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Introduction to Letterpress Printing

Lesson 1 of 10

This is Letterpress

Cheryl Itamura

Introduction to Letterpress Printing

Cheryl Itamura

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Lesson Info

1. This is Letterpress

Lesson Info

This is Letterpress

Hi, My name is Sheryl Lee to Mara, and today we're here at San Francisco Center for the book. It's a letter press school. I'll be teaching you about letter press in this letter press printing class. I'll be explaining what letter press printing is. Be talking about type. Show you how to set up type. Talk about ink, print using wood type and metal type and show you some different types of printing presses around the studio. In this class will be creating a letter press poster using wood type on a vander cook cylinder. Press will also be making a small print on a table top press using metal type now letter press creating requires a lot of equipment and a lot of tools and the know how on how to use them. This doesn't necessarily mean that you have to go out and buy an entire studio of letter press printing equipment to be able to do letter press printing. There are a lot of resource is all across the country on the West Coast, on the East Coast and everywhere in between, where letter pres...

s studios across the country are available at the end of this course, I'll be providing you with a resource list off places that you can go to get additional information and be able to use the studios before we get started. Let me give you a quick tour of this studio and show you some printing presses. This one right here is a vander cook cylinder. Proofing press will be printing on this one in just a little bit. In the meantime, let me show you some others over on the other side. Here, I'm going to show you Ah, floor model platinum printing press. It's made by the Chandler and Price Company, and it weighs about £1200. It's made out of solid iron, and it's actually operated by turning this big wheel on the side. So as you'll see with a lot of different pieces of equipment in the studio, they're powered by human power, so you get a good workout when you're printing as well. This one's got this big wheel on the side, but it's also got a foot treadle, so you can use either right foot or the left foot or go back and forth between the two and get a workout. That way, as Well, this printing press is very similar to a tabletop printing press, which is right here and will be printing on this one in just a moment as well. This one is actually operated by this handle on the side, and it's also of printing press. It's made out of solid iron, except for it's a tabletop version of it. So if you're looking for a printing press to having your own studio or at home, this one is something that you could probably fit and accommodate much easier than the £1200 model next going to show you this press right here, which is a 1911 version of a printing press that was originally designed during the Civil War era and was used to print the newspapers of the time. So I'm cranking this little handle here just to show you how it operates. Some type goes down in this spot. You lift this up to get a piece of paper here, you clump everything all together. Roll this handle. Here we go with the exercise routine again. And then action of pulling this lever with both hands like this actually creates the print. When you release that open everything up again and you have one single piece of paper that's been printed. Next, I'll show you a little tiny printing press that really is on Lee good enough or big enough to print something like a business card. In fact, that's what this is most commonly used for, and this one operates a lot like the tabletop printing press. Except for I suppose you can call this one the laptop of its time because it's portable and it's light enough to carry around. Well, that's a quick tour of some of the printing presses here in the Prince Studio and now will get started on some other material.

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.