Letterpress

IPRC’s Letterpress Print Shop is a wonderful place to learn the historic craft of printing with movable type. We offer beginning and advanced classes that focus on technical skills, as well as special classes that explore more conceptual ideas and alternative techniques.

The focus of our print studio is to offer a hands-on method of creating artwork to enhance the IPRC’s overall mission of empowering individuals to independently produce and self-publish their work.

Making letterpress printing accessible to all members of our community is an important part of keeping this craft alive.

The printing presses in our shop include:

  • 5 table-top platen presses
  • 1 14×23.5 inch flat bed press
  • 1 30×22 inch (self-inking) flat bed press

Our type collection includes:

  • over 150 diverse fonts of lead type
  • 25 fonts of wood type
  • many unique engravings and printer’s ornaments

Our facility is well maintained and easily accessible to beginners and pros alike. We have all of the tools and equipment necessary to create quality letterpress prints.

In order to print, one must complete the Intro to Letterpress Workshop a be a Studio Member.

Printing must be done during one of our 4 weekly supervised open studio hours. During these hours a trained volunteer will be available to help out with printing projects and answer any questions.

Studio Open Hours


Studio Policies

During Supervised Letterpress Open Hours, members may print with the shop equipment.

Before members can use the shop, it is required to:

  • be a current IPRC Studio Member
  • complete the Intro to Letterpress Class

In order to keep our type collection organized, we require that you:

  • rent a galley to store your type
  • put away all type within one month of use
  • DO NOT BRING FOOD OR DRINKS INTO THE PRINT SHOP!

If you are confident in your printing skills after some time printing in the studio, or you have extensive previous letterpress experience, there is an option to become approved to print in the shop on your own. If you are interested in becoming an Independent User, please email the Studio Manager.

Galley Rental (Galley = a type storage tray)

Galleys can be rented for a two-week period. At the end of the two weeks, all type must be distributed. If you’re interested in extending your galley rental, talk to the studio supervisor on duty.

AN IMPORTANT SAFETY NOTICE:

Safe Handling of Letterpress Type

Type metal has lead in it, along with antimony and tin. There is no question that there are proven, known hazards that can be traced to lead exposure, but, with an understanding of how and why lead enters the body, metal type can be handled safely for decades, just as it has been by 600 years worth of printers. A very small chemistry and biology lesson is needed to understand safe type handling.

There are many chemical forms of “lead.” The important distinction in this case is the difference between metallic lead, which is the form in type metal, and lead salts (oxides or carbonates), which were used in house and artists paints. In general, metallic lead is not biologically active. It doesn’t enter body through the skin, can only be inhaled if it is finely powdered (and even then acts more like a nuisance dust), and even if ingested in “bulk,” i.e. a piece of type, will pass through the gastrointestinal tract with little absorption.

Lead salts, however, are a different story. Most common ones, such as white lead, used in “flake” white oil paints and house paint, and red lead, used in some metal primers, are biologically active. They can be absorbed, even when bound in dry paint, through the lungs as dust, and via ingestion when eaten as flakes or dust. Their toxicity is particularly acute in children, which is the basis for the restrictions currently in place regarding paint formulations and remodeling activities. Summaries of the effects of lead salts on children and adults are readily available on the EPA website.

How should you keep yourself safe when working with metal type?

First and foremost are basic shop hygiene practices:

  Don’t eat, drink, or smoke while you’re working.

      (NO FOOD OR DRINK IS ALLOWED IN THE PRINTSHOP!)

  Wash your hands well before eating or drinking.

  Wear an apron.

  Don’t put your hands in your mouth while working with type.

INFORMATION FROM: https://letterpresscommons.com/safety/

Studio Manager: John Akira Harrold | john@iprc.org

 

Sponsors & Supporters