Oakwood shop crafts cards with foot-pedal letterpress

If you buy a Christmas card from Maria Gossard Designs, it could be hand crafted on a 19th century letterpress at an Oakwood shop.

Maria Gossard said she wants customers who come by her boutique stationary shop at 2509 Far Hills Ave. to pick up and feel the difference between cotton and sugar cane paper high-end paper, and to touch the indentation that is left when a card is crafted with a letterpress.

PHOTOS: See inside Maria Gossard Designs shop in Oakwood

“Touch is the one sense that you do not utilize when you’re shopping online,” Gossard said. “And paper and printing are all about that sense of touch.”

The printing and greeting card industry these days is full of online low-budget options and easy online ordering. But Gossard is betting on customers who care about the details and value a hand crafted card from a foot pedal cranked letterpress.

Gossard said she likes to sit and meet with customers and consult with them about the right material and their budgets so she can help them have just the right stationary for their special event. She goes over etiquette and budgets and wants her wall to be essentially their catalog.

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“We get clients in that have great taste and are world travelers. They love paper. And we have a different kind of conversation with them,” she said. “Then have a client that walks in and they’ve never done this before. They’re getting married or are engaged or something and this is new for them. We definitely have the whole options and prices for everything.”

A foot pedal-powered letterpress sits at the front and Gossard can be seen from the shop window making cards. It takes practice, she said, to get a steady pedal rhythm and the right ink consistency on each card and an order also typically means a few practice cards and adjustments to the press.

While doing a run of Christmas cards, Gossard would pick up the card and flip it over and hold it up, because she said a correctly made card needs to be checked to see how it shows through from the back.

She said stationary is about more than just a card. They have waxes in different colors and can make custom seals or have a whole series of seals that can be stamped into wax (“The snowflake is very popular for Christmas”) and she said the envelopes are specific in design and paper type to match the card. They also have other high end goods like leather notebooks and spools of wrapping paper.

Gossard has a printing business, Think Printing, at the Cross Pointe Shopping Center in Centerville but said the new boutique in the Shops of Oakwood helps create the right space for people to stop by and browse. The business is now in the process of moving operations to Oakwood so they can all be under one roof.

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Gossard said for years, while she was only in the printing business, she would get requests to do wedding invitations and custom design work. In 2014, after planning her son’s wedding and seeing the difference the right details made, she knew the next step she wanted to create the luxury stationary shop she wanted to see in the community.

“With the cities that I would visit around the world, in the states here and in Europe, I would always go to the stationers. I always go to the paper makers. I would always go to the printers like ‘What are you doing? What have you learned? What’s new? What’s old?’” Gossard said.

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