Friday, August 15, 2014

Letterpress Basics: Composing with Metal Type

This post might be past due but here it is nevertheless! Certainly, I’ve had time to practice composing with metal type, and once I learned the basics and dove in, this process was relatively easier that it first  looked.

At the top you see the composing rules with ears mentioned in Letterpress Basics: Composure On A Stick. It helps compose lines of type built on top of each other. Lines of type are mirror reflecting letters, words or lines of words you compose on your stick. These lines of type will be set backwards (and facing upwards) since the final print will re-reflect itself correctly. 

Remove your lines of type carefully from the composing stick by gripping around and underneath with both thumbs and onto a galley, (a flat piece of metal or wooden board) and slide it up against one side of the galley for added support. 

The very first and last line you compose is done with spacing material (leads and slugs) to give extra support to the lines of type you sandwich in-between. You will also want to add spacers, not only between words but typically before and after the words, again for extra support. 

This is a visual documentation I’ve had since my first letterpress workshop in Paris with Thomas Gravemaker, and it’s always a great reminder of the precise process of this letterpress basic.
Coming up next! From Galley To Chase.