Letterpress printing is a relief printmaking technique that uses a printing press to transfer ink from printing blocks to the paper.

Letterpress has a rich and interesting history, from its beginnings with Gutenberg in the mid-15th century, where it was the primary method of printing. It fell out of fashion in the late twentieth century but is now going through a revival and you’ll find many examples of it used to print beautiful wedding invitations, greetings cards and stationery.

Wooden type blocks for letterpress printing

Traditionally, individual blocks of moveable type were arranged letter by letter to form words and spaces. This was a time-consuming process and printers were limited by the amount of type they had.

Today, polymer plates have largely replaced moveable type. Polymer plates are made from digital files so you can use original drawings and any font you like. Polymer plates are also more durable than traditional type, which makes them ideal for the current trend of making a deep letterpress impression.

Thank You card with peacock

Letterpress printing is great for anyone new to printing or who prefers to work with words instead of creating original artwork.

Read our Beginner’s Guide to Letterpress Printing.

Join our small, friendly class to try Letterpress printing for yourself. Slamseys Printmaking Classroom is in a large, airy timber barn on the farm with plenty of space and we provide all the tools and equipment that you need for the class.

Slamseys Letterpress Printing Class for beginners