February 12, 2014

show & tell
by Emily Jane

This past fall I stumbled upon the Lancaster Letterpress Printers Fair. It turned out to be a bit of a serendipitous moment for me. As I continue to build my business, I am learning that the more people I meet and talk to about my dream, the more people want to help.

At the Fair, I met a lovely couple named Jill and Ray. They own their own letterpress shop, Lead Graffiti, in Delaware. As I looked at some of their very cool prints and stationery, I got to talking to Ray about what I am doing with Dorothy Jane Design. He shared that they offer workshops in their studio to learn about letterpress. After completing their workshops you can then rent their equipment from them to print your own personal projects. I couldn't believe my ears. The opportunity to learn letterpress as well as to have access to print my own stationery . . . I wanted to sign up immediately.

So I kept an eye out on their website to learn when their next workshop would be available. When the schedule came out and I signed up immediately. February could not come soon enough.

The first weekend of February, I drove to Delaware (only an hour away) to be immersed in letterpress. I wish I had taken more photos but there was so much information to absorb and things to do in letterpress.

Myself and 2 other attendees got a tour of the Lead Graffiti studio. I think I died and went to Letterpress Heaven. They had tabletop platen presses, motorized Chandler & Price platen presses and Vandercooks. They had this neat machine (the name has escaped me) that creates metal slugs and another 2 that print a lot of pieces very quickly. Then the lead and wood type ... there were so many. Ray shared that they didn't even have their whole collection in the studio.

It was time to get to work. We learned the basics of the California Job Case which was created to hold lead type and keep it organized. We were assigned a job case to handset and print a type specimen sheet.

California Job Case of Codex 20 point type
Using a composing stick with leading and spacing, I handset all of the characters of the Codex typeface in 20 point type. This one was very tedious because it had A LOT of characters in its collection. I gained a new appreciation of the process of letterpress printing. It is truly an art that requires an eye for design and patience. The last time I measured in points and picas was in college, so that was an adjustment. I kept thinking how quickly I could typeset this project on my computer. Of course, with many things in life, it is always good to visit the fundamentals. I might even go back to working in points and picas on my computer.

Codex 20 point type handset ready to be proofed
Again, I wish I had taken more pictures of the process, but I was so excited to complete each step that I was anxious to get to the next one. Especially when it came type to print type specimen sheet.

Type Specimen Sheets of Codex 20 point type
Once we completed our type specimen sheets, it was time to get a little creative with Lead Graffiti's type collection and to learn how to register a multiple color print job. We were asked to select a fancy "O" to begin the sentence "Once upon a time . . ." and then complete the sentence. I handset the type using two different forms. I challenged myself because I wanted my sentence to nestle into the decorative element of the "O" I selected.

First up was to print the sentence in black.

Next was to print the "O" in red.

I wish I had a picture of my face. I think I was grinning from ear to ear when I saw the two colors together.

The final product. "Once upon a time we fell in love." I was inspired by the black and red color palette and Valentine's Day approaching to print something for my husband, Alex.

Although, he said I should have printed "Once upon a time I fell in love with letterpress." I should have because I am in love and can't wait to get back to Lead Graffiti to print designs for my clients and my very own product line.

A huge thanks to Jill and Ray at Lead Graffiti for opening their doors to me and for their patience in teaching me a beautiful printing process.

1 comment:

  1. Love the story of your letterpress experience, and the pics to go along with it! The Codex sheet and the Once Upon a Time page are both lovely. :)

    As I mentioned on FB, I learned letterpress (and bookbinding!) in college, and it was great fun. Along with the various class projects, I made a journal for a friend, and a little bound book for myself. Working with ink and paper can be so enchanting. I finally understood why my father fell in love with printing.