Letterpress

The Berlin Family Letterpress Studio is a wonderful place to learn the historic craft of printing with movable type. IPRC Studio Members who’ve completed the Intro to Letterpress workshop can set type any time during General Studio Open Hours, and print anytime during Letterpress Open Hours.

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.

PRESSES

  • 5 table-top platen presses
  • 14″ x 23.5″ flat bed proof press
  • 30″ x 22″ self-inking flat bed proof press

TYPE COLLECTION

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

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 letterpress studio supervisor on duty.

 

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/

 

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