I have an unhealthy addiction to stationery. Cards, notebooks, prints, calendars, you name it, I want it. I am getting better at resisting cute paper works but anything with a clean letterpress design? I just can’t help myself. It is just so beautiful and something I just can’t recreate at home, which makes it more magical, right?
Can you imagine my joy and glee when a local letterpress artist I followed started advertising for small workshops? It apparently is the trendy blogger thing to do here in Edmonton after all. I have wanted to try letterpress for some time and this was a really exciting opportunity. After many months of dates that just didn’t work, Rory and I found ourselves in the small Uppercase Press Studio on a snowy afternoon a few weeks ago.
Since there was only two of us at a time, Rory and I got a real hands-on experience trying our hands at typesetting, mixing ink and pressing our own works. Lu was super helpful and made the afternoon so much fun. Beyond the basic techniques, she taught us some really neat stuff about the history of letterpress. (Like did you know that they don’t make presses anymore? You can’t just walk into Micheal’s and get one, you have to hunt down machines from 100 years ago if you want to do serious pressing. Maybe you knew this…I didn’t). I walked away from the afternoon feeling more knowledgeable, accomplished and inspired.
Once you have it all set up, you can print as many copies of your print as time allows so I wanted to make sure I made things I could get use from (the craft drawer of pretty paper things is growing everyday with stagnant projects). The soft feathery flakes floating from the sky that afternoon inspired some festive holiday cards, and then some ‘cheers!” tags for gifts at any time of the year.
When typesetting, all your ‘stamps’ had to be snuggled up tight to hold together. I never knew how tricky that could be. I may have been a little over ambitious with my projects for a beginner. I did some serious MacGuyvering to get the diamond embellishments on the cards to stay put, and Lu had to show me some ‘cheating’ methods to get my ‘POP’ bubbles to sit still. I like to think it was worth it though!
Rory had fun typesetting his own little poem which he printed and is going to illustrate in the future. On his first print we realized he only had ONE typo. Pretty impressive seeing as you are spelling words with backward letters.
We easily agreed on ink colours, and though we both thought we were pros at colour mixing, we used WAY too much ink getting the perfect blue. Luckily, you don’t actually need that much ink to print, so in the grand scheme of things we didn’t waste that much.
After hours of printing, talking, laughing and even enjoying a spot of tea, we had created some pretty awesome things. I can imagine the work it must entail to do this day in and day out as part of a creative business. Lu was a wonderful teacher and knowing the methods of craftmaship makes me appreciate the letterpress process so much more.