I headed out bright and early this morning to attend my first letterpress workshop and boy am I glad I decided to sign up! Not only did I finally get to see, understand, and operate an antique tabletop press, but I also got to meet some amazing Toronto-area artists and find out a little bit more about some of the fun, artsy things going on in the city.
Having long followed Tanya's Snap & Tumble blog, it was great to meet her in person and see the detailed and complicated process through which she creates her letterpress cards. I also got to meet Tanya's lovely best friend, photographer Ingrid Punwani, and fellow letterpress admirer Adrienne.
After agreeing on a striking shade of blue ink, we moved on to a huge tabletop full of letterpress text pieces and started planning out our experimental phrases. Seeing all of the blocks lined up ready to be placed into endless combinations - heaven!
I loved working with the full sets of metal type, but I must admit that I have a soft spot in my heart for the jumbled set of wooden blocks that Tanya has as well. Matching up the misfit letters to create little words was almost as much fun as printing them out.
However, in the end I opted to use the metal sets for my prints. I had a bunch of little ideas written down and chose to print out the ones that not only worked as their own phrases, but could also be used for some other projects and gifts I have flitting around in my notebook.
I'm hoping to actually add pen and ink drawings to some of the 'Pen & Ink' prints I made and my favourite print of the day, the 'constellations' print pictured below, just might end up being the cover of a new little writing collection. Oh, the potential!
My letterpress mates produced some amazing prints as well (and shared a few samples with me), including a great 'Yarn!' text print using the woodblocks and a sweet 'XO' image that might go into hiding until I can give it to T for Valentine's Day.
After spending a few hours with the press, it's not hard to see how one could quickly become obsessed with printing this way. Lining up and printing the text by hand is incredibly gratifying and the end result has such a polished, tactile beauty that it almost makes you wish everything was still printed this way. (Although, this would make my job as an editor decidedly more complicated).
The workshop just flew by and I could have easily spent three times as long just playing with the type. Now I'm back at my own decidedly smaller work space (i.e. my kitchen table) with a stack full of beautiful letterpress prints and a huge amount of inspiration for other projects. Definitely an excellent way to spend a Sunday!