Archives for category: letterpress printing

100 years of type

this morning while looking through etsy i found this strikingly, beautiful wood type print. wow! what a lovely little display of wood type. and the sales of the poster go to a good cause. check out all the goodies in print museum’s etsy shop. they have a wonderful selection of letterpress goodies including some collectible type specimen books, ink, wood type blocks, type necklaces, an¬†amazing 3 color circus poster & more. oh etsy, how i love you.



ata type comparison

i am a typography junkie. i can’t get enough. honestly, i started collecting letterpress type blocks when i graduated college & never stopped. and little did i know back then, i would be printing with them some day. since the beginning of this collection, i’ve added books, magazine, sign letters, flashcards & other vintage ephemera to the mix. i’ve been focusing more on the books as of late since the popularity of type blocks & letterpress printing has inflated the prices drastically. i simply refuse to pay $4 or more for one average type block. instead i’ve been finding little book treasures.

table of contents

page after page filled with type specimens for me to admire, study & daydream of days when one would actually set the type shown to produce the book. hands would touch each & every character, add spacing, leading & punctuation manually. i can almost see the room the book was typeset in with banks & banks of type cabinets & gentlemen bent over choosing each letter at great speed, composing stick in the left hand & an ink-stained right hand picking each letter from the job case. ahhhhhh, it’s a magical vision.

pages 130-31

open and decorated faces

decorative faces

my most recent score was an ata type comparison book. i was treasure hunting with rebecca & i had talked her into purchasing this lovely, hand colored photograph of a bride in a gorgeous matte & frame. i just knew it would look amazing in the wedding section of her store wildcard. anyway, i was standing at the brownstone antiques, one of my favorite treasure hunting spots, counter while rebecca paid & this ouija board caught my eye. personally, they kind freak me out so i stepped back. when i stepped back i noticed a book underneath, the spine read type comparison with the ata logo above. i grabbed it enthusiastically & thumb through the pages. i wanted it. and what a deal at $5! it’s quite lovely and after reading the colophon i love it even more. the book states “set and lithographed by the members of the advertising typographers association, of america inc, on the occasion of the five hundredth anniversary of the first printing from roman type, at subiaco, italy 1464-1465”.¬† i’m in love. seriously. the ata got together for the 500th anniversary of the 1st printing from roman type in italy?! L O V E .

page 130

the book is wonderful. showing specimens along with some original blocks & works. gorgeous. thank you brownstone antiques!

tom adjusting paper feeder

in august of 2009 i had to move my studio. i had purchased a 1946 craftsman automatic chandler price printing press & my current studio didn’t have a floor sturdy enough to support both my original press & the new (to me) press.

so i moved. i moved all my stock, my paper cutter, my 1913 platen press, several work tables, envelopes, packaging material, bookcases, desks, a type cabinet, two marble top tables, an inking station & numerous other printing & business supplies. all in all it took about three weeks to move and maybe one full week of down time for my business.

tom adjusting paper

i had the press moved from a basement in elgin, il to my new & improved studio. i was in the midst of holiday printing & order fulfillment so the press sat. she sat several month before tom & i tried to get her up & running. we poured over the manual, i wiped all the oil & dirt off of her. oiled each of her 100+ oil holes & fired her up. she worked for a few minutes then wouldn’t feed paper anymore. we poked & prodded & adjusted for hours only to realize she had a broken ratchet that advanced the feed bed.

celebratory tom!

it took nearly 2 years to get this part fixed. that’s right. almost two complete years. but she’s fixed. and tom & i spent the majority of our saturday trying to get her running. after a few hours of reading, experimenting & adjusting, we got the press to feed 8.5 x 11 cardstock. it was exciting! the possibilities felt endless.

then, after a celebratory lunch, we came back to try to print. i inked up the press only to realize after another several hours, we couldn’t get the 9.5 x 12.5 sheets i always print on to feed. boo! more reading & experimenting. stay tuned for updates…

paper feeding & delivery!

tape graveyard...

there are many tools in letterpress printing. i have a whole peg board filled with composition sticks, quoins, keys, mallets, wrenches, scissors, screwdrivers, ink knives, pantone formula guides & several other odds & ends. however, none of those is the tool used most when printing. when i print i use masking tape. lots & lots of masking tape. i have a dispenser next to the motor controls at all times. it’s so close i don’t even have to look to grab a piece. i use this magical tool for every print job. i can’t say the same for all those more expensive & sought after tools i’ve acquired through the years.

2011 holiday printing

2011 holiday printing

i’ve been in holiday mode since february. i tried really hard to release my new styles at the 2011 national stationery show. unfortunately, life had another idea & i had lots of family tragedies that took priority. so deadlines shifted & i finally created my newest holiday line in june. i thought i would be done printing the line beginning of july at the latest. instead, it is now mid-july & i just finished. i’m hoping my wonderful stores will think they are worth the wait. here’s a little behind the scenes peek at the first colors on piles & piles of paper. and soon enough i might even share a seek peek of a few of the mentioned designs.

die cut aftermath

die cut aftermath

finally, i’m back on press. and it’s die-cutting day. i have to say my die-cutting skills aren’t as sharp (heehee) as my printing skills. mostly because i haven’t logged in quite as many hours as i have printing. it is a similar process as printing but with razors… very exciting! the issue i encounter is getting the paper out of the press in one piece. there’s a few misses & afterward my shop floor is littered with die cutting remnants. fun, colorful, pretty, discarded letterpress goodness. kinda like confetti but different…

vandercook univeral I

so last night i had an amazing dream! my gorgeous studio was different. it was on the ground floor, pms 304 (of course), but had 3 walls of windows. one wall was stained glass windows of an amber & leaded glass. i walked in & was showing tom a few things when i saw these very large contractor buckets of wood type all over. i was confused & asking where did all this come from? and tom laughed. as i was sorting through the dusty, neglected type, a gorgeous circus, display font, i see him adding ink to a vandercook in the corner & staring it up. again, i was dumbfounded. and was very concerned with how much everything cost & if tom got a good deal or not. i woke with a smile. not really a daydream but a dream indeed. and i have a feeling my daydreams will be inspired by vandercooks & new studios today….