The thyrsus or 'thyrsos" was a wand or staff of giant fennel (Ferula communis) covered with ivy vines, wound with ribbons and topped with a pine cone. It was a standard carried by the followers of Dionysus - his satyrs and maenads - as a symbol of prosperity, fecundity, and general enjoyment. According to Euripides, the thyrsi of the maenads dripped with honey and were sometimes thought to conceal a hidden spear. It was also a key element in the Bacchic mystery cults. The spirit of the thyrsos guides our work and our attitude towards life.
We make printed things and publish poetry. We experiment-a lot. We make a mess. We love things that are obscure, forgotten, and occasionally unloved. We create for the sake of creating and sharing & if your project is a good match you can hire us.
Our workshop is in an old 1930's auto repair shop in South Berkeley. A tiny little business card from the early part of the last century was discovered after some days of cutting paper and staring absently at the little square pated under a window frame. Closer inspection brought showed it advertised the services of an "automotician". It is home to our Vandercook SP 20, a 1914 12x18 Chandler and Price Old Style platen press, a Conrad etching press, a Vandercook 01 proofing press, a National guillotine paper cutter, a Kutrimmer, and a growing collection of classic metal typefaces. We also have a taste for toys—gocco, toy presses, toy cameras, button machines, as well as old and/or experimental frankencameras.
Who We Are
The people behind Thyrsus Press are Jinny Pearce, Doug Heise, and our own reluctant printer's devil, young Rider. Jinny has an MFA in Theatre from Wayne State University, a BFA in Printmaking from the San Francisco Art Institute and a BA in Theatre and Studio Art from the University of Alabama, Birmingham. Some of Jinny's older fine art print work can be viewed at her website www.jinnypearce.com and is in bad need at updating as of this writing as the lines blur between letterpress and etching work... Doug got his Bachelors in Drama from Stanford University and a MPhil in Theatre from the University of Glasgow in Scotland. Rider is a black belt in Kuk Sool Won martial arts. We are also the guardians of two salukis, two bee hives, and a murder of crows. Jinny and Doug met in the experimental theatre scene in San Francisco some years ago and happily continue to make art together today.
"Ligne droite et ligne arabesque, intention et expression, roideur de la volonté, sinuosité du verbe, unité du but, variété des moyens, amalgame tout-puissant et indivisible du génie, quel analyste aura le détestable courage de vous diviser et de vous séparer?"
- Charles Baudelaire, "Le Thyrse (a Franz Liszt)", Le Spleen de Paris, 1869