Letterpress Lessons


What is your schedule of classes?
Since this is a personalized one-on-one experience it just depends on what date suits both of us. Lab days are scheduled amid the regular printing schedule and I try to plan them for my lighter workload days.

What equipment is available to me?
I start people on the Chandler and Price Pilot because it is a manageable and easy-to-learn press for beginners. Very quickly you learn most of the basics for letterpress printing and can work independently. The small prints we can make with the Pilot serve a wide variety of applications. There are also many other production stations ready for letterpress-related finish work like cutting, drilling, corner rounding, riveting, etc. Download the brochure for more details.

What does the personalized instruction include?
One hour of personalized instruction is included in the whole and half day rates. The day usually starts with a half hour tutorial on the Chandler and Price Pilot Press and then you are free to learn by doing. This is the best way to become familiar with the press. The other half of the hour is loosely spread throughout the day for instruction on any of the other stations you would like to use. I will be working, too, and you are free to bring me a sample of anything that doesn't look right. I will offer advice that can guide you to a great looking printed piece, but you’re the one doing the work!

How can I make the most of my one hour of personalized instruction?
Good question. I wish more people would ask it. The best thing to do is plan your project beforehand and let me know the general idea before we start. Sometimes by tweaking the plan just a bit we can save time in production. You can further make use of your instruction time by watching the ink mixing tutorial and the Pilot makeready tutorial online before you come. This way you'll come already knowing the basics of how to set up the press and we can focus more on the production of your particular project.

Can I split a whole day into two half days?
Studio time does not carry over from day to day.

What if my half day is not enough time?
Studio time is pro-rated at $20 per hour beyond the half day rate.

May I bring my own paper?
Yes. There is scrap paper in the studio but you are welcome to bring your own. Thick, soft fiber paper is best to get a good letterpress impression. It's also fun to overprint on old book pages, newspapers (foreign languages add an exotic feeling), sheet music, brown kraft shopping bags, maps, pre-printed wrapping paper...let your imagination loose.

May I bring a friend to help and/or watch me work?
It is a safety policy in the studio that observers are not allowed in the production area. Multi-person lab days are encouraged (Up to three people working at once. Download the brochure for multi-person pricing). All persons MUST be present at the beginning of the day to receive instruction on the equipment so please schedule a day when everyone can make it on time.

Will I learn to set moveable type?
The studio is equipped with metal fonts and various wood type letters for those who want to set type. It is a time consuming but rewarding task. I've developed some "shortcut lockup" methods that work well for short runs. If you want to delve deeply into the art and skill of traditional letterpress lockup go to Art Center College of Design (Art Center at Night courses), The Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena or The International Printing Museum.

What kinds of pre-made plates do you have available?
Ornaments, birds, trees, decorative initials, flowers, popular quotes...etc. Hundreds of them. The most popular are the decorative initials because with them you can easily add customization without making a custom plate.

What if I want a custom plate?
Let me know. The studio is equipped with a linotronic and platemaking machine and I might be able to include your art in one of my plate batches. If the timing doesn’t work I will connect you with the right folks who can also do it for you. Please first show me a .jpg mockup of your art so I can determine if it is doable with the time and equipment we have available.

Can I print my wedding invitations in your studio?
Possibly. Send me a .jpg image of your design and how much time you’ve allowed yourself to get it done. I’ll help make a production plan if it seems possible. It’s my top priority to make sure everyone has an enjoyable production experience in my studio. High pressure time sensitive projects like wedding invitations sometimes create stress and frustration. I prefer to avoid this scenario! But given the right design (keep it simple) and enough time it's possible to produce, even for a beginner, a really lovely and memorable piece.

What if I want to use the Vandercook or C&P presses?
These larger presses require extra instruction and more than a day to get you up and running independently. They are also my daily production presses. Talk to me about the use of these presses if you want to rent one or more of them for larger projects. I always enjoy having other artists working in the studio. If possible we’ll work out a plan that suits us both.

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