Letterpress Class – Week Deux

3277547344 1ddf12bdb9 Letterpress Class   Week Deux

Photos of letterpresses and letterpress tools from around flickr. Click through for links to the original images.

Why I felt the urge to call this post “Week Deux,” I cannot explain…

Last night was the second installment of my letterpress class through PNCA’s Continuing Education Program (and, no, I’m not pushing PNCA just because I’m teaching a class there this summer–it’s an awesome place, I swear). We got to fire up the printing presses and play with inks and actually start printing. Well, by “we” I really mean the collective “we,” rather than actually “me.” You see, when I pulled out my project from its drawer, I set it down with the other side facing toward me and noticed a big, huge gap next to the large “7″ I had in the middle of group of wood type. The “7″ seems to be fairly old, and the type slopes down and is significantly worn on one side. What this ended up creating was very loose type that would be a mess once it was placed in the press bed. So, the TA helped me fill in that large gap, which then affected the structural integrity of the entire thing. We ended up spending probably an hour and half filling in each little gap (they were odd-sized, too, since my type was going all different directions) to create a nice rectangular design that could then be placed on the press for printing.

3276167346 a8e57799a0 Letterpress Class   Week Deux

A nice clean, tight rectangular shape, ready for printing! Finally. All of those little pieces of leading, word spacing and reglets (the odd-shaped wood pieces) were items we used to fill in all the gaps created by that funky "7."

While I didn’t get the chance to start printing my project, it was really helpful watching several people lock up their type–a much more complex process than I ever imaged. Many of you probably know this already, but you can’t have any movement in the type, so you used furniture (wood blocks), reglets (funky-sized, smaller wood pieces) and leading (thin pieces of lead) to “lock up” your type. You then use quoins (our instructor pointed out that this is a great word with which to zing someone in Scrabble) to tighten everything.

The inking process is really interesting as well. I sort of regret not taking pictures, but I think that would be a bit obnoxious to those folks who are in the process of inking their projects. We used rubber-based inks (some people use oil as well–rubber dries through absorbtion, oil through evaporation) and they’re mixed according to a pantone formula guide. (Sidenote: I would love to have one of these formula guides for screenprinting–but they’re so expensive.) Since I love inks and colors, I’m really looking forward to my turn to mix. The rubber ink is so different from what I’m used to in screenprinting–it’s the exact opposite consistency.

Once the type was set, and the rollers were inked, people started printing and experimenting with adding more color to their inks (we used rather transparent ink on very transluscent paper). I think everyone who printed tried layering by printing repeatedly over the same sheet of paper–which created really beautiful effects.

Finally, clean up took a good twenty or thirty minutes with mineral spirits and three different people. Geeky me, I really enjoyed the chance to see the “guts” of the printing press.

Lots of fun again this week. While I didn’t make a huge amount of process on my project, I felt like I really accomplished something, because I spent so much time problem-solving. I’m looking forwarding to sharing photos of what I’ve printed and (hopefully) what other folks have printed as well. We have two weeks to come up with our proposals for our personal projects, and I have a pretty good concept formed in my mind. But, I’m not quite ready to share it yet.

~Sarah

P.S. We’ve got several sewing projects to share with you, but our camera has been acting up (these pictures were with the camera on my phone), so we haven’t had a chance to photograph them–hopefully, this weekend. Also, plans are in the works for an upcoming Video Threads episode that we’re very excited about.

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3 thoughts on “Letterpress Class – Week Deux

  1. Wait, those were taken with your phone??? What kind of phone do you have?

    I’m really looking forward to your project! :D

  2. I have a G1 (google phone some people call it) from T-Mobile. It’s a sweet phone. Much better than my friends’ iPhone. It’s not slick and fancy looking, but it does everything really really well. There is a special app you can download (free) that adds image stabilization that makes all the difference.

  3. Pingback: Letterpress Class, Part 3: I Printed Something! | Sewer-Sewist

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