This post is a recap of the fun we had this last weekend leading a press free, hand style letterpress workshop at AIGA Minnesota Design Camp. We were located in the wine cellar at Grandview Lodge in Nisswa, Minnesota. Over 300 designers attend this event annually. We did three sessions of this 1.5 hour long workshop with over 120 total attendees. The process was about putting down lots of ink quickly, creating textures, layers and happenstance in the layout and printing. No press required, no two prints alike. Studio On Fire brought in lots of good stuff: 10 large cases of our woodtype collection (about 400lbs of type, mostly Hamilton faces) Tape and cardboard (served as the bed of the press, tape held type in rough position) A wadded up paper towel was the “printing press” (used with hands to burnish the back of the sheets) Several dozen CSA images supplied on photopolymer plates (permission of CSA archives) Wood grain background textures (blasted with a powerwasher, then relief carved) Lots of good ol’ French Paper to print on (poptone sweet tooth and many many remnants) Ink and brayers (oil based inks and soft rubber rollers) It was a fluid process and a good chance for everyone to step away from the computer. A huge thanks AIGA Minnesota for having us and to the AIGA volunteers that supplied a steady stream of nature wash solvent to clean up and redistribute the wood type and images. And thanks to Phong Tran for his photo contributions. If you would like Studio On Fire to do a workshop with your group, let’s talk. Please do contact us for more information.
Tag Archive for 'photopolymer'
So we got a call from Forbes last month. We did an interview about the resurgence of letterpress and talked about how modern photopolymer plating makes letterpress available to a more contemporary design aesthetic. But a lot of people are stuck with a mental image of letterpress as it came into mainstream design popularity several years back – distressed wood type, over inked artwork and a makeshift quality to the design that comes from using whatever typefaces and elements that happen to be on hand. Don’t get me wrong, I love Hatch Show Print and have been through the Nashville shop several times. But letterpress has a range far beyond that limited aesthetic. Pushing the medium is what our shop focuses on intently. To us, the resurgence of letterpress is this: making letterpress a viable commercial production method for contemporary design.
A few of the details in the article are a little fuzzy as they published my comments and I think she got a bit of a rise out of me. (yes, I realize if you have the patience and an extra hour or two, you can set some type on a curve with metal type, but that is certainly not commercially viable for our shop) The point was that I personally take issue with anyone that would say printing with polymer isn’t real letterpress. Yeah, we use polymer. It’s a means to an end. Different tools make different marks. Maybe we should call our work “civil union printing” rather than “letterpress” so all the ludites can feel better about their craft. :) The bottom line is that photopolymer represents a new range of possibilities for designers and for letterpress. We embrace that wholeheartedly, but still have a deep appreciation for all of those willing to toil over a case of lead type.
Check out the Forbes article here.
Here are some pics of a photopolymer job being set up to print.