Never been to Igloo Letterpress? No doubt you’ve probably seen at least some of their work. For starters, it appeared on the July cover of Columbus Monthly magazine, the same issue where Igloo was also featured as one of the best retail shops in Columbus. That may not sound like such a big deal—at least until you learn they did it all on 18th-century printing presses. Proprietor and letterpress aficionado Allison Chapman—along with shopkeeper Beth Dekker—operate this active art studio and source for unique handcrafted work. Lucky for you it’s located in the heart of Downtown Worthington. The story of Igloo Letterpress begins with Chapman’s grandfather. Years ago, while living in Missouri, he found an old printing press in a barn, put it back together—and then taught himself how to use it. “When I was growing up, I thought it was normal that I could write a poem at school and then ask my grandpa to make copies of it,” Chapman said. Years later when Chapman attended college in Minnesota, she added printmaking classes to her curriculum. A history major with an emphasis on modern American history, she wrote her thesis on the westward expansion and railroad boom towns. Newspapers and print shops were her focus.
Chapman gained additional experience through a study-away experience at the National Museum of American History in Washington, DC. She did curatorial work in the morning and then conducted public demonstrations on the printing presses in the afternoons. “I learned a lot about 18th- and 19th-century printing presses, including techniques I can still use today,” she said.
Fast forward a few years to the time when Chapman got married and used her grandfather’s printing equipment to start a home business in Minnesota. Then, after her husband was relocated to Central Ohio four years ago, she took the business to the next level and opened a shop in Downtown Worthington. “Opening at this location was my field of dreams,” she said. “I was anxious to build a community of lovers of design; the storefront gives these folks a place to gather.”
During the week, Igloo Letterpress is primarily devoted to custom printing for local individuals and businesses. This includes everything from wedding invitations, to business cards, to a wide range of corporate projects. On Saturdays, they are open for people to do drop-in projects, which Chapman said are appropriate for adults and children accompanied by an adult. They also market a wholesale line of cards.
It’s worth a trip to the store just to see the old printing presses. “The equipment we use is well made, but we have learned a lot along the way about press mechanics,” Chapman said. “It’s kind of like (working on) old cars. Most everything on our equipment is exposed. You just figure it out using your critical thinking skills.”
So why did Chapman name the store Igloo Letterpress? Well, cold Minnesota weather had a lot to do with it, especially since Chapman’s husband, who is from southern California, had to make the adjustment. Now that Igloo Letterpress is here in Worthington, we can only hope our weather doesn’t live up to that same reputation.
For more information about Igloo Letterpress, visit: http://visitworthingtonohio.com/igloo-letterpress/.
Be sure to mark your calendar for the Igloo Letterpress Anniversary Bazaar from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on September 29 (in conjunction with Market Day). Check the event calendar for details: http://visitworthingtonohio.com/calendar/.