Historic printing equipment gets a new life at The Cracker Factory in Geneva, New York

July 7, 2012

At the beginning of June,  I started a summer internship at The Cracker Factory in Geneva, New York. Victor Hammer Fellow (and printmaker extraordinaire) Katie Baldwin connected me with Amy and Brandon Phillips, the owners of Miles and May Furniture Works and The Cracker Factory; and board members of 3Stories (Art, Industry, Opportunity).

I was extremely excited for the opportunity to work in such a beautiful space (an old factory that’s been renovated, yet still keeps much of its industrial charm), with its robust and historically rich letterpress facility donated by The Women’s Rights National Historical Park, as well as friends and colleagues of Amy and Brandon.

I have been organizing the print shop so that it will be easy to use (accessible and efficient) for artists and students alike, and I’ve been having a great time along the way. I am enchanted by the space and the supplies. As I distribute type that’s been set for probably many years, I discover little pieces of history such as quotes by humanitarians such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott Osborne, and Frederick Douglass, all of which were once hand-set in lead type and accompanied by their photo-etched letterpress cut portraits.

They also have an extensive and beautiful collection of wood type donated by good friends of theirs that has been restored, cleaned, and organized by font.

With floor to ceiling windows allowing light to pour into the space, gorgeous wood floors (that were restored from its old factory days, being once completely covered in tar), fine sets of type, cuts, ornaments, and borders, a wide and wild variety of wood type, and several printing presses, The Cracker Factory has a lot to offer letterpress artists and students. The atmosphere is relaxed and positive, and very supportive of the Arts.

I am really excited to be a part of this up and coming print shop, as I sift through the dust and lead, and watch new life emerge from richly historical letterpress equipment.

Be sure to read the interview with Amy and Brandon to find out more about The Cracker Factory/ 3Stories.

Thanks for checking out our blog and supporting the wonderful world of Book Arts!

Jessie Reich, Wells College Class of 2013

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