Letterpress. Summer Studio @ the Armory

Jul 6, 2015

4-hand-set-typeThe genesis: Hand transcribing.

The evolution: entire pages of text carved in wooden blocks in the first half of the 14th century followed by individual, reusable letters still carved out of wood.

The breakthrough: Individual, reusable letters made from metal,

The outcome: Books slowly emerged, available public consumption.

Johann Gutenberg was the mastermind, using “lacquer-ink her created himself out of soot, walnut oil and turpentine” and his “screw press” or handpress. Ink could finally be transferred onto the page evenly and clearly. And the speed in which they could then print! A bible of a mere 1,282 pages took a staff of 20 a mere 2 to 3 years to complete. Of course, this was actually an incredible improvement in comparison to transcribing by hand and Gutenberg’s methods were so efficient and successful that his press “was used to print with virtually no changes to the design” for the next 350 years.¹


Guttenberg Press


Learn the art of hand-set type and print on three different letterpress machines during Armory Center for the Arts‘ Letterpress class led by Denise El-Hoss, which begins Saturday, July 11th and runs through August 22nd. Students will be instructed on how to use letterpress tools and machines, and learn varying techniques. Beginners welcome.

Combine text and image to design and create letterhead, postcards, note cards, announcements, and posters. (The Armory)

Example of letterpress printing by Wedding Paper Divas



Letterpress Workshop
Saturday, July 11th-Aug. 22nd, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
The Armory
Cost: $300, general; $270, members
For more info, visit
Or click on “Summer 2015 Schedule” for the PDF




Chambers 1908 Screwpress

Chambers 1908 Screwpress




¹ Information sourced from “The History of Letterpress Printing,” Elation Press, Houston, Texas.

Photo, top right: 4-hand set type sourced from Anchor Brewing, San Francisco.

Photo, reproduction of Gutenberg-era press, Printing History Museum, Lyon, France by George H. Williams, 2004. Public domain.




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