Lovin’ Letterpress | Week 1

I’M HOOKED! Last night was my first letterpress class and I am in love. The second I walked into the Printing & Book Arts Center, affectionately known as PABA, I instantly felt comfortable and inspired. The vibe of the room was great. As you can see from the photos above there is so much to look at!

For our first class we completed two type-setting assignments. The first one was setting our name and address. I opted to set my web address rather than physical address. I used Bernard Fashion in 14pt. The second assignment was to set this clever mnemonic to help remember the layout of the California job case. I used Twentieth Century Medium in 14pt. What can I say? I love sans-serifs! We had enough time to run some proofs – I was happy to see I didn’t spell anything wrong and the type was all facing the right direction! Next week we will be making final prints and start working on new projects. I can’t wait!

A nice bonus of the evening was meeting the lovely Chris from Fly Rabbit Press. She is a renter at PABA. If you remember from a previous post, I just recently bought one of her prints. Anyways, she was nice enough to take a quick break from a project she was printing to chat with myself and another classmate for a few minutes. I was excited to hear that she started out in the same class I am now taking! So cool. By the way, that pup hanging out in the first pic above is hers. So cute.

Author: Megan Charland


140 thoughts on “Lovin’ Letterpress | Week 1”

  1. That’s incedible! That sounds like such a neat class. I took a printmaking class last year and had so much fun that I’d love to take another – I’ll have to see if there are any letterpress classes in my area.

  2. I love letterpress. Used to work in a printing company many moons ago, when typesetters set all the type. It changed when I was there, but there is something so pleasing about working with individual letters.

      1. I’m currently working on my MFA in Visual Studies. I primarily work in photography and artist books. I’m excited to see how this experience with letterpress affects my work!

  3. That looks like a slice of heaven if a write ever saw it!!!!! Indeed your photos are so wonderful I can smell the ink!!! I am now looking for a class in Indianapolis to take this winter. Thank you for inspiring me. Congrats on FP too! AmberLena

  4. Great pictures, this seems like a great activity to do during fall. I have wanted to do something like this for a long time, I think after reading this I may just do it!

  5. I am fascinated by the printing process, so your post has me absolutely mesmerized. ๐Ÿ™‚ I have a few printing blocks I bought at a fleamarket and I used them for papercrafting . . . I can’t even imagine how fun it would be to put them in an actual press.

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  6. I love the photos. That place looks amazing. Is the equipmnt old? A friend of mine used to work at a print shop and the best presses were old German machines. They still worked well. I’d love to try that sometime.

  7. Oh, this looks so fun! I’m inspired! And typing this with a keyboard is making me feel incredibly lazy after seeing all of the things that go on when letterpressing…

  8. My dad had a full size press in the garage at our house. He worked for a printing company in his twenties (which would have been in the 1930’s). I loved the whole process. He had a little hand press, too, that we used to print bulletins for church one-by-one. Looking at your photos was like a trip down memory lane.

  9. Oh wow fabulous! I love it, thank you for sharing these photos, there is something so beautiful about a real letterpress… I love that they still write the notes out on paper and not in a computer… wonderful. I don’t think we have anything like that over here.

  10. this is cool. the only letterpress I’ve ever seen was at Greenfield Village and visitors could make a print. I’m intrigued by this. I have stickers of letterpress letters but of course it’s not the same. LOL!

  11. These photos are great! I would love to take a class like this… There’s a great letterpress shop/design company near me (Yee Haw Industries), but I don’t think they offer classes.

  12. thanks so much for the mention! I love seeing new students so excited about letterpress… it really is a magical process. I can’t wait to see your projects over the next few weeks! (btw, Daisy says “hi”)

    1. It’s funny you mention it being magical b/c I was just thinking about the first time I went into the darkroom (I have a photo background) and how that magical feeling is the same as when I first stepped into the print studio! Magic! (Hi Daisy!)

  13. I am currently reading a book on Gutenberg and it has been making me want to try letterpress.
    Photos are great.
    And this all makes me want to find a place around me that does all this. Glad to see that it isn’t a completely dead art.

  14. Very cool pictures, as a present day designer I have mad respect for the old ways of doing things. If not for this sort of stuff, I would not be doing what I love ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Wow, that looks so cool! Just by looking at your photos I can sense the kind of atmosphere in the place – I love it! Sounds like a fun and interesting class you’ve signed up for and it makes me wish that I could do the same here! Hmm… Maybe I can find one somewhere… Hehe thanks for sharing such awesome with us ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Wow that looks so amazing, I’ve only used a very small in comparison (to the press in your photos), Adana press, and wanted to try more. It’s great that letterpress seems to be gaining popularity again ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. mabrook, excellent job! Unschooler here who cannot wait to show this to my kids! We don’t have TV we are readers, not that ppl who have TV are NOT readers :p

    Anyhow, I loved Mr. Roger’s neighborhood when i was little and all the factories or other places he would visit and they showed HOW things are done or made, it was fascinating! As consumers, we get so much stuff we don’t even know where it comes from most of the time, how it’s made or even how it works! In the age of technology and infomation sharing, we are still in the dark!
    So, thanks for this bc you just can’t see stuff like this on TV or much online nowadays. Do you have a flickr account? It is a really amazing community and it you don’t know about it, i suggest checking it out. You can see photos there you can’t see in any magazine or art book in the world.

  18. Really neat, thanks for sharing. I like the photograph of the linoleum prints (not sure if they are linoleum, couldn’t tell from a far), but it makes me want to get back into printing, such a fun art.

  19. You’ve definitely captured the comfortable and inspiring vibe in your photos. With each photo, I got a warm, excited feeling that I usually get when I enter mom and pop books stores, ready to find hidden gems.

    Great post!

  20. Thank you for these beautiful pictures. My father (who passed away six years ago) had a full letterpress shop out in the garage. He grew up setting type for his father at their small-town newspaper in North Dakota and then had his own small print shop for many years before shops like that became obsolete. Then he ran a few small town newspapers. When he retired, he went back to his first love. We all kept many pieces of his print shop, but there was so much… Holding the auction after his death was one of the most difficult, yet cathartic events of my life. It was invigorating to know that all those pieces of type and the press itself would be loved and used. Again – thanks. Fantastic pictures. I can almost see my dad standing there.

  21. Wow you have make me really wanna try it. I like type so much and including these.letterpress. sadly it is so rare here in Indonesia. I cant seem to find it. I’m sure will try to use letterpress someday…:-) can’t wait for it. Thanks for share…

  22. Nice that you are still doing something via hand. That’s unique these days. Thanks for keep the light on for the hand!

  23. Very cool. I love the old-fashioned type feeling especially. I remember visiting the Cooperstown Farmer’s Museum, where they had an old-fashioned printing press and thinking of how much of a privilege it would be to work with it.

  24. I like this post of yours mainly because I’m one of those rare specimens of editors (now ex) who also got trained in letterpress typesetting and also went on to phototypesetting on the Linotron 202N.

    You might already notice that, hang about, editors don’t get to do typesetting. You’re right, they don’t. But I was on really good terms with the typesetters, and they taught me on the quiet without the trade unions knowing.

    Oh yes, the pictures bring back lots of happy memories with the people down on the stone.

  25. What a great place!!You know it’s so interesting just 2 days back I heard Steve Jobs’ Stanford Commencement address speech and he talked about attending a typography course, the knowledge he gained from which he utilized to implement the beautiful fonts for the early MAC gui interface software…Fonts are truly beautiful.What an art.

  26. Wow, a lot of really nice pictures. The pictures convey a sense of real nostalgia. I can still remember when all printing was done that way. I guess in a few years, photo shops with film, dark rooms, and development chemicals will also have this kind of appeal.

  27. Great photos Megan – There is something special about the tactile and immediate aspects of working with letterpress. I think that all designers should take the opportunity to experience it. Best of luck on your studies.

  28. this post is awesome! thanks for sharing this! I would love to visit the place and have an adventure there LOL!

    Congrats for being Freshly Pressed! ๐Ÿ™‚


  29. Mouth-watering images. I don’t know what it is about letterpress but I’ve always been fascinated by it. Must have been that ‘John Bull’ printing set my parents bought me when I was six – but I just want to reach out into your images and move around the place. Many thanks for sharing this.

  30. This is funny… I kind of randomly found your page and started browsing through the photos, as I like typography myself. In the forth photo from the top, there is a matrix of the cover of a polish magazine for kids “pล‚omyk”. I wonder how it ended up there… All the best with your passion.

  31. I have a ton of these because Years ago I worked for a paper that had them stored in a back room and the owner didn’t know what to do with them. They sold the presses for scrap but gave me however many blocks I wanted. I decorate with them, have all my family member’s names etc. And I have some of the trays that my husband made a table out of for me. Brings back memories, great shots.

  32. Nice…
    I did it myself somewhere 20 years ago. On a hand-drive mini letterpress. Nothing like your Heidelberg degel.
    Much success
    Marco – Netherlands

  33. Wow, that letter press is beautiful. I have seen one at a museum, and searching for the letters seems like back breaking work especially in a dim light. I cannot believe I took word per page for granted.

  34. A letterpress class? I’m insanely jealous. After I graduated from my college, I learned that they had future plans to implement a letterpress class. Yep, not fair. Haha.

  35. I’m studying to become a librarian at the moment…..so any type of literature – especially published so artistically – is amazing to me! thank you for sharing ๐Ÿ™‚

  36. I adore letterpress. My mom’s best friend does letterpress as her occupation and she makes the sweetest and most beautiful wedding invitations and menus etc. The look is so wonderfully vintage and delicate. I love it!

  37. These pictures are fab! I once got to play with an old sign printing machine and equipment for a stint and I felt similar excitement!
    If you are anything like me you were probably wondering whether you might be able to squeeze one into your kitchen and spend the rest of your days printing from it?! Hehehe.

  38. this must have been such a wonderful experience! I would love to have a hand at it too … been reading all about type press and all when I was reading about history of science & technology. Seeing this is just so cool, I’ll love to try it some day!

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