letterpress love at fontlove studio.


The off-season is all about embracing life outside triathlon… because yes, it does indeed exist. In addition to my November goals (creating and kombucha!), I’ve had one email in my inbox for a couple months: Fall letterpress classes. Letterpress has long intrigued me… its history and vintage flare, the classic fonts and type, the impression on heavy paper, creating by hand. Years ago, I found some vintage type at an antique store, bought because of my love of letters. And, forget Hallmark cards; I’m all about letterpress for all occasions.

Anyway, I kept coming back to that email, and at the last minute, I signed up for the five-hour class at Fontlove Studio in Uptown Minneapolis. And, last Sunday afternoon, bright November sunshine streaming through the studio’s large picture windows, owner Elana Schwartzman explained the letterpress basics. Her overview of the history and the creative design process was enough for me to know I’d love my own vintage press, type, type cases, galleys and composing sticks (and, yes, I’ve been scouring Craigslist and eBay).

LETTERPRESS-WEB (2)Following her overview, my four classmates and I set our own type in a lockup – first as a group (each picking the name of the street we grew up on and our favorite ice cream flavor… can you guess mine?) and then individually.

I took to Pinterest for some quote inspiration and settled on a hybrid: be grateful / be brave / smile often / travel / work hard / be kind / and love

The start was a bit overwhelming, deciding on fonts – century schoolbook and futura – and adjusting the kerning and leading, but I loved fitting the puzzle together, creating minus a computer screen, black ink on my hands, the weight of the lead type, feeling the press roll over the white paper and peeling it off the type to reveal the finished print. I love the endless possibilities that lie in heavy drawers of type, just waiting to be put together and pressed on paper.

When the afternoon started, I thought five hours would be far too much time for the class. However, 6p rolled around in a blink, and I was sad to see it end. (Now, if I could just find my own tabletop letterpress!)

Thank you, Elena, for sharing and spreading your letterpress love!


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  • Reply amikoch 11/14/2013 at 12:29 pm

    So much fun!! Wish I got to do it too! :) Thanks for sharing your works of art, though, and giving me one of the prints. So excited to frame it!

    • Reply erin 11/22/2013 at 2:43 pm

      Let’s take the next class together, Sis! You would love it! You’re welcome… glad you love it! xo.

  • Reply vardotrichic 11/14/2013 at 1:22 pm

    It is amazing to get to experience life and challenge our minds in a new way during the off season. Awesome works of art you created!!

    • Reply erin 11/22/2013 at 2:44 pm

      Indeed, it IS! I love swimbikerun, but it feels good to focus on a few other hobbies in the off season, too :) Thank you! Hope you’re getting in some good off season fun, too! LOVE your new tattoo!

      • Reply Kecia 11/22/2013 at 3:28 pm

        Thanks Erin!! Like you, I too am getting in some great off season enjoyment :)

  • Reply kendra 11/14/2013 at 3:05 pm

    SOOOOO fun! My heart swoons for letterpress and I’ve got to go do this sometime. Adding it to the “list” :)!

    • Reply erin 11/22/2013 at 2:45 pm

      Definitely take a class, Kendra! I definitely will take another one (or five)! My heart swoons for it, too :) Hope you’re recovering well!

  • Reply Kristen L 11/14/2013 at 10:18 pm

    Wow, this sounds like an awesome way to spend an afternoon! It’s so impressive that you had so many fonts and sizes to choose from. Great quote that you chose too. :)

    • Reply erin 11/22/2013 at 2:46 pm

      It was SO fun, Kristen! Felt good to work that side of my brain :) She had a ton of fonts and sizes, but said other studios have way more (which is crazy)! Thank you!

  • Reply carrisamarie 11/15/2013 at 7:20 am

    This is so cool! If I’m being honest, I didn’t even realize something like this existed anymore! I thought it was all done on computers.

    • Reply erin 11/22/2013 at 2:47 pm

      It’s made a comeback in recent years, Carrisa, and some of the more complicated designs are done on computer before being made into a block :) Thank you!

  • Reply Alligtrialanderror 11/15/2013 at 12:00 pm

    That’s so cool, Erin! I love inspirational quote posters, and have always been intrigued on making them! You’ve inspired me to search for something in Cali!!

    • Reply erin 11/22/2013 at 2:48 pm

      Thanks, lady! I hope you find a class in Cali! I’m obsessed with inspirational posters and keep buying them! :)

  • Reply Candice 11/16/2013 at 8:12 am

    I wish I would have known! I would love to do something like this.

    Its great to pick up new hobbies beyond our sweat sessions! :)

    • Reply erin 11/22/2013 at 2:48 pm

      Keep checking her website, Candice… more classes in 2014! Let me know if you want to take one :)

  • Reply meghan @ little girl in the big world 11/16/2013 at 11:57 am

    This is so cool! I wanted to badly to have our wedding invitations letter pressed, but it just wasn’t in the budget. Going to a class sounds like so much fun. I love paper products, and having a print I had created would be so neat! Glad you had so much fun.

    • Reply erin 11/22/2013 at 2:50 pm

      Thanks, Meghan! I hear ya… I’d love to do letterpress for my future wedding, but it’s so spendy! I may splurge since it’ll be a small one :)

  • Reply Amy 11/16/2013 at 7:52 pm

    I love the look of those posters!

    • Reply erin 11/22/2013 at 2:50 pm

      Thanks, Amy! They were fun to create!

  • Reply Change of Pace 11/17/2013 at 4:11 pm

    Sounds like a lot of fun, and like a great off season hobby!

    • Reply erin 11/22/2013 at 2:50 pm

      It sure was, lady! Gotta round out the tri season, right?! :)

  • Reply Leslie @ TriathleteTreats 11/29/2013 at 9:14 pm

    I remember when you said you did that on Twitter!! So much fun!! I am so jealous!!! There is a couple letterpress places here I wonder if I could find a class….hmmm??!!! :) Thanks for the idea!! Will you go back for another class? Or can make some things on your own?

    • Reply erin 12/01/2013 at 4:02 pm

      Definitely look into it, Leslie! It’s a great way to spend an afternoon. I would definitely take another class! On the hunt for my own letterpress, but they’re few and far behind and pretty pricey… but, eyes are peeled!

      • Reply Leslie @ TriathleteTreats 12/10/2013 at 10:55 pm

        I’ve looked into trying to find a class and I am not having any luck! Maybe in the new year!! :) It would be awesome to get your own letterpress!!!

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