Meet the Vendors: Laurin Ramsey of Liontail Press - Sweet Bough Wedding Collective

Laurin Ramsey is the owner of Liontail Press, an early member of the Sweet Bough Collective vendor community. Laurin helps couples create letterpress wedding invitations and other print materials of all sorts for their wedding! Everything she prints in done by hand on vintage machinery and designed in collaboration with the couple. We met up with Laurin at the studio in Risley Hall on Cornell’s campus where she holds a community fellowship to talk about craft, history, passion, and inspiration. 


How did you get into this work?


At this point in my life and career as a printmaker, it’s hard to think back to how I got into it in the first place. A part of me really does feel like I was born with ink running through my veins. I was born in Atlanta, GA and grew up spending a lot of time with my mom’s parents. For decades, my grandfather owned a printing business in Atlanta that specialized in bespoke stationery. The smell of ink, metal sounds of machinery running, and tactile impressions on cotton paper feel really familiar and homey to me.

I studied printmaking at UGA in Athens, GA, and felt like I was rediscovering a deep part of myself and my history. After graduating, I worked for a few years as a graphic artist, and loved getting to be creative every day, but really missed the physical act of printing and working with my hands. When I moved to Brooklyn in my mid-twenties, I promised myself that I would get back into letterpress printing, and ended up starting Liontail Press in the spring of 2013! When I decided to leave the city and move to Ithaca, I finally bought my own press (a 1954 Heidelberg Windmill), and moved it myself from Plattsburgh, NY to my shared studio space in Trumansburg.

What’s your favorite moment in a wedding or client relationship?

I’d have to say that my all-time favorite moment of any client relationship is when they see and feel their custom prints for the first time. For me – and countless others, I’m sure – the most special part about letterpress is that you can see and feel the deboss of your design in the paper, and know that each print was run through the press by hand with loving care.

How do you scale your services for a variety of budgets?

I think a lot of people love the special, “by hand,” and artisanal look and feel of letterpress printing, but end up going with flat printing or online invitations because they assume that the cost will be prohibitive for their budgets. While there is a lot of time and care that goes into letterpress printed work, there are certainly ways to make it more affordable. There’s a variety of beautiful paper options available at different price points these days. Because each color of ink requires it’s own printing plate (and another pass through the press), limiting the amount of colors is another way to save on cost. Also, a couple could choose to have only their invitations letterpress printed, for instance, and go with another printing method if they want additional pieces (save the dates, reply cards, etc.). I believe in making my work accessible while still valuing the process and my time and effort, and can find a way to work with most couples’s budgets. (I also love trades!)

What’s something you wish more folks knew about letterpress printing?

If I could, I would show everyone how a print is made on a letterpress machine, and let them try it out for themselves. The sensory experience of pulling a print – sounds, smells, feel of the machinery and printed paper – really does carry a sort of timeless, irresistible magic with it. I also think a lot of people don’t realize that this printing process (and the machinery used for it) has remained relatively unchanged for centuries! These days, letterpress printers are required to meld aesthetics and design skills with an understanding of and ability to work with the individual quirks and daily maintenance of the machines she uses.

You do your thing for non-wedding clients too… where else can we find your work?

Yes! I love working with couples getting married, but I also design and print work for other clients and purposes. For one, I sell my own art prints, calendars, greeting cards, bookmarks, etc. at markets, Handwork Artisan Cooperative, and on my website (liontailpress.com). I also design and print custom business cards, menus, and packaging labels for local producers like wine and cider makers. And, I love to work one-on-one with clients to create custom stationery and thank you cards for them. Basically, I can help you with anything that can be printed on paper!

What’s your favorite thing about living and working here in Ithaca?

I feel incredibly grateful to be a part of Ithaca’s thriving creative community! I’m an artist member at Handwork Artisan Cooperative, the community fellow and letterpress shop manager for Risley Hall on Cornell campus, and now thrilled to be one of Sweet Bough’s wedding vendors! I think this region of the US is one of the most understated hidden gems. Along with it’s overwhelming natural beauty (I can literally walk less than 10 minutes from home in multiple directions and see a lake or waterfall), there also seems to be a lot of community support here for the locally made, and an appreciation for those keeping time-honored creative practices alive. Also – local food, wine, and cider.

Words of wisdom to those planning celebrations?

Though I have never planned a wedding myself, I understand that getting all the details to come together just right can feel very overwhelming! I believe that the stress we put on ourselves to make “the big day” perfect can easily take away from the essential joy and true meaning of the event – which is really just about celebrating your unique love, joining your life with your partner’s, and having a great time with those who love and cherish you, right? I would encourage anyone getting married and planning a big event to keep the purpose in mind – to focus on the things that are truly important to you and your partner, to work with those who respect you and make your life easier to make it happen, and to ignore and avoid anything that takes joy away from this fabulous day of celebrating the love in your life! After all, it’s YOUR big day, and it’s also only one day in your long, beautiful life.

Learn more about Laurin’s work at liontailpress.com.