When longtime friends Nancy Hill and Beverly Wolfe found a jackpot Craigslist post by a man retiring from the printing business, they knew they were onto something.
The two took a horse trailer to the man's studio in Apache Junction and loaded a behemoth letterpress, paper cutter, and all the fixins back to Wolfe's house where they did some serious de-deserting -- "There were snake skins and scorpion parts in the drawers," says Wolfe.
After some remodeling to Wolfe's garage (double insulated doors, insulated drywall, sinks) and some serious planning, Hazel and Violet INK was born. The duo's letterpress and paper company specializes in greeting cards, but they also make coasters, invitations and pieces from local designers. "We aren't graphic designers...we're printers," says Wright.
The women's work flow is pretty close to how it was done a hundred years ago; they feed each page, by hand, into their 1922 Chandler & Price letterpress they affectionately call "Beauty."
Most of their work has a decidedly vintage feel, after all, most of their equipment comes from the 1920s, 30s, 40s and 50s. "We have stuff from later years," says Hill, "we're just not as excited about it."
They have cases and cases of type in different sizes and fonts, plus some hard-to-find wooden type. At one point, they had so much extra type that they unloaded a bunch to the ASU print shop.
For the past two years, Hazel and Violet INK has transitioned from a local clientele to courting national buyers at trade shows, but is now circling back to a more local focus.
One of those ways includes the Hazel Art & Letterpress Space downtown which showcases art during first and thirds Fridays, but also has studio space in which they hope to eventually hold letterpress classes.
For now, they seem happy going where their business takes them.
"We love everything we do," says Hill.
See a full slideshow of the duo's studio here.
Hazel Art & Letterpress Space is located at 724 N. 4th Street (at McKinley) in Downtown Phoenix.