Letterpress, part 1.

8 May

Dingbats, furniture, and ink, oh my.

I drove three hours for a 2.5 hour class on Monday night.  And it was worth it.

I signed up through St. Paul Community Ed to take Beginners Letterpress.  I’ve been oogling over letterpress classes for years; the one at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts is super expensive.  This two-session community ed class was $37.  Score.

The woman who teaches the class is delightfully eccentric.  Her studio is in her home and so I joined five other female students in what appeared to be her dining room.  [It was an interesting, old home.  I’m not sure where the refrigerator was and there appeared to be no television or sitting area in general.  But I give her credit for having a room full of paper.]  She gave us the brief introduction and told us to choose a dingbat.


A dingbat is an image, as opposed to letters which are typefaces.  Out of the hundreds of options, I chose a pig.  Next, you take your dingbat [which looks like a stamp on a metal or wood piece] and using metal pieces called furniture, one sets it in a frame.   I know I’m making no sense.  I don’t have a photo either.  You’re just bound to be confused.

We took turns at the letterpress machine.  As you pull a lever, the press inks your dingbat and pulls whatever you’re printing on towards the inked dingbat and -viola- it’s printed with 600 pounds of pressure.  It’s pretty intense.  And this is just a baby press.  Next week, as I understand it, we use the big daddy.


So this past Monday we used our dingbat to print six notecards.  Next Monday we will set four inches of type in 18-point and print 27 postcards.  The postcards and type we set can say anything so that’s my challenge this week.  To choose the most witty, fun, and awesome saying that will be no more than four inches.  Thus far in the running is shut the front door and – that’s actually it.  That’s all I got so far.  This is where you come in.  What should I print on my postcards?  If you help me, I promise to send you one hand-pressed postcard.  You have until next Monday.

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