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Introduction to Letterpress Printing

Lesson 7 of 10

Printing with Metal Type

Cheryl Itamura

Introduction to Letterpress Printing

Cheryl Itamura

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Lesson Info

7. Printing with Metal Type

Lesson Info

Printing with Metal Type

So now we're at the Vander Cook Cylinder Press and we're going to set up the wood type to print brought the wood type that we set over on the composing stone over onto the Vander Cook press bed. This area of the printing press is actually used in place of the metal chase frame that we had to use for the Platen press. So I've got the words creativelive that we set, uh, when we were over on the composing stone and just brought them over all together, Um, and we're gonna add one extra component to this one since we have so much based on the press and we can and that's this star. So I got a nice would cut star that we're gonna add for a little, uh, touch on this will print a simple poster and the same way we had to lock up using furniture on the metal type or around the metal type toe. Hold it in place. We're using the same wood blocks, same furniture, pieces, toe lock up the wood type on this press bed, and I've got some larger lockup bar here. Um, I've got a little same kind of little we...

dge coins to help hold things in place. And, like we had to dio with locking up the type for the metal type one. Want to get everything really snug in here so that it's not gonna move around when I'm trying to print some spinning a little bit of time, adjusting things just so and get everything lined up And when the lock that up a little bit. So now everything's really nice and snog shouldn't move around. Theoretically, it shouldn't move around. Um, so the difference. One of the different things that we can do on a cylinder press that we couldn't do on the table Top Platen presses. We could print different colors on the tabletop Platen press you saw when I inked it. The black ink got all over the press, and you can pretty much only print with one color on that type of printing press. If you want to print more than one color, it's a matter of cleaning all the ink off the press, applying a second color and then printing the second element on it to have two colors on the same print on the Vander Cook Cylinder Press. It's a similar situation. I could apply Inc to these rollers one single color of ink and then print this simple poster using that one color. But I don't want to do that today. I really kind of feel like I want to print in two different colors. So instead of putting ink on the roller, I'm going to use a different method. Gonna use to rare is one with each a different color on each one and apply the ink manually. Now, I've got red on this rare and black on the sprayer. I want to see a Red Star, So I'm gonna apply red ink to the star and I want to print the words creativelive with black inks. I'm gonna manually roll the Breyer with blacking on it over just the words creativelive. Now, if I had put ink on the printing press, all of the elements would be the same color because the roller would actually apply the for me. So now that I've got two different colors of ink on it, let's see how the print comes out. The first print that I'm printing is basically a proof print to make sure that I've got everything in the right place. I've got the words right side up, um, and spelled correctly that I've got things centered to my satisfaction. If I want things to be centered So let's see what we get, Um, in order to print on a cylinder press the action is just locking up a piece of paper onto the clamps and then rolling this cylinder over type, and then we have a print. So I have my creativelive with my star. It's a little bit off center, so I'm gonna just the paper, Um, I like the purple. The purple is a result of the fact that a there was a little bit of blue on the star before I printed. Um, but I kind of like that. So I'm gonna leave the ink alone. You re center the paper and we'll try and print it again. One thing about his should mention about letter press printing is that the majority of the time that's actually spent printing or doing letter press printing is not in the action of printing itself. As you see, In order for me to execute the print, it was simply a matter of rolling the pin over the type, and I had a print in a few seconds. But the action of setting up the type, locking everything up, getting your in Kredi that's the time consuming part of it all. So I'm going to take the print, and I'm going to adjust the paper according to where it looks like I need to adjust to get it to be centered, and we'll try this again with the ink good enough ink on the roller. Blair's here to feel like I can apply another coat of ink to the time for proofing purposes and see if I've got the paper set up right this time. Okay, fingers crossed that being centered a little bit better. New game closer adjusted just one more time and try moment. And the nice thing about doing it this way applying the colors independently of each other is that I can actually do different colors on each press run. So right now I'm printing kind of this purple e red with black letters. But if I want to change colors on the next prince, I can just by simply applying different color inks to the Briere's like that one. So now we've got our creative live poster are simple. Creative Life Poster and Wilken. Go ahead and print some more of these, tiki, but that's pretty much how to print. Ah, letter press poster.

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.


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.