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.
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.