Monday, January 16, 2012

Printing in the letterpress studio

Last week I had my first orientation session at the letterpress studio. We were instructed to bring a sonnet or other short poem. In that session I got all of my type set, with the exception of the title and author. In this session I got started with those two things, and then it was on to printing!

Here is my type on the Vandercook press. The wood blocks around it are the "furniture" that holds it in place. Learning the letterpress lingo is all part of the fun it seems. When the type is not on the press, you store it in a "galley" which is the proper word for the metal tray. Bob will correct you if you just keep calling it a tray.

A close-up of the type. Just ignore the lack of proper white balance in these photos.

And the finished product! I printed six of these, and then it was time to start cleaning up. Each letter has to go back in the case. It is a time-consuming process, and I never even finished. Luckily, you don't have to sign up for open studio time if you are just putting type away, so I'll have to go back tomorrow to clean up after myself.

The part of the process that actually took a long time was fixing errors. Once I had my sonnet all set, I printed a proof. Well, that showed a few errors, like letters upside down, or just the wrong letter altogether. When Bob checked my work he said,
"Is 'floots' a word?"
"Nope. That was supposed to be 'floats'."
"Okay, I just wasn't sure. Some of these poets make up their own words."
Fair point, Bob.
After I fixed the errors and made my six copies on nice paper and cleaned off the type, I noticed one more very minor error. I didn't fix it though, and I didn't want Bob to be disappointed, so I just didn't tell him.

When the press was all cleaned up and I was picking up my stuff to leave, I was asking Bob what kind of presses he had at home. He has a bunch and he lets people come in for day-long sessions to use his studio. I asked how people found out about his studio, and he says he advertises on Craig's List, so that was pretty neat. He is actually pretty close to The Barn and he said I could come by and check out his studio sometime. He also gave me a copy of his Christmas "card" which was actually a small pamphlet, all done with letterpress. Apparently it only took him a couple months. Very impressive!

1 comment:

  1. wow, that print looks amazing. nice job, you must be proud of that! i have been more interested in letterpress lately, since visiting an antique store back home in NC that had tons of trays in slotted cases filled with old type and graphics for presses.

    i couldn't find the minor error in your print. i never thought about how long it would take to set the type and make sure all the errors are gone. good thing you didn't choose an ee cummings poem!