WILLIAMSTON, Michigan — Limner Press in Williamston is home to a more than 100-year-old letterpress printing press.
It is owned by Donald Bixler and Wendy Shaft, who have been married for 37 years.
“We do copying, designing, business cards, preparing letters, you know, letterhead, which can be letterpress, printed or just on our laser copier. We do forms, labels and we can do a lot of art for people.”
“We met at a print shop in Anchorage, Alaska,” Shaft said.
Wendy did prepress and was a printmaker. She says Donald was the new guy working at the store and she found out he was a third generation printer.
“My grandfather started working in a printing press when he was 16. That was in 1892,” Bixler said. “My dad was also a printer, and I’m one of seven boys and five of us ended up being printers.”
Shaft says they both wanted to know more about each other.
“He did ask me, ‘What are you doing?’ And I said, well, ‘I’m an engraver,’ Shaft said. “He says, well, whoa, what kind of press do you use? And I said to him, you know, I do linoleum and I use an engraving press. And he says, well, why don’t you use a typography and I go, what is a typography?
The conversation sparked interest. The couple began dating and married in December 1984.
“So before we even got married, we had made a little set of you know, holiday stationery cards to sell and, and so we ended up opening our own business, but it was all typography,” Shaft said.
You might be wondering what letterpress printing is.
“Letterpress is raised printing. They use metallic type or metallic engravings and ink the surface and print directly onto the raised surface of the type or engravings,” Bixler said.
The typography they have is a 1910 Chandler and Price.
“I can run a hand letterpress at about 2,000 or an hour, you know, print 2,000 things in an hour once I’m up and running,” Shaft said.
Shaft says Bixler goes above and beyond for its customers.
“He does invitations and he has customers who still want to number and cut, even though a lot of it can be done by laser. Sometimes, you know, people want pre-made labels with these little reinforcements on them,” Shaft says.
In 2004, the couple moved back to Shaft’s hometown of Williamston for family reasons.
“When we moved, we brought like a 40-foot container of all of our letterpress equipment with us,” Shaft said.
In 2005, they decided to open their business, Limner Press in Williamston.
“It was a lot more difficult when we got here because it wasn’t just about reopening the business here, he was trying to figure out how to do business here because it was totally different from what we were doing. in Alaska,” Bixler said.
And it seemed like everyone had typography.
“So we decided to do wedding invitations and do some fine letterpress printing and eventually added a copier,” Shaft said.
With time, word of mouth, and the store moving to Grand River Avenue, the couple’s business began to pick up.
Limner Press is also the publisher of Shaft’s art, which includes his line of cards and chapbooks printed in fine letterpress.
“Besides all the professional printing, and, you know, we love spiral binary. We do a lot of weird things. And even if we don’t, we’re always helping people find what they’re need,” Shaft mentioned. “So I would say maybe we’re not a one stop shop, but we are a one stop shop. We can help you, we’re here kind of like this community service so people don’t have to go at Okemos. And they can just come here at Limner Press in Williamston.”
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