PRINT WORKSHOP: LetterpressPosted: March 7, 2014
In the Letterpress Workshop, We learnt about setting type, arranging the text correctly and working with a Dana Press. Historically, this is how type was printed. A whole industry was based around the use of lead type and trays before the invention and commercial use of computers to create type. Letter press is a very lengthy, fiddly, incredibly time-consuming and a complex process. Commercially, there were a team of people working with the Letter press, the Printer, their associates and the Printers Devil. The job of the Printers Devil was to put all of the type letters back from the hell box into the lead box and type case, in the right order.
Typing on a computer as I am doing now, loses the tactility of type set text. You are dealing with the physical letters and there is an embossing effect in the paper once the type is printed, you can sense its physical nature.
The text tray is arranged in a Californian layout of tray type, Designed by how frequently the letters are used, not alphabetically. In this workshop, I used a composing stick to lay out the letters that I would like to print, it held the text in place whilst I composed it. All the letters had a notch at the top and I had to arranged them upside down but so that the letters still read correctly left to right. It was a really fiddly process and took quite a while to master. All type letters regardless of their size or materials are set at the same height. I set the text into a Chase and packed it in tightly with metal pieces of leading and wood furniture before tightening it all together with adjustable blocks. I checked that I had placed all the letters in correctly by taking a rubbing of it.
Next, I screwed the chase in place in the press and inked up the plate on top.
Next, I placed a piece of paper opposite my text and pulled the handle of the press to ink up the rollers and roll the ink down onto the text before pulling it all the way and compressing the paper and inked up letters together creating an embossed outcome. Below are some of the outcomes I produced in this workshop.
I also experimented with embossing the paper with no ink. I wanted to link my workshop into my City project and so printed the words “The Hidden Loneliness of the City Life”.
This was a highly interesting workshop and I love the tactile and physical qualities of the outcome, However, it was incredibly time-consuming to just print these six words, I can’t imagine printing a whole book this way for example. I am always keen to try out new techniques and even though this is not something I will be revisiting in this project, I have learnt a new skill that could inform future projects or make more physical sketchbook titles etc.