Letterpress Classes in Boston, Spring 2014

Welcome to Keith's list of letterpress classes!
The letterpress classes listed here are taught by Keith Cross at the Mass Art Press located at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston, Massachusetts.

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About Letterpress at Mass Art!
The Mass Art Press has four Vandercook presses: 2 SP15s, a Universal 1 and a 219 Old Style. The shop boasts over 350 cases of type in both metal and wood and may be one of the largest letterpress shops for students in New England.

Watch this excellent video about letterpress and book arts at the Mass Art Press!
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Full Semester Course

Letterpress (14 weeks)
Schedule: Jan. 23 - May 8, 2014
Thursday nights: 6:30 PM - 10:00 PM

The letterpress class offers an introduction to hand set metal and wooden type, letterpress printing techniques, and limited edition printing on fine papers. Students will have the option of devising a theme for an exchange portfolio OR working on individual projects (subject to review). The exchange portfolio provides an opportunity for the students to receive a copy of each other's work and complete and edition of letterpress printed posters, broadsides or other format.

The first class introduces the basics of hand typesetting with an "Exquisite Corpse" Poem workshop. Each student sets 1-2 lines of type, normally a simple quote, quip or idea made up on the spot. The combination of those lines of type comprise an impromptu poem. Results vary as students choose seemingly disparate ideas, and types, but soon see the interconnected practice of setting their thoughts into letters of a physical nature.

We may also embark on a mini-exchange portfolio called "Missed Encounters" which incorporates found text from online sources into a type collage and hand-set text layouts. This exercise introduces more complex composition problems as well as color registration.

The next five weeks of the letterpress class covers additional typesetting techniques and Vandercook flatbed cylinder press operation. The most intense class is called "Meet the Press." Letterpress class participants learn to ink the press, adjust pressure, adjust roller height, register and feed a sheet of paper, make an impression (well, many impressions), and then clean the rollers with loving care.

The second half of the course is all about producing work. We'll meet to discuss your design direction and the feasibility of the layout using letterpress printing methods. Once a portfolio theme is chosen, students set their type and, often, carve linoleum, wood, or sintra (a carvable plastic substrate) blocks/plates. We also have the capability to print images from copper, magnesium, or polymer plates (time/expense permitting).

Work time outside of class is expected and strongly encouraged. Personal projects that fit the capabilities of the press room are also encouraged (e.g., business cards, stationery, thank you cards, and the like). We'll have monitors opening the shop on week-day nights. Work nights are a great time to get to become familiar with the shop, investigate our type collection, and develop working habits that will assist you in completing your work.

Past themes and titles for the letterpress exchange portfolio include "Mythological Metaphors," "Roadside Attractions," "Fantasy Menus," "The Unmade Sequel," "Circus Acts," "Hoax Tourism," "Hair," "Book Covers," "Zoo Posters," "Fantasy Rock Concert," "Relief," "Space Tourism," and "Anatomy of a Typeface." Each student designs and print whatever they want provided it fits some simple size specifications and has hand-set type in the design.

Graduate Credit
Letterpress (CDGD300) can also be taken for graduate credit. Use the button below:

On a budget?
Letterpress (CDGD300) can also be taken for no credit. Use the button below:

One-Day Workshop

This workshop is an introduction to letterpress printing and manual type setting with metal type, wood type and ornaments. You'll learn to hand-set type and print from type in our collections of existing typefaces. Your text may be combined with found or hand made images and printed on special papers. Bring 1-2 impactful words to typeset and your ideas for a simple project to print. Apporpriately sized projects (read: feasible in a short amount of time) include items such as thank you cards, bookmarks, haiku, birthday cards, and consise affirmations. You can do it! See you there!

Schedule: Sunday, March 2, 2014; 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM

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Here's the FAQ!

After I take the one-day letterpress workshop, may I access the studio for my personal use?
Unfortunately, the one-day workshop does not afford one access to the studio afterwards. You'd be better off taking a full class (14 weeks). The full semester classes have access hours outside of class time (sometimes as much as 90 hours over the course of the semester). There is also a three-day workshop each summer. While that class doesn't have outside class time (each day goes from 9 - 5) there is more time to set type and print.

Can I print from my own plates?
This is a trickier question and can depend on the type of plate you have and how much printing you're expecting to do. In a one-day workshop, it isn't likely you'll be able to print, say, a wedding invitation suite or a long poem...in any significant quantity. There just isn't enough time! But a 14-week class might afford you more time.

What I hope you'll take away from the FAQs thus far is that a one-day workshop is really just an introduction to printing and not meant for the printer who has experience and is ready to print lots of material.

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