About Conversation Tree Press
On this page:
- The Story of the Press
- The Press’ Philosophy
- Creating Partnerships
- What is Letterpress Printing?
The Story of the Press
Along the northern coast of the small South American nation of Guyana there was a lone tree that stood at the intersection of the highway and a small road, a stone’s throw from the seawall that kept the waters of the Atlantic Ocean at bay. The tree was said to have been planted at the edge of Plantation Belair in 1876 by the manager of the plantation to commemorate the birth of his son, and started out as a sandbox.
Time marched on, Plantation Belair became the village Belair, the tree was replaced by a flamboyant tree, and it became known as Conversation Tree. This was likely because it served as a meeting spot where villagers, made up mostly of former slaves and indentured labourers like my foreparents, gathered to “gyaff ” (Guyanese parlance, meaning to chat, story-tell, gossip) and access transportation to other parts of the city.
Having grown up in Belair, I often passed under the welcome shade of that flamboyant tree, and it has left an indelible mark in my memory. While the tree is no more, it lives on in spirit as Conversation Tree Press (CTP), which humbly hopes to accomplish some of the very same things—bring people together, touch their lives, and have a good gyaff—around the shared passion of finely made books.
The Press’ Philosophy
A longtime book collector myself, I left behind a successful career to transform my passion for collecting into a business where I can make something of my own while leaving behind a legacy for my children.
The Press aims to utilize the traditions of fine press book making—letterpress printing, hand binding, fine materials, and a harmonious design—in the creation of books of historical, cultural and social significance. This will see books published in a range of genres, including fantasy, science fiction, horror, weird fiction and contemporary fiction.
I will print small editions in small limitations in my own workshop under the imprint Conversation Tree Press Editions, and publish larger editions in larger limitations under Conversation Tree Press.
My workshop is equipped with a Heidelberg Windmill, a Saroglia “Canuck” cylinder proofing press and a selection of metal type.
While the Press is new, I’m a book collector myself and bring over two decades of experience in design, project management and managing my own businesses. CTP has also chosen to collaborate with partners that are among the very best at what they do, including Pat Randle at Nomad Letterpress, Paul Kidson and Rich Tong at Ludlow Bookbinders, and award-winning illustrators like Charles Vess.
What is Letterpress Printing?
Letterpress printing is a traditional form of printing that uses a printing press to transfer ink from metal type, wooden type, photopolymer plates, or magnesium plates to paper. The process involves creating a raised image or type on a plate, which is then inked and pressed onto the paper, leaving a very slight (“kiss”) or deep impression. This impression creates a three-dimensional quality to the printed text or image, giving it a distinctive look and feel.
Letterpress printing has a rich history that dates back to the fifteenth century when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press and revolutionized the way information was disseminated. Before this invention, books and other printed materials were produced by hand, which was time-consuming and expensive. The printing press allowed for the mass production of books and other materials, making knowledge more accessible to the masses.
In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, letterpress printing was the dominant form of printing, and it was used to print books, newspapers, posters, and other materials.
While the advent of offset and digital printing in the mid-twentieth century witnessed the precipitous decline of this once ubiquitous printing method, its use in the production of fine press books has endured.
CTP is located in a workshop in the backyard of a home built in 1895 in Kitchener, Ontario’s Civic Centre Heritage District. It is situated on the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishinaabeg (Awe-Nish-Nah- Beck) and Haudenosaunee (Hoe-De-Nah-Show-Nee) Peoples. Learn more about our Land Acknowledgement.