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© Claire Lawton

Letterpress Is All the Rage — and Part of Its History Is Being Preserved in Arizona


If there’s a modern Mecca for the followers of letterpress, it’s got to be the Chapel of the Blessed Eutectic in Prescott, Arizona.

From downtown Phoenix, it’s less than a two-hour drive. Take I-17 to State Route 89 and you’ll find yourself in big-sky Prescott. And just a few miles from the city’s center — down Pioneer Parkway, around a few sharp turns, and up a very steep driveway — you’ll find Sky Shipley and his working tribute to an industry more than 500 years old.

It’s here, in his own backyard, where Shipley’s built a home for nine printing presses and 18 750-pound typecasting machines. Affixed to a wall near the entrance of the detached studio in his backyard is a plaque that reads: “Chapel of the Blessed Eutectic” — eutectic coming from the Greek metallurgical term for metal in a molten state. Through the door, you’ll see Shipley’s immaculate studio full of shiny machines, neatly labeled type drawers, and buckets of tiny bits of scrap metal waiting to be melted down and poured into molds to create metal type.

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Published: Phoenix New Times, May 2013