Our publishing class took a trip to Meshwork press so that we could learn more about letter pressing and get our feet wet in terms of trying to create letter press art on our own. I went into this experiment feeling pretty excited and eager to try something that I’d never done before. I write in my spare time and the only two forms of making word art that I had prior experience with -up until our trip to Meshwork press- was writing and typing. I now know that letter pressing is one of many other forms of writing and the reason that the art of letterpress still exists today, is because many people long to make words come to life and turn them into a physical thing, rather than typing them into a Word document and printing them out and being done with that process. Letter pressing is a tedious process with physical pieces of wood and letters and once that process is done it feels as though time was better spent making those words into something real and tangible.
Ironically, the piece that I created with the letterpress that the lovely Haylee Ebersole let us use in her studio doesn’t have any words on it! I think if I were to put words on my letterpress piece it would have taken more time than we had while visiting. I would’ve written a grand sonnet given more time! Despite the lack of words, I ended up creating a piece that was very special to me, simply because I had made it myself with my own two hands. I’m not very artistic when it comes to using paints or having to draw any sort of subjects, but taking a hold of that flywheel on the letter press and literally spinning my own piece of art into life made me feel like an artist. For the first time I wasn’t creating with a pen or a pencil, but with real pieces of metal lettering and that felt very authentic to me.
The letterpress itself reminded me of a spinning wheel and I remember telling Haylee that I felt like Rumpelstiltskin spinning straw into gold. I believe that letter pressing on would best be described in this way, because letter press art is the result of taking simple and ordinary metal stamps and letters and turning them into art, in the way that straw can be spun into gold – at least that was what happened in the fairytale.