[Workshop Shenanigans]: Letterpress printing!

I had hoped to get this post out before the Christmas holiday began but I think i’m not alone when I say that I got far too caught up in all the last minute Christmas errands this year just before jetting off for the holidays. So while I’ve managed to find a few spare quiet minutes to myself I thought i’d make use of this chance to write! Im sure it was pretty obvious from my last post on letterpress printing how excited I was about this type of medium let alone the workshop……and I can tell you now…. I was even more ecstatic post-workshop just knowing what wonderful things you could create with this old-fashioned method of printing! I have been a huge fan of all forms of printing and stamping, envying all those artists and illustrators who could churn out fabulous creations with such great detail, so you can only imagine how giddy I was with excitement knowing I had finally signed up to these workshops….it really was the best thing I’ve invested in!

Both B and I went along to Craft Central Studios where graphic designers Chris and Angela of Turnbull Grey are based. They run letterpress workshops on the side which have been rather successful. The great thing is that this class consists of just three eager students – a perfect size as oppose to a room full students so you get more time getting to learn about all the equipment, techniques, and the different types of typography etc. And of course, it helps when both your tutors are not only delightful people but great at explaining and answering to all your questions (silly ones included!) on letterepress and anything design related! So without much further adieu, here’s a few selected photos we took on that day giving you an insight on the process of letterpress printing.

BLOG_STRIP letterpress 1 low res

The first set of images (above), show us using the smaller ADANA printing machines just to get an idea of how they work and to give us a few practice runs before using the main one. Adana Machines were initially aimed for hobby printers but have been used commercially too in the past. Although they had been discontinued by the 1980s (due to newer technology being introduced) they can be found at auctions and even via Ebay at affordable rates particularly since there’s now a revival in this old medium again. Anyhoo, we had a few go’s with it by placing a few letters within the ‘chase’ or frame tightened up with the use of packers and quoins. Once that is done it is slipped into the machine – which had been already prepped and prepared with the paint by simply moving up the lever several times until the double rollers cover the paint evenly across the metal disc. Mind you – despite checking a few times it is still easy to make the mistake of getting your letters arranged the wrong way round. Have you heard of the saying “mind your p’s and q’s“? Well, that originated from the early days of printing and in my case i really need to mind my b’s and d’s! :P

Next up, we were picking out the letters for our main piece of text. Chris has a fantastic wooden chest with drawers full of different letters or wooden ‘types’ as they are known which he’s collected over the years. Very envious of his collection as I know if you wanted to do that now you’d find many folk flogging these types for as much as £3-£4 each! So anyway, B worked on his infamous Irish phrase “Any Craic” while I picked out a saying that I felt summed me up perfectly….”I am not bossy, I just have better ideas“. ;) This did mean picking a wider range of types to suit and laying them out so that the main words stood out and then placing them out evenly (with packers) so it all lined up…………so yes, it’s a bit more challenging and time-consuming but well worth the extra bit of time and effort! Once they’ve all be set in place it was  carefully transferred over onto the main bigger printing press and set firmly into the acquired place. The choice of colour for the paint was picked which was rolled out several times until the paint covered the roller nice and evenly. I then rolled the paint out onto the letters, placed the paper carefully on top, laid a few sheets of card over that and then rolled the huge (and heavy!) roller across the set and back out again so that we could then gently lift the paper to reveal out print! Isn’t it simply marvelous!? I loved the final result which I know is a little ‘rustic’ but that does add a touch vintage feel to the  overall text. I also loved B’s experiment with the Guinness colours for his ‘Irish’ phrase….which probably would’ve stood out more on a grey paper but hey, it’s pretty cool nonetheless! :D BLOG_STRIP letterpress 2 low res

Well, we were both totally chuffed by the outcome of this workshop and really looking forward to having our work framed in the new year. I had to include the one made by our fellow peer who cleverly used a gradient of colours to design her “oh i do like to be beside the seaside” phrase! Pretty cool huh?BLOG_STRIP letterpress 3 low res

We would both highly recommend anyone giving this a go so do look out for any letterpress printing workshops held in your area. I know Chris and Angela have posted more dates for January 2013 which you can find here. We both left the 3-hour, fun-fuelled workshop completely buzzing with excitement (thank you Chris and Angela!!)…..its such a shame I didn’t get more time to print a few more sheets (the downside of going for a more challenging text!) which is why I’m toying with the idea of signing up for it again in the new year…we both are actually…..so let’s see! :P Anyhoo, there you have it folks! Letterpress printing at its finest! :P Let us know what you think!!! :)

2 thoughts on “[Workshop Shenanigans]: Letterpress printing!

  1. Pingback: Looking forward to my letterpress workshop with Turnbull Grey tomorrow! | Made By Molu

  2. Pingback: [Workshop Shenanigans]: Letterpress printing – round two! | Made By Molu

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