Monday, August 9, 2010

Letterpress Class, Day Two

Today's focus was learning how to select and set type:

When creating a text in letterpress, you first pick the type you want to use. The place to start is this notebook which contains pages and pages of type samples. The possibilities are overwhelming! There are hundreds of styles, called "typefaces," and each typeface comes in four "fonts:" regular, bold, italic, and bold italic. I would still be leafing through the book in a daze had not Denise come by and said, "I think Bulmer Italic in size 30 would be perfect for your piece." Thanks, Denise! (I believe Denise knows everything there is to know about letterpress.)

Bulmer Italic is beautiful! It was developed in the late 1700's by William Martin for the Shakespeare Press. Isn't that nice? I am especially enamored with the Bulmer Italic f, which has very elegant curves, and I'm sad that the text for my project includes only one f.

So, this picture shows hand typesetting in progress. You can see in the lower right corner a steel contraption which is called a composing stick. The lever toward the left end of the composing stick is called a "knee" and can be set to a certain measurement according to the length of line you want to set. The wooden box above the composing stick has all sorts of spacers. I'll have to select some of the correct size to put in the open spaces around my line of type to hold it in place.

This is a box of vintage blocks of mechanically produced images for letterpress donated to the Armory Letterpress workshop. Images range from ones made for commercial uses and advertisements to images that seem to have been made for artistic purposes. People who work with letterpress today can use vintage blocks in their work or cut new images into linoleum blocks.

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