Letterpress I: Wood & Metal Type

Letterpress printing has been making quite an impression since about 1440 when Gutenberg invented movable type. A mechanical press prints from metal or wood type to crisply transfer ink to paper. Letterpress printing creates a tactile and inviting debossment in the paper. This “punch” makes this art form a popular choice for greeting cards, business cards, invitations, broadsides, and a wide range of printed ephemera.

While letterpress printing began as a commercial process, today artists, designers, typographers and illustrators are continually finding new ways to approach the art form. Letterpress I: Wood & Metal Type uses a range of projects to familiarize students with letterpress printing, typography and the history of the art form. Spudnik Press Cooperative houses over 120 drawers of type, two Vandercook presses, a Line-o-scribe proofing press, and three platen presses, all of which are available for students to use.

Students will jump in browsing Spudnik’s unique collection of type and using a composing stick to hand set lines of type. From there, projects will increase in scope to introduce more advanced planning, technical considerations and creative approaches to printing. Students will learn new fun vocabulary words like reglets, quoins, chases, and leading. In addition to setting type, students will learn the mechanics of our presses and learn to lock-up type, set pressure, mix and modify ink and safely operate the machines.

Throughout the class students will acquire the technical skills to be authorized to print independently at Spudnik Press and the creative skills to produce inventive and alluring prints for years to come.