Exploring The Press

This past week I had the opportunity to visit an artist-run print shop in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania, where Haylee Ebersole and Kyrie Bushaw use their letterpress and screen-printing skills to create a creative and comfortable learning experience. Visiting this print shop was one of the most memorable and exciting opportunities I have had in my time at college. Having the opportunity to explore the different elements that a print shop has to offer is truly a remarkable experience. 

In experiencing letterpress for the first time, I truly acknowledged its unique process of typesetting and its poetic insight. The first thing that came to mind when I got to experience the letterpress for the first time was its authentic form. Before even seeing the letterpress put to work, I was captivated by its ability to draw the rooms’ attention to its exquisitely assembled instrument. Something about the letterpress inspires an authentic and genuine relationship that insinuates a vulnerable experience that connects the machine and the artist.

[ Image Description: A photo I took before beginning the typesetting process at Meshwork Press located in Wilkinsburg, PA.] 

The process of typesetting is a lot more comprehensive and time-consuming than I previously thought. However, having the opportunity to handle type and explore its diverse forms and shapes was one of the most unique components of the Meshwork Studio. 

In reading A Poetics of the Press, I discovered that a number of small poetry presses continue to hold onto the art of letterpress because of its unique relationship to language as a visual and material form of art (Schlesinger viii). In A Poetics of the Press, editor Kyle Schlesinger conducts a series of interviews with poets, publishers, and printers about the art of the book and their personal approaches to publishing (Schlesinger viii). I find it quite fascinating how Schlesinger investigates and discovers why contemporary poetry looks the way it does. Again, Schlesinger draws attention to the significance of the relationship between the form and content of the book.

Works Cited

Ebersole, Haylee, and Kyrie Bushaw. Meshwork Press, 2021, https://meshworkpress.com/.

Schlesinger, Kyle. A Poetics of the Press: Interviews with Poets, Printers & Publishers. Cuneiform Press & Ugly Duckling Presse, 2021.

3 thoughts on “Exploring The Press”

  1. I find it interesting you say using a letterpress in a vulnerable experience. I didn’t exactly think of it that way, but I can’t say it’s an incorrect way of thinking about it, especially with all of us coming into it without no prior experience. It’s a vast area of knowledge that’s intimidating, and it’s inviting us to make mistakes, which will amount to a large number.

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  2. I like how you mention how time consuming letterpress can be, and it took pretty much every group the entire studio time to assemble and print one design. This definitely connects the printer more directly with their work as they have to take the time to make slight tweaks and adjustments to the leading and the text itself to arrange things exactly how they want. For me, this greatly adds to the whole letterpress process.

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  3. I really enjoyed working with you to create our prints; I’m super happy with how they turned out! Of course, I agree that the process was time-consuming — even though we managed to make two different prints, they were fairly simple, and just setting up the furniture to make them work was such a difficult task. In the end, however, I think all the work was worth it! And perhaps that’s the true beauty of the press.

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