Letterpress Workshop

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Letter press is something I’ve always wanted to learn. In 2015 I went to Erik Spiekermann’s letterpress workshop in Berlin and it’s completely inspired me to learn the technique. Seeing some of the things that are possible with this technique and how it’s being used professionally has been a huge driving force of my motivation to learn.

It’s a really fascinating technique that has been used for so many years and I think I will use this resource a lot during the course.

We started the workshop by going through the rules and safety. The metal letters used in the Blenheim workshop are lead so using too much pressure will make them crack. This means that we can only use certain presses to do letterpress so as not to damage the letters.

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For the first press we were shown, you ink up the letters in a similar way you would a lino or mono print which was easy enough to grasp. The press itself seemed quite complicated and I’m quite intimidated by it. We didn’t end up using it ourselves, we only saw it used in demonstration but I hope, with future use of the workshop, I’ll be able to master it and get over the intimidation.

Then we began to set our own type. Because I have been working with book quotes so much for the first part of this module, I decided to set another one as my first letterpress piece. It’s a pretty simple quote but complicated enough that it would challenge me when setting type for the first time.

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The type I chose reflects the feel of the book the quote is from, being quite elegant but not a solid block. I aligned my text to the left because it was the easiest way to practice lining up text on my first attempt at setting. In future I would like to be more experimental with how I set my type.

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The gold ink really caught my eye and I thought it would compliment the sophisticated feel of the type I had chosen so that’s what I decided to ink up with.

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I found the printing itself to be fairly easy but with so many people in the induction, I didn’t have the necessary time to explore the press and experiment with it.

I’d like to come back and experiment with pressure and inking up to see how it affects my prints. I would also like to work out page alignment and multiple colour letterpress which will take time and experimentation to perfect a technique.

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I feel like I will be using this workshop a lot, not only with the type they have there but also experimenting with bringing in and making my own. This induction has been invaluable and definitely the most useful so far.

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