To Manifestos & Good Mail

Eliza Tudor
Eliza Tudor
May 30, 2022
10 min read
Old Iron Press Postcards, 2022

On May 1, we opened submissions for Playing Authors and officially launched Old Iron Press.

Woot! We’ve been so excited to see submissions come in, and wanted to take a few minutes to answer some questions and share our brief manifesto. Come on, you knew OIP would have a manifesto!

Here it is:

  • Old Iron Press is dedicated to inclusion, iteration, and the project of ongoingness.
  • Old Iron Press focuses on making and supporting makers.
  • Old Iron Press will publish in limited numbers, and will only be selling on our website (*and at events and bookshops we love).

Let’s break that down a bit.

I grew up in a tiny town in Indiana surrounded by generations of DIYers and people who made things: beautifully carved birds, quilts, songs, furniture, and clothing. In our house, the Nearings’ book and the Whole Earth Catalog were always at the ready. It was clear from early on that everyone was a maker, everyone had stories, and the people keeping this making alive were doing valuable work.

I also came of age with the Riot Grrrl Manifesto, Donna Haraway and The Cyborg Manifesto, The Madwoman in the Attic (Gilbert and Gubar), feminist/Queer theory, and zine culture. Collaborative creation was also a call to action.

Photo from a page of the fanzine Riot Grrrl summoning the "Riot Grrrl Convention" (1992)

The Old Iron Press Manifesto, and myself, have a debt to movements of intersectionality, diversity, equity, sustainability, and inclusion. It and I have a debt to current and historic independent presses, artists/collectives, maker and artist communities, community-based workshops, teachers, collaborators, and friends.

Creating a means of production that invites others—particularly those outside of established circles, of various ages, from all communities—a means to share/see/support/create, to experiment with non-hierarchical methods, and to build something beyond survival for and with others is a privilege, but it is also an opportunity to learn and a project of care.

What does that mean?

Old Iron Press focuses on making and supporting makers.

We are going to make books, but we’re also interested in experimenting with the concept of “book” itself. We’re excited to create uncategorizable, collaborative creations; some which might be able to be taken apart and reassembled in a new order, others that might be disassembled and mailed out as a further collaboration, and still other projects that might not even look like a book at all. We're planning to do this slowly and learn a lot in the process.

We want OIP to champion the tangible and usable. We want to experiment with all sorts of ways to create books, but we are not a traditional press.

We want to dedicate especially this first year to listening and learning from those long established in this craft, those guides who are doing the work already, and those hoping to join. We want to honor those who have inspired us, and celebrate them.

Old Iron Press is dedicated to iteration and the project of ongoingness.

Personally and creatively, who are we now? What are we making? How are we making? How can the process feel lighter, less about result and more about experimentation? How can we support those who make? How can we feel less lonely in making and sharing work? We are fascinated by these questions, and the desire to create a small listening-post/workroom to explore them led to the creation of Old Iron Press.

I am honored and thrilled to be building OIP with such talented, kind, and inspiring people. It is such a privilege to work and learn from them. In the coming weeks, we will be doing a Q&A with our team. I’m so excited for you to get to know more about these amazing people helping guide OIP.

Gutenborg, our trusty OIP mascot, will also help us—shining a light, creating, moving forward. At OIP, ongoingness is more than a noninnocent corrective. It is an act of becoming.

Submissions opened May 1 with our launch, but our merch page will not go live until later this year.

We are excited about the items we’re collaborating on with incredible makers and producers, but we also want to take some time to introduce ourselves, meet you, develop this space, and simply celebrate making. How are we going to do that?

Old Iron Press Stickers, 2022

We’re going to start with rad gifts.

We can’t publish everything sent our way, but rather than an acceptance/rejection dichotomy, we want to recognize the bravery and persistence in making and submitting work. Especially right now, on this planet, in this moment, in the midst of everything else that is occurring.

Here are some of the ways we’d like to start:

  • Every month, random submitters will receive gifts in the mail. Regardless of the result of your submission, you are part of Old Iron Press just by submitting your work.
  • In addition to being in the running for free rad merch, all those submitting work are welcome to share information about other projects in play. Being chosen to contribute work feels great, but at OIP we want to develop other avenues of community—building with all who submit. (Submissions for “Playing Authors” runs May 1–October 1, with General Submissions opening September 1.)
  • The Old Iron Press community doesn’t just include those submitting work, it also includes those who have signed up for our newsletter and on Instagram. We’ll be giving away rad gifts to you too. You are also building OIP. The goal is to establish a quarterly newsletter, but our concept of quarters might not align with traditional spacetime.

We are excited to read your work and make a space for it to exist in this world. At Old Iron Press, we look forward to collaborating with you—people making, reading, exploring, and persisting. We’re in this together. And we’re so grateful for that.

In the words of Mary Shelley, “Adieu! take care of yourself; and, I entreat you, write!”

– Eliza

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