This has been one of the most exciting weeks we've had since Jamie and I got married. After six months of research and a lot of patience, we officially own a Chandler & Price New Series Pilot Letterpress.
We set it up for printing for the very first time on Friday night. We honestly didn't know how it was going to turn out since we've never been instructed on how to operate a letterpress. But thanks to a lot of online sources, we had a pretty good idea of how the proces worked.
The first step was to decide what we wanted our first print to say, set the type by hand, and lock it up in the press' chase (the frame that holds the type or artwork). We chose to print the name of our blog in the first typeface we purchased last year; 18pt Clarendon.
This is our very first letterpress impression pulled. Words cannot describe how excited we were to have finally had the right tools to create a design that you can actually feel. As recommended by our printmaking professor from JBU, we bought two large sheets of Rives BFK printmaking paper from Blick art for our first set of prints.
We experimented a little bit trying to control the amount of embossing the lead type made in the paper before unlocking the type. It means so much to us that we decided to buy a frame and display our very first prints.
As soon as we were done with our first design we wanted to try out our second typeface; 36pt 20th Century Medium. We also had a few ornamental borders that came with our press starter's kit that we wanted to try out, so we quickly put together a thank you card and tried to lock up the type as best we could. We quickly realized it was like a puzzle that had no reference. But eventually we made it work and for not knowing what it was going to look like, we were pretty happy.
Ideas for what we want to do next with our press have been popping up very quickly. This month I'm sure we'll be learning a lot about what we want to do and coming up with some fun designs. We'll be sure to keep posting about it and what we learn along the way.
I also want to put in a plug for our letterpress provider: Andrew Churchman. He did a fantastic job restoring our press and making sure we had all of the tools and materials we needed to start printing. Andrew has been restoring presses and press materials for years and is certainly an expert in the field. If you're interested in purchasing a letterpress yourself, I highly recommend you contact him. He has a fantastic starters kit included with the purchase of a press. You can find out more information about it here: http://www.briarpress.org/20829. The detail painting was done by artist Don Kilpatrick (http://www.donkilpatrick.com). He did an incredible job making our press 100% unique.