Each month Dixie Chic is scouring the digital storefronts to bring you our favorite Southern artisans. From textiles to typography and everything in between, discovering truly unique Southern pieces has never been this easy—or this fun.
Opened in 2011, Thimblepress is the creation of Kristen Ley, a Mississippi State alumna and lover of graphics and design. After dabbling in design studios both in Charleston and Jackson, Kristen, always interested in learning new mediums, tracked down a 1925 letterpress in Lexington, Kentucky. She and a friend then transported the 900-pound press all the way back down to Mississippi and with help from fellow letterpress artist Ed Inman, she learned the craft and began her studio. The name came from Kristen’s lifelong collection of thimbles found through her travels and saved from family members—a self-proclaimed dorky, but sentimental habit. The collection now resides in her office.
“I guess the reason I started Thimblepress was to give me a creative outlet where I can create what I want to create,” says Kristen. “The only client is myself, and I can freely create with no red tape or guidelines. Thimblepress is a personal reflection of me and what I love to do. I am still very humbled when people say they love my work.”
Eclectic, cheerful, and vibrant. Her shop has a little something for everyone, offering prints, apparel, and home goods all featuring her unique illustrations, designs, and watercolors. We especially love her collection of state prints. Each one is illustrated with its own state flower.
“Influence comes directly from my life. Everything I do has a story behind it. I am very sentimental and the things I create have a direct connection to my life, be it family, friends, travel, or a random memory about fishing on a pier. People ask me where I got the idea to do something, and I can sit down and give them a whole story. I think I get that storytelling from my grandfather. I talk a lot now, I can’t imagine how much I will talk when I get to be 70 years old.”
“It has been a huge influence on me—I just love the South. My whole family was raised in the South, and I think some of the sayings that I use on my cards, prints, and other items reflect the culture I was raised in. The South, in particular Mississippi, has been overwhelmingly supportive of my work and my endeavors with Thimblepress. It is like one huge family of supporters!”
1. The Mississippi Children’s Museum, Jackson, Mississippi
2. Livingston Farmer’s Market in Madison on Thursday nights. A fairly new activity, but a great place for friends and family to gather and enjoy great food and each other.
3. The Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum, Jackson, Mississippi. A hidden gem of history, where Kristen spent a day learning and observing different letter presses that are housed there.
Check out Thimblepress’s storefront or find Kristen on Twitter: http://www.etsy.com/shop/thimblepress
Also, keep an eye out for Kristen’s retail shop, opening this summer on North State Street in Jackson, Mississippi!