Letterpress Courses (London / UK)

jacobh's picture

As a typography fan who has never had any exposure to "real" fonts, I’d quite like to take a course to learn a bit about letterpress printing. I was wondering if any typophiles have been to (or even run!) any courses in London or SE England and could give me some recommendations?

Looking around on the web, there are two lists, one on Letterpress Alive! and one on British Letterpress but a great many of those links seem to be out-of-date and many of the institutions or presses don’t seem to be running anything anymore.

Some possibilities include the St Bride Institute, Harrington and Squires and the Ink Spot Press in Brighton but I wonder if there are any more which I haven’t been able to find? I am fairly flexible about what I do (although I’d prefer to work with metal type than polymer); as a complete beginner, I’m mostly after a general introductory course.

Thanks in advance!

-Jacob

Andreas Stötzner's picture

Are you fixed on the London area?

RadioB's picture

Central Saint Martins university has a short course that anyone can apply to, well that's if you have £390 to spend on it.

http://www.csm.arts.ac.uk/shortcourses/graphic-design/term-time/graphic-...

ben_archer's picture

Hi Jacob

Unfortunately this is the sort of thing that the Type Museum in SW9 should be offering, but doesn't...

http://www.typemuseum.org

If you're willing to come up to the Midlands, my students recommend the letterpress tuition available at the Leicester Print Workshop

http://www.leicesterprintworkshop.com/courses/

jacobh's picture

Thanks for those replies.

Andreas: no; I’m not set on London, but as I live here I would of course prefer something nearby.

RadioB: ouch...that seems a bit expensive! I wonder why the Central Saint Martins courses are so expensive? Even the lecture- or computer-based courses they run seem to be that price.

Ben: That’s very interesting, and at reasonable costs (although I bet the cost of the train ticket will inflate it a lot); thanks!

Frank: Thanks. I had seen that site before and must keep an eye on it in case they start advertising again.

-Jacob

Double Elephant's picture

There are indeed letterpress courses at St Bride as my letterpress co-conspirator is involved in setting them up.
Check out the St Bride library website or give them a call. As a letterpress printer of nearly eight years experience I would thoroughly recommend visiting for a workshop, and they can in turn put you in touch with someone who can help you to further develop your new inky skills. Happy printing

jacobh's picture

Thanks, Hellbox, St Bride's is quite close to me, so I would be quite interesting in going there. It's just a shame the prices are so expensive: their evening course is a third longer than Leicester Print's but nearly three times as expensive!

jacobh's picture

Following the suggestions here, I spent this weekend at the St Bride Institute on an “intensive” course run by Richard Lawrence which was excellent fun. Richard was very kind in allowing us pretty much a free rein to do / try everything we wanted and answered no end of questions thrown at him.

We started by doing some 1x1 inch lino prints on an Adana and proofing press and then moved on to setting and printing our names in type. That was followed by an attempt at a collaborative poster with a block of justified text decorated with some more lino prints, which ended up being a little over-ambitious and only just being completed at the end of the next day...

Apart from that, we all got on with printing other things that interested us: posters in large wooden type, business cards, dinner invitations, note-cards, beer mats and the like were all printed in increasingly dramatic colours, so I think I have a certain feel for the basics in quite a few areas, if not quite a detailed understanding of anything in particular.

If they continue to run these courses with about 6 participants then St Bride Institute’s print room provides plenty of space and enough presses for no one to have to wait too long to use anything. I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t more metal type to play with, though there is a huge amount of Perpetua and enough Univers and Fourier to set most things in, along with lots of odds-and-ends of decorative type and scripts. There is also a great selection of old wooden type which is good for immediate gratification!

Anyway, I would thoroughly recommend the course to any type fans. Line-spacing is so much more obvious now having deal with leading which was strips of lead, and it really made me understand why, for instance, so fewer fonts were used historically in any given document: each one you add means you have to get another case and it adds so much hassle! I also hadn’t expected it to be so time consuming setting the type (and how easy it is to knock them over...), although you pick up the layout of the case pretty quickly and justification was much easier than I expected.

Some of the results:

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