A Trip to Meshwork Press

Visiting Haylee Ebersole’s shop at Meshwork Press was definitely a new and exciting experience for me. Timed just after the screening of the Letterpress Film last week, it was interesting to have the chance to actually do some of the things shown in the film. I quickly found out that the process of typesetting is not an easy or efficient one, but it is also one that helps to promote a direct relationship with the text printer is creating.

My partner and I constructed a simple card containing our names, but the multiple lines of text we used added an extra level of difficulty to our task. It took a lot of time and care to figure out the leading we wanted for the lines, and even extra care to select the right sizes of furniture to set all of the type firmly in place in the frame. The process involved a lot of trial and error and was a little frustrating when we finally managed to fit everything together only to find out that I misspelled my name, but in the end, everything worked out and we were able to print a pretty cool piece that I was happy with.

[Image Description] The two letterpress cards printed by myself and my partner on the project, Madi. Photo taken by myself

While the letterpress process clearly isn’t all that efficient, I believe that many small presses such as Meshwork continue to hold on to the art of letterpress because of the connection with the type and text that comes from such a physical printing process. A major part of letterpress is individually selecting, placing, and designing the way you want the type to look. Doing this during my visit to the press made me feel attached, in a way, to the project I was creating. The actual text on the page was just our names, but if I had done something similar on a computer, I wouldn’t have found it as meaningful. There’s just something about creating something from your own hands that really enhances the product, which is what letterpress studios aim to preserve.

Overall, my first experience with letterpress revealed a lot to me about how the method of printing can drastically change one’s relationship to their work. Because of this, it is important that letterpress technology and studios be preserved so this type of printing doesn’t become obsolete. Haylee’s studio was a fantastic way to experience this technology and method of printing, and if you want to know more about it, I highly encourage you to check out her website linked here.

5 thoughts on “A Trip to Meshwork Press”

  1. I was looking at the card you made, and I noticed the line at the bottom was made of those little, tiny stars, and I thought, ‘Wow, that must have taken a lot of care to set.’ Lining up those little bits of type must have taken a lot of time and patience and concentration. I think that commitment of attention leaves fingerprints all over the final print; the effort definitely attaches you to your work.

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  2. I’m so glad you guys got to experience this and make something! I really enjoy letterpress for the same reasons you mention—the physical challenges of composing a form in a chase, having to account for every line and word space, having to do-over sometimes but in the end feeling really accomplished. For us writers, it can really renew our sense of the materiality and necessity of the words (and breaks, etc.) we choose. How did you misspell your own name lol??! What a perfect introduction to typesetting, for you to have done so 🙂

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  3. You’re so right in that crafting something similar on a computer program could’ve looked nearly identical, and yet the feeling we receive from it would have been wildly different! Printing is such a hands on process, and although some mistakes will always be made at first, it’s those mistakes that make the craft all that more meaningful when it’s finished; you can’t really get that level of passion for it on a laptop. I’m glad we got to work together to make something amazing!

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  4. I want to begin with saying how lovely your card turned out, especially with the lines of stars! I’m also glad someone else can relate to my frustration with typesetting, though you painted it in a better light with having that direct relationship with the press and how there’s a better sense of pride as opposed to printing something from a laptop.

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  5. I agree that the physical process of letterpress printing feels so much more personal and rewarding than making the same piece via a digital medium, like a computer! By the end of the process, the piece really starts to feel like an extension of yourself with how much work you put into making it possible. I love your card, it’s so clean and pretty!

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