Who We Are

John hosts a gaggle of middle-school children. Firefly takes every opportunity to make letterpress and its history visible to all who will look and listen.

John Kristensen, the longtime operator of Firefly Press, studied to be an architectural historian and preservationist at Cornell and Oxford before realizing in 1979 that the letterpress itch had to be scratched. After a two-year apprenticeship with Michael McCurdy of the Penmaen Press in Lincoln, Massachusetts, John joined forces with Carl Kay who had begun Firefly Press as a publishing hobby, and between them they turned it into what in the days of letterpress was called a printing office. John has been at it ever since, slowly acquiring equipment, customers, and a reputation for Firefly. He is a frequent lecturer and instructor of printing history and technique. He is the Cruft Reader at the Boston Athenaeum and was the American Printing History Association’s 2009 Lieberman Scholar.

Jesse at the Chandler & Price platen press. Miehle Vertical cylinder press and Vandercook SP20 proof press in the background.

Jesse Marsolais studied creative writing at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, intending to become “a writer who occasionally prints.” After several years in the field of magazine publishing and editing he realized that he really wanted to be “a printer who occasionally writes.” He came to Firefly Press in 2007 and has by now pretty well mastered the mechanics of hand composition and of presswork. He is tackling the Linotype and is girding himself for the Monotype. Still devoted to literature, Jesse has launched his own imprint, the Marsolais Press.

Katherine McCanless Ruffin is a cross between Muse and Den Mother for Firefly Press. An alumna of Bryn Mawr and the Book Arts program of the University of Alabama, and also a onetime employee of Firefly Press, Katherine is now the Book Arts Program Director at the Book Arts Laboratory of the Margaret Clapp Library at Wellesley College. She is also proprietress of her own Shinola Press. Katherine helps Firefly keep abreast of what is going on in the wider world of letterpress printing and the book arts. She is also our invaluable advisor in matters administrative, legal and financial. 

Contact Us

Firefly Letterpress

119 Braintree Street, No. 202

Boston, Massachusetts 02134