My First Letterpress Specimen!

Remember how I mentioned back in May that I had signed up for a letterpress printing class at San Francisco Center for the Book? Well, the day for my beginning Tabletop Platen Press class finally arrived last weekend, and I drove down to San Francisco on Sunday, giddy with delight!

I specifically chose to take the Tabletop Platen Press class because I wanted to see what would be possible in a home studio—letterpresses can get pretty gigantic and heavy, and the tabletop presses seem the most manageable for a personal studio. Even so, I recently read that even the tabletop presses weigh in around 200 lbs!!! Check out this link to get an idea of the type of machine I’m talking about.

It occurs to me now that some people reading might be wondering, what in the world is she talking about? What is letterpress printing? Well, I’m glad you asked—letterpress printing is the type of printing you do with metal type—think: hand typesetting, think: Gutenberg. If you want to learn more about it, here’s a great summary.

If you have been following this blog, you might have some guesses about why I would like letterpress printing—I mean, how can you beat an excuse to play with a billion little metal letters? I mean, there were even parentheses like this: {_} and little pointing hands, and of course every little letter in so many variations. Truly, I just wanted to hoard all of the metal type.

I do not want to delude you though, the letters are so lovely, and the product is beautiful, but it’s not easy! All of those little letters get scrambled around, and there are so many little details that go into making a fine quality end product—lots of measuring and finagling. The product of the class was to make a little quotation postcard. Of course, I went armed with my favorite Mary Oliver quotes—here is what my partner and I came up with:

Now I’m doing some creative thinking to try and figure out how I can get my hands on a letterpress of my own, or at least use someone else’s to practice {before I forget all of the minute details I learned in my class}. As I mentioned, even the little machines weigh in around 200 lbs, which is not something to mess around with. Also, they’re really popular right now, and so the cost is a bit out of my range. For now, I am thinking and dreaming, and also stalking letterpresses for sale online.

If you know of anyone with a spare letterpress accumulating dust in the back of their garage, let me know!

Happy dreaming!

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6 Responses to “My First Letterpress Specimen!”


  1. 1 artproject2010 July 15, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    I saw an instructable on how to make your own letterpress! Let me see if I can find it…aha! Here it is: http://www.instructables.com/id/Build-a-Letterpress-%26-Use-It-to-Print-Things/

  2. 3 linda July 15, 2010 at 10:41 pm

    Very cool! Letterpress just creates something so lovely to touch as well – i love it too! Yeah, the presses can get huge, but technology is always advancing!

  3. 4 Kat July 15, 2010 at 10:42 pm

    I love letter presses too! You are into all things printing lately it seems… very fun to watch you explore. Inspires me to try more new things!

    • 5 bluebicicletta July 16, 2010 at 8:00 am

      Thanks Kat! Glad you’re getting inspired! It’s so fun to explore a new medium, and that’s often something we forget to do when we get established in a certain medium. Luckily, the urge to do printmaking has been clobbering me over the head, so it has been impossible to ignore.


  1. 1 Big News!! Come Help Fund my Next Creative Adventure: In Praise of Small Things! « blue bicicletta Trackback on July 16, 2011 at 7:06 pm

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Hello there! My name is Nicole K. Docimo, and I am an artist and writer from the U.S.A. but currently residing in Zurich, Switzerand. Thank you for visiting my blog!

Some Thoughts

"Be thirsty for the ultimate water,
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~Rumi

{from "Joy at Sudden Disappointment"
translated by C. Barks.}

~This Work ~

Unless otherwise noted, all images and writings on this blog were created by me, Nicole K. Docimo aka Blue Bicicletta. If you would like to share anything you see here for inspirational purposes online, I just ask that you kindly let folks know where you found it. If you are wanting to share/reproduce any of my work in any other way, or have any questions about how you will be sharing the work in relation to copyright, please contact me directly at nkdocimo {at} gmail {dot} com. Thanks!

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