For the Love of Letterpress
In some ways, I could say that there'd be no Figg Street Co. without letterpress. You could say letterpress was my gateway into stationery. I adore letterpress!
Letterpress is a printing technique invented by Johannes Gutenberg in the 1400s. It revolutionized the world by getting information to the lower-income classes by replicating text, diagrams and imagery faster than handwriting. Where would we be without it?
In the 15th century, letterpress was the way to efficiently copy information. Over time, other methods became available, notably photocopiers and computer printers. While these new techniques have demonstrated advancements with respect to colour and speed, they're 2D in nature and lack the human nuances that make letterpress items unique.
Letterpress uses a printing press, in which one can arrange wooden and metal blocks with metal plates on them depicting letters and images. Ink is applied to rollers and spread over the plates before pressure is used to connect the plate and paper, which creates a coloured impression.
I love this art form for its tactile nature. Letterpress is best experienced in person. The paper's texture needs to be seen; it invites you to touch it. The impression of the press and the ink used in the process offer depth and colour. When you feel letterpress, the cotton fibres of the paper reveal its elegance and refinement. It's a beautiful luxury that keeps on giving in a way that's not possible with digital printing.
If you're like me, and have a deep appreciation for quality and craftsmanship, you'll understand the appeal of letterpress. The process to design and print is extensive. It involves mapping out the artwork, typography and ink colours. It takes experience, skill and a lot of patience as the press prints one product at a time, and one colour of ink at a time. Presswomen and pressmen call it a labour of love.
What do you think of letterpress? Do you share our love of it? We love talking all things letterpress with others in the shop.
Next week, we'll delve into an aspect of letterpress further: typography and fonts.
Until then, enjoy your week and Happy Pancake Tuesday to those who are celebrating!