For nearly four years, since shopping around for my own wedding invitations, I have been learning, slowly but surely, about the lost art of Letterpress. I say ‘lost’ because thats what it was four years ago. Well, in this country anyway. Not in America. No, siree. It is most definitely thriving and flourishing there. However, it’s picking up here now. I’m in touch with a small network of people who have taught themselves or have been taught by a master craftsman to print in the single, most beautiful way you can. Its traditional. Its hand crafted. It produces instant results (well, almost). And its specialised, so only the most determined and most passionate get to relish in its results. Well, thats how I see it. And this network of people are friendly, and they share their knowledge. There doesn’t seem to be any ‘I’m-better-than-you’ or ‘You’re selling more than me’. I mean, there is only so much printing one person can do.
To begin with, I was intrigued. I was baffled by the beefy, glossy, black Vandercook. Craning my neck when studying photos, tilting my head to the left ‘How does that work?’, squinting my eyes close to my monitor ‘And what is that for?’ You’d think that the best way to learn about letterpress would be to see one in use, in the flesh, right? (If someone can point me in the right direction around my neighborhood, then I would be most pleased). It is assuredly challenging trying to locate a letterpress printer nearby, where I can invite myself along to be mesmerized into a state of hypnosis, whilst watching vividly rich ink be pressed into decadent cotton rag paper. Just writing those words makes me want to do a star jump onto a downy, feathery queen-size bed.
Since I can’t actually touch or feel a letterpress press yet, I turned to You Tube. Trusty? Always. Something for everyone? Every single time. Hey. C’mon, come see this: The Art of Hatch Show Print. This current favourite video of mine also made me curious to want to find out more about these smashing people at Hatch Show Print. If you’re reading this thinking ‘OH! There’s one of those places in……..’ (fill the gap with somewhere in England) then please email me and let me know – I would be your friend for life.
And thennnnnnn, I found this other Letterpress video, after it was tweeted by Print Magazine. Let me tell you, it gave me goosies. And since I watched it for the first time I can safely say I am OBSESSED. I even commented about it. *Cringe. If you love letterpress, you may have seen it. If you haven’t seen it, take a look. You may see where I’m coming from.
Photo via Andrei on Flickr
Some day soon, I will have my own letterpress printer. Vandercook. Adana. Heidelberg. One or all of them. We shall see. I will be printing wedding stationery, posters, notecards, party stationery. I know I will have one, because I dream about it in my sleep. I think about it at every spare second. I drive myself nuts with my musings.
Alas, until then, all I can do is to keep on absorbing, so that on the day I take delivery of my own press, I am ready.