pride of craftsmanship

On my list of "33 Things to Do While I'm 33" are things like travel (check!), get an iPhone (check!), and learn a new language (not so check). And I'm now on my way to checking "take a creative class" off the list.

My sister D and I are taking a 10-week letterpress class at Otis. Like many paper fiends we both love letterpressed items and we were curious about how it works. So we nudged each other into taking this (expensive) class.

Who knew letterpress would be so much work? OK, who am I kidding, of course it's a lot of work! No wonder letterpress stationery costs so much. (And it's very greasy (which actually was a surprise).) Most modern mass-produced letterpress stationery is made using photopolymer plates, which easily allows use of images, patterns, and text. But we're starting off old-school with metal type.

I set the phrase "i (heart) the liberry" because one of my first graders would literally run around the library yelling this. I liked it ... but no body seemed to "get" it so I reset it as regular ol' "i (heart) the library". My idea was to print it in black except use red for "love," which means you pull out the "love" letters and print a batch in black, swap out the letters, and print just "love" in red.

Unfortunately, it's not that easy when it takes two-and-a-half hours just to set and adjust the type and machine. So all I got done was this:

[This sample is on smooth, slightly shimmery paper. The ink "sticks" pretty well to this paper.]

Sure, the phrase isn't complete, but I wish you could feel the lovely impression of the letterpress. I'm pretty happy and proud of the results. It drove me and the teacher crazy trying to get everything just right (he basically told me he hated this project!). But it was well worth the hassle. Truly, it gave me the joy of creating something with my own hands.

[I printed more on watercolor paper, which my teacher didn't think took the ink very well, but it has a nice texture to it. Besides, I bought a whole pad of the stuff so I need to use it up. My idea is to cut them up into business card size and fill in the blank depending on my mood.]

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