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Introduction to Letterpress Printing

Lesson 3 of 10

All Sorts of Type

Cheryl Itamura

Introduction to Letterpress Printing

Cheryl Itamura

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Lesson Info

3. All Sorts of Type

Lesson Info

All Sorts of Type

This is a piece of type. It's a single block with a letter on it. The design of the letter on it, or the type face is the style of the letter that of the design, Ah font would be entire set off pieces of type of a specific size. So if you had the entire alphabet upper case and lower case numbers punctuation off this size of 72 then that is what's actually considered a fund. It's the design of the type face, and the size combined is what's referred to as a font. We'll go around the corner and I'll show you some examples of different sizes of funds in the case. Now, this particular piece of type is made out of metal. It's a metal Alloway that includes lead, so it's quite heavy. If you got pieces of type made or manufactured that were larger than this, it would be really cumbersome toe work with because it be really heavy. So to circumvent that difficulty, there's something that's called would type. These pieces of type are actually made out of wood. They're carved out of wood and these a...

ir antique pieces of wood type the interesting thing is, there's enough people printing around the world using letter press that not only can you find antique pieces of wood type in metal type, but there's places across the country there still manufacturing it the old fashioned way, using the original types of would cutting equipment and the same type of equipment that was used at the turn of the century to create metal type. Of course. Nowadays, with three D technology and laser cutters, people are actually finding ways to create type using those as well. So you can kind of let your imagination run wild and figure out What do you want to create and find a way to manufacture your own type and designs? Because letter press printing takes up a lot of equipment on a lot of tools and a lot of type, which also means it takes up a lot of space to be able to do letter press printing. So often, Times back in the old days were each town had their own town print shop. The printer in that print shop would actually have something called house type, where they would actually pick their favorite typeface and make sure that they had all the different font sizes available from eight point font to 72 everything in between, and had cases in cases of that particular type available for their customers. This means that if you were to pick up a piece of printed material, whether it be a postcard or a business card back in the day, you would be able to get a good idea of which print shop in which town actually printed it. Because all the different print shops pretty much used their favorite type or their house type. And it was a little bit of unidentified air that was like a signature for each printer. Here's a little aside about funeral parlors. I mentioned that every town had its own print shop and a printer who was pretty much kept busy printing things for everybody in town. The one type of business that couldn't necessarily wait for the printer in town to have time to complete a print job was the funeral parlor. The funeral profilers in a race against a decomposing body in their shop actually had a nerd urgency to be able to print funeral funerary notices quickly. So often times in the old funerals parlors. You would find that they had their own printing equipment so that they could print funerary notices and get them out quickly instead of having to wait for the print shop across town to find time to do it for them.

Class Description

The letterpress style of printing dates back to the 15th century and is experiencing a resurgence in popularity today. The stunning tactile and visual imprint of letterpress is used for business cards, invitations, poster prints, and more. In Introduction to Letterpress Printing, you’ll learn all about the machines and methods behind this celebrated practice.

The San Francisco Center for the Book (SFBC) is a non-profit outpost dedicated to preserving and teaching all aspects of book making. In this class, SFBC instructor Cheryl Itamura will walk you through the letterpress process and introduce you to the equipment used to create the most popular printed looks.

You’ll learn about:

  • Printing with the Vandercook Cylinder (Proof) Press
  • Setting wood type, lockup, inking, and printing with a proof press
  • Printing with the Tabletop Platen Jobbing (Clamshell) Press
  • Working with metal type, lockup, ink
  • Printing with the clamshell press

Cheryl will talk about gaining access to printing studios in your own community and offer tips on building your own collection of equipment and how to use and maintain it.

Letterpress printing produces timeless, artisan paper products. Learn how you can take full advantage of the creative possibilities of this historic form of printing from Cheryl Itamura in Introduction to Letterpress Printing.

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Erica Engdahl

This is a super inspiring course that really made me want to try letterpress printing! Itamura is a great instructor who speaks clearly and shows and explains every piece of equipment and that's really good if you, like me, don't know very much about letterpress printing before hitting play on this course. Well worth the money!

Henry Aquino

Great Intro class, a little pricey for how short it was, but still worth it. I don't see anywhere to download the resource list mentioned in the movie "A World of Resources".

Chris Guppy

It's a great intro, but like Henry, I don't see the resource list for download that she mentions.