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|Print List Price:||£10.00|
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First Steps in Letterpress Kindle Edition
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This is really a pamphlet, not a book. The model is the Adana 5 x 8 tabletop press, though most tabletop platen presses have similar construction. The Product Information lists this "book" as 48 pages, but there are only 32 pages of actual text and six pages of references, including to the author's website, Metal Type Forum--some of these references are useful to get letterpress-specific parts (like replacement rollers, spacers and rules) and some are non-references such as where to find supplies for linoleum printmaking (art supply stores) and paper. Most of the chapters are two or three pages long, and the claim that this book discusses anything, including the use of photopolymer plates, in any depth at all is misleading. Surprisingly, given the author's expertise in metal type, this is NOT a good beginner's guide to selecting or setting type, gearing up for a run or packing a chase. The author, David Hughes, was a letterpress "craft apprentice" in the 1970s though this book was published in 2013. Not to dismiss his experience one whit, but please realize that the book skimps both on traditional typesetting, and with the exception of how to pack the platen to run linoleum plates instead of metal type, barely mentions any "modern" use of the press, for example, advice for designing and making your own plates using CAD/Adobe CS and some cool tools or a CNC-based tool, which is probably the information you are looking for when you see that this is a "modern" guide to the craft.
There are only nine short paragraphs on setting metal type with one photo of a composing stick, and the upshot of the "Setting Type" chapter is that you really ought to outsource your typesetting for Linotype plates or Ludlow type slugs rather than bother with actual typesetting if you are doing anything more ambitious than a wedding invitation. Likewise for photopolymer plates...create your plates in CORELdraw and outsource to a polymer plate maker. That being said, there might be useful information in this book to people who have never laid eyes on a letterpress or are completely inexperienced with printmaking--maybe you found a press in an old barn and want to give it a run. There is better, more detailed and free information on the web or in forums like Briar Press (briarpress.com), and much better information about type and setting type in printmaking and typography books. If you are an absolute beginner to letterpress, take this pamphlet and visit a press shop or studio before you do or buy anything. Honestly, I really wish I had ignored the five-star reviews, paid attention to the Product Information, and skipped this book completely. If typesetting should be outsourced and linoleum plates used instead, then why bother with an unwieldy antique press for linoleum prints that are printed much more efficiently and elegantly on a press designed for linoleum plates? This letterpress was designed to print from a heavy metal plate and deep plate box. I would also like to recommend Jessica White's book, "Letterpress Now: a DIY Guide to New & Old Printing Methods."
One more thing. Hughes advises the use of WD-40 as a lubricant. WD-40 contains a good deal of solvent that is useful for penetrating and de-gunking parts that are frozen up, but after you get the parts moving you should inject a heavy, high-viscosity lubricant like black automotive grease or machine oil and use mineral oil-based lubricants to the exterior (they gunk up) to renew the appearance of aged cast iron--only use WD-40 to release frozen parts. What's good for the ball bearings on your car is good for your press. If you would not use WD-40 on your ball bearings then you should not use them on your press.
Thanks for sharing your knowledge.
If you are reading this review just buy the book. You will get your money's worthiness from the reference section alone.
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