I’ve always admired a nicely produced print job and recently I’ve become just a little bit obsessed with finding out how I can make prints myself. It’s also nice to have the background on terms such as noise and registration, and masking.
So, after a bit of ‘casual googling’ revealed lots of opportunities to get my hands dirty here in Brisbane, I chose three different types of printing techniques — letterpress, screenprinting and monoprinting — and enrolled in workshops to try them out. I’ve enjoyed them all for different reasons, but it was the letterpress technique that has left me lovelorn and longing for more.
Being a Complete and Total Utter Word Nerd (to use a term which instantly disqualifies me as one) I’ve long fancied a pretty bit of wood type. And a few minutes into my Letterpress workshop at Design College Australia I realised that I had indeed fallen quite in love with this heavy-(and rare)-equipment-heavy technique!
If you’ve ever seen the indie documentary Typeface, a hypnotic exploration of the old Hamilton printing factory in Midwestern America, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.
Participating in the one-day Letterpress workshop in a rustic studio, learning the history, techniques and practicalities of letterpress was a lot like being in the Typeface documentary.
Interesting take-home titbits of the day:
- The letter A in any set has the maker stamped into it.
- Always set your letters upside-down and left to right.
- Shoving ‘furniture’ into the chase takes more skill and cunning than most coyotes use in a lifetime of chasing roadrunners.
- The end grain of wood has a tighter texture of grain than the side grain and creates a far superior print block.
- Letters, as suspected, are beautiful objects to be revered and celebrated at every opportunity (and occasionally fondled).