Creepin’ on: Iron Curtain Press!

A new month means a new look into a day in the life of a Calliope Paperie brand! This month, we have Iron Curtain Press letting us tag along on their day. My first experience with Rosanna Kvernmo’s work was actually a card of hers I got from a customer! She sent me this card with a super encouraging note inside and when I saw that same card at the Stationery Show the next year, I snapped it up, along with many other of Iron Curtain’s letterpressed cards with dainty drawings and super-fine hand-lettering.

This past Spring, Rosanna expanded her printing shop into a drool-worthy stationery supply named Shorthand, after Iron Curtain’s fabulous desktop line of notebooks, list pads, push pins, and other fun office treasures. It’s way more “business in the front and party in the back” than a haircut ever could be.

Ok, enough out of me! Wait till you see what Iron Curtain has in store for us! Take the mic, Rosanna!

* * * * * * * * * * *

Hey everyone! My name is Rosanna Kvernmo and I am the lady boss behind Iron Curtain Press and Shorthand. I live in Los Angeles, by way of Seattle, and I started letterpress printing 9 years ago because I love stationery! And then I realized I love having a business, and that this is a pretty amazing way to make a living. I get to create things everyday with people I really like.


We start every day with a little meeting to prioritize all the projects on deck for the day. We have a mix of custom projects that we’re printing every day (business cards, or invitations or book covers – you never know!) and then we might need to fit in some greeting card re-prints. There are orders to be shipped, notebooks to be assembled, cards to be folded, emails to be answered along with all the printing so we divvy up the tasks and dive in! We seek our morning inspiration from the wise words of our patron saint Joel Kvernmo to Tina Tran “Tina, Keep printing. – Joel”


We mix ink by hand to match Pantone colors for each custom job. On the glass here clockwise from the left we have a maroon for an art print for a hotel bathroom (?), the wrong green for some wedding invitations, the correct green for some wedding invitations and a bright blue for some business cards.


At the beginning of 2016 we moved our print shop into a new space and opened our first brick and mortar store at the end of March. As part of our morning set-up we open the store, making sure all the products are stocked and dust free (dust is our constant and ever present enemy in dry Los Angeles).


Every day we’re sending off greeting card orders from our website or Etsy in these cute mint envelopes and shipping wholesale orders to some of our wonderful stockists.

(Editor’s Note: SQUEEEEEEEE!)


Okay! Now we’ve finished printing some super rad cards and we’re ready to trim them down. We load them into our Challenge paper cutter from 1880-something and trim away. Check out how cool and sharp this blade is. Wow!


Mid-way through the trimming job, we can see these beautiful crop marks trimmed exactly in half. We can tell the printing has been perfect because the crop marks are exactly uniform. We can tell the trimming is perfect because all crop marks are exactly in half. Nothing brings our neurotic printing hearts greater joy than seeing such clear evidence of our perfection.


Every project that leaves our shop is inspected front and back and then packaged in cute little bundles. These thick postcards are headed out to greet the world.


It’s getting to be the afternoon and the shop dog comes to remind us that we should probably take her on a walk. She loves sitting on the ergonomic foot stool for both comfort and maximum in-the-way-ness so we can’t miss her signals for TAKE ME ON A WALK!


To celebrate the end of another successful day running the store, printing, packaging, shipping, trimming, emailing we head to our favorite neighborhood bar for some refreshing beverages. We are grateful for the opportunity to make beautiful and useful objects every day.

Wowzers what a full day! And full of so many full things to do! I’d love a crack at that paper-cutter! Anyone else??

Thanks so much for inviting us along on your day, Iron Curtain!


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