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Re: Letterpress or DTP software?

In a message dated 7/2/00 7:59:07 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
rmiller@PETERBORO.NET writes:

<< Letterpress printing is difficult to do well. It is time, and space,
 consuming. And, as Pat has pointed out, it is dirty, both in terms of ink
 and cleaning solvents. On the other hand the end result can cause emotional
 responses bordering on sinful ;-)
  Suzanne, ask yourself if you respond equally to a hand-bound book and a
 commercially bound book? Do you respond equally to a letterpress page and a
 laser-printed page? If the answer to either is yes, or that you can't see
 the difference, I recommend DTP.  >>

Richard, and others who have responded to my questions,

I worked at a newspaper for 10 years and used to listen enviously to the
stories the old-timers in the composing room would tell of the days of
hand-set type, but I figured it was too late for me ever to have a chance to
try it. I've always been an avid reader, but rarely paid much attention to
the *form* of the books I read. Then I took a bookbinding class and suddenly
started looking more closely at every book I picked up. But the books I
picked up in class to examine the hand-sewn bindings left me somewhat in awe
when I learned that they also had been printed with hand-set type on a
letterpress, and that I could actually see the trays of type and the presses
on a visit to the instructor's studio. I consider those books to be something
entirely different from anything I could obtain at Borders or Amazon.com.
Knowing the process that went into creating a hand-printed book make it
something much greater, to me, than just letters and words on a page. And
these books were bound with and printed on hand-made papers from around the
world -- just touching them was incomparable.

My plans for creating books are not to produce large editions of elaborate
texts; rather, I envision primarily one-of-a-kind artist's books, short
collections of poetry, journals with brief inspirational passages to which I
can add rubberstamped images, etc. DTP programs seem to me to be more than I
need for what I want to do (although it might be a bit difficult to turn my
back on my hundreds of computer fonts! ;-> ). I wouldn't give up my computer
for anything; I find it to be an invaluable and expedient tool for research
and communication. But I've always had a vague feeling that advances in
technology aren't always for the best, especially when they limit or supplant
human creativity. What I'm seeking, I suppose, is to be convinced that it's
*feasible* for me to take a step backward into history to be able to create
the kinds of books I'd like to make.

<< I strongly recommend that before you invest in a letterpress shop you
several workshops or even offer yourself as an apprentice to a letterpress
printer. >>

I'd very much like to be able to do something like this, but the distance
from the studio I visited and other personal logistical concerns (and would
the proprietor even be interested?) pose some difficulties. I'm not currently
able to travel around the country, and I'm not aware of other printing
establishments in my area. I do have an offer of advice and assistance in
acquiring a small letterpress, should I decide to do so. Could I teach myself
enough through trial and error and lots of practice?


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