Lisa Rappoport works under the imprint Littoral Press in Richmond, California. Books, broadsides, wedding invitations, business cards, and much more are printed the original way: by hand; one page and one ink color at a time; most often utilizing metal type. It’s also possible to print with photopolymer plates generated from digital files, combining the best of both worlds. Welcome to the website.
The process of letterpress printing remains essentially unchanged since Johannes Gutenberg “invented” movable metal type circa 1445 (baked clay type had been used in Korea centuries before, and in China even earlier). A cast iron press holds individual letters in place, within a frame called a chase; the lead type is inked by hand or by the action of the press; the inked type is then pressed into a sheet of paper. You can often feel the three-dimensional impression, which is also visible as a kind of halo surrounding each letter. The amount of impression is a matter of personal taste, and is also governed by the kind of paper used and the nature of the type. (Elderly or rare type is especially jeopardized by a hard hit; photopolymer plates are not bothered.)
My 10”x15” Chandler & Price platen press is hand-fed: that is, I place each page to be printed onto the tympan, remove it once it’s printed, place the next, and so on. I usually operate the press using the foot treadle, but for very long print runs I use the motor. The press is over 100 years old.
Guidelines for the ninth annual Littoral Press Poetry Prize are on the News & Noteworthy page. And speaking of broadsides (the prize is a broadside edition of the winning poem), I’ll be teaching a broadside design/introductory printing class at the San Francisco Center for the Book May 11th (evening) and 14th (all day). Read about it–and sign up!– at http://tinyurl.com/zejfetx, or contact me for more info.