Tuesday 4 February 2014

Letterpress printed on my mind

Going  out in the biting wind to the Ely Creative Event, on "Loving letterpress: Meet Ely's master printers", seemed a mad idea when a warm home beckoned. Yet, there was the reward of a reviving  hot chocolate at the Ely Cutter Inn. Bagging the last available chairs,  we were in for an enjoyable imprinting on the subject of  letterpress.

The inventive Chinese used letterpress printing from the 9th century onwards,  with movable type following. Gordon  Chesterman gave us a whirlwind ride through letterpress history,  right through to the rise and ignominious fall of the printing unions.

Yet despite technology's attempt to eradicate letterpress with digital printing,  Phil Treble explained  how he succumbed to its infectious lure. His studio will be open to all interested during Cambridge Open Studios in the summer.

We were treated to a demonstration of printing on the cutest little platen press and on banner sized sheets. From delicate bookplates to elephantine poster typefaces. I learnt the difference between monotype and Linotype and was amazed at the casting of letters for single use, only then to be melted and recast anew for the next print run.

After the talk,  Phil and Gordon were surrounded by a flow  of the curious coming to inspect their artwork up close.

An evening well spent with Ely Creative.

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