Hello! Welcome back to the Wonder Creative Blog. I recently sat down with the lovely Hannah Hall from Dearly Pressed. Check out our conversation on the podcast above, or keep reading to be wonderfully inspired!
CHLOE: I’m so excited to talk to Hannah today. I want you guys to hear from her because I really value her creative process and her heart. So, introduce yourself and tell us who you are, what you do, why you do it, etc., etc.
HANNAH: My name is Hannah, and the first thing that comes to my soul is that I’m a Christian. But you know what? Me and that word are currently having a little disagreement. I’m not sure why, but it just doesn’t hold the meaning I guess I wanted it to. So, instead, my soul’s like cry has turned to “I’m a son.” Yep, that’s the first thing I’d say about myself. I am a mom of two, with a six-year-old and a four-year-old. They are beautiful little weirdos, and I adore them.
I am also an ex-wife/girlfriend/one-day-future-wife to the same person. I know, it’s a whole different story, and believe me, it’s quite intriguing!
So, I make homemade Bibles! And I also own a letterpress printing company. If you don’t know what a Letterpress is, let me tell you. It’s where printing started way before those office or home printers came into existence. We’re talking about the roots here – how newspapers and books were first printed.
I remember learning about the invention of the letterpress back in school, and it changed everything! I didn’t even know until recently that letterpresses were still around! But they’re still here, and I’m lucky to own a couple of them.
My passion for Letterpress printing is a mix of art and history, and it brings me so much joy.
CHLOE: So how long did it take you to figure out the letterpress?
HANNAH: Well, honestly, my dad figured it out. But I practically turned to YouTube for everything. I sent him videos like, “Hey, this is how it works,” because, intellectually, I understand how it works, but physically, he’s the one who knows all the tricks to make it work smoothly. You see, my dad was a mechanic when he was younger, so these things just come naturally to him. And there I am, like, “Bro, I don’t know!” It’s amazing, though, to learn a machine like that, and it just makes me appreciate the stuff I do even more.
CHLOE: What you do is very tangible – you’re in the paper, making all this stuff, and it’s just like… that must be so satisfying?
HANNAH: It is SO satisfying when everything goes smoothly. However, with completely handmade creations, people don’t always realize how many issues can come up. I mean, there are so many mess-ups that can happen since it’s all done by hand. It’s not like a painting where you can just brush over a mistake or start over. No, with these books, if you mess up, it’s like it’s done for – completely annihilated!
CHLOE: So, what do you do with the books that end up messed up?
HANNAH: Well, my dad has some mess-ups, I have a couple, and I even sent you one. But you know what? It’s all part of the process, and we embrace it.
CHLOE: Just to give a little backstory, Hannah has done something amazing. She took the Gospel of John from the Bible and letter-pressed it with her own hands. Everything about these books is handmade – she makes the paper, presses the content onto it, and binds it. And it’s truly incredible!
We worked together on this project, and I had the pleasure of doing her branding and website. But I didn’t have one of the Bibles yet. So when I finally bought one and held it in my hands, it all made sense. It’s so different from anything else out there. The Bible was intended to be a love letter, and this format, with no segments, just like a continuous letter, really captures that essence.
So, what was your process in creating all this, and why did you feel the need to share it with the world? I can see that it’s art for you, but then you took it a step further and wanted to provide this on a bigger level. So, what went into that process?
HANNAH: So, honestly, when I first started Dearly Pressed, creating these handmade Bibles wasn’t even a thought in my brain. I was focused on making wedding invitations and business cards for creatives, as I saw the unique value in this printing method that resonates with creative souls.
Interestingly, a couple of years ago, if you asked me if I considered myself creative, I probably would have said no. I don’t know why, maybe it was some sort of self-doubt or past experiences. Looking back, I can see snippets of creativity in my life, like dancing, which I didn’t even consider a form of creativity. I just viewed it as an outlet to survive and cope with life.
In a way, Dearly Pressed also emerged from a painful season in my life – I was in the midst of a divorce. During that time, I listened to sermons for hours while cleaning houses, and through this process, my perspective on the Gospel started to shift.
I came across an ancient book from the 1600s that deeply moved me. And the idea of creating old Bibles with history and essence encased in them began to take shape. I wanted people to have access to the genuine history and love behind these sacred scriptures, not just see them behind museum glass.
At first, I doubted if anyone would be interested in this concept. I didn’t even know how to bind a book. Yet, there was a calling, and I decided to give it a shot. I couldn’t use any translation other than The Passion Translation by Brian Simmons, as it captured Abba’s heart – the essence I wanted to share.
My approach was to make these books less academic and more about experiencing the words, removing the ease of studying and inviting people to sit with the words and encounter Jesus. I wanted to break away from the academic and historic interpretations that have turned the Bible into a shrine or structured study guide.
CHLOE: I absolutely love what you’re saying. For anyone who may be new to this, we’re talking about the Word, about Jesus, and how our original purpose is to be in a deep relationship with Him. We weren’t created just to read a book and hope for a future encounter with Him; we were meant for an intimate relationship with Jesus.
Dearly Pressed and these unique Bibles are much more than mere products; they are true works of art that testify to what the Bible really represents. It embodies the essence of what the Bible is meant to be, a profound testament to our divine connection.
Of course, there is a time and place for studying the Word, understanding its context, and accessing specific passages. But these handmade Bibles go beyond that. They are designed for the tired and weary soul, longing to feel connected to their true identity again. It’s about coming back to where we belong, embracing our beloved status in Christ.
The first page, with the “from beloved to beloved” verbiage, is profoundly moving. It speaks to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit giving us this precious book. It reminds us that the Bible is meant to deepen our relationship and intertwine us more closely with God, rather than just filling our minds with knowledge.
So, I’m curious, what was the pivotal moment or revelation that made you realize that this unique story needed to be told through these beautifully crafted Bibles? What inspired you to pour your heart and soul into this artistic expression of the Gospel?
HANNAH: I love this story, and it’s fascinating how a Hallmark movie played a part in inspiring me to pursue this creative journey. Even though you can’t find the movie, it sparked my interest in old books, and I started to explore the concept of restoration and binding. It’s incredible how sometimes seemingly unrelated experiences can lead us to our true passion.
During that time of pain and heartache, I could hear a deeper calling to bring the Word to life in a way that went beyond mere study and doctrine. It was like hearing the wailing of the soul of the Gospel, wanting to be seen for its essence and connection to God, not just treated as a textbook to be dissected.
I mustered the courage to approach the publishers of the Passion Translation with a unique pitch and samples. Their positive response was a turning point, and even though I was unprepared, it marked the beginning of an amazing journey.
CHLOE: Can you tell me a little bit about the project with Wonder Creative and how the process went? Also, what made you initially reach out? Just share the whole process!
HANNAH: Well, I’m really, really not technology-inclined. In fact, I am declined by technology. It just doesn’t go well for me. So, I knew I couldn’t do this justice, and that’s why I reached out. I had seen you and Olivia, and I followed your work, especially the “All Things Live” launch. Your website was just so beautiful and different from anything I had seen before. Then, when I saw “Wonder Creative” at the bottom of The Homestead’s website, I was like, “Oh, I know who that is!” Your work is so fancy and beautiful. I had been struggling with my website for a good year, and I knew I couldn’t do it justice. I needed someone who could bring out its true beauty because it meant so much to me. It had to be top-quality and honor the essence of what I was trying to convey.
CHLOE: Yes, we had DM’d a bit, and I offered some guidance, but then you said, “I just need you to do this.” And I completely understood because I felt the same way. Your project was so precious, and I didn’t want to see it inaccurately represented to the world. I knew what you were doing was innovative and had a sacred essence. I just felt drawn to the project, like I had to be a part of it.
I’m really glad everything worked out, and I truly loved working on this project. I protected it like it was my own business baby. It meant something special to me. And throughout the process, I felt a swirl of creativity like never before.
HANNAH: It felt effortless, honestly, working on this project with you. Your understanding and alignment with the essence of what I wanted to convey made it so smooth. I remember when I was giving feedback, I thought, “I wonder how terrible she thinks my feedback is,” but you just got it, and it was such a relief.
At the beginning, I struggled with whether to hire someone or do it myself. As a product-based thing, I could cultivate the business without the branding being perfect, but I knew this project deserved the best. That’s why I decided that if I were to hire anyone, it would be you. I trusted you completely, and I knew you would truly see the essence of what I wanted to convey.
The branding process was more exposing than I anticipated, but it was a good thing. You asked questions that I hadn’t even thought about when starting a business. It was like undressing my soul in front of you, but in a positive way. You made me look deeper into the “why” behind what I was doing, and it was incredibly enlightening.
CHLOE: I’ve said this before, and I truly believe that God has a heart for business. There’s an incredible opportunity for us to love the world and impact culture through our businesses. I also believe that if there’s a dream in your heart, it should be honored and taken seriously. When I work with clients, I want to see that they are committed to their dreams, just as I am committed to helping them bring those dreams to life.
That’s why we delve into all the details during the branding process. By getting to the core of why you started and what you want to achieve, we create a strong foundation.
CHLOE: So, how do you balance being an artist and running a business?
HANNAH: Honestly, it’s all very new still. I’ve come to a point where I refuse to force creativity when there’s nothing there, as it becomes depleting for me. I want to keep this expression of my heart light and fulfilling.
In the beginning, it wasn’t about money for me; I simply wanted to create these books for the heart of it. However, within the year of starting this project, my ex-husband and I reconciled, and he gifted me a way to make this solely about fulfilling my soul instead of feeling pressured to produce. I was hesitant to release the books because they are a window into my internal world, and it feels vulnerable to expose myself like that to the world.
It’s like undressing a part of my soul for everyone to see, and that’s intimidating.. But it’s also a window into my relationship with Abba, and that’s a beautiful thing..
CHLOE: What’s next for you as we wrap up? What do you feel like is next for you? What are the big dreams that you want to work towards in the near future?
HANNAH: Short-term, I plan to start a blog, eventually progressing to a podcast to discuss important and necessary topics. I also want to create journals with expanded cover options, explore splatter painting, pottery, and various decorative items like bookmarks. I’m excited to go with the flow and follow my creative inspirations wherever they lead me.
CHLOE: Obviously, people can still purchase The Gospel of John, but are there any more books available?
HANNAH: Yes, for other books, I do have some on my mind. The next one I will ask for is Romans. However, I don’t plan on doing all the books of the Bible right now. Some of the ones I’m considering are Song of Songs, Hebrews, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John, 1st and 2nd Corinthians, Galatians (my favorite), and Ephesians.”
CHLOE: Tell everyone where they can connect with you.
HANNAH: You can connect with me on my website, dearlypressed.com
You can also follow me on social media: