Letterpress Class

This weekend I took a Letterpress Class with Jordan Ferney at her lovely studio in the Mission. There were 8 business cards printed from designs we planned out the weeks before (one per person). The class also included a history of letterpress and explanations of the tools, systems and processes used. It was a great class, I learned a lot and went home with some awesome business cards.

This is a copy of one of the sheets right off the press.

These are lead types. You arrange your type (upside down from left to right). Each new size, spacing and font requires a new lead type. You can imagine how time consuming this must have been (think about the size of newsprint!). And ever wonder where the phrase “mind your p’s and q’s” came from?

Here is the press in action. The big roller on top has a thin layer of ink that distributes to the smaller rollers which will cover the raised surfaces (our designs) and then press on the paper.

This is called “furniture” which are blocks of wood at all different thicknesses for packing in your lead type (you don’t want anything to move when the press runs over them). We did not use these.

Instead of using lead type, Jordan had our designs printed on photopolymer plates which is the most common way to transfer a design from a computer design to be ready for letterpress. The effect is the same and the raised surface will create the desired impression on to the paper.


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