In 1977, while living in Boston, Julia Ferrari met her future partner, poet Dan Carr, and began a 39 year journey into letterpress printing, bookbinding, and design. They started making editions of poetry chapbooks within the small press movement as the Four Zoas Press, and later, Four Zoas Night House Ltd. before starting Golgonooza Letter Foundry & Press in 1980. They wanted to make fine letterpress editions of both their own original poetry and art, and in addition make a living producing literary works using both hand composition and hot metal Monotype typesetting as hired designer/craftspeople.
In 1982, Ferrari and Carr moved the presses and foundry to an abandoned mill building in rural Ashuelot, New Hampshire, and started work with various fine press publishers. Their first project was to handset John Hersey’s Hiroshima, illustrated with original silk screens by Jacob Lawrence. That was the beginning of 30 years producing fine letterpress printed books for limited edition publishers nationwide. They continued to variously design, typeset, print and/or bind books such as Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad with etchings by Sean Scully, Nohow On by Samuel Beckett with etchings by Robert Ryman, Dubliners by James Joyce, Music Deep Rivers in My Soul by Maya Angelou, Everything That Rises Must Converge by Flannery O’Connor, My Sister-Life by Boris Pasternak, Le Paysan de Paris by Louis Aragon, Un Coup de Dés Jamais N’Abolira Le Hasard by Stephan Mallarmé, Cathay: Poems after Li Po by Ezra Pound with woodcuts by Francesco Clemente, Bookmarks in the Pages of Life by Zora Neale Hurston with Seragraphs by Betye Saar, and Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata, among others. Ferrari feels that the art of letterpress is a vital one and she enjoys teaching workshops to young people, especially high school and college age students. She intends to continue practicing the “whole art of the book,”* throughout her life and is committed to passing on the love of letterpress hand composition and hand printing.
*quote from partner Dan Carr, circa 1977.