On Saturday I had an amazing creative experience: I did a letterpress workshop for the whole day and came home with 3 different projects. It was held at GTO Printers in Birkenhead, which was super-handy for me. I did it with two friends, so it was even more fun. Before I went I had very little knowledge of how it all works, I just knew that it gives a beautiful, tactile result.
Today I have much respect for the old type-setters who used to print entire volumes by hand. Something that may take us about 2 minutes on the computer takes so much longer if you do it with letterpress. Take this little alphabet I did (I think the font isMonotype Bodoni): I centered it by eye alone and it took many goes before I had this result, but it felt so satisfying to get it right. If you make a mistake, or don't like what you've done (for example swap a capital letter for a lower case), you get out the little key to loosen up your frame, replace the letters, then fill it up again with small metal plates so it all sits tight and then it's time to use the key to tighten the frame again. Which is why you have to pay very careful attention to what you do!
This poster was set with huge old wooden type. We had a hard time making them all fit, but it turned out really well. I decided to glitter up the only deliberate word we put in, but I see the word 'rock' managed to squeeze itself in too.
I enjoyed the experience so much, I took my boys along to the Birkenhead Library yesterday to give them a taste of it too. Graham, who owns GTO, has an arrangement with the library to store his Albion press there and in return they use it to do little poster printing sessions with kids on Wednesdays and Sundays (more information on this page) in the school holidays.
They set their names into a 'Wanted' poster. Can you spot the spelling mistake in the word villain? It reads: WANTED the villain Daniel Superbad with Cunning Plan and Nasty Sidekick. Hehe...