Almost 40 Years in Purgatory

Esther K Smith and Dikko Faust of Purgatory Pie Press

Esther K Smith and Dikko Faust of Purgatory Pie Press



Limited Editions and Artist Books by Purgatory Pie Press
proprietors – Esther K Smith and Dikko Faust

Asheville BookWorks is excited to announce the upcoming exhibition featuring a retrospective of works by Purgatory Pie Press, located in New York City. One of the longest running artist/presses in the world, PPP was founded by Dikko Faust, who named it in 1977 when he spilled (pied) a lot of very small type while studying with Walter Hamady. Instead of leaving town Faust chose to pay his dues in Purgatory sorting p’s & q’s (and b’s & d’s–and all the uppercase and lowercase letters and punctuation. Faust moved to New York City to work at Center for Book Arts and in 1980, Esther K Smith joined him. Their wedding invitation was their first print collaboration.

PPP has collaborated with more than 100 artists and writers–making limited editions and artist books. Always focusing on letterpress printing from hand-set wood and metal type and typographic elements– but also making photoengravings as needed–and printing collagraph–from all kinds of substrates. Dikko’s current series is hardware prints and mathematical moires. Before this, he made a series of prints from typographic elements–patterns derived from archeological and vernacular sources

Artistic director Esther K Smith, after designing for theatre, chose to stitch books instead of costumes– a less ephemeral medium. Smith became interested in the simple printers’ bindings and pre-printing book structures. This led to her teaching a long-running artist books class at Cooper Union. And that led to her writing HOW TO MAKE BOOKS which has brought so many people into the field.

This anniversary exhibit is a survey/retrospective of their work from the very beginning thru the future of Purgatory Pie Press.


Esther will each teach a one day workshop at Asheville BookWorks. Registration is accepted either by phone (828-255-8444) or online at

Magic Books and Paper Toys – July 9. 10am – 5pm with Esther K Smith