I was first introduced to Prickle Press by my dear friend Sarah who adores stationery as much as I do. Currently living in the UK, she sends me cards made locally – what a treat! I love Prickle Press designer Rachel’s diverse style. Her letterpress cards include designs featuring pretty script, bright, bold, wood type as well as whimsical, charming cards that are rather punny.
You were given an Adana letterpress some years ago. Had you been drawn to letterpress prior to receiving this first press? What about letterpress appeals to you?
I have always loved stationery, especially paper and pens and snail mail. I could spend hours in stationery shops just stroking paper! I thought the tactile nature of letterpress would be something I would appreciate and so I thought I would give it a go. I was right – the impression the press leaves is beautiful but the amount of work it takes to make a perfect impression was a shock! It took me a few months to get to grips with the equipment but as soon as I did, and I saw my own designs come to life on the press I was hooked!
I really like the wooden type that you use on some of your cards. Why have you decided to use wooden type?
I have a few sets of type and I have found my favourite is a one-inch wooden set of condensed Gill. The wood has been slightly damaged over the years, which leaves little imperfections on the page and the wooden type just leaves a less precise and more mottled effect than the metal type or polymer plates. It looks more “letterpressed”, which I, and customers, seem to like.
Can you tell me a bit about your design process? I’m interested both in some of your design inspiration as well as the technical process of converting the designs into letterpress plates.
My inspiration comes from all around me. I’m inspired nature, by people, by other artists and designers, by London and my own life and experiences. I am driven by a desire to make beautiful, but also meaningful work. I am passionate about creating cards and other stationery to encourage people to express themselves. Sometimes all you need is a new pen or a beautiful card to help you on your way to cheering up someone else’s mailbox. I can’t think of anything better to be part of than that connection between people. I’m always inspired by people and their needs, be it an engaged couple wanting to kick off their wedding celebrations with the first moment: the stationery being sent out, or just someone sending a little card to a friend. I try to think of all the scenarios I would need stationery for and create something I would feel proud to send and share. Once I’ve drawn up my ideas, I scan them, separate each colour into a file and then turn them into black and white images, which I send to a plate maker. I get in return a polymer plate for every colour in the design, which I then stick to a metal plate, ink up and print, one by one. It’s a long process!
Please complete this sentence: Snail mail is…
Snail mail is the most meaningful and memorable way to express your love and affection for someone else.
Please tell me a bit about a particularly memorable piece of mail that you received.
I couldn’t pick one. I have a box full of letters and cards I have received over the years and every now and again I go through the box and am amazed at the letters, what was going on in my life or someone else’s at the time. It’s like travelling back in time. The box is like a summary of my life.
What are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on my brother’s wedding invitations! Him and his fiance have great style and are looking for something really eye-catching and they’ve hired me, which I’m delighted about. There’s a little more pressure when it’s family but I am sure I’ll come up with something they’ll love. It will most likely be a combination of watercolour and letterpress.