Saint Gertrude is marmalade-haired, machine-wrangling artist and teacher Amy Constable – one of Australia’s original new letterpress printers. Just a girl, and a printing press. Or five. From her light-filled space in Little Gold Studios in Brunswick, Melbourne, Amy has swiftly become the go-to person for top-notch printing.
Saint Gertrude offers artisanal letterpress printing, modern letterpress classes and an open-access studio program for letterpress enthusiasts. She regularly prints for a wide range of clients around Australia and has worked with brands such as Jardan, St. George and The School of Life and collaborated with artists such as Laura Blythman, Megan McKean, Gemma Patford and Georgia Perry. In 2015, Saint Gertrude was added to the illustrious line-up of teachers at Megan Morton’s The School.
In 2008, Amy rescued her first printing press from a chicken shed in Moe and lovingly restored it back to working order. Seven years and five presses later, Amy has a studio full of printing beasts and a vast letterpress offering.
“When I stumbled across the lost art of letterpress it hit me like a freight train. This. This is it. It struck me as just the most beautiful thing I’d seen in print and I had to do it. I was driven from there on, I couldn’t do anything else and I haven’t been able to do anything else,” says Amy.
“Long before I was born, letterpress printing was already becoming redundant. But when digital printing began to lose relevance to make way for email and Internet communication, a really specialty process like letterpress suddenly leap-frogged back into relevance because it’s beautiful and because it’s done by hand.”
Amy is one-half of the collaborative Ladies of Letters project with her studio mate, letterer Carla Hackett. Ladies of Letters creates hand-lettered, letterpress work and donate 10% of all sales to the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation. Ladies of Letters also holds the annual LOL Workshop where you can learn to letter and letterpress.
Clients and collaborators come to Saint Gertrude for fine printing, but they stay for Amy’s openness, enthusiasm and irreverence. And she always – always – has ink or grease on her somewhere. Usually on her face.
Fancy trying the art of letterpress yourself? Saint Gertrude’s 2016 program of classes have now opened. Check ’em here.