Mass Cultural Council Folk Arts and Heritage Manager Maggie Holtzberg worked with filmmaker Daniel Jacobs to create this short film about Jesse Marsolais, letterpress printer and lettercarver.
Jesse Marsolais works in old ways – traditional methods of letterpress printing and lettercarving in stone and wood – to meet customers’ needs one letter at a time.
“Simple tools in the right hands are capable of supreme beauty and fitness for purpose,” he says.
Jesse Marsolais served traditional apprenticeships in letterpress printing with John Kristensen at Firefly Press in Boston, MA, and stone carving with Nick Benson of the John Stevens Shop in Newport, RI.
“The fact that there is so much risk,” he says, “I find that to be a great motivator. And a source of discipline. I don’t know if my stones will be legible 2,000 years from now but there’s certainly a chance. The sense of permanence really does force you to bring your best to each project.”
“I think, no matter how advanced we get and how wrapped up in machines we become, I think there’s always going to be a need to slow down and to engage with our hands.”
Images and media: video by Daniel Jacobs and Maggie Holtzberg; photos by Maggie Holtzberg.