With the rise of technology comes fear over losing the art of the printed word. Thornwillow Press seeks to save the printed word and cultivate generations of artists. Thornwillow is adding their footprint to Newburgh’s economic revitalization with the incoming Thornwillow Maker’s Village. The project is hoping to raise $50 thousand by January 8, 2020 via. KickStarter.
After spending his summers from Harvard College taking courses on book binding and printing, Lucas Pontifell started Thornwillow Press in 1985. For over 30 years, Pontifell has found his work to be spread out all over the world. Today, Thornwillow’s base is Newburgh.
While searching for a permanent location, Pontifell and his wife put a compass down on a map, and it directed them towards Newburgh. After doing some research, they discovered the rich history of Newburgh. In a desire to make their mark on the city’s history, they finally set up shop on 25 Spring Street.
“The project [Thornwillow] started out as an idea,” said Pontifell. “It came out as a [bound] book.”
Since its beginning, Thornwill has published, printed, and handbound the original works of various prominent American authors like Walter Cronkite, and John Updike. Thornwillow books can be found in various permanent collections all over the world.
“The craft [book binding and printing] perpetuation of the craft became a catalyst for urban revitalization,” said Pontifell on the impact of Thornwillow. Thornwillow’s current kickstarter campaign is focused on creating a village in Newburgh’s downtown.
“It’s a community anchored around Thornwillow Press,” said Pontifell. It’s “a pledge where we tried to create a community of artists [and beyond].” The village will feature workshops, artist studios and residences, performance and exhibition spaces, makers labs, and more. The project is a multiphase experiment. According to Pontifell the village has been in the works for years.
Phase one of the village costs $2 million. Pontifell is currently focused on raising at least $600 thousand of phase one. They currently have $200 thousand raised. Some of the funding will come from a state grant. The KickStarter Campaign’s goal is to “actually engage local people in the mission [the village],” said Pontifell. If the campaign doesn’t reach its $50 thousand goal, they will lose all of the KickStarter funding.
According to Pontifell, KickStarter has been enthusiastic about their campaign. In the past few years, Thornwillow has used KickStarter for around 29 individual campaigns.
Pontifell already has the architects, plans, and beyond for starting the project.
“Everyone wants to see this happen or that special pricing [for the makers village] will go,” said Pontifell. “I’m frustrated we’re not there yet.”
Pontifell hopes that some of phase one will start in 2020. Although, the business of book printing and binding isn’t simple, he remains determined. “We have to get in the business of teaching and perpetuating this craft,” said Pontifell.
“You would think as people are literally turning books on and off with a switch that would all signify the death of the printed word,” said Pontifell. “We have united a global community [with our work] in the love an appreciation of physical objects.”
Thornwillow books range in cost but the cheapest editions are affordable and accessible to the average consumer.
In addition to the Thornwillow Maker’s Village, the KickStarter campaign features a competition. “We’re calling out for people to submit titles,” said Pontifell. In the end, “we’re going to poll all parties.” Whoever submits the winning title will receive a free leather-bound edition of the book. This competition only requires 1,000 people. One only needs to donate at least one dollar to participate.
The KickStarter campaign seeks to give patrons a “voice in what we’re going to print,” said Pontifell.