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  • Writer's pictureMiranda Acres

Letterpress learning and planning ahead

Well, what a weekend! It's taken us until today to recover from all of the excitement and write this post. With a full weekend's stained glass workshop at the Stained Glass Studio next door and the amazingly knowledgeable Hannah Farthing teaching a letterpress class in the Workshops, we've had a ball!

For those of you who have never been lucky enough to learn letterpress, it may look easy right? Absolutely wrong! Hannah taught our lucky learners about the history of type and then they got to work taking their chosen phrase and preparing it for print. As with all traditional crafts, there's a huge amount of imagination, preparation and skill involved in the art of letterpress - let us enlighten you in the ways of the press:

First we composed our pieces

We chose the fonts we wanted to use from the beautiful type cases lined with wooden characters. We used composing sticks to ensure that letters were the right width and height. Lots of thought involved as all of the letters had to be set back to front...

The chase and some furniture!

We set our type inside the chase (the frame which would be inserted into the press), and used furniture (wood and metal spacers), to fill in any negative spaces to allow our type to fill the chase.

Tightening our quoins

Quoins are inserted into the top (or bottom), and one side of our chase and are used to tighten the type, turning a key to tighten, so that it doesn't move within the chase - the process of locking-up our type.

The exciting bit!

Once everything's in place, with no wiggle room, we get to move to the beautiful Adana press - one of Hannah's pride and joys! We had to insert our chase into the press, ink the plate, ink our type and then we needed strength to push down the handle and make our first pancake (that's what we named our first attempts ... none of them were perfect!)

A few adjustments...

Some of our letters, due to their age, use etc., didn't produce the perfect print - who knew that by sticking masking tape to the back of our characters in the chase, was a trick of the trade for adding height?

And ta daaaah!

The proud moment that we all produced some amazing work!

We were delighted to be able to show our work off to visiting learners from Danielle and Ian's stained glass workshop next door, and to take a sneaky peak at their work too!

It's now time to work on our next set of workshops - we're getting massively excited as we've had some great feedback so far and many of our learners are desperate to sign up to more. Our next post will bring you a whole host of new skills plus repeats of classes that have been too full to accommodate you all.

We're over the moon at the way in which our workshops are filling up - people are leaving with full heads, full bellies and full, beaming smiles on their faces - we can't wait to share our next term's set of workshops with you, see you all soon.


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