Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Passion for Print

While shopping for a soon to be published New York Times story I was inspired by other artisans who, like me, truly follow their passions. The next few blog entries I'll introduce you to some of the people behind the names of some amazing stores. My holiday wish is to inspire others with these brief biography's as they have inspired me.

Luke Ives Pontifell owns Thornwillow Press. They are known for their fine handmade books and printing. In addition, Thornwillow designs and manufactures paper for some of the finest purveyors of stationary like Crane's and Cartier. They also have their own lines of cards which draw from the rich traditions of classical engraving and letterpress printing.

They just opened up a boutique of curiosities and library gallery in the NYC St. Regis Hotel. How Mr. Pontifell came to create Thornwillow Press is a story of following one's passion. This is a very short version of the amazing history behind Thronwillow and its passionate creator.

Mr. Pontifell was born in New York City, but a lot of his time was spent upstate at his parents 18th century home surrounded by Thornwillow trees. The home was full of antiques and a collection of beautiful books. He grew up fascinated with the idea that ideas and thoughts from the past will carry far into the future long after we are gone. When he was 15-years-old he took a course in letter press. It ignited his passion for typography and the written word. He was inspired to make functional beautiful objects that will last. Every year during college he printed one book. In his senior year of college his passion turned into a business. Luke and his family are now celebrating 25 years of fine printing, paper making and binding for clients such as Louis Auchincloss, Walter Cronkite, Helmut Kohl, Barrack Obama, John Updike among many others.

Thornwillow Press now is entirely based in the United States. In 2004 he set up workshops in a complex of 19th Century factory buildings he purchased in Newburgh, New York to consolidate these operations. There his team of artisans is dedicated to practicing and perpetuating the crafts of traditional hand engraving and letterpress printing, decorative paper making, gilding, leather bookbinding and fine press publishing. The work of Thornwillow is diverse, but united in its commitment to the presentation and preservation of the written word. Luke firmly believes the idea of how something is made is in the soul of the object. You can feel that when you pick up any of his products.

Some of my personal favorite's of his, for this holiday season, are the letter press, gold place cards, they are wonderful for entertaining. Next time you are in New York City stop by the St. Regis and say hello and get more of the inside story behind this amazing home made brand.