Letterpress printing is the ‘relief’ printing of text and image using a press with movable type or plates, in which a reversed, raised surface is inked and then pressed into a sheet of paper to obtain an image. Invented by Johannes Gutenberg, it was the usual form of printed text from the mid-15th century until the 19th century and replaced hand-written calligraphy.
If you ever have the opportunity to explore any 15th Century book you will see the enduring and timeless quality of letterpress. Letterpress fell out of favor as more efficient forms of printing were developed, but it has recently had a renaissance with the renewed interest in craft and quality.
Letterpress machines are impressive: heavy and substantial with thousands of mechanical parts. They come alive with a cacophony of clinking, clunking, and whooshing. The star of our studio is our beloved Heidelberg Windmill press, which inks plates and then presses against soft, cotton paper; not just printing graphics but also creating shaped indentations of them in the paper. Letters and images look crisp and sharp on the quality paper, but you can also feel the imprint. As you run your finger over the page you can feel the recessed texture of the type. So in both look and feel letterpress is distinctive. It is an enduring art form that produces beautiful, elegant and unique pieces.