Sunday, March 13, 2011


Finally, I had the chance to take a intro to letterpress workshop. It was as wonderful as I hoped. The bright and passionate Kelly McMahon of  May Day Studio shared her knowledge and presses with us.  If I had thought 5 cm letters were small I found a huge challenge with the size of type. Now that is seriously tiny. What I hadn't anticipated was the physicality of the type, it is 3 dimensionality, sitting in its tiny plinth, and I felt like a giant in the land of Lilliputians. And, I had conveniently forgotten that you set type in the mirror position. Time to channel Leonardo!  I was so entranced that I forgot to add punctuation. The smell of the ink, the sounds of the press, a fine lentil soup and Kelly's guidance made for a heavenly day. Thanks Kelly.
My typesetting on top, only 1 reversed letter, but no punctuation, and some of the cabinets and drawers in the studio, full of treasure.


  1. Elizabeth- I remember learning to set type in undergraduate school many years ago. Somewhat dsylexic, I always had trouble with the loading the type in the right order--but I loved the look and feel of a physical piece of type. It was as if I was holding words in their potential form. The way you've photographed the type in the bar, the type case below it and the storage unit is an exquisite piece in itself.

  2. I started as a Graphic Reproduction and my first three years was letterpress
    I was in the last group to go through college and learnt this unique trade
    that was about 28 years ago.
    Well, the pictures brought back memories.

  3. I worked in newspapers in the old 'hot metal' days and remember the skill of established typesetters working on ancient typesetting machines. So lovely that there is a real renaissance for it everywhere now. Will we get to see what you printed? Lesley

  4. Oh Liz - I love letterpress and envy everybody in North America their access to type, presses and classes. Sigh. We did a one day course when we were in Portland last June - here's my take on it:
    Keep enjoying!

  5. > Hi Hannah, you are so right saying 'as if I was holding words in their potential form.' it really is magical seeing all the trays of type waiting to become words, and like you I am dyslexic [and deaf} so I have always been amazed at my great love of type and words. Some days I can't even spell my own name correctly let alone JB's. You will notice that I use VERY short words.

    >David, You lucky man for doing letterpress in school, some how I missed it, did a bit of printmaking but was totally entranced making big minimal sculptures.

    >Leslie, what a wonderful memory, I was fascinated that so many of the tool and equipment were definitely designed for right hand work flow, as to what I made, it took me 7 hours to make 7 very short lines of text, so one of the major things I learned was Keep it short! As soon as I become a bit more proficient, and find a press to practice on, I will show all.

    > Fiona, what a great idea to take a letterpress course on your holidays. Something tells me J.B who is as dyslexic as I would not be toooo enthused.
    It is so beautiful and I really hope to do more, off to read your report.

    Thanks all, love getting your comments and thanks so much for taking the time, all the very best or as Fiona says, Go well.


I appreciate your thoughts and comments; thanks for taking the time.