Anatomy of a Printing Type (download PDF)
Here’s a handout I put together for my Letterpress students. Adapted from “Parts of a Printing Type” prepared and distributed by the Educational Services Department of American Type Founders, with additional notes and definitions from General Printing, by Glen Cleeton and Charles Pitkin.
California Job Case
As summer semester approaches, and teaching letterpress, typesetting, and typography are on my mind, I thought I would share a PDF of the California Job Case layout that I created for the Book Arts Studio. Download, use, and enjoy!
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Quick thanks to my good friend Andrew Shaw for posting on Hankie Frankie an exuberant, blush-inducing review of the showcard I designed and printed for the upcoming, not-to-be-missed art show, Into the White.
Into the White: second run lockup
This run of black utilized four 1-point rules and four sizes of Alternate Gothic , 36 and 18 for the artist’s names, and 24 and 14 for the gallery and location. Despite having set up this run before leaving the studio last night, I encountered very similar issues during printing today. In addition to the type being extremely worn and requiring copious makeready, I suspect the paper I used, French Smart White, was not playing nice with the ink. Maybe there’s a sizing in it that some of the other French papers don’t have? I’ve printed countless projects on Speckletone and Frostone (RIP), and never experienced any trouble with ink transfer. Just like yesterday, I had way more ink on the press than I normally would, I had to use a heavier impression than I feel comfortable with, I had to trip twice, going very slowly, and print in what felt like slow motion for the entire run. But in the end the prints turned out pretty well and Mary seemed quite pleased.
Into the White: finished prints
I spent twelve hours in the Book Arts Studio yesterday working on a showcard for an upcoming art show by my very talented friend and coworker, Mary Toscano. The last three hours I worked in the dark because the lights to the fourth floor of the library were shut off. Take my word for it, letterspacing handset type in the dark is not easy. Fortunately, I took some photos of the first of two runs before the lights went out. I’ll be returning at noon today to print the second run.
Into the White: first run lockup
The title of the show, “Into the White,” is set in 72 and 36 point Alternate Gothic No. 1, the dates are set in Franklin Gothic, with a 1 point thick by 6 pica wide brass rule for the dash.
Into the White: first run on the drying rack
The first run was printed with metallic silver from Gans Ink. I’ve printed dozens of projects using metallic silver, but before moving to Salt Lake City, I had always used Van Son inks. I never encountered problems with Van Son metallic inks like I experienced last night with the Gans. It was almost like the ink was allergic to the type; it did not want to stick. I found that I had to add significantly more ink to the press than I felt prudent, and I had to trip (ink the form) and print at half-speed. After deducing the solution – printing with antique wood and metal type is about 90 percent problem solving – the first run went pretty well, though very slowly.
18 point Blair
Advertised in 1900 by the Inland Type Foundry, St. Louis as new and original, Blair – cleaner and, in my opinion, more elegant than the similarly styled Copperplate Gothic, 1903 – was designed as an imitation of a style of engraved alphabet popular with stationers and small job printers. American Type Founders purchased Inland in 1911–12 but continued to produce many of Inland’s original designs, including Blair.
A local musician, Glade Sowards, commissioned me to print posters for an upcoming concert (April 1st at Urban Lounge, SLC). The design I decided on required the type to be printed in two colors at a ten degree angle. So I cut some scrap binder’s board to create an “angle chase” on the bed of the immaculate Vandercook SP20 at the Book Arts Studio. In addition to the ad hoc chase, I wedged furniture to ensure the form was tight and wouldn’t move.
The first match color on the slab.
First run on the drying racks
Check back tomorrow to see the completed poster.
18 point Trocadero
Mac McGrew wrote that Trocadero is a recutting of Illinois Type Foundry’s Ornamented No. 25. This font of 18 point type was beautifully cast, packaged, and delivered to my door by the esteemed Schuyler Shipley, proprietor of Skyline Type Foundry. What I didn’t know when I sent in my order is that the font came with four delicious ornaments (see detail 2 below).
18 point Trocadero, detail 1
18 point Trocadero, detail 2
Elephant copper cut
This cut was found five or six years ago at Dave Churchman’s “Boutique De Junque,” in Indianapolis. The color of the metal plate (mounted to a wood block to make it type high) leads me to believe it is a copper die. According to Owosso Graphic Arts, Inc.’s website, copper is more durable and preferable for long print runs, which means this thick-skinned mammal is going to be around for a long time. I used this cut – along with three wood stars and a greeting handset in foundry Century Schoolbook – for a short run of A2 cards (see below) that proved popular… I’m thinking it’s time to reprint.
18 pt. Border No. F-755
This beauty is the handiwork of Sky Shipley, Chief Engineer at Skyline Type Foundry in Kampsville, Illinois. I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Shipley a few years ago during one of my regular visits to see the inimitable Dave Churchman and his ever charming wife, Charlene. And I have the pleasure of owning and printing from two type fonts and two border fonts cast by Sky – I hope to purchase them all some day. If you’ve never had the good fortune of printing from newly cast metal types, do yourself a favor and visit Skyline’s website. Gorgeous, brand new foundry type, shipped to your door, and it comes expertly packaged in fancy boxes.