Meet Rachel James from Flywheel.
Flywheel is a small and interesting letterpress and stationery store on New Norfolk’s main street, which first opened in 2012. The building itself is much older, its first incarnation as a bakery evidenced by the original baker’s oven out the back. Its past iterations as a florist and then the Kodak shop, still linger in the memory of many locals.
Today, stepping into the curated interior of this shop is like entering a pre-digital haven of inks, rubber stamps, lead type and gorgeous hand-printed and debossed paper products. Peer through the glass windows at the back of the shop and you can watch Rachel James, Flywheel’s letterpress printer, at work in her studio.
Rachel (23) is a New Norfolk girl. One of four sisters, she lived in this town until the age of 5 before moving interstate for a few years. Later beginning work at her family’s antique store The Drill Hall Emporium , is where Rachel encountered her first printing press and lead type.
Nevertheless, she had discovered her love of the traditional printing process. Rachel’s new found passion along with the support of her family, led to the opening of Flywheel. Which in turn led to her later decision to undertake a degree in Graphic Design at the Tasmanian College of the Arts, to further her printing career and ability to work with clients to design their projects. Together with their mother, the three sisters help to select complementary stationery products for the shop, bringing different perspectives that combine to create this store’s eclectic feel.
Rachel loves her job, saying her only wish would be the addition of a studio dog. A typical day for Rachel is split between communications with clients on commissioned work, and getting hands-on work in the printing studio.
She makes her own digital printing plates, taking inspiration from illustrations in old encyclopaedias and love of different fonts in her designs for paper-products like gift cards and monogrammed writing paper. Her studio houses several different presses, but her favourite is a 1926 American Chandler and Price platen press, originally treadle-powered now motorised. She can turn out around 1000 double-sided business cards in a day on this press.
Rachel currently lives in Hobart and bucks the trend of workday commuters by heading up into Derwent Valley each day rather than into the CBD.
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