PioneerHouse Letterpress and Design/Julie Belcher
PioneerHouse (also a storefront art gallery on Gay Street) is the latest hand-printing letterpress endeavor from Julie Belcher, who has been a devotee for more than 15 years. As usual, her site promotes artisan products handmade in Tennessee and involves wise stewardship of the environment—and a rich vein of humor, like the oversize postcards trumpeting “I love you like biscuits & gravy.” Belcher has always hand-printed with salvaged equipment, recycled paper, re-purposed inks, original imagery (much of it from regional or overlooked artists), and antique typography.
“I always had an online store on my website but in the fall of 2008 when the peak of the financial crisis was creating turmoil in my small business, I decided to test out some new things,” she says. “I was already an Etsy customer but decided to start an online store with them. I think at that time a lot of folks were recognizing the handmade and DIY trends coming around and Etsy was a great marketplace for folks like me to sell their wares to a wider audience. It was nice to be a part of a handmade community and not just out there by myself trying to get my products to folks that would appreciate them.”
The PioneerHouse Etsy store is still the place to find Belcher’s popular hand-printed farmer’s market theme cards and placards, hand-printed skirts in vivid lavenders and purple, and mini-calendars like the set of four Bjorn LIe-illustrated mini-calendars depicting Americana animals playing string instruments. Her newest work: a series of square dance prints and cards. “I’m hoping to revive square dances,” says Belcher. “I have several friends who are learning to call square dances—that’s good inspiration.”