Big Jump Press

My new friend Rebecca Chamlee

Two weeks ago I flew to Los Angeles and was met at the airport by Rebecca Chamlee of Pie in the Sky Press. I did a lot of things in Los Angeles, I taught some people some things. I talked about my books. I watched hotel TV and ate my first pupusa. But the best day I had in California was the one I spent at Rebecca’s house. First let me say that Rebecca Chamlee is a letterpress genius. Have a look at this, a print related to her forthcoming book Where Stucco Meets Chaparral:

Letterpress. Genius.


Rebecca’s books are beautiful. Look at this one. And at this one. And this one. I spent a while just sitting and reading The Young Manhood of Dave Chamlee:


First order of business upon arrival: a walk in the hills just outside Rebecca’s house in Simi Valley and a tour of the different plant life that has featured in her recent projects. This, of course, led to complex discussions about her sneaky letterpress techniques, which, of course, led to every printer’s favorite thing: comparing tools and tasks. Just look at those tools. Do you see what I see? A matching board shear and guillotine?


Rebecca’s favorite question to ask fellow printers is “What black do you use?” What does Rebecca use? Get ready for a great name:

stallion black

Rebecca even put some Stallion Black in a tube for me to take home and try. Actually, this tube was only one component in what became known as the “swag bag” that I have brought back to England with me. (It was LA, dahhlink, and it was Oscar season after all. Even I got a swag bag.) Also included: two teeny needle cases to help me out of my hopeless traveling needle-storage situation, three acorns to add to my collection, some templates cut out by Mr. Zing (more on that soon,) and a sample of Gomuban, Rebecca’s preferred lino. (after snooping around I think maybe in the UK it can be found here? unsure now but I will find out) Here, have a look at this pile of Gomuban:


Visiting another printer/binder is a dangerous game, because a visit to their studio is like a fantasy shopping trip. Here are some other things I now want: This flexible ruler:


This desktop digital cutter (affectionately called Mr. Zing):


This hot pink little number:


And something you and I can never ever have, a set of box-making magnets made for Rebecca by her MacGuyver-style partner Jonathan. The image below is blurry because it is a screen shot from a video. That’s right. It  was so amazing I took a video. Important note: in this video, I can be heard saying “I hate Rebecca Chamlee.” I must emphasize that this hatred, while real, is purely related to jealousy about these cubes and does not extend further. She has eight of these cubes. Perhaps you hate her now, too?


I am back home now, thinking wistfully of the fun I had with Rebecca and her students and all the lovely people at Otis College of Art and Design. We got up to some ridiculous things in one of the pressure printing sessions while I was visiting. Look what we did to this poor guy:




I am back at home now. All that’s left to do is admire my swag and think of all the fun I had. Here, you can admire my swag* too.


*some of this may not be considered swag since I bought it for myself. I am actually not really sure what swag is.

PS. THANK YOU REBECCA! Can I come back and play with that magnet some more please? xx

13 comments on “My new friend Rebecca Chamlee

  1. CelesteRegal
    March 17, 2014

    Super!!! This sort of thing brightens my day.

  2. bobblesse
    March 17, 2014

    Thanks, Sarah! Rebecca is remarkable, I’ve never met her, but she’s been a member of CBAA for a long time. I love her books and learned a lot from your post. Cheers, Bob

    • Big Jump Press
      March 17, 2014

      Thanks Bob! Rebecca is indeed amazing. This was our first meeting and I was so sorry to leave!

  3. Lara
    March 17, 2014

    Papusas are amazing. Well worth a transatlantic-continental flight.

    • Big Jump Press
      March 17, 2014

      Lara, I was not prepared for how amazing papusas are. And now, here in England, with a craving for a papusa, what am I supposed to do?

  4. Robin Price
    March 17, 2014

    Smiling wide here, thanks for the great post. As for the flexi see-through Schaedler pica scale, the combination of intractable grime and the wearing-off of important lines and numbers on mine after all these hard-working years continues to remind me I need to get a new one, but to part with this one feels almost unbearable.
    Thanks again, Sarah and kudos to Rebecca for her great studio, tools, and work!

    • Big Jump Press
      March 17, 2014

      Thanks Robin! Rebecca told me this sad story of how a student chopped her decades old Schaedler in half on the board shear. Agony! Agony! It explains why she’s got such a nice new one these days. Beautiful and pristine, but at what cost? Hope all is well!

  5. growlygracepress
    March 17, 2014

    I think that the prints of the leaves are the finest things I have ever seen. I take it that it’s polymer?

  6. velma bolyard
    March 17, 2014

    my gosh, what a great visit. you two mustered up some amazing juju. wonderful prints.

    • Big Jump Press
      March 17, 2014

      Hi Velma! Those botanical prints are 100% Rebecca Chamlee, I was not involved in any way unless you count drooling on them. It was a great visit!

  7. Rebecca Chamlee
    March 18, 2014

    You can play with my magnets anytime, Sarah. Thank you so much for such a lovely post on your world famous blog. I am truly honored.

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This entry was posted on March 17, 2014 by in Letterpress, Other People and Things, Visits and tagged , .
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