Recent Posts

Monday, August 24, 2009

Adventures in Letterpress & Bookbinding

A couple weekends ago, I had the pleasure of taking a two day letterpress and bookbinding class. The class was held at Albertine Press in Somerville, and was taught by Shelley Barandes of Albertine Press, and Angela Liguori of Carta, Inc. I cannot say enough about how interesting and fun the class was, so I'll let most of the pictures speak for themselves.

On the first day, we learned about the basics of letterpress and how to hand-set lead type, prep, and print designs on vintage presses. We each designed a two-color piece and then type-set and printed them ourselves.

I have absolutely no design experience, and usually take my time when I come up with the rudimentary designs that I do, so this was a little daunting for me to conceptualize a design, arrange all of the lead type letter-by-letter, figure out how to lay-out the two colors (because they were printed on two different presses), and then print them. It took me a long time to do, and I was the last to finish. :o( But, that's what I get for being a chemist.

To print our two colors, we used a motorized Chandler & Price platen for the yellow, and a table-top 9x13" Kelsey press for the navy (pictured above in order). We were all asked to bring in an inspirational or favorite quote, haiku, or mantra, so I chose this one by John Wayne (yes, the cowboy):

“Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It's perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we've learned something from yesterday.”

I love this quote, because I often become disenchanted and frustrated by day-to-day life, and this reminds me that tomorrow is a fresh start, no matter how poorly today turned out. I ended up having to shorten it a bit, because I was so damn frustrated setting the type!! I wasn't thrilled with the way my print turned out, because I was rushing to line everything up. I wish that the rising sun icon was centered underneath the text better, but c'est la vie, right?

The second day consisted of us learning about the art of binding books (the real way), exchanging our letterpress prints with our classmates, and binding them into a limited edition book using the "sewing on tapes" method of bookbinding. To give you the gist of the method, these books are held together by two cotton ribbons, or "tapes," and linen thread. The sewing is done so that you link each signature (stack of paper) together using a looping method, which you can kind of make out from the pictures below. I was doing really well until I realized, as I was sewing in my second to last signature, that I had sewn all of my pages in upside down. I had to cut out all of the stitches and start from scratch. I ended up binding my book twice, which was kind of a good thing, because I got extra practice. I still finished at the same time everyone else did, though, so it wasn't too terrible.

The whole experience was absolutely inspiring, and I'm so glad that I took the class. I was a little intimidated going into it, because almost everyone there had more design experience than I, but I got over it and ended up having a lot of fun. Angela and Shelley were amazing teachers, and the nicest people you'll ever meet (click on the links to check out their Etsy shops)!

I ended up buying a starter set of bookbinding supplies so that I can continue this craft on my own. I already have some ideas for new items to add to the shop, and it will be good for me to get the creative juices rolling again! I'm still planning on buying a letterpress (like the table-top Kelsey we used in class) in the future, but it will be a huge investment and will need its own space, which our current apartment cannot accomodate, so it will have to wait awhile.

For more pictures, please see Angela's blog (or just go there, because it's an inspiring read).

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
blog comments powered by Disqus