LA Printer's Fair

This past weekend, I attended the 2nd annual LA Printer's Fair held at the International Printing Museum in Carson (which I heard about here). In addition to tons of letterpress vendors selling stationery and supplies, there was also a swap meet for letterpress equipment, printmaking demonstrations, and tons of educational and hands-on activities.

Even though it was sweltering outside this weekend (102 in September!?), it was the perfect way to enjoy a Saturday afternoon.

Letterpress flashcards! Can I have these for my classroom please?

Letterpresses for sale (most of the ones I saw cost anywhere between $800-$3000)

Trays and trays of type!


Isn't this little one darling? I want to take it home and call it mine. :)

Dr. Miles demonstrating how the proofing letterpress works. Proof presses were used back then to proof pages of text before they were printed on the massive letterpress machines. The museum tour was one of the highlights! I have a feeling Dr. Miles dresses like this everyday. :)

I forget the name of this machine, but the typist can sit there and type the letters and the metal letters fall down one by one into place. This way, whole lines can be created much faster than hand-setting the type.

This machine also allows a typist to type in rows of text, except instead of dropping down pre-cast letters, it actually casts the entire line immediately! Sooo cool. After the lines are used, they're put back into the machine to melt and re-cast.

They actually had one of these machines working at the fair, and we got to have our names cast and printed.

Here's the typist proofing our name. Doesn't this pic remind you of Santa's workshop?

Our names set in to be printed.

The print!

And we got to keep the metal type too. :)

Here's a huge Columbian press that I'm trying out. This involved a lot of hand-cranking and pulling. Don't think I could have done this 200 times for our wedding invitations! The museum docent told us that in the olden days, the really experienced printers could print out 250 sheets in an hour. He said that even with their best printers at the museum, they could only do 100 sheets an hour. It definitely took me at least 2 minutes to do even one!

The print from the Columbian Press.

And I picked up this gorgeous letterpress calendar for my sister. :)

Shang  – (September 27, 2010 at 1:32 PM)  

I'm so smitten with letterpress. *sigh*

Alec Perkins  – (September 27, 2010 at 8:23 PM)  

Really cool- I love the mechanical aesthetic. The machine expressing its function. Reminds me of the most advanced and useless clock ever- a team of Swiss mechanics engineered a kind of clock-engine, that will write out the time, longhand, at the push of a button. I'm trying unsucessfuly to find a picture online, but it was a recently accomplished feat of engineering

Julie  – (September 28, 2010 at 2:29 AM)  

So cooool! Thanks for the calendar! I will hang it up in my writing space and look to it for inspiration. :)

I like the Santa's workshop pic. Who are these people and how can we get a job like theirs??

becca  – (October 1, 2010 at 10:38 PM)  

Shang: Me too!! I can't get enough of it...

Alec: These machines are soo beautiful - in a very raw, purely functional manner. I'd love to see the clock picture if you find it!

Jules: Yay, glad you like it! I think most of the ppl who worked there were actually letterpress artisans. Most of them have phd's in printmaking and/or decades of printing experience!

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