Q&A with Haylee Ebersole, letterpress artist

Q: You just printed Prepoems in PostSpanish for Eulalia Books, and it’s stunning! Have you ever printed a chapbook before?

A: Thanks for the kind words. I am so excited to be a part of this project. This is the first chapbook that my press has printed. What an honor!

Q: Recently, you founded Meshwork Press in Wilkinsburg. What sort of items does the Press print? Are there other artists on staff?

A: Yep, the studio is brand new! It specializes in custom design, letterpress, screenprinting, and intaglio. So I print everything from business cards to t-shirts to individual artist's projects. I don't have any staff at the moment but I do host screenprinting workshops with the Wilkinsburg Youth Project every week and they have contributed lots of fun projects and a wonderful energy to the studio.

Q: From the font choices to the deep color of the paper, Prepoems presented a few challenges along the way. What sort of choices did you make throughout the production of the chapbook so that it printed as beautifully as it did?

A: Yes, there were a few challenges along the way, but Michelle and Tyler were great to work with and helped problem solve throughout the process. Tyler created the lovely cover design and inside pages and we worked together to decide on the color, size, and layout. I did a few mock-ups of the chapbook before final production and we realized the typeface wouldn't work for the particulars of letterpress and the original ink color was too light for the color of the paper. So, we switched out all of the fonts, chose a metallic ink for the cover, and tweaked the layout a bit.

Q: For those of us who don't know a lot about letterpress, tell me a little bit about the process. How long does it take to prepare and print an object? How is the ink transferred to the paper?

Letterpress is a form of relief printing where a raised surface is inked (like that of a stamp) and then paper is pressed against the form through pressure, transfering the image to the paper. I use a Chandler and Price Press which was manufactured in Cleveland in the early 1900's. It's a gorgeous machine and allows me the ability to print high quantities at a fast pace, but only to a certain degree since each piece of paper has to be hand fed! Traditionally, lead or wooden forms would constitute your printing block, but nowadays we can translate digital imagery into polymer printing plates, which is how we made the lovely covers for this chapbook.

Haylee’s studio at Meshwork Press

Haylee’s studio at Meshwork Press