When I walk through a store I have to touch everything. I probably drive the shopkeepers crazy, but I’m a tactile person. So I can’t resist the way the dips and divots of a letterpress print seem to make the paper dance across your fingertips. Its delightful.
When we were contacted about a review for the book Letterpress Now: A DIY Guide to New & Old Printing Methods, we were pretty excited to get reading. One of us has gone on several hunts for a press of her very own, but the timing was never quite right and she wasn’t sure which type of press would suit her best. And the other one of us has had enough hands-on letterpress experience to have a respect for the craft, and enough knowledge to leave the printing to the pros.
Jessica White’s new book is clear and specific. She starts with a lengthy introductory chapter covering types of presses and necessary equipment. The remainder of the book offers project guides, grouped by the type of press you lugged home to your garage under cover of night. Our favorite thing about this book is White’s use of photos. If you can’t tell the difference between a Quoin and a Galley, don’t worry; White includes images of everything and links her description to the images with handy labels.
But in the end, we can’t help wondering… if you’re truly interested in letterpress, isn’t it better to take a class first (rather than purchase your own 500 lb. antique and a book)? It’s hard to envision getting much practical use from a DIY guide, when letterpress takes such time, expense, and well, hands-on experience and one-on-one training to perfect. But, if you think letterpress is for you and want to know some basics before signing up for that class? Get the book. We can also see this guide being useful for designers who want to know more about what goes in to the printing process.
Final verdict (Buy It, Borrow It, Forget It)? Borrow it.
—Ellie and Melissa
Thanks to Lark Crafts for the review copy.