New Studio Offers DIY Letterpress And Bookbinding
Allison Chapman has an unshakable sense of community. She moved to Columbus last year from Minnesota, gave birth to her second child a week later, and immediately began the process of transitioning her beloved printing business to Ohio. Along the way she immersed herself in local craft culture and tried to meet as many independent business owners as possible. “I want to live in a culture that values things that are homemade,” she said. Last month, she opened Igloo Letterpress in Old Worthington and this month, she began teaching classes for adults and children. She couldn’t be more eager to introduce the handmade world of letterpress to Columbus.
Igloo Letterpress is a letterpress printing and bookbinding studio where people are encouraged to learn, explore, and create. It offers standard full-service options for wedding and party invitations, holiday cards, and business cards — but participation is resoundingly welcomed. “People can of course hire me to do their printing projects,” Allison said, “but I want them to share in my sense of pride and accomplishment. I love giving them the opportunity to be a part of the printing process without having to invest in 10,000 pounds of equipment.”
Allison grew up in Missouri near her grandfather, a hobby printer who lived for creating holiday cards and performing printing demonstrations. She happily assumed the role as his assistant. He traded a windmill for his 1890’s-era printing press, which she still uses in her shop today. She also uses the rest of his turn-of-the-century printing equipment, several of his metal cuts, and his old desk. “I think about him every day,” she said. She founded Igloo Letterpress, named after her chilly Minnesota home, in 1996 and taught classes at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts for 11 years. After moving to Columbus for her husband’s job she desperately missed teaching and decided to incorporate several types of printing classes into her relocated business.
In addition to Allison’s zest for teaching and customer participation, her prices set her apart from other printing shops. “It’s important for me to be accessible and affordable,” she said. Her cards range in price from $3.50 to $6, and her journals cost from $25 to $40. Sets of four journals (that when lined up form a picture) cost $45. She offers three types of bookbinding kits that cost from $15 to $18, which include using the studio to assemble them and having her assistance. This is a woman who loves what she does, delights in helping people, and thrives on that old-fashioned neighborhood gathering spirit. “I’d be so happy if tween girl armies came in here every weekend to bind books,” she laughed.
“You have a dream of what you want your life to be like,” Allison said, “and this is it for me. I feel incredibly lucky to be here.”
Alexandra Kelley is a featured writer for Columbus Underground and can be reached at alexandra477.com.