I’ve long been a fan of the beautiful tactile grace that is letterpress. In fact, Jinn and I sourced our wedding stationery from Melbourne almost ten years ago (Eeks!) because we loved it that much. These days you don’t have to look quite as far as a number of good folk in Perth now specialise in the old art form.
One of those people is Ann from Whiteman Park Print Shop. The print shop has been operating since 1988 and houses a beautiful collection of operational vintage printing presses, the largest in Western Australia, making it a place that not only produces great work but is also of historical significance. Ann took us for a tour and introduced us to the art of letterpress in a hands-on workshop which saw us creating a piece of our very own from beginning to end using Ann’s impressive array of letterpress blocks and equipment.
Ann is clearly so passionate about the preservation of this creative trade and is keen to share this interest with others. This month, Ann is holding “Introduction to Letterpress” workshops to fundraise for the National Breast Cancer Foundation so read on to find out more.
Back in the late 1980s, a Trade Village showcasing traditional and professional manual crafts was established. These trades included a blacksmith, leather smith, carpenter and pottery shop, but sadly only the Print Shop remains.
Here at the Print Shop we continue to value the craftsmanship and beauty of traditional letterpress printing, and carry out unique projects such as custom wedding invitations and personalised stationery. In addition, we also rejuvenate and restore printing equipment. Visitors are welcome to pop in during business hours (Wednesday to Sunday, 10am to 4pm) to watch us in action, working on the presses, and learn about the history of printing.
What exactly is letterpress?
Letterpress is a variety of relief printing – the combination of type plus ink, paper and pressure. The artwork itself can be made by using individual printing blocks of letters and characters (this is known as “movable type”) or printing plates that are a bit like a premade stamp that has been digitally created by a graphic designer.
How did you personally become interested in letterpress?
I have a background in languages and project coordination but have always been utterly obsessed with stationery and design. My search for more led me to a number of design blogs through which I discovered letterpress, and I was hooked. The more I learned and read about it, the more I fell in love with this form of printing. In a world where things are easily reproducible and everything is increasingly online and electronic, I find the process of letterpress creates something so unique and personal every single time. Also, perhaps due to my love of languages, seeing the way words come to life on a press is completely captivating to me.
What excites you about letterpress and what kind of jobs do you enjoy doing the most?
Letterpress printing is both challenging and meditative. Every single project is different and requires a fair deal of careful strategising to perfect. This always keeps me on my toes and I’m constantly learning new things about printing. I’m particularly fond of creating work that utilises movable type because it is so much more customisable (right down to the letter and spacing materials used) and requires a great deal of thought and flair.
So – workshops! Tell us more!
We hold regular group workshops, and this month we will be donating 50% of profits from these workshops to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
Our “Introduction to Letterpress” workshops let you discover the rich history of traditional letterpress printing, learn the basics of hand typesetting and create a print of your very own from beginning to end! The workshop is ideal for those who wish to print simple text-based projects such as a short quote or greeting card. Groups are limited to 4 participants and run for 3 and a half hours. Hot drinks and snacks are provided to keep you and your creative juices going! (Participants must be 18 years and over)
We have two workshops coming up soon on Saturday July 15th and Sunday July 16th, and more to come later this year! To find out more, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!