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Introduction to Letterpress Printing

Lesson 6 of 10

Printing with Wood Type

Cheryl Itamura

Introduction to Letterpress Printing

Cheryl Itamura

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Lesson Info

6. Printing with Wood Type

Lesson Info

Printing with Wood Type

The first thing we need to do on the press is to apply Inc to it. This is a tabletop planting press, and the way the thinking happens is really manually. I've got some black rubber based ink on the spatula, and I'm just going to apply enough about two or three pea sized dabs of incontinent Special it down. And now I'm going to think this process that I'm doing right now is spreading the ink around on the disc rollers air coming up. And every time the rollers go down, the disk spins about on eight all the way around. So eventually, after about two minutes of this type of exercise, we have a press that's ready to go. So now we've spent two minutes approximately thanking the press and as you saw what I was doing when I was in Munich US kind of a full body workout so you can save money on your gym membership If you just start letter press pretty. Here we go. This is the chase that we set up just a few minutes ago, and now I'm going to actually put it on the printing press and the way that ...

works It's pretty heavy is I'm going to slide it right here into this slot and there's a little clamp that's going to hold it down. Um, and by the way, these air iron solid iron printing process So the printing presses themselves are really heavy. Um, now I've got the chase locked in there nice and snug. We've got our type in there. And now let's see if we put all our letters right side up and spilled creative life. Right? So I've gone ahead and set up some gauge pins right here on this 10 hen paper. And again, you don't need to remember Rise all these terms of no test at the end of this video. Um, but this Timken papers oil paper. And then I put these little gauge pins here so that when I put the paper on the press, the paper won't simply slide right through to the floor, holds the paper in place. So now, putting the paper in place and the simple action of pulling this handle down the way I was doing most inking the press is the same action that I'm doing to print using the printing press. So if you watch carefully, have got a blank piece of paper here. We've got a metal type here. We have a roller in the middle that now has nice that code of ink on it. When I pull this down, fingers crossed. It should have the words creative life printed on paper. And so we dio they're spell it right. I think I did a pretty good job. So the process of printing more of these is simply grabbing a stack of paper and continuing the action of a printer's usually right hand left hand. So I'm picking up a blank piece of paper with my right hand. I'm pulling the handle down with my left hand. I'm taking the printed paper off with my left hand and applying a new blank piece of paper with my right hand. Once you get a rhythm that way, then you can print pretty fast by synchronizing both your hands. And if you have a large printing job for a business down the street where you're printing business cards or some stationery, you want to be able to print pretty quickly, so I'm just gonna do breeze through this little stack of paper doing my right handed, left handed technique. And okay, now we've got a cool, creative live cards printed with metal type on a Platen press. And now we're going to take the wood type over to the cylinder press and see what we get there.

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.