Oblation Papers and Press

Oblation Papers and Press is a traditional urban print studio owned by Ron and Jennifer Rich, located in the Pearl District of Portland, Oregon. The nineteenth-century letterpress print shop specializes in the design of custom wedding invitations, handcrafted greeting cards, sophisticated office decor and various fine gifts. What originally started as blended experiments of handmade paper derived from various forms of botanic and fibrous materials soon became a collection of unique, handmade creations. The Rich family effortlessly perfects the almost impossible combination of old-world technique and modern style that is represented in their craft. 

The Rich’s notable dexterity is evident in the use of historic letterpresses that are over 100 years old and reconstitutes the artisanal craftsmanship that reflects in the age-old process. Adding a hint of contemporary creativity allows Oblation Papers and Press to create artful products that are both authentic and innovative. The green approach is a vital portion of the Rich’s printing process. Each unwanted and discarded paper product is given new life by being transposed into pulp and transformed into fresh paper. The high quality paper is then turned into the eclectic products found throughout the local boutique. Each piece aims to enhance the natural joy that certain events bring to the community, as well as those simply passing through the charming local establishments of the Pearl District.

Oblation Papers and Press

  Production inside the Rich’s traditional nineteenth-century letterpress printshop.

Mood of Living Q&A:

MoL: What inspired you to become paper artists?
Jennifer Rich: Early craftsmen and thinkers such as: Eric Gill, Elbert Hubbard, Robert Ferrar Capon and Calvin Seerveld.

MoL: Where did you learn your craft?
JR: We began making paper by hand on our honeymoon, and learned the art of letterpress printing in 1993 when we bought an antique press, working from a 1940s manual on letterpress printing.

MoL: Where do you look for inspiration?
JR: I look outside my field for inspiration … vintage documents, ceramic patterns, classic French literature, tooled leather bindings and collectible art deco posters.

MoL: What is the hardest challenge you have faced, and how did you overcome it?
JR: We found ourselves building out an abandoned warehouse in 1998 with the sweat equity from our remodeled home. While we were focused on collecting the most beautiful papers from around the globe to share with others, we were shocked when we opened the doors with the realization that we’re actually now in ‘retail’… a whole new learning curve.

MoL: What was the moment you realized you could really do this?
JR: We began selling handmade papers at an open-air market, before entering the arts and crafts fair circuit. On our first trip to California, a woman named Rita ordered $200 of our journals to place in her beautiful paper store … that was the catalyst to move from the nomadic life to a more settled existence, selling wholesale from our goat barn studio on Vashon Island, Washington.

oblation papers and press

MoL: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
JR: Spending more time in my personal bookbinding studio on our small farm, west of Portland.

MoL: Do you have a hobby?
JR: We raise chickens, sheep, goats and horses on a small farm. We harvest vegetables, sheep and goats for our supper, and make parchment for hand bound prayer books from our Saint Croix sheepskins.

MoL: What is your favorite quote?
JR: “Laborare est orare”: to work is to pray.

MoL: Who is an influential figure in your life?   
JR: Anthony Bourdain, who celebrates the high adventure of preparing and enjoying endless eating possibilities.

MoL: Do you have a style icon?
JR: The simple lines of Eileen Fisher are a visual treat.

MoL: What is the best advice you’ve ever received? And from whom?
JR: Be the best maker you can be, and you will always have what you need. Loren Wilkinson

oblation papers and press oregon

  Production inside the Rich’s traditional nineteenth-century letterpress printshop.

MoL: If you could have a conversation with any living person, who would it be and why?
JR: Erik Kwakkel, a Dutch blogger/discoverer of the most anachronistic and fascinating medieval book art artifacts on tumblr.

MoL: What is something you know now that you wish you knew before?
JR: Take the long view, worry only binds you up.

MoL: Words of wisdom?
JR: We are made of earth and heaven – don’t forget to feed your whole being.

MoL: Where do you go for peace of mind and spirit?  
JR: A quiet prayer corner with candles and handwritten icons where I go to align body and soul.

MoL: What advice can you give anyone interested in starting his or her own business?
JR: Continue to nurture your creative impulse, finding new ways to approach your business … there are a million ways to shape a life, choose the ones that bring joy.

MoL: Do you spend much time creating a beautiful home?
JR: Ron sets his sights toward finishing 20-40 minute projects each weekend … building stone walls, planting espaldier pears, erecting a modern tree house, the list is endless.

MoL: Do you entertain?  
JR: Yes, often. We just had 60 friends to our house for the 4th of July.

MoL: Do you enjoy cooking?
JR: Preparing an artful meal is another spirit-filling daily activity, with a glass of chardonnay in hand, naturally.

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ron rich Oblation Papers and Press

Founders, Ron and Jennifer Rich

jenner rich Oblation Papers and Press