Hand Print Press is me, Kiko Denzer. It started about 2001, on a small, cluttered desk in a small cabin, next to a little cob studio, in a sizeable garden, bounded by creek, forest, and neighbors, human and wild. If you want to buy here, please email me at kiko (at) handprintpress (dot) com for details.
I wrote the first book, Build Your Own Earth Oven while trying to find a way to make sculpture into a living. I had taken an earthen building workshop with Ianto Evans and the Cob Cottage Company in order to learn how to build a cheap house. Ianto also taught us to build a simple wood-fired, earthen oven. With nowhere to build a house, I started building ovens, a simple kind of sculpture that also made wonderful bread. People saw pictures and wanted their own, so I taught a few workshops, wrote up notes, added pictures and drawings, made a pamphlet, sold 1,000, revised and expanded it, borrowed $5K from my brother, sent the files to the printer — boom! Hand Print Press. (I did build a mud house too — see the photo w/the small boy — now a young man!) Check out the bookstore for some of the other ideas and projects that came out of the mud.
Mom was my first teacher. She learned from her mom, her granddad, and a teacher named “Miss Doing” (really!), at New York City’s famous “little red schoolhouse.” As part of a long art career that took her around the world, Mom directed the Boston Childrens’ Museum visitors’ center. I helped her teach paper-making, weaving, rope-winding, etc. When she turned her hand-drawn project sheets into a book, I did the index. Making Things, A Handbook of Creative Discovery sold well for 30 years before Little, Brown let it go out of print. So I re-published it for my kids’ generation. And in 2014, I published her final (14th!) book: Satisfy the Image: The Wisdom of Your Dreams and Guided Imagery for Self-Balancing.
Since then, some of the seeds that fell on the mud have grown up into other things, like a home woodshop, where I make woodenwares from greenwood (see my Instagram account for more of that), primitive skills gatherings where I go to learn, teach woodcarving, and build community, and a new folkschool with some of my Willamette Valley neighbors: Tarweed Folkschool.
The truth of economy (from a Greek word for “home”) asks us to recognize that we don’t really make our own lives but receive them as a gift from a source greater than ourselves (and greater than Jeff Bezos.) But to the extent that I have to put in the screen time to earn a few bux, I’m happy to express gratitude for the support it provides for making a home, growing food, raising kids, and working with neighbors. Whether books, stories, or friendship, I offer all in thanks, because wealth is not ours to keep, but to plant, turn over, share.