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Local artist creates handmade greeting cards using age-old craft
persnickety press card
With 15 year-round designs available, Persnickety Press owner and artist Esther Elia hand illustrates and presses greeting cards featuring unique designs on high quality, all-cotton paper. - photo by PHOTO COURTESY OF SHARON ELIA PHOTOGRAPHY

Name: Persnickety Press

Location: Cards available in DIGS, located at 310 E. Main Street Suite C-2

Hours of Operation: DIGS, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday

Contact: Via email at

History of Business: With a passion for art and a love for words, local entrepreneur Esther Elia has taken her creativity to the next level to create unique, locally handcrafted greeting cards.

“Since I was a child, I’ve loved words —letters especially,” said Elia. “I took a small sketchpad with me wherever I went and would draw letters, words, portraits of my family, and illustrations. Words fascinated me most — bringing words to life and making them individual art pieces was what I loved.”

Growing up in Turlock, Elia has taken several community art classes while experimenting with watercolors, acrylics, pottery, mixed media, and painting with ink.

“Nothing really clicked,” said Elia. “My older brother suggested taking a letterpress class, so I looked some up, and traveled to San Francisco to learn the art of letterpress.”

It was during this time that Elia found her calling, as she continued to hone her skills and artistic abilities.

“The more I learned, the more excited I became. Letterpress got into my blood,” said Elia. “When the time came where I was educated enough to buy my own letterpress, I started looking high and low. Since it is an antiquated trade, finding a machine is very difficult as they don’t manufacture them anymore.”

Determined to find the perfect letterpress machine, Elia did not give up. After finding a tabletop machine in Nashville, Tenn., and a floor model in Connecticut, she could finally begin pursuing her mission to create beautiful designs while starting her own business, Persnickety Press.

“I now have 15 year-round greeting card designs and can’t wait to make more,” said Elia.

Each card begins with Elia drawing out her illustration. Once completed, the image is scanned into a PDF file that is then sent to a company in San Francisco specializing in making photo polymer plates from the design. Elia then places the plate on her press, and after hand mixing the desired ink color, she hand presses each card on a high quality, all-cotton paper.

“It is a very involved process,” said Elia. “But the result is a tactile quality that you can’t get with digital printing methods. Letterpress is the oldest form of mass printing. Letterpress printing takes the recipient back to an era where printing was a craft that took time to create.

 “I am exclusively doing greeting cards at this point, but hope to build Persnickety Press to a place where I am focusing more on custom work. It is a beautiful product that is used widely nowadays to print wedding, as well as other formal event, invitations.”

Persnickety Press products can also be purchased online at

Business Specialty: Hand lettering and calligraphy; letterpress greeting cards.