Campus Spotlight: Laura Gunnip/Fireweed Print Shop

Fireweed Print Shop is a community print shop and art studio, home to two etching presses, antique letterpresses, and screen printing facilities. It is queer-owned and run by artist, designer, teacher, and activist Laura Gunnip. Located in the south room on the first floor of the Bernie Hosey Building, Fireweed is a space of radical self-discovery and creative energy, packed to the brim with color, joy, and life.

Laura started block printing when she was just ten years old and continued her journey through undergrad at Evergreen State College and graduate school at Bradford School of Art and Leeds College of Technology. She later went on to work at the Leeds Arts University. “Leeds College of Technology is where I learned book binding from the old guys. They have these amazing hands from stitching book blocks together. It was incredible, ” Laura said.

After almost a decade in the UK, she eventually moved to the Methow Valley to raise her kids, though she makes her way back to Leeds every year. After moving to the Methow Valley in 2007, Laura started working with fellow artist and printmaker Robin Doggett, creating Door No. 3. Print StudioDuring the early stages Laura and Robin experimented with various styles of printing, projects like “bicycle printing,” which entailed running bike tires through ink and riding over postcards to capture the tracks on paper.

“This was the era when the Trashion Show started. We were a part of that experimental time around here.” Laura said.

Laura and Robin initially worked in the Twisp Community Center, landing the current space in the Bernie Hosey building in 2015. After 10 years of working together at TwispWorks, they decided to take on their own projects. Robin moved on to create True North Letterpress, with a storefront on Glover Street, and Laura created Fireweed Print Shop with a focus on teaching and mentorship.

Having had students since first moving to the valley, Laura’s passion for instruction has been a leading force in her creative acts. “I’ve

done loads of summer camps. We used to do the summer camps in here, [the Bernie Hosey Building], before it was insulated. We made giant paper-mache deer. We did all kinds of fun stuff. We’d go to the woods and make giant spider webs out of string between the trees, lots of site specific projects.”

Even adult groups looking to get their hands dirty in printing are led by Laura. Organizations such as Little Star, North Cascades Institute, the Icicle Fund Board, and TwispWorks staff have spent a day in her shop learning the

process of screen printing. Beyond teaching and mentorship, Laura also designs and builds installations for gatherings and festivals. Known as “portals,” these installations act as participatory containers, creating space to rest, pause, and share.

“There’s things to do in them, write something down, burn it, light a candle, hang it up, spend time listening and receiving messages,” she said.

This last summer, Laura created a portal for the Saskatoon Gathering. “By the end people came up to me and said, ‘I’ve spent important time there,’” and thanked her for creating a unique spot to engage.

Looking to the future, Laura is working on a Confluence show called Out Here, an Okanogan LGBTQ+ youth project with support from Methow Pride. The show’s material will be generated from a queer maker’s space made available during the school year.

“In the past, queer teens would come out, not feel safe here and end up moving away. Now there’s a good number of gay, trans, and non-binary young people that are staying. They are growing up here, they are hopefully feeling safer, and choosing to stay here,” said Laura.

The schedule for the space is not set. Please feel free to get in touch if interested and more information will be available soon!

You can find out more about Laura and her work at her website or Instagram.

Thank you for sharing your wonderful spirit and craft with us Laura. We feel so fortunate to have you in our community!