WHAT IS LETTERPRESS, ANYHOW?
Letterpress printing is a relief printing technique that was developed in the mid-15th century. Up until the 19th century letterpress printing was the primary process for printing text. Using individual metal and wood letters workers composed blocks of text that were then locked up in the bed of a press, inked, and printed. Traditionally, printers strived to achieve a kiss impression, which meant the inked form just hit (kissed) the surface of the paper enough to leave a clean legible print.
Offset and other modern printing techniques made letterpress fall to the wayside, but since the mid-1990's, there has been a resurgence of letterpress printing and small print shops and educational facilities have been popping up around the world. Letterpress printers are now able to use a variety of modern techniques to achieve beautiful and tactile results. Often times, with modern letterpress printing, printers are looking for a deep impression rather than a kiss impression, this gives the printed piece a dimensional quality.
In our shop, we print on a 1952 Vandercook #4, a 1962 Vandercook Universal III, and a 8x10 Old Style C&P. We are well-versed in printing with a variety of materials including metal type, wood type, hand-carved blocks, polymer plates, and more. We love mixing the rich traditions of letterpress with new techniques.