These Folksy Paper Goods Are Handcrafted in Beverly
How a graphic designer found her calling by taking one class at MassArt.
Fresh patterns, retro color and handmade charm—that’s the trifecta that makes Pressbound’s cheery products oh so appealing. Graphic designer-turned-paper-maven Melissa Gruntkosky found her true creative calling through a MassArt continuing education class on letterpress and bookbinding in 2006.
“After the first class, I knew I had found my life’s passion,” Gruntkosky said. “Something that combined my love of storytelling, typography, and design while getting a chance to use my hands directly in the process of creating.”
Gruntkosky continued to hone her newfound craft, and in 2011, reached a milestone for all letterpressers: she acquired her first press, a small floor model weighing in around 500 pounds, and studio space in an old mill building in Beverly. She’s been churning out one-of-a-kind designs ever since—from cards and prints to coasters and the ever-popular desk calendar—and added another, larger press to her collection, weighing in at 2,000 pounds.
All Gruntkosky’s designs exude a refreshing, charming quality that’s rooted in their unique, worldly patterns and old-meets-new technique. Each piece begins with a sketch, is finished on the computer, and then turned into a printing plate. Her inspiration spans centuries and continents (“I love old embroidered typography and monograms from the Victorian era”) and abounds in her surroundings (she lives on the coast near Salem and spends summers in the mountains of New Hampshire). But above all, her heritage and history is proudly echoed in her work.
“When I first started printing I was dealing with the loss of my grandmother, a very proud Polish American woman,” Gruntkosky said. “We were very close and she raised me to have a lot of pride in my Polish background. So naturally there were influences in my work from Polish folk art, in particular paper cuttings known as wycinanki.”
Her folksy patterns, paired with vintage colors, can instantly enliven your space, or make someone’s day. Find her work at Pressbound’s online shop, or in Boston at Black Ink, Gather Here, and Pemberton Farms. And keep an eye out: Gruntkosky is currently working on a new lineup of products set to debut in May (she’s showcasing for trade at National Stationery Show in New York). She’s also opening her studio to eager students, like she once was, again this spring for letterpress workshops aimed at newcomers wanting to delve deeper into the craft.