The Calico Press is located on a small farm in the Villages of Van Buren County in Southeast Iowa. Here you will find an 1880s farmhouse surrounded by calico cats, hound dogs, and cattle. We take our heritage seriously here. We find it rewarding to apply modern technologies and artistic solutions to problems we face while preserving the traditions of our past. The print shop and design studio are extensions of this way of life.
Part of the process of preserving our traditions is helping others who are interested in doing the same. I invite people to stop in and see what I am working on. I always make time to talk print and how to find, maintain, and use the old printing equipment. I enjoy teaching classes throughout the year at print conferences, printing museums, high schools, and folk schools.
"We buy our paper and ink from American manufacturers and pay special attention to craftsmanship. We are proud of our unique style and original designs. This sets us apart from any other printshop." -Mel Stockwell
This Heidelberg Windmill was rescued from the Tribune Building in Fairfield Iowa before the roof collapsed. All she needed was a good cleaning, new belt/motor and rollers.
It took me 2 years and 6 offers before the owner finally sold it to me. Being much heavier than the 2 floor presses I had already moved, I called my friend Jim Daggs of Ackley Publishing. He drove down and with all his experience moving windmills, we had it back at my shop in less than 2 hours. A big thanks to my friend Chicken who supplied his large gooseneck trailer and skid loader for this job.
Annual Fall Festival Open House
Second Weekend in October 13th-15th.
Unique Letterpress Items and Demos
Steam Roller Printing - Old Threshers
September 1 & 2, 2017 10am
"The Art of Letterpress" Exhibit
Ft. Madison Art Association Gallery
September 2-29, 2017
Villages Folk School
Saturday, October 21, 2017
Villages Folk School
Sunday, October 22, 2017
23096 Route J16 Birmingham IA 52535
Pieces that are under construction.
1894 Chandler & Price 10x15. She came in parts from Des Moines, Iowa. The story was at one time she was part of the Des Moines Register. I de-rusted the parts, waxed, touched up the black and gold paint, bought a new belt, ordered new rollers, and started printing.
Yes, I made it sound easier than it was, it took me 3 months to complete. My husband and his brother are literally the wonder twins, They help me greatly when the going gets heavy. The parts were loaded onto my trailer, using a forklift to load the base and top, but my wondertwins unloaded it by hand in flipflops and shorts.
I still have a platen shift at odd times, even after oiling well. That causes havoc with registration. My guess is that she was misused for a long time and it is something I will have to deal with. She prints the most beautiful wedding invitations!
This press is my FAVORITE- tee hee! This is an 1875 Favorite tabletop press. She showed up on a hayrack that was pulled out of an old barn at a farm auction. The original owner was much like me and interested in preserving and operating old iron. I am grateful that he saved it all those years and that I could outbid the scrap man for it. Mostly I like to look at this press. I use her for classes and travel demonstrations, but when in the shop she does easy chores, like perforation for a small ticket order, Much thanks to Steve Alt and John Stimson for their help.
A rusty gem I bought in Deep River, Iowa from Chuck Dunham. A 10x15 Kluge that I reserve for die cutting. He is a workhorse and only needed his rust removed. Lucky for me there was a forklift at the auction and loaded it into the bed of my truck. Thanks to Chris Muhs, my neighbor at the time, who unloaded it with his skidloader.
"We want customers to know who's behind the business, we're not a huge company, we're a family."
Newst Family Member: Vandercook 219NS. Acquired in October 2016
Challenge Proof Press sold through the Western Newspaper Union. #H-1620. This is my design station. I use it more than any other print equipment that I have. I proof any new type I acquire and set up my layout and check for spelling here. She also works as my etching press, although she doesn't have the pressure for certain methods but does wonderful on linoleum cuts, pressure prints, dry point, monoprints, and transfers.
Yes, I have 2 roller heads on one bed. The other bed is in the metal working side of the shop awaiting a table.
Open: Mon-Tues, Thurs-Fri. 9-5.