Kristin Kieffer is a letterpress printer just over the Wisconsin border in Harvard, Illinois where an old farm equipment factory is now home to artist, maker and small business spaces. Under the name September Ink, Kristin moved into a downstairs loft where she designs and prints custom stationery on antique letterpress equipment.
Letterpress printing was invented by Johannes Gutenberg in the mid-15th century and used for all mass printing until the mid-19th century. It has recently experienced a resurgence due to its beauty and a movement towards handmade craftsmanship.
Kristin and her husband are transplants from San Francisco and are loving navigating their way around our area of the Midwest.
Heritage Beam and Board: What drew you to letterpress printing?
Kristin: To make something from beginning to end is so satisfying. I went to college for design, and while I was there I worked for an offset printer. We toured a letterpress shop and I fell in love with the way everything works. Even the smell of the ink drew me in. After graduating I worked in advertising for a bit and then about five years ago I decided to do something more tangible- to be a printer.
HBB: And you became an entrepreneur.
Kristin: Yes, I worked out of my garage for awhile just for friends and people I knew. Then I found a great San Francisco shop space and decided to do it full time.
HBB: You recently moved here. How’s that for you?
Kristin: We like it so far. Every city is different, and we’re still adjusting to snowy winters, but our neighborhood is awesome, and the Starline Factory is such a great community. There are artists and makers and business owners in this industrial loft space with big windows, lots of light, and brick everywhere. Just a group of really great people in a beautiful creative space.
HBB: Do you feel like environment informs creativity?
Kristin: Definitely. This old building has a historic craftsman warmth and I love working on antique presses and bringing back and old art form here.
HBB: How did you hook up with Heritage?
Kristin: We met at a Fourth Friday Starline event and Emily and Seth happened to come in. We ended up chatting for hours about letterpress and reclaimed wood. My husband was using reclaimed wood at the time to craft custom stamp handles and boxes, and we all realized this would go together nicely.
HBB: You’re coming to the Heritage It’s Not Fall…Yet Open Barn Event.
Kristin: I’m bringing an antique letterpress to do printing on site at the event. People will get to see an old letterpress in action and try it out for themselves.
HBB: That’s such a fun thing.
Kristin: I’m excited about showing people how letterpress printing works and helping them print their own paper goodies to take home.
HBB: So your husband is a maker too?
Kristin: Kris has a side gig doing woodworking, just because he loves it. He works in the tech world, but he builds all kinds of things. He just finished a new bicycle cart that I designed to sell paper goodies at shows around town. He built a custom base and card holder and even re-engineered the bike. He’s pretty handy.
HBB: So there seems to be a common theme running between your work and the work we do at Heritage.
Kristin: We’re both keeping the old way of things alive. The good stuff. The old wood, antique materials, the nostalgia, making good things by hand making it more meaningful. These old things already have a story.
HBB: We’re continuing the stories.
Kristin: They need to be told.
Join Kristin and all the Heritage folks at the It’s Not Fall…Yet! Open Barn Event August 22-24 to shop Heritage reclaimed wood organizational accessories along with September Ink custom stationery, demonstrations, and a Thursday evening cocktail reception!