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My Experience in a Letterpress Workshop

I recently had the privilege to attend a letterpress class held at Lead Graffiti in Newark, Delaware, led by a retired professor of design at the University of Delaware and his wife. Fellow designers: it was an incredible experience. The majority of the workshop was spent on designing our own typographical pages in a book we created as a class, but we got to use some pretty incredible machines in their print shop. Having to create a design on the spot for a page of text proved to be challenging for me– given more time, I would have designed it differently. The Lead Graffiti studio contained an overwhelming number of fonts, sizes, and embellishing characters to choose from; I barely got the hang of it in the six hours we worked.

Experiencing all of the different machines, each with their own way of pressing ink into pages, was a fascinating opportunity. Lead Graffiti have an arsenal of letterpress machines, and their usage was dependant on the sort of project that needed to be printed (usually, by size). Separate from the printing press machines sat Lead Graffiti’s Intertype machine, used for casting blocks of metal type so that the designer doesn’t have to manually typeset individual letters. We used the Intertype machine to cast each of our names in the final page of the book we created. Most of the machine’s mechanisms are visible as it works, and the user can watch as it operates to cast the line of type punched into the keyboard on the Intertype machine’s front.

Because of this workshop, I now have a greater appreciation for the clean, polished look of an analog-printed product. I would definitely recommend taking a workshop to see these machines working in person, because seeing your work printed onto paper through a printing press does not compare to digital printing.

2 Comments

  1. Kathleen Larkin wrote:

    Abby, thanks for posting about this adventure. It was an incredible experience to spend the day in the Lead Graffiti workshop. I would highly recommend it to anyone wanting to get hands-on experience setting type and using the Intertype machine. The owners at Lead Graffiti were extremely gracious hosts in sharing their tools, their knowledge, and the own personal collection of interesting artifacts.

    Thursday, November 30, 2017 at 6:39 pm | Permalink
  2. Evan Milowic wrote:

    I regret not going to this, this looks awesome! I’ve done some design printing with t shirts, but I’ve never done printmaking. I’m guessing you have to print each color individually?

    Friday, December 1, 2017 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

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