Inside the Makers Workshop: Type A Press

Hi there! I'm Chelsey, owner and printer of Type A Press, a letterpress shop in McMinnville, Oregon. I am fourth generation in my family's newspaper business and grew up among rolls of paper and inky press rooms. While I have a degree in Political Science, after a few years of political life I decided I wanted to return to my family business. So for ten years I worked in almost every part of our commercial print shop. My first year there was spent in the bindery working at the machines and sweeping up scraps. Folks say that once you work in the printing business you always have some part of that industry in you. I am so thankful for the years I had learning printing because it gave me the confidence to start my own letterpress print shop. I started part time on my business in 2010, and in 2012 I took the leap and left my day job to be my own boss. Hands down it was the best decision of my life. 

I love it in McMinnville. I am so thankful to have my own business in the such a supportive community. My shop is in the downtown area and gets a lot of walker-bys. I feel so awkward when I am at the press printing and people stop and watch me. I pretend like I don't see them :). When I first moved into my space I painted it navy blue. Inside and out. Our building is on the National Historic Registry and has amazing high ceilings and old wood beams.  For about a year now Zach (@leftbywest) and now Mitch (@m_charles) have shared the space next to me. Zach is an artist and Mitch is a sign painter and they are too of the funniest people I know. And they compliment my hair when I come to work…so that's a bonus!

This is my view most days. I'm a one-girl shop, so I do all of the design, printing, shipping, marketing and whatever else I can do to grow my business (though I admittedly need an intern). I have to have a good notebook and pen for all of the lists I make. I also keep a stack of cards I have picked up. I like seeing what other stationers are doing and for some reason I feel really odd sending my own cards to folks in the mail. 

This is the press that started it all. This 1923 Chandler and Price letterpress had been sitting in our warehouse since the 1940's. I tracked down paperwork that showed it in the inventory of a purchase our family made of another newspaper. I am the first generation in my family to focus on the printing side of our business, my father, grandfather and great-grandfather were all newspaper men. So I didn't have any resources locally to learn from when I was first starting out. It took another supportive printer, a handy husband and some You Tube videos to learn this craft. I found some of the old instruction manuals and text books on how to print letterpress, but it was the trial and error and getting my hands dirty that made me the most confident. 

One of my favorite, all though most messy corners of the shop. This pegboard holds my packaging supplies, my old printing manuals and my copies of Kinfolk Magazine. I started working with Kinfolk in the beginning of their magazine and have printed their calling cards, dinner series menus, and a bunch of other pieces. They are the nicest and most supportive group of people, and they make sure I always have the latest copy when I drop off their orders. 

One of my favorite things to do is custom mix ink colors for people. Working in a print shop for so many years, I got to witness it being done on a large scale. So when I started doing it there was a lot of trial and error in getting the colors just right. But the practice of mixing ink is a great way to clear you mind and take some deep breaths (most days). 

I have huge windows in my shop which makes it nice for taking product shots. I have a box of really random props that I keep on hand. You never know when you're going to need some antlers and turkey feathers. These are some of the greeting cards I am working on with I have a ton of new products in the works and am so happy to be working with folks like Makers Workshop, Local Milk, Ruthie Lindsey and Amanda Jane Jones on my new product line. You can keep up with me at!

Type A Press



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