I first learned about letterpress at the West Coast Print Center, where I was employed working in the camera department. There was a Vandercook Proof Press and Joanna Drucker was printing a book. I was enchanted and watched closely, the process seemed both logical and magical. Sometime after I left the Print Center I began to work for Adrian Wilson and that is when I really fell for the craft. What was it, the smells; the texture of papers; the rhythm quiet, thoughtful and methodical; the mastery of a machine that changed history? And then to see that all the patience and attention gives way to page; a broadside; a book that is simply beautiful to hold and to read. Why do I love letterpress, I think because the craft encourages the practitioner to give oneself over to the process and that giving over shows a willingness to try for perfection, again and again.
Margery Cantor has designed books for many presses in California, such as the Stanford University Press and the University of California Press. She is currently at The Impermanent Press in Norwich, Vermont and is still printing. A recent work is the letterpress version of Illustrated by Lynd Ward: From the Collection of Robert Dance (The Grolier Club).
Passionate about printing? Head-over-heels for letterpress? Let us know why you are love with letterpress in the comments below!