It’s a woman’s world at annual 2015 Lancaster Letterpress Printers Fair

Thomas-Printers _ Kseniya Thomas _ Carlisle, Pa.

Kseniya Thomas, owner of Thomas-Printers in Carlisle, Pa., and co-founder of Ladies of Letterpress, will share her passion for printing at the Sunday, Oct. 11 fair.

Typecase Industries _ Washington, DC

Typecase Industries was founded in Washington, D.C., and has been successful since its inception.

Typothecary Letterpress_bottle_tags

A gift tag by Typothecary Letterpress of Reading, Pa.

Letterpress printing is no longer your grandfather’s profession.

Just ask Kseniya Thomas, co-founder of Ladies of Letterpress, owner of Thomas-Printers in Carlisle, Pa., and three-time exhibitor at the Lancaster Letterpress Printers Fair to be held 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 11 in historic Downtown Lancaster.

“The fact that I get to work with antique machines, beautiful paper and killer designs doesn’t hurt either,” she told Uppercase magazine in an interview. “I really believe in making things by hand and keeping people involved with processes, and am thankful every time someone choose a handmade invitation over one made by a machine in a huge plant.”

Indeed 60 percent of the exhibitors at this annual celebration of printing are hands-on female entrepreneurs.

Typecase Industries, a first-time vendor at the Lancaster Letterpress Printers Fair, was founded in 2012 by three close friends with a passion for pursuing their dreams and is now a leading letterpress and design studio in metro DC.

In 2011 Megan Zettlemoyer of Reading, Pa., began her foray into letterpress printing after visiting the Heritage Press Museum in Lancaster, which is run by the nonprofit .918 Club, organizer and benefactor of the Lancaster printing event. Her Typothecary Letterpress was born shortly after that visit.

This year’s confirmed exhibitors include:

The event, which is the largest of its kind on the east coast, this year will be held atop the North Queen Street Garage, 424 N. Queen St.

The event started in 2013 as a nod to Lancaster’s place in printing history (Did you know Ben Franklin had a print shop in Lancaster?) and features vendors and suppliers of letterpress equipment, foundry type, cards, posters, broadsides, ephemera, and more. There will also be demonstrations nearby in the Heritage Press Museum’s 1920s print shop located inside BUiLDiNG CHARACTER, 342 N. Queen St, rear, as well as activities for kids.

New this year is a $5 admission (ages 16-under are free) to benefit the .918 Club’s Heritage Press Museum, a non-profit dedicated to the education and preservation of letterpress printing.


WHAT: 2015 Lancaster Letterpress Printers Fair
WHEN: Sunday, Oct. 11, 2015 | 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
WHERE: Atop the North Queen Street Garage, 424 N. Queen St., Lancaster, PA 17603
COST: $5 admission; ages 16-under are free. Benefits the nonprofit Heritage Press Museum
PARKING: Hourly in the garage and free at street meters
DETAILS: Vendors selling printing supplies and handmade products.
LEARN: Live demonstrations in the Heritage Press Museum’s working 1920s print shop nearby at 346 N. Queen St., Lancaster



Mark your calendars ladies and gents because our SEMI-ANNUAL Warehouse Sale is coming up on Saturday, February 14-Monday, February 16, you can find 10%-60% throughout of 45+ shops. Our sale will be starting just in time for those late Valentine’s Day presents you’ve been meaning to get and we’ve got a great selection of one-of-a-kind gifts PLUS they will be on sale!

We will be open our regular store hours

Sat| 10 a.m.- 6 p.m.

Sunday| 12 p.m.- 5 p.m.

Monday| 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Participating Shops

o Antique It Candles ~ 25% OFF shop
o Charming Magic ~ Marked down items
o Barbers Artglass ~ 20% OFF shop
o Blueberry Hill ~ 20% OFF shop
o Bronze Age Antiques ~ 10% OFF shop
o BUiLDiNG CHARACTER ~ 30% OFF hardware, salvage items, windows and doors; some exclusions
o Cheap Frills ~ 20% OFF shop
o Clay Path Studio ~ No discounts
o Crystals Stones & Wire ~ 10% OFF shop + additional mark-downs
o Custom Canvas Prints ~ Marked down items
o Debi’s Artistry ~ 20% OFF shop
o Duvall Bottleworks ~ 20% OFF shop
o Eclectic Collective ~ 10% OFF shop
o Egnerama ~ 10% OFF shop + 20% OFF all jewelry
o Fotographiya ~ 25% OFF entire shop; 50% OFF $2 photos and postcards
o Garden Party Soapworks ~ 20% OFF handmade
o Handmade by Kanga ~ 10% to 30% OFF shop
o HiP THRIFT ~ 30% OFF Saturday, 40% OFF Sunday, 50% OFF Monday
o It All Has a Purpose ~ 10% OFF shop
o J.P. McCaskey Art Club ~ 20% OFF shop
o Lil Red Brick House ~ No discounts
o Love Letters ~ Marked down items
o Melding Studios ~ 10% OFF shop
o The Modest House ~ 20% OFF shop
o Music For Everyone ~ 20% OFF shop
o Opportunities ~ Marked down items
o PlarnStar ~ 17% OFF shop
o Reclaimed Art ~ 15% OFF shop
o Rebecca’s Wreaths ~ 10% OFF shop
o Rejuvenated Furniture ~ 25% OFF shop
o River Valley Music Collective ~ 50% OFF shop; excludes CDs
o Rust and Junque (formerly VintageLancaster) ~ 20% OFF shop; excludes handmade
o SandraCycled ~ 15% OFF shop
o The Sassy Tassel ~ 30% OFF shop + marked down items
o Serendipity Gourds ~ Marked down items
o Scrappy Bags ~ 10% OFF shop
o SheCre8s ~ 15% OFF shop
o Shimpin’ Salvage ~ 20% OFF shop
o Silks ‘N’ Scents ~ 20% OFF shop
o The Simple Cup ~ 10% OFF shop
o Sisters ~ 10% OFF shop
o Smilin’ Gal ~ 10% OFF shop
o Sola Fide Furniture ~ TBA
o Steve’s Man Cave ~ 25% OFF shop
o Sticks & Stones by Roxanne ~ 10% OFF shop
o Style Archaeology ~ 20% OFF shop
o Sweet Sally Soaps ~ 15% OFF shop
o The Brown House ~ 20% OFF shop
o Vintage Young ~ 25% OFF shop
o White Elephant ~ 25% to 50% OFF shop
o Wood ‘N Glass ~ 10% OFF shop + 25% OFF selected items
o Zole ~ 20% OFF shop

*Only at participating shops

Holiday Events for BC and the 300 Block


  • Parking is on us this holiday season! BUiLDiNG CHARACTER and other merchants on the 300 Block of North Queen Street will give you one free hour parking with a $40 purchase between Dec. 1-24 (while supplies last); excluding Sundays when parking is always free.
  • Friday, Nov. 6 10am-9pm First Friday
  • Friday, Nov. 28, 6-9pm BUiLDiNG CHARACTER’s Hip Santa arrives for the season. Visit with him Fridays 6-9pm; Saturdays and Sundays 12-5pm through Dec. 23. Get your photo taken free and a Christmas gift for children and pets. BUiLDiNG CHARACTER –
  • Saturday, Nov. 29 9am-8pm Small Business Saturday
  • Friday, Dec. 12 Holiday Open (Ware)House 7-9pm with treats and sounds of the season and get up close and personal with live demonstrations by BUiLDiNG CHARACTER’s resident artisans.
  • Friday, Dec. 19 Ladies Night Out Holiday Edition 7-9pm with free drink and dessert samples, massages, locally made gift ideas and shopping at 40+ shops under one roof.
  • Saturdays, Dec. 6, 13 and 20 9:30-11am Breakfast with BUiLDiNG CHARACTER’s Hip Santa at Commonwealth on Queen, 301 N. Queen St. Call 717-394-7201 for reservations.


  • Saturday, Nov. 29 9am-9pm extended hours for Small Business Saturday at participating merchants on the 300 Block of North Queen Street.
  • Sunday, Dec. 7 11am-5pm Holiday Open House on the 300 Block of North Queen Street, Downtown Lancaster’s premiere shopping district. Enjoy sounds and treats of the season at participating merchants, including Art & Glassworks, Mommalicious, j.a. Sharp, BUiLDiNG CHARACTER, Space and more.
  • Wednesday, Dec. 10 5:30-9pm Men’s Night Out at j.a. Sharp Customer Jewelers and other participating merchants on the 300 Block of North Queen Street.
  • Extended shopping hours are participating merchants or on the 300 Block of North Queen Street, Downtown Lancaster’s premiere shopping district. merchants, including Art & Glassworks, Mommalicious, j.a. Sharp, BUiLDiNG CHARACTER, Space and more.
  • Parking is on us this holiday season! Merchants on the 300 Block of North Queen Street will give you one free hour parking with a $40 purchase between Dec. 1-24 (while supplies last); excluding Sundays when parking is always

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Featured Vendor~ Opportunities

Opportunities is owned and operated by Faith Barrett of Lancaster County. Opportunities is just what the name implies, an opportunity for the community to help young girls and woman fight human trafficking and oppression to pursue a dignified life. Opportunities features an arrangement of jewelry, bags, sandals, and accessories all of which are handcrafted by the talented young girls and woman. The proceeds of all sales go straight to the three organizations Opportunities supports, Seeds of Hope Homes, New Hope Girls Academy, and Mercy Jewelry.  Faith has made a home for Opportunities here at BC, and we are very gracious to be part of such a great cause.

seeds of hope

using fashion to educate

Photo courtesy of Sseko

I started at Building Character in October 2013. My favorite part of being a vendor at BC is telling people about the non-profit organizations with which I partner. These organizations do amazing things. I’m forever inspired by them and what they do for women and girls in third world countries.

Over the last ten years I’ve gradually become aware of the plight of women and girls in third world countries. I heard things like it is common for women from the “Untouchables” caste in India to kill their infant babies in order to keep them from the horrible life that an “Untouchable” woman has to endure. I heard things like many women choose to sell their bodies many times a day just to provide food and shelter for their families. I also heard about mothers selling their own daughters into prostitution and sex slavery. I heard these things and I felt sick.

I also began to hear about organizations that exist to help these women. These organizations rescue women from human trafficking. I became aware companies being started for the sole purpose of giving women jobs. I also became aware of schools starting in extremely impoverished communities to educate young girls in order to help prevent their families from selling them in to slavery. I heard these things and I wanted to do something. But, I was stuck on what that “something” might be. I began buying from companies who sold fair trade products, but I still wanted to more!

During the same time period, I began creating. I inherited my grandmother’s sewing machine and I began making beautiful things. I made beautiful things for my home, my kids, my nieces and nephews, and then I began selling my beautiful creations. There is no higher compliment than for someone else to purchase something that you have worked hard to make. They value your attention to detail, choice of materials, creativity, vision, skill, and time so much that they are willing to pay their own hard earned money to have it for themselves. There is nothing else quite like it!

One day it occurred to me that I should combine my two passions! Opportunities is the result of that thought. At Opportunities I sell my own handmade creations, but best of all I offer the fabulous goods made by women in an effort to create beauty out of their lives and situations. I partner with three non-profit organizations: Seeds of Hope Homes, New Home Girls Academy, and Mercy Jewelry.

Seeds of Hope Homes operates on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. They exist to offer rehabilitation and education to girls who have been rescued from human trafficking. Before Seeds of Hope existed just a few years ago, the girls were often rescued at the hospital after an assault, but then had no where to go after being released. They simply went back onto the streets and often taken again as slaves. The girls make beautiful beaded bracelets and shell earrings that are sold at Opportunities.

New Hope Girls Academy was started to help prevent the girls in an extremely impoverished community in the Dominican Republic from being sold into slavery. The schools motto is: Dreaming for the girls in the barrio (slums) the same dreams we have for our own daughters. Several of the ladies (some of them moms of the girls in the school) in the community sew beautiful bags that are sold at Opportunities. The ladies are paid a fair wage to help support their families and part of the money goes to support the school.

Mercy Jewelry exists to provide employment with dignity to women who formerly have been involved in prostitution in San Pedro Dominican Republic. These women have chosen prostitution not to get rich, but to provide the bare necessities for their families. Many of them have felt that there is no other choice for them to feed their children, but to sell their bodies. Mercy Jewelry provides them employment making beautiful jewelry.

All of the proceeds from each organization’s sales goes directly back to them, after taking out a portion of the rent and commission fees. The highlight of my month is writing out checks to each of these amazing organizations! It feels great to be doing something to help! Every day I feel privileged to be doing a small part to give women and girls without options…Opportunities!

seeds of hopecheveron pursecapes


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And So Saturday Is ‘Lancaster History Day,’ Mayor Gray Proclaims

BUiLDiNG CHARACTER’s warehouses featured during Saturday’s walking tour


Then & Now: The Lancaster Storage Co. storefront in the 1950s and today.

DOWNTOWN LANCASTER, Pa. – Ever look at the city’s historic buildings and wonder what used to be?

Get a first-hand lesson during the Lancaster Walk & Talk Tour from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 18.

In fact, Mayor Rick Gray proclaims Saturday “Lancaster History Day” in recognition of the 20 sites on the Historic Lancaster Walk & Talk Tour. The historic business and industry sites have adaptive re-use in common. Constructed in the 18th and 19th centuries, the sites have been preserved and restored for 21st century purposes – the city’s largest shopping destinations, offices, residences, restaurants and hotels.

“Lancaster’s history and cultural heritage are inextricably linked to its architecture,” says Gray in the proclamation. “Our movement to save historic structures and celebrate their importance with the Historic Walk & Talk Tour demonstrates our willingness to save historic buildings and restore them for adaptive reuses.”

It has been proven time and time again that historic preservation encourages neighborhood revitalization, economic development and heritage tourism.

The Historic Lancaster Walk & Talk Tour is a joint education initiative of the Historic Preservation Trust of Lancaster County,  

In addition to adaptive re-use, another theme of the tour is how the railroads charted the course for Downtown Lancaster’s development in the 1700s and 1800s. Much of the three-mile long tour is along the corridor from where the railroad station once stood, at the corner Queen and Chestnut streets, northwest along where trains used to run toward where Franklin & Marshall College is today.

Sites on the tour include:

  • Sehner-Ellicott-von Hess House (1787)
  • H. Doer Tobacco Warehouse (1886),
  • Hirsh & Brother Tobacco Company Warehouse (1869-1874)
  • Fulton Theatre (1852)
  • Lancaster Central Market (1889)
  • Old City Hall (c. 1795-1798)
  • Brunswick Hotel site (1915-1920)
  • Pennsylvania Railroad Station site (1834)
  • Lancaster Storage Company Garages (c. 1808-09; storefront c. 1920), now BUiLDiNG CHARACTER (est. 2007)
  • High Welding Company (c. 1820)
  • S. R. Moss Cigar Factory (1896; rebuilt 1907)
  • Swisher & Buckwalter Tobacco Warehouses (c. late 800’s to early 1900’s)
  • G. Falk & Bro. and A. S. Rosenbaum Tobacco Warehouse (1881)
  • John DeHaven Tobacco Company Warehouse (c. 1876)
  • Edison Electric Illuminating Company (c. 1886 and 1892)
  • Robison, Blair and Company Factory (c. 1906)
  • Wacker Brewing Company (c. 1799)
  • Stevens High School (c. 1904-1906) and
  • The Walter Schnader Tobacco Warehouse (c. 1900).

BUiLDiNG CHARACTER’s warehouses-turned-retail store (c. 2008) were renovated in 2007, including the replacement of all the exterior sliding doors recreated to match the originals.

In addition to a wealth of history on the tour and docents dressed in 19th century attire, there will be ice cream, candy and spirits. Yuengling’s Ice Cream will be served as well as Miesse Candies and The Hershey Company’s new “Lancaster” soft caramel creme candies. Season’s Olive Oil and Vinegar Taproom will serve samplings. The tasting rooms will be open at Thistle Finch Distillery and the Wacker Brewing Company.

Artist Rebecca Lee also will demonstrate her work on the tour, and artwork from Penn-Mar will be displayed. Many of Penn-Mar’s larger pieces have had upwards of 85 people take part in their creation.

Tickets for the tour are $18 for members of the Historic Preservation Trust, $20 for non-members and $10 for children under the age of 12. Blocks of five tickets may be purchased for $75. Ticket sales will be at 123 N. Prince St. (Tour Stop #1). The self-guided tour begins at 10 am and ends at 3 pm.  Continue reading

Singer-songwriter Vin Fischer debuts new album

Photo credit: Jesse Egner Photography

Vin Fischer’s latest, “The Bridge Ahead,” makes reference to the bridge that connects his hometown of Columbia to Wrightsville. Photo credit: Jesse Egner Photography

LANCASTER, Pa. — Vin Fischer’s album release party and show is Friday, Aug. 1 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. at BUiLDiNG CHARACTER, 342 N. Queen St., rear warehouses, Lancaster, featuring Jesse Egner on cello and opening guests Main Street Sweep.
“The Bridge Ahead” is Fischer’s second full-length effort and includes Scott Rennie on banjo, vocals by Casey Jane and Egner. “This is the sound I wanted for this project,” said 25-year-old Fischer. It includes “Ashes,” “River Town Folk Jam,” “Strange,” “While you were Sleeping” and an introduction track of Fischer’s catchy sound check, “Checking the Microphone,” heard at the beginning of nearly every performance. Vin Fischer_Photo by Jesse Egner Photography
Many of Fischer’s songs were written about his hometown of Columbia, Pa., and include references to the mighty Susquehanna River and other memories of growing up in a riverside town. His first album, “Into the Water,” was released in 2012.

A Russian-speaking photo dealer walked into BUiLDiNG CHARACTER and the rest is history



Erin Waters, owner of Fotographiya, brings her fair share of originality to BC.

Fotographiya specializes in vintage photography including snapshots, portraits, tintypes, and cabinet cards. You could spend hours rummaging through the vintage and beautifully preserved fotographs in her shop.  Her photos range from cute-and-quirky family photos to vintage postcards to down right creepy portraits. Waters’ shop has a timeless aura about it. Even if collecting photography isn’t your thing, checking out her vintage collection is certainly a must while at BC.


How long have you been with BUiLDiNG CHARACTER?

Since August 2013

What type of items do you sell at your booth?

I am a professional photography dealer, so I primarily sell vintage photographs. I try to stock a variety of images like snapshots, cabinet cards, and tintypes at reasonable prices. I also have framed images ready to hang in a home, both in their original frames and in new ones. I also sell a line of new gift items created from vintage mug shots — coasters, cards, journals, and magnets. Also in my shop are photo albums, both empty and full of snapshots. I also have a selection of ephemera like advertising cards and Victorian scrap. Lately I’ve been making note cards made from vintage photographs as well as collages on larger canvases. My goal is to have something for everyone — decorators, artists, collectors, and people who just need a gift for a friend.

Your favorite thing about being a vendor/seller at BUiLDiNG CHARACTER?

Being part of a great store!

What made you want to start your craft/hobby/collection?

I’ve been living with vintage photos since I was a kid. My dad has collected daguerreotypes for nearly 30 years and while it took me a while to decide to join him and my brother as a dealer, it was pretty much inevitable. I’ve collected photographs since I was a little kid and until 6 years ago, I always was a dealer, just not full-time. I have a museum studies degree from NYU but while studying, I realized that what I really wanted to do was be a professional photography dealer.

 What other hobbies do you have?

I am an avid reader and co-run the Second Sunday Book Club here in Lancaster. I love to travel and take photos when I do.  I probably watch a bit too much TV. I love to swim. One of my favorite things to do is search for photos. Luckily, that’s what I do for a living.

Three interesting facts about you? 

I speak fluent Russian and lived in Yaroslavl, Russia for 2 years.

My favorite sport to play is water polo although I haven’t done that in years.

I am on the board of the Daguerreian Society.

If you could transport yourself to back to any time era, what year would it be? (or what is your favorite era of items to collect?)

Mid to Late Victorian. Of course, that’s when photography was invented. Whenever there is indoor plumbing, actually. Anything else is a deal breaker.