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 matter and we publish poetry. We tell stories and we make art. We experiment. We make a mess. We love things that are obscure, forgotten, and occasionally unloved. We create some things that have a point. If you hire us we will happily print something for you. But we also create for our own sake and because some things need to exist.
Our workshop is in an old garage in South Berkeley that was once a neighborhood auto repair shop. It is home to our vintage 1914 12x18 Chandler and Price Old Style platen press, a Conrad etching press, a Vandercook 01 proofing press, a scary looking 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 printer's devil, 8 year old 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. Jinny's fine art print work can be viewed at her website www.jinnypearce.com. Doug got his Bachelors in Drama from Stanford University and a MPhil in Theatre from the University of Glasgow in Scotland. Rider is in the third grade and has a brown belt in Kuk Sool Won martial arts. We are also the guardians of two salukis, three bee hives, and the occasional family of mice. 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