Hello, PRESS fans and followers. I’m the new intern here at this wonderful letterpress shop. I’m new to the New England area; I just moved here in May from Florida. As it happens in many relationships, I moved to follow my boyfriend, who works for the state of Massachusetts, and we live a stone throw away in Stamford, VT. I got involved with Press because of my interest in letterpress printing. In Florida, where I went to school at Florida Atlantic University pursuing a degree in media and cultural studies, I worked at the Arthur & Mata Jaffe Center for Book Arts as a student assistant. Working there opened my eyes to the greatness of letterpress printing and other printmaking techniques, and the Jaffe Center inspired me to pursue a career in printing, or, at least, become an avid hobbyist in printing.
I think it is important to note why I like letterpress printing. Some may call it a dying art form, which I believe is absolutely not the case. New technology has definitely changed the face of letterpress printing and its functionality, but it hasn’t killed the process. Letterpress printing was used forever for its functionality. It was the only way to get information around. Now that everything is digital, letterpress printing is able to break free of fitting into a functional mold. Creators are able to have a greater personal connection with the images and text that they spend time placing in the bed of a press. Now, printers can focus on the aesthetics of printing instead of how practical they have to be. If you think about it, printers don’t just set type the same way one would type into a computer. There is an aura to letterpress printing because of that personal planning and time that is different from just hitting “print” on a computer. Also, a freshly printed page looks so crisp, clean, and wonderful.
I’m lucky to find an operating press so close to my new home, because they are rare to find. I am fortunate to have Melanie take me in, teach me new things on the press (just about everything for me is “new”), and allow me to help out here. This semester, I’ll help set up exhibits; work at the gallery openings; help Melanie with printing projects, like the monthly mantra cards and exhibit posters; and, help out with social media. Including all of that, I’ll be creating a personal project of my own, which, as of right now focuses on mazes and labyrinths. If you have any maze information or stories, or even now some amazing maze to walk through in the area, make sure to tell me.
When I’m not at Press, I spend my time discovering my new love: cooking; and, honestly, I’m getting pretty good. Right now, I like experimenting with pies and pesto. Let me tell you, cilantro pesto is pretty amazing. I take care of my house, which I feel like I’m constantly cleaning. This includes taking care of my two shepherds and fifteen chickens. Luckily, my shepherds help protect the chickens from fox attacks, which I have had. I like to exercise, but I’m not particularly athletic (I’m clumsy and non-competitive). I also enjoy exploring the New England area. As I was born and raised in Nebraska, I’m new to being surrounded by mountains, and I never really experienced fog until I came here.
One hobby I wish I could spend more time doing was watching movies and reading books. In fact, this year, I’m participating in an online project called Fifty/Fifty, where one tries to watch fifty movies and read fifty books in a year. I can watch fifty movies in a year with my eyes closed, but fifty books is a little daunting, and sadly, I don’t think I’m going to succeed, but I like to try. In the project, you create majors and minors, meaning that you focus on a subject, and in the end, you write about what you have discovered about the topic. Focuses for me include Italy, John Steinbeck, film noir, and graphic novels. I recommend signing up for it next year. It has really motivated me to put a book in my hands.
Always feel free to stop by and check out what we’re doing. In fact, celebrate Letterpress Appreciation Day, September 18th, by stopping in, picking up a mantra card, and checking out the current exhibit. Now that you know a little about me, if you see me, say hi. I’m the goofy guy with the bushy beard.
-Jonas A. McCaffery