The letterpress workshop was held in our Typography and Graphics department, around the corner from the art department. We were able to see the original design of a letterpress, including a copy of the script that Gutenberg used to produce 400 bibles over a few years – this was an impressive feat considering it would take that long for scribes to produce one bible. The letterpress process stayed the same, however it switched to a more mechanical iron casting. This allowed a higher level of production, and as technology improved, more and more books were printed in the same amount of time.
We were also allowed to play around with three letterpresses and primary colour inks. We used the iron cast press and roller presses in order to create different prints. I was working on the iron press and because we didn’t have to fix anything, we could make patterns with the letters. Our theme was fireworks, which gave me the idea of making the work ‘firework’ look like a firework! The three groups who were working with the three colours and we shared the prints around to ensure that we got some really different designs.
I really enjoyed learning about the history of letterpressing and how we are able to accidentally mix the colours when layering the presses. One of the pieces I took was really effective in terms of being able to see colours behind each of the fading letters. Some of our prints were really strong, and others were very faint due to the number of prints that were done on one roll of ink.