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Dedicated to the Fine Print

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Owen man’s dedication to quality earns lifetime achievement award from Kentucky Arts Council

By John Whitlock

Walking into the offices of Larkspur Press in Monterey, it’s hard not to be impressed by the sense of history.
Although modern and clean, the workshop used by Gray Zeitz, his wife Jean, and Leslie Shane, reflects a slower time of publishing when each page was hand fed into a press and each book was a work of art within itself.
Because of the quality and dedication to his craft, Gray recently received the  Artist Award from the Kentucky Arts Council for lifetime achievement.
As he makes his way through the office, Gray rattles off the names of his presses, one of which came from the offices of the News-Herald.
Since 1974, Gray has used the presses to print high-quality books and poetry under the Larkspur Press banner. The presses require that each and every letter be set by hand.
Because each book Larkspur produces is handmade, the press runs are small and targeted to a specific market and audience.
Gray said the writers who use his services are looking for high-end quality and precision.
It’s his dedication to quality and his artistic flair that landed him the award.
“People can appreciate what goes into printing a book in this way,” Gray said. “It’s a huge honor for me that it has been recognized.”
Gray said the books he produces have a unique “richer” feel to them and his quality can’t be matched by modern, fast-moving presses.
“It is an art form, maybe not one of the traditional forms of art, but it definitely an art form,” Gray said.
Although the presses he uses have a history of their own, Gray said the metal letters he uses are all new.
“Used ones get worn down,” Gray said. “We only use new ones and they are getting harder and harder to find.”
The time-consuming process allows Gray to work closely with the writers and artists.
Gray will be formally honored at a ceremony at the Capitol Rotunda in October.

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