During the week, Jessica Bennett works at Canton-based GateHouse Ohio Media overseeing the production of a dozen magazines. But after-hours, Bennett assumes the role of Letterpress Jess — best known as the creator of snarky, beautiful prints and cards with sayings such as "Daddy drinks because you cry" and "Home sweet homewrecker," all printed on a 2,500 pound, midcentury printing press she calls "Big Sal." Bennett doesn't work solely in sarcasm, though. She also creates customizable letterpress wedding invitations and business cards. "I don't want to call letterpress a hobby," Bennett says. "Right now it's a side passion." Pressing matters: The 50-year-old press had initially been sitting in the basement of the Sun Journal office in North Canton. "[The owner] told me if I could haul it out of his basement, I could have it for free," says Bennett. After two applications of engine degreaser, a vinegar and lemon juice mix, and generous doses of WD-40, Big Sal was ready. Design fury: To create her one-of-a-kind prints, Bennett often uses a collection of lead and wood vintage cuts coated with ink. She slips a piece of paper underneath the cuts and cranks the press down. "It can be infuriating work," Bennett says. "You have to make sure that the ink impression is good, that the type hitting the paper is even and that you don't have any ink on your fingers and inadvertently soil the edge of the paper." TV guide: Bennett sells a popular line of cards and prints with quotes from Parks and Recreation's deadpan, hyper-masculine parks director Ron Swanson. "Dear Frozen Yogurt, You are the Celery of Dessert. Be Ice Cream or Be Nothing," is a popular Swansonism. "Some of the most beautiful and terribly funny contemporary writing comes from television," she says. Shop girl:In May, Bennett, along with her husband and two friends, expect to open Print and Press Studios in Canton. The store will offer customized printing services as well as Bennett's handprinted cards and prints. "I'm very passionate about the arts community, even though I can't paint or draw my way out of a paper bag," Bennett says.
Find it: Buy Letterpress Jess prints at Appletree Books in Cleveland Heights and Lovely Somethings in Akron.
The "I choo-choo-choose you" Valentine's Day card ($4) was inspired by the popular 1993 The Simpsons' "I Love Lisa" episode.