Jiwa Jiwa Press makes its mark on Hawai‘i’s reemerging letterpress industry.
Text by Andy Beth Miller | Images by Jonas Maon
Cherish Prado-Sherman’s workspace at Lana Lane Studios is packed with paper, block letters, and multi-colored inks. Here, amid the organized chaos of Jiwa Jiwa Press, she introduces me to the brawn behind her company: Hugo and Frankie. “[Hugo is] our big hitter, our hulk, and our main squeeze,” she says, pointing to a large Gordon press with an old-school flywheel and dapper gold trim. More than a century old, this cast-iron, treadle-powered machine is responsible for the vast majority of Jiwa Jiwa Press creations, which range from stationary to art prints. Smaller in stature yet no less beloved, Frankie, a motor-powered Gordon press, is used to tackle the company’s larger-quantity print jobs. “Frankie may be little, but boy does he print!” she assures.
The pair of handsome machines lend their muscle daily, whirring, clacking, and clicking away under the experienced guidance of Prado-Sherman, who specializes in letterpress printing, a technique that uses a press to make repeated impressions of an inked, raised surface on paper, creating numerous copies of the design. At Lana Lane, Prado-Sherman uses this personal method to produce handcrafted paper goods, including greeting cards, stationery, art prints, and custom projects such as wedding and baby announcements. “When roughly translated in Japanese, jiwa jiwa means ‘slowly, but surely’ or ‘little by little,’” she explains of her company’s name, a definition that mirrors her own diligent work ethic.
Prado-Sherman conceptualized her company after graduating with a BFA in printmaking from Portland’s Pacific Northwest College of Art, creating goods under its name while also taking on numerous apprenticeships spanning the field of printmaking. Several years later, in 2014, she returned to O‘ahu to be near family, accompanied by her husband, whom she had met while in college. Here, she turned her full attention to the craft, working out of a makeshift studio that her father, a retired welder, converted from his old workspace at her parents’ home in Mililani. In July 2015, she found the perfect long-term fit for Jiwa Jiwa Press, relocating her operations to the workshop at Lana Lane Studios, Our Kaka‘ako’s resident art collective.
The creative entrepreneur describes the signature style of Jiwa Jiwa Press as “high class with a touch of sass.” This charisma sets the shop apart, and the sass, seen in witty cards customized to showcase each client’s style and personality, adds extra appeal. To top it off, Prado-Sherman prints exclusively on 100 percent tree-free cotton paper, and uses recycled-paper envelopes made by eco-conscious and wind-powered paper factories.
Paying homage to the classic tradition of letterpress printing while poised at the modern edge of maintaining an eco-friendly enterprise, Prado-Sherman embraces a winning combination of old meets new. “It’s still new and unknown to a lot of people here,” she says, describing O‘ahu’s burgeoning letterpress niche. For the Jiwa Jiwa Press owner, this means the chance to build something beautiful.
For more information, visit jiwajiwapress.com.