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For the Love of Printing: A Visit to East Parish Farm

by Deb Bastien

Recently, we visited an old friend of Smudge Ink who invited my girls to his farm to meet and bottle-feed his recently acquired baby goats. They were adorable (the goats), and in addition to feeding them, my girls also got to meet two donkeys and a former competition horse named Copernicus (an elegant old fella!).

Visit to East Parish Farm | Smudge InkVisit to East Parish Farm | Smudge InkThe visit to see the animals was sweet, fun and very much enjoyed by the girls, but my personal interest was in touring the structure John built to house all his impressive array of printing equipment.

See, a few years back John spent some time at Smudge Ink learning to run and subsequently running our Heidelberg Windmill while our print shop manager at the time (and current new-mom-extraordinaire), Sanya Hyland, was on sabbatical. It was a win-win: we needed the help and John was interested in a short term gig to learn how to run the press. To say that John is a letterpress printing "hobbyist" would slight his knowledge and interest in the craft. From the volume of equipment he houses in his beautiful outbuilding alone one would assume that this is his vocation ... but nope, he does it simply for the love of printing.

Visit to East Parish Farm | Smudge InkVisit to East Parish Farm | Smudge InkI've been eager to see the building ever since John told me about it. In my mind, I imagined the tidiest and most attractive print shop I'd ever seen, and the reality lived up to my expectations! The walls of the upper story are lined with presses, an antique paper cutter, type cases, a drill press, and a book press.

Visit to East Parish Farm | Smudge InkThere is a desk towards the back covered with found imagery (each piece will eventually be printed), and a table as you enter the space that displays several years worth of projects. To name just a few, these pieces include family holiday cards, social stationery, napkins from a recent college graduation brunch and (most charmingly) a bound copy of a book that was written by John's son when he was about 10. 

Visit to East Parish Farm | Smudge InkYou're partially taken back in time, partially just delighted that there are people out there preserving this art form. I especially loved exposing my girls to a place besides Smudge Ink that has taken something decidedly "old world" and made it relevant today.

That said, if you ask them about the visit, they'll sooner mention the baby goats ("Awwww! They were soooooo cute!") before they mention the print shop, but that's okay with me ... the goats were pretty awesome too.

Thanks John!

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