Book and Paper Alumna Puts Down Letterpress Roots in Pilsen

No sooner had artist and musician Liz Isakson-Dado completed her MFA Thesis final exhibition deinstallation when she hit the road out to Freeport, IL, putting the wheels in motion to acquire everything she needed to open her own letterpress printing studio.

The “Field Notes” brand of print materials had been working for years with Flywheel Letterpress in Freeport, IL for years to print their customized retro-style coasters. When the owner decided to sell his printing business and equipment, Liz stepped in and bought Dan’s presses, type, and other equipment, hastily relocating the whole kit-and-caboodle east to Pilsen.
Liz picked up where Flywheel left off, immediately launching into printing tens of thousands of coasters to fill Field Notes orders. Along with her husband Jamiel, and help from former Book and Paper colleagues, she worked long hours and weekends to set up the studio, fill the coaster orders, and launch her new studio practice, Tandem Felix Letterpress.


The centerpiece of Tandem Felix is the antique 1920 hand-fed 10 x 15 Chandler & Price “New Series” Platen Printing Press. Liz and Jamiel have rechristened the press “Eleanor,” and are offering letterpress printing workshops and private lessons.

With luscious drawers full of wood and metal type, and the Chandler & Price up and running, Tandem Felix Letterpress is poised to offer hands-on, fine art printing to the Chicago community through workshops and private events. Liz and Jamiel offer letterpress aficionados and novices to dive into in the creative process: designing with vintage type and ornaments, mixing custom ink colors, and printing by hand on the historic press.

Events are already scheduled to get hands inky. Tandem Felix will host a Studio Warming Party on Satruday, November 16, starting at 7:00 p.m. On Saturday, November 30, Liz will be teaching a Letterpress Cocktail Coaster Printing Workshop. A fun and innovative addition to Chicago’s recent “DIY” workshops, students in this three-hour class will print a cocktail-hour-themed coaster, and leave with a set of 20 assorted coasters.
Students are encouraged to come with a phrase or cocktail recipe in mind, and peruse the Tandem Felix collection of antique type and vintage cocktail books for inspiration.


Liz will teach letterpress basics like composing movable type, locking up designs in a chase, and mixing ink by hand, and each person will have the opportunity to print on the 1920s platen press. For more information on Tandem Felix and to sign up for workshops, click here.