Letterpress I: Wood & Metal Type (Jan 2016)

Letterpress printing uses moveable type, cast from metal or carved from wood, and a mechanical press to crisply transfer ink to paper. Since the advent of letterpress printing in the mid-15th century, printers have been enamored with the process of hand-setting lead and wood type. Today we remain fascinated with this tactile process. Artists and printers continually find new ways to approach the art form.

Letterpress I uses a range of projects to familiarize students with the history and practice of letterpress printing and typography. Learning through doing, students will build confidence not only printing, but also understanding the vocabulary around letterpress printing. The class will begin with hand-setting linear type to print business cards, a short poem, etc. Students will practice setting printing pressure, adjusting ink, and will gain a respect for our antique presses and our collection of lead type. Students will then continue to acquire the technical skills and creative approaches to print through independent and collaborative projects.

Our 12-week format*, longer than the typical introductory class, allows students to print on both our platen presses and our Vandercoook, set lead and wood type, distribute type, color match ink, finesse pressure, practice multi-color printing, and of course master the most efficient way to clean and care for our presses.

*Because this is a long commitment, we have designed the class to allow for occasional planned absences. Students will sign up for time slots to use the presses, spending time between print sessions setting type, mixing ink, distributing type, and otherwise falling in love with the time-honored art of letterpress printing.