Letterpress printing is going through a revival as people yearn for the tactile touch of hand printed designs on beautiful paper.

Read What is Letterpress Printing if you’re not sure what it is.

2 Adana printing presses in Slamseys printmaking classroom

At Slamseys we print with the famous Adana 8×5 Press, which is a very nifty piece of engineering and will appeal to people who like the clunks and physical processes of operating a press. It’s a great way to start letterpress printing and the small size of the Adana is perfect for printing cards and invitations.

To make letterpress prints, you first need to compose your moveable type or picture printing blocks (a short phrase is the best way to start) into the makeready, remembering to work in reverse as letterpress is a relief printing process. The makeready is locked into the chase, which in turn is inserted into the press platen.

As you operate the handle of the press, the rollers are pushed over the ink disk and back down over the printing plate and as the paper kisses the inked type, the ink is transferred to the paper.

When in Rome letterpress printing

Once everything is set up you can keep inserting new sheets of paper and print away to your heart’s content.

Instead of moveable type, you can print with polymer plates and a chase base, wooden blocks, lino or any printing blocks that are type high. Letterpress is great for printing editions as once you’ve got everything set up correctly, the printing should be reliable and consistent.

Letterpress prints are great on their own, but it’s also fun to print on to other prints you might have made such as lino or screen prints. In the photo above, I printed over some blind embossing from a collagraph session.

You can try Letterpress printing for yourself at a one to one session at Slamseys where you’ll learn how to print with vintage blocks and polymer plates. Our printmaking classroom is in the large, airy timber barn on the farm at Slamseys where there’s plenty of space to spread your work out.