The letterpress classes and workshops 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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Read a blog post about our Fall 2014 workshop!
You might also like this review of our Spring 2013 workshop.
Here are some wonderful pictures taken by Tom Bergeron from the June 20, 2015 workshop.
The Mass Art Press has five Vandercook presses: 3 SP15s, a Universal 1 and a 219 Old Style. Our pressroom type collection includes over 500 fonts of metal and wood type and is 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!
This workshop is an introduction to letterpress printing and manual type setting for the complete beginner. You'll learn to use a job stick, hand-set type from our expanding collection of metal and wood type typefaces and ornaments and then print on a Vandercook flatbed cylinder press. We supply the paper, you supply the ambition!
Bring roughly less than half-a-tweet's worth of text to typeset as part of an Exquisite Corpse Poem for the first half. In the afternoon you'll have a chance to set and print an apporpriately sized project (read: feasible in a half-day).
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 Connections" 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 pressoperation. 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 the type collection, and develop working habits that will assist you in completing your projects.
Past themes and titles for the letterpress exchange portfolio include "Unwanted Outlaws," "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.