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About Us

Our Values

In 1974 while at graduate school at Clark University, Massachusetts we printed the college literary magazine at Worcester Polytechnic Institute using offset printing technology. In the 20th century, the offset printing process had replaced letterpress as a high-speed alternative of the modern era.  At the dawn of the Information Age—before the Internet communicated into everyone’s laptop information at will, faster than the speed of sound—offset printing promised disposable information—and lots of it—fast. By-products of this high-speed printing technology were vast amounts of wasted paper and chemicals.

Collage imageAs part of the academic literary intelligentsia we were not interested in printing millions of copies of disposable information. We are indeed literary snobs and bibliophiles.  Our choice in the 1970s, as it continues today, is to craft beautiful limited edition books of poetry, fiction, essays and biographies in the tradition of many great writers.  Like William Blake we believe our literary and artistic vision is far too precious to be relegated to the processes of pulp production for the masses. 

Our private commission work is unique and special.


Our Mission

Our Mission is easily stated—to create beautiful books, well written and illustrated, using classic typography, letterpress printed one sheet at a time, hand sewn and bound. The love, commitment and dedication to these ages old guild crafts results in breathtaking, handcrafted books.  Text will not “fade” in the sun or heat. Flexible books will not break at the back when you open them. Handcrafted books will endure as heirlooms to be passed on to generations.  By preserving the legacy of the Word we preserve the traditional “Book Arts”--classic typesetting and book design, letterpress printing, and hand bookbinding—making beautiful books so tactile you’ll want to caress them forever.

 

Ultimate Stewardship: Sow What You Reap

We maintain a socially responsible environmental policy centered on minimal waste, recycling, reforestation, and a chemical free print shop. 

Forest ImageWe were working on a project for a large company which included design, printing and production of a 26 component marketing package of which 225,000 marketing kits need to be printed and drop shipped to nine offices across the country at the end of a nine-day period. 

The job was monumental. As quoted in the August 1994 issue of Focus magazine, Michel Nichie, recalls, “We’ll always remember this private project.  The size of the task caused every phase of the production cycle to be magnified. Quality control required that all the same paper stock be used. As a result a paper mill in Kentucky had to be used because no mill in the Northeast had the 76 tons of paper that the project required.  That one was subcontracted—never to be done on letterpress that’s for certain! We needed to coordinate a convoy of six tractor trailers to deliver the paper.  It made us realize the quantity of paper required to take a product to market. Not only the amount required for the finished materials, but also the 10% waste that occurs in the offset printing process. Michel adds, “I’ve known Kate as a printer and publisher since the 1980s. With her environmental awareness and belief that a company can make a difference if one person is willing to make a difference, it was no surprise to any of us working on publications when she came in one day and said we were going to replant the number of trees which the company consumes during our print production process.”

Forest ImageWe entered into a partnership with Boise Cascade in the spring of 1994 to replant what we consume. Emory Moseley of Boise Cascade’s Jackson Alabama Forestry Department felt that the problem we were having finding a partnership was that our effort was just too small even though our intention was noble. The paper companies such as Boise already reforest 100% of their printing consumption level.  We would add to that. Moseley quipped, “Well it’s wonderful stewardship but 3400 trees is only about 4 acres—that just ain’t no trees at all!”

We found that colder climate provides a planting season for reforestation, which is prime up north in May. We began our Memorial Day annual reforestation effort in Rumford, Maine in the Adroscoggin River basin site of Boise Cascade.  Black spruce seedlings from Fraser Paper’s nurseries in New Brunswick, Canada were transported for our reforestation of a clear cut area. These will mature for harvest in 35 years.  We continue our efforts on private lands in the Laurel Highlands with seedlings from nursery suppliers in Indiana County, Pennsylvania.

By the minimal waste provided by letterpress, and the use of handmade rag and infusion papers we continue our commitment to care for the environment and lessen our footprint on planet Earth.


Our Founder

Kate SewalkThe founder, Kathleen M. Sewalk, ABC, has served as a professional writer, poet, teacher, and publisher since 1974. Kate worked as a poet in the Poets and Artist in the Schools programs sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts & Humanities and the Massachusetts and Pennsylvania State Councils on the Arts. She has been a member of the Modern Language Association and Poets and Writers Inc., of New York.

Formal studies for her trade certification in printing and lithography were completed in 1976. Her guild affiliations include Typocrafters as well as the Letterpress Guild of New England.

She began her studies in bookbinding and box making in New York City in 1979 and has been a member of the Guild of Book Workers.

Founded in 1974, her publishing house imprints include Tunnel Press, Ltd. and Legacy EditionsTM.  She has published over 30 titles for both the retail trade and under commission for private clients. Publishing affiliations include the Publishers Marketing Association and The American Booksellers Association.

Kate obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in writing from the University of Pittsburgh in 1973, following which she pursued Master of Arts studies in writing at Clark University. Her Master of Science degree in communications was conferred by Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 1983. Additional professional accreditation was earned from the International Association of Business Communicators in 1986.

Since 1974, Kate has taught creative writing and English in adjunct relationships with local colleges and universities, including the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown and St. Francis University. She offers book arts classes at Laurel Ridge for the Fine Arts department of Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP), local art groups and those seeking private study. Student works have been exhibited privately at the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art.

 

© 2009 Laurel Ridge Studios, All Rights Reserved.
For more information on any of our programs at Laurel Ridge
please contact Kate Sewalk at katesewalk@aol.com

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