Getting my hands dirty letterpress printing

Last Saturday I attended a letterpress print workshop in Bristol. Learning how to print posters, cards and much more by hand.

intro

The workshop was run by the talented Nick Hand at Bristol’s Letterpress Collective.

The Letterpress Collective is a community run company that has rescued the old art of letterpress.

The day started with Nick showing us the basics. Choosing type from the hundreds on offer, many rescued from the scrap heap.

Type

choosing type

Then he showed us how to mount the letters into a frame. Using lead to adjust line height (leading!). We learnt where all the typographic terminology comes from.

type setting

more type setting

Once in the frame they can then be printed on one of the presses, here I’m working on a proofing press, the ink is hand rolled onto the type and then the paper is pressed on top.

proofing press

It takes a few tries to get it right, mostly as the type needs to be uniform height as well as checking spelling and that the letters are the right way round.

I printed a couple of posters through the day, including this one for my wife (it was Valentine’s day after all).

poster

In the afternoon I moved onto the card / small printing press. This one was a little easier as the ink and the rollers are automatic meaning all you have to do is place a card in, pull down, remove and repeat. I printed some basic business cards.

card planning
hand print
cards

I really enjoyed the day, £75 well spent as I came away with two sets of 4 posters and about 20 cards and learned a lot.

final result

Nick and the team are running a few workshops each month. Sign up and get your hands dirty. It’s a lot of fun.

dirty hand

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