What Does Letterpress Look Like?

Roman Workbenches from Christopher Schwarz on Vimeo.

During the Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event last weekend several attendees mentioned how they loved that our books were printed via letterpress.

I had to correct them because that’s absolutely not the case. We are printing just one book letterpress, “Roman Workbenches.” All of our other titles are printed using 20th-century offset printing technology. (The most modern way to print – digital – is still too ugly for me to even consider.)

What does offset printing look like? Check out the video I shot at the plant where we manufacture color books.

Letterpress is a physical process that is similar to what Gutenberg came up with, or how we make prints with potatoes. Like all printing, it requires skill and training to get a book that feels like a real book and not some manifesto or corporate annual report.

Today I spent an hour at Steam Whistle Letterpress as Brian Stuparyk and his dad, Ken, dialed in the settings for a plate and began making the impressions for one of the sheets. The short video above documented the process.

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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11 Responses to What Does Letterpress Look Like?

  1. ralmcc7yahoo.com says:

    Sir, Did you load a video of the SWP with Brian and Ken ? When I click on Steam Whistle Letterpress that you sent in the blog it takes me to their website.

  2. ralmcc7yahoo.com says:

    Cancel the above

  3. Fascinating…. I work in the printing industry for a couple of years. Nothing like letterpress though… I love that shit

  4. jonfiant says:

    Thanks so much for doing that video. Besides woodworking, it sheds light on one of my other passions, which happens to be books. I have not, to my knowledge, ever seen something printed in letterpress, but I love the process, and I hope to see what it looks like soon. Very cool indeed. Love the music BTW, who is it?

  5. brinkreview says:

    “Proudhon maintained and even flaunted his independence of party and clique, and took his stand as an independent critic whose aim was to show the true ends of the revolution and the errors of the revolutionaries. He was supported by a small but devoted group of associates, many of them printing workers like himself, and in this respect Le Representant du peuple set something of a precedent, for the most enduring type of anarchist organization has in fact been the small functional group devoted to a specific task of propaganda, often that of publication.”
    – George Woodcock, Anarchism: A History of Libertarian Ideas and Movements (http://www.ditext.com/woodcock/anarch.html)

  6. Does this mean we can look forward to a book either printed with potatoes or on a potato?

  7. SSteve says:

    I love watching that. It looks too complicated to be possible.

    it requires skill and training to get a book that feels like a real book and not some manifesto

    And here I was thinking everything you published was a manifesto.

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