Forfeits form Forfeits print
The Print Project

I spent a happy five days last week at The Print Project, Shipley, West Yorkshire, on the Summer 2014 Letterpress Printing Workshop.

The last time I did any letterpress printing was in about 1980 or ’81 at Wolverhampton Polytechnic.

The week was great and really productive. After an overiew of  what the Print Project had to offer and an introduction to the basics by Nick we were left to get on with it with Nick offering help, guidance and instruction as we worked on typesetting (wood and metal) and printing while drinking gallons of tea.

I used text from my New Opportunities Award project for content and made a small ‘8 page right-angle fold’ (with a cut) publication, letterpress printed with a wood type on the front (Latin 18pt Bold Condensed) with a wood ornament and a little bit of metal type. And on the back I cast hotmetal 14pt Record Gothic Bold for the headings and 12 and 10pt Garamond for the body copy. Forgot to make a note of the leading (space between between the lines of type).

The hotmetal was cast using the Ludlow hotmetal typecasting system. The type matrices or mats (for casting) are assembled in a stick (below, where you can see the line ‘The Factory Inquiry Commission, 1833.’) which is then slotted into the machine. In the second photo you can see the stick after the type has been cast. Molten lead is fired into the mat and a metal slug with the line of type ready for composing and printing is pushed out of the machine (the third photo).

One of the hardest parts of the week was having to work without a computer.

The hands-on and physical nature of letterpress printing meant I had to work more instinctively, with an idea of what something might look like, because other than sketching it, I couldn’t visualise it precisely as I would do normally with InDesign. The placement of the type on the paper was largerly a process of trial and error as you are working with physical mechanical elements that must be lined up, measured, nudged, and realigned to get – sometimes – only close to what was originally planned.

Galley LudlowSlugsFolded insideFolded outside

The Print Project is beside the Leeds and Liverpool Canal which runs through Shipley. I wallked alongside it everyday to and from my B&B at Baildon and these last three images are of other lettering examples from beside the the towpath.

Graff 1 Saltaire AA Graff 2 JJ Rousseau Graff 3 Wild the Cities