Letterpress, NZ Style

Letterpress is a relief method of printing text and images
which has a beautiful printed quality, 
most often recognised by the distinctive indent in the paper.

Walter Hansen, Blue/Black KĊkako Edition
Letterpress, edition of 70

The first Western printing press and movable type was invented by Johannes Gutenberg 
in the mid 1400s, and it quite literally spread the word until the mid 20th century,
when modern technologies evolved in an ongoing quest for speed and efficiency.

File:The Caxton Celebration - William Caxton showing specimens of his printing to King Edward IV and his Queen.jpg

Around the 1970s the printing industry worldwide discarded letterpress equipment 
which allowed artist printmakers and hobbyists to acquire presses and movable type.
Types of Letterpress Printing Machines

Platen presses' main char­ac­ter­istic is that paper is fed into a ‘jaw’
with the type on one side and paper on the other.

Example of a Handpress
The Printing Museum's oldest item: (Harrild) Albion Hand-Press
This press printed the first issue of The Evening Post in 1865

Example of table-top Platen Press - Adana 8x5 at GTO Printers (Auckland)

Columbian ('Eagle') Press (approx 1860)
at Otakou Press Room, Dunedin

Cyl­in­der presses are char­ac­ter­ised by using a large cyl­in­der
to deliver paper and impres­sion to type on a flat bed.
This prin­ciple is used by the latest let­ter­press machines
like the Heidel­berg Cyl­in­der machines or pre­ci­sion proof­ing presses

Vandercook #4 
at Otakou Press Room, Dunedin

Letterpress can be made several ways:
Hand-set type (individual letters), cast plates (text or image), polymer plates

Wood poster type (hand-set)
Hand-set metal type
Metal type, set/arranged, ready to print
Cast metal plate with image
Metal block with shape for embossing
Polymer plate with shape for printing
Letterpress can also be used
for embossing/debossing
(same print process but without any ink)

Here's a few examples 
of some NZ printmakers using letterpress:

Saranna Dury, Huge Type is Sexy, 2011
Rakai Karaitiana, Huia
Letterpress, edition of 50
House of Aroha (Napier)

Walter Hansen, Romantic
Letterpress, 32x22cm, edition of 30

Tessa Gourley, booklet and posters from project On The Plonk
Tara McLeod, F&X Typo Design, 2011
Letterpress, 38x56cm, edition of 12

Photo: Beer? Chur!
Into the White © 2012
Into The White Press, Beer? Chur!, 2012

Into The White Press, A Bee C, 2012

Walter Hansen, Kaimoana

Letterpress Workshops
If you are keen to take a letterpress course, here's a few links to follow:

GTO Printers, Auckland regularly run workshops.
There are letterpress workshops scheduled for
13 July, 10 Aug, 14 Sept, 12 Oct, 9 Nov if you're interested.

GTO's workshops on the Adana press
are ideal for learning the principles of letterpress printing

(If you know of any other people offering letterpress workshops,
please let me know so I can add them to this list)

Homeprint Studio in Fielding

Here's a little video I found from Auckland's Magpie Press,
showing the letterpress process in action:

Digital Letterpress
If you don't have room for a letterpress in your studio (like most of us)
but want a better understanding of the process,
you can by an amazing app for ipad or mac called LetterMPress.
It looks just like the real thing (only with an 'undo' button)!

Here's an image I made on LetterMPress recently,
it was a lot of fun!
It is great method for learning the process
and to play around with type arrangements.

Have you tried Letterpress yet???
What did you enjoy most about the process?