching my notebooks. I am currently listening to The Lighthouse Keepers Daughter’s by Jean Pendziwol which I though I would read as a nod to the end of the road for Orford Lighthouse which is being dismantled this week having stood on Orford Ness for 220 years.
//Images courtesy of Pat Walker, aspenpress.co.uk and product photography by Megan Clark//