Today was the first day of my month-long Vandercook letterpress class at the San Francisco Center for the Book – and it was a success – though I'm beyond exhausted. How can this be more tiring than chasing after toddlers? I have no idea.
It's a super small class, just four of us, which is pretty amazing. I'm the only woman, which suprised me, and the only designer, which suprised me more. All in all a really good group – I'm especially impressed by the engineer learning letterpress. You're awesome, dude. Today we learned how to set type (upside-down, backwards, oh my lord) and proof it, then get it on press, lock it up, ink it, run it, clean it, then collapse in a sweaty pile. Repeat for additional color runs (overprinting has got me all hot under the collar – can't wait!).
I love all of the common phrases that come from the physical realities of the letterpress shop – "mind your p's and q's" (they look the same upside-down and backwards, tricky), "uppercase, lowercase" (from where at the type setting bench those letters are located), "leading" (made of actual lead, please to wash hands before eating) and "type lockup" (type that is literally locked up together in the galley tray).
The center has an awesome collection of specimens, from typefaces and etchings to wood carvings, old maps, advertising dingbats, decorated capitals, you name it. I even found an old Olympic Club logo! I'm looking forward to digging in, messing up and learning more.
It feels so wonderful to get out of the digital realm for a bit and do something real with my hands – to envision a design, create it, ink it and run it all on my own, no computers or vendors required. I'm looking forward to personal projects and perhaps the odd wedding invitation in my future. But only for awesome brides. You know who you are, ladies.
See below for a few photos I snapped of the SFCB goodies, and our very first silly project. I'm thinking of typesetting some Shel Silverstein for my next one...