Bring An Art-Based Business To A Storefront


Julie Russell-Steuart
Caveworks Press & Studios
Reinbeck, IA
Caveworks Press & Studios is a specialty printing and art-based business keeping the craft of letterpress alive in a digital age. We print from hand-set metal type, wood type and linoleum carvings to make art prints, greeting cards and custom stationery.
Caveworks Press & Studios, owned and operated by Julie Russell-Steuart and assisted by co-founder David D. Steuart, offers specialty letterpress printing, a line of stationery and art prints, artisan goods in a retail setting, custom laser engraved products, and professional copies (if located in Grundy Center or Reinbeck, which has demonstrated a need.)

Letterpress printing’s unique look and tactile feel of impression into fine papers is achieved using vintage metal and wood types, and custom metal cuts printed on the 1963 Vandercook proof press or the 1917 Chandler & Price platen press. Cuts made especially for clients, such as a business logo, can be ordered for letterpress. The custom printing encompasses business cards, wedding invitations, coasters, posters, and packaging.

Greeting cards, art prints, and hand-made journals from the studio will be offered in the retail area up front, and will be joined by artisan goods from other makers. Letterpress is especially appealing to those wanting a hand-made feel and can be marketed to other hand-crafted businesses to accentuate their look.

In addition to letterpress, graphic design and copywriting services for conventional printing are available for business clients. A production copier will be in place for black and color copies, with the capability to do professional level business printing like brochures and advertising pieces.

Laser engraving is an incredibly versatile service. Sample products include die-cutting for printing and papercraft, business signage, wedding favors, book covers and other artistic and custom engraved items. The laser engraver will also work in support of letterpress production by making custom woodcuts that are printed from.

As part of an artistic teaching community, Caveworks Press & Studios will offer workshops in letterpress, book-making, paste paper, and other hands-on pursuits. The space may also open itself to poetry readings and mini-shows of visual art.

Whether located in Cedar Falls or Grundy County, we hope to develop educational programming and create a tourist destination.
A location in the Main Street area for increased foot traffic, visibility, and retail/meeting/workshop space would be ideal.

In terms of competition, there is no similar type of letterpress business within in the immediate area. Ackley, Dubuque, Mt. Vernon, Iowa City, Des Moines, Birmingham, and Urbandale have access to fine letterpress printing and some have facilities for workshops. We personally know many of the other letterpress printers in Iowa and know that we all have a passion for the craft as well as a willingness to share knowledge, help each other on projects, or locate equipment.

Online, it is certainly possible to order letterpress from other areas of the country. Our online presence will facilitate sales as well.

In laser engraving, there are nearby companies in Cedar Falls/Waterloo that offer this service. As an art-based business, we will develop unique products that are not offered anywhere else. One thing that these companies don’t appear to do is papercraft, which will allow us to customize our printing with cut shapes and overlays.

We hope the Dream Big application process will launch us on our dream to grow here in Iowa.
Thanks for sharing our dream!
Both of us come from families that operated small businesses. Julie's parents had Russell Glass Studios in Frederick, Maryland. She knew she wanted to be an artist and make things from an early age, with the example of her parents right in front of her. She spent many hours in the shop and at craft fairs, and later she graduated from Maryland Institute, College of Art with a BFA in Fine Art. It's been a long road figuring out how to make a living as an artist/craftsperson. While she exhibits her art nationally and even internationally, a storefront would be a permanent space for sales of artwork and other goods, as well as offering specialty printing and design services to the community and continuing the tradition of letterpress through internships and workshops.

David's parents owned a grocery store in Mechanicsville, Iowa when he was growing up, and he learned firsthand about great customer service, and the role of small business in the community. His background is in photography and video/audio production, with a BS in multi-media from the University of Northern Iowa. His design skills and mechanical aptitude are a great asset to the business. Keeping the presses running and developing the laser engraving design service will be some of the main focuses for him.

If we were fortunate to win this contest, we would be able to invest in the goal of having a storefront, which would move us to a new exciting level in our business. We would also perform some equipment refurbishing, and develop tourism and educational programming like workshops and tours/demonstrations to offer to the community.

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