The Rural We: Lynda Campbell
Saltbox Press creator Lynda Campbell has had a lifelong love of type. Following a career in retail, and after her three daughters were grown, she attended the School of Visual Arts and Fairfield University. She took design courses, and worked as a graphic designer in a store that had a stationery department that custom made invitations and printed them right on site. One night, at a dinner with coworkers, one of them suggested they quit their job, get a letterpress and go into business. That idea stuck in her head, and was the prompt she needed to become a letterpress printer. Letterpress is a vintage type of printing done one at a time, by inking a plate with a raised surface of type or images and pressing this inked surface into a sheet of paper. Campbell will be showing her work and talking about her process at a “Meet the Maker” event this Saturday, Oct. 20 from noon to 3 p.m. at The Smithy Store in New Preston, Conn.
It was about six to eight months after my friend made the suggestion before I looked into how you can do letterpress. I took classes at the School of Book Arts in the city. I remember feeling way overwhelmed when I first went in. All of the other students were in their twenties; I felt like such a fish out of water. But I totally fell in love with the whole process. It was the perfect combination of right brain creativity mixed with my left brain part that liked graphic design and layout.
My dad had been in the printing business. He worked for Mergenthaler Linotype, which made presses used by newspapers. Whenever we were out driving and saw signs, he’d point out good and bad typography. I thought every child learned about type. When he passed, I decided I was going to take the money he left me and figure this out myself.
It took me about a year to find my first printing press. They’re all antiques, many hidden away in old print shops. I found one in Poughkeepsie, and then bought a little tabletop press that was used in schools in the '50s and '60s for printing classes. I practiced, but I realized I needed a project that would offer me enough challenges and skills, so about 11 years ago I did a calendar. I was extremely proud of it; it’s still on my wall. I slowly evolved to the point where I’ve done calendars every year — it’s my biggest selling item. I started doing cards, custom wedding invitations and stationery. I do some wholesale and some shows, and sell my work on Etsy.
I crank things out one at a time. I use metal and wood type, and vintage images, for which I have plates made. At The Smithy, I'll be bringing some of my holiday cards and calendars, and examples of the wood and metal type I use so people can see what it looks like and how it’s set up.
I’ve had to understand the limitation of what I can do. I’m printing as much as I want to. It’s a joy, and I love it.
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