My visit to Purgatory Pie Press was long awaited and well worth the wait. It was great to see some of Dikko Faust and Esther K Smith's in person at the Brooklyn Book Festival in September, and I couldn't wait to see the factory where all of this amazing work is made.
I arrived at Purgatory on a rainy day in October, with my photographer, assistant and sister (all rolled into one) by my side, ready for another letterpress adventure. Pebble, maybe one day I will convert you...
Dikko Faust and Esther K Smith's shop, Purgatory Pie Press, is located in New York City, NY in Tribeca. We rang the bell and walked up to the fourth floor and presto! we were in Purgatory! Their space was loaded with work on every surface and galleys of metal type on tables that were being used for current projects. It was a space I could have spent hours in, like an antique store where it seems impossible to look at everything. While we waited for Esther, Dikko put on water for tea and Katie and I had a quick photoshoot.
Esther arrived and a table was cleared for me to lay out some of the work I had brought to show and we had a little B.IMPRESSED & PPP show and tell tea party with delicious vanilla tea.
It was interesting to hear how both Dikko and Esther approach letterpress printing as artists and not as designers. A lot of Purgatory Pie Press's work reflects this, such as their artists collaborative coasters, artists books and advertisements for upcoming art shows in New York. I have always found Purgatory Pie's work to be refreshing and an incredible display of letterpress as fine craft and fine art. It goes beyond what so many letterpress printers use letterpress printing for, and is still done in the traditional way using hand-set metal and wood type.
I am most impressed and in love with their date books. These books are are done in a different numbered edition each year and are nothing like the date books you have from Staples. They are so beautiful, and elaborate that I can't actually imagine anyone carries them around with their appointments inside. These book are printed from hand-set type, sometimes die cut into a unique shape and then bound by hand. When I saw these date books in person it was amazing the work that goes into making each one, and then Dikko tells me that he formed some of the type from metal rule and also carved some of the typeface by hand. Really?! As if hand-setting the entire date book, running multiple colors, die cutting and hand-binding them if not already incredibly time consuming. This level of craft though is what makes Purgatory Pie Press stand out. When they start a project like the Date Books, they commit to it 100% and it takes as long as it takes. They don't sacrifice their design or send out for plates so a project moves along. Instead they slow down, and remind myself and others that good things are worth waiting for.