The I-Create Lab’s Most Well-Kept Secret

While you may be familiar with many of the machines of the I-Create lab, there is one machine kept tucked out of sight in the backroom. The Chandler & Price Letter Press is believed to be from 1910 – 1921 though we do not have confirmed documentation for the dates.

This large piece of equipment weighs over 1000lbs and rarely leaves its spot in the back room of the I-Create Lab. Just because it doesn’t leave the backroom, doesn’t mean it isn’t used. The I-Create Lab and a few art majors have operated this behemoth of a machine.

When it comes to operating the machine, safety comes first! The letter press is kept running with the flywheel and foot pedal to get it moving. The paper is hand-fed to press in your design. A lot of work goes into prepping before the press springs into action, including adding the ink, setting up the block, and generating enough energy to get it moving.

 Christopher Janssen, a Senior, utilized the letter press for his Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) Exhibition that will be happening in Spring of 2022. He came into the lab with the hopes of showcasing his body of work in printmaking and was excited about the opportunity to print his work on a vintage press. Janssen is no stranger to the I-Create Lab. He was ready for the unique experience of using our letter press for his BFA Exhibition.

In an afternoon, Christopher set the machine up, learned to use it, and pressed about 600 pieces of his work which he describes as, “The pieces I printed are handbills associated with my BFA Exhibition.  The body of work is intended to close a significant chapter in my life, to pay homage to my past while concurrently emphasizing the importance of humor to the human experience.   Humor invokes camaraderie, eases tension, and alleviates stress due to the monotony of living and working in modernity… My work finds inspiration in Printmaking, Art History, and farm the nearly two decades I spent in the Meat and Dairy Industry.”

The experience was rewarding for everyone involved and, the I-Create Lab was happy to help another creative person find their voice in their art!

Keep an eye out for workshops happening around the I-Create Lab. Who knows, you may soon see a Letter Press Workshop sometime this year. For questions or more information, please contact the I-Create Lab at (361) 825-2311 or