Tuesday Happy: Letterpress

Lately, I’ve been extremely obsessed with letterpress! 🙂

For those of you who don’t know what letterpress is, it’s a type of printing invented sometime in the mid-15th century by Johannes Gutenberg.  Wikipedia describes it as basically making an impression of an image or text using a particular type of printing press and some movable type, in which a reversed, raised surface is inked and then pressed into a receiving surface (like paper) in order to obtain a positive right-reading image.

Sounds complicated, huh?  But really, it’s not.

It’s basically printing an impression directly onto a piece of paper. After the process, though, the image or text has a recessed quality–kind of like a reversed embossing–giving the design more depth, definition and texture.

Letterpress is not that popular yet here in Manila.  At least when I got married, my research did not turn up any letterpress suppliers–it’s a rare, expensive and highly specialized service, apparently.  Having encountered many letterpress designs abroad, I really wanted my invitations to have that classy but highly personalized and handmade feel to it that letterpress gives.  As opposed to printing via offset litho which are more mass produced, letterpress requires a certain level of craftsmanship, and because paper is fed into the machine one at a time by hand, there is a certain limitedness to it which increases the upscale factor.

Image via neublack.com

Image via invitationsflash.com

I’ve recently found out that because letterpress has become popular once again in the US, and is experiencing a revival of sorts thanks to Martha Stewart, several institutions have been offering short-term classes that not only teach interested people about the art of letterpress printing, but even offer studio time so that the experience of the fundamentals can immediately be practiced and learned.

I am sooooo interested to take a class!!!  I’ve found several in New York and am now just trying to figure out when would be the best time to take them.  The nice thing about it is it takes 1 class at the very least, and 5 classes at the most to walk away with an understanding of the basics of letterpress.  I am crossing my fingers that I can find the time next summer, as my family will be going abroad to attend a cousin’s wedding.  It would be the most perfect opportunity!  Sigh!

If not, all is not lost though :).  Thanks to a company called Quickutz, I can now have the experience of letterpressing in my own home!  Granted, it’s much different from using the actual industrial-sized machines, and working with the huge print-making blocks, but I’m sure the satisfaction would be similar :). Whether or not I’m able to take a class, I’m already thinking of gifting myself with this Quickutz Letterpress Combo Kit and all the press plates that come with it! Haha!

Image via letterpressplates.com

Image via letterpressplates.com

Image via letterpressplates.com

I am really looking forward to the many things I can create with my own letterpress kit!  Stationery, bookmarks, business cards, invitations…I am going gaga just thinking about it!

And what a great outlet this would be for me!  Aaaack!  I can’t wait!  I told you, I’m super obsessed!

Anyway, just wanted to end this post with this video I found on the art of letterpress printing.  I thought it was quite inspiring–I got goosebumps watching it.  I sure hope to get the opportunity to experience this for myself one day–I’m throwing it out to the universe, and praying that I get that chance, and hopefully soon 🙂

In the meantime, enjoy the video!

Video from Naomie Ross on Vimeo


9 responses to “Tuesday Happy: Letterpress

  1. Cool. Glad the lost arts are making a resurgence.

  2. Dear Blogger,
    I ran across your blog searching for letterpress classes in Manila. Did you manage to take a class in New York? Like you, I am obsessed with letterpress and design. My profession is nowhere near the arts but my obsession is art and at the moment, creating my own letterpress cards. Please recommend any good place to learn letterpress printing preferably in Manila, the states, Paris or London.

    • Hi Diana!

      Unfortunately, I haven’t been back to New York recently so my dream of taking a class there has remained a dream for now. Haha! My sister gifted me with a tabletop letterpress machine, though, which I am busting out soon to try to make letterpress cards for the holidays. But definitely, I’ll let you know if I come across any classes here in Manila :).

  3. Spent the last month looking into letterpress too! If you have any leads (Manila), please do share. 😀

  4. hi where did you buy your letterpress kit and how much is it?

  5. Hi Mia. Just came across your post. You mentioned that your sister gifted you with a tabletop letterpress? How was it? What’s the make of your tabletop letterpress?

    • Hi Karlo! The brand is called Quickutz. It’s okay for a tabletop letterpress, although the shapes it came with are a bit flimsy, and started cracking as I put it through the letterpress machine. I hope it’ll last long despite that 🙂 I also like the effect more without the ink. You can see the effect of the letterpress better. For some reason, without the ink, you can’t really appreciate the letterpress effect as much. The ink is also very thick and a bit difficult to remove from the plate and the brayer. You have to buy special wipes separately, which I obviously don’t have 🙂
      Hope my comments are helpful 🙂

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