Last week we went to Easter School at Central St Martins. For three amazing days we got to play with lead and wood type and live out our type geek dreams. Years ago while at UTS we had the chance to go on exchange to CSM and being the naive silly girls we were, we didn't pursue it and regretted it for a long time. Thanks to the British Council's grant we received last year we finally got the chance to make good and study at CSM if only for a few days.
Letterpress is enjoying a revival at the moment, (Maricor posted last week about the letterpress cards that the Hungry Workshop made up for us) we're fans of the tactility and craft involved with letterpress especially in the movable type variety. In the class we were taught the fundamentals of setting up lead and wood type and creating short runs using the medium sized Farley press and the smaller Adana press. The thing that struck us the most about the process was how much it felt like you were solving a jigsaw puzzle when setting up the type blocks and spacing. And since we both really enjoy fiddly things like puzzles we were having an awesome time.
The downside was we didn't have enough time. Set up and cleaning takes so long that we really only printed for about 15 min out of the 10-4 class time we had each day. And I don't know how we can continue the new letterpress fascination we've now developed.
Our uni lecturers used to tell us stories of lead type being dumped onto the gutter when the huge presses were shut down. Helen Ingham our instructor told us a lot of the CSM letterpress type were salvaged from those dumping days. The history in the corridors, stairwell and workshops at CSM is overwhelming and to think it will all be gone soon, shafted all over to new campuses to make room for a luxury hotel development makes me sad. I hope all the letterpress equipment we used survives the move and continues to be used.