Saturday, April 20, 2013

Thank You Ladies of Letterpress!

As mentioned in my last post, I recently attended a workshop at the San Francisco Center for the Book.  The workshop was focused on tabletop platen press maintenance - which, for me, as a newbie, is really important. It's sort of akin to playing a song on a badly tuned instrument. Even if you've learned the song, it won't sound good unless the instrument has been properly cared for. I am very grateful to the Ladies of Letterpress for allowing me to attend this workshop as a recipient of their 2013 scholarship!

The workshop was held in SFCB's new location on Rhode Island St., and what a beautiful space. I loved the way their old space was ink-splattered and lived-in and smelled vaguely of chemicals, but their new building has a sort of calm, cool, spacious vibe which allows them, importantly, to house more presses. There is room to print, offices, classrooms, a gallery, and a very long worktable - and all impeccably organized.

As luck would have it, the workshop was actually cancelled at the very last minute - so last minute that I was already onsite. But since my husband was at home with our baby, I had the freedom and time to enjoy the exhibition I last posted about.

The reschedule was the following week, and though the class size had grown in the meantime, another strange turn of events made it so the other four students couldn't attend. This time, however, both the instructor, Alan Hillesheim, and I were there, and so I had a private lesson. It was fantastic.

The center has 2 platen presses that are similar to mine, which we were able to use as references. The workshop covered how to level the platen on its four axis points, as well as how to advance the entire platen toward the press itself, the importance of taping the rails and when to do so, oiling the press, and general tips about packing and inking. As I was the only student, I was also able to ask specific questions about my press and other printing-related matters. Needless to say, in three hours we covered a lot of ground. 

A big thank you again to Jessica and Kseniya and the Ladies of Letterpress!


  1. Wow! What an incredible opportunity! It sounds like you were able to get a lot of in-depth information specific to your press. What a very fortunate turn of events.

    1. Thanks, M! It was a really great experience all the way around.