17 must-see lettepress videos

There are few things more fascinating than watching letterpress printing in person, but videos can be a close second. We picked out some of our favorite letterpress printing videos, so feast your eyes on the presses, the ink, the paper and the people. There are stories to be heard and techniques to be learned. We bet you’ll be itching to get to your own press to make a little letterpress magic after watching just a few of these! Tell us which ones you liked best in the comments below, and by all means, share some of the jewels you’ve discovered.

Boxcar Institute Training Series (BITS)

We admit, we think these instructional letterpress videos on makeready, mixing ink, and locking up your base are packed with good information for all types of printers. Harold and the Boxcar Presses can help improve your printing, so be sure to check out the rest of our training videos.  Here are some unique tips for the Heidelberg Windmill.

Boxcar Press – A day in the Life

Can’t make it to Syracuse for a tour? This video will give you a little taste of Boxcar Press.

Linotype, The Film

This is a great film that pays homage to a machine that transformed printing. It’s a wonderful blend of new and old footage, and the stories are fascinating. Here’s an introduction.

Letterpress Coasters printed at Repeat Press

In this fun video, Mike Dacey of Repeat Press creates coasters from beginning to end. He combines polymer plates (on a Boxcar Base) with a little metal type and throws in corner rounding, cutting, packaging, and even tests the coasters out.

Letterpress Printing Vocational Film from 1947

This black and white video is fun to watch and makes you feel nostalgic about the glory days of letterpress printing — there’s great footage of pressman, hand typesetting, linotypes and more.

Letterpress video at Studio on fire

A video about Studio on Fire that also includes information on designing for letterpress and a simplified version of the polymer platemaking process. Highlights include the printing (and reading) of Studio on Fire’s “Pressman’s Creed”.

American Letterpress – The art of Hatch show

A look into the workings of Hatch Show Print Shop. The visuals of all the posters, the people working, and their long history blends into a nice video experience.

Upside Down, Left to Right: A Letterpress Film

A short film about letterpress and one of the few remaining, movable-type printing workshops in the United Kingdom, which is situated at Plymouth University. The credits are a fun surprise, too.

Letterpress documentary at Firefly Press

This video eloquently explains the craftsmanship involved with the hands-on process of letterpress, including creating and using metal type.

Brian Donaghey on Letterpress Printing

This is a short film on UK printer Brian Donaghey. It covers his background and it’s like a spending a pleasant afternoon with a master. Brian pulls prints on a Hopkinson, Finsbury & Cope Iron handpress.

Chase Lock Tutorial from Tim Butler 

Good information and a demonstration on locking up type from Tim Butler at Quality Letterpress.

Steel Petal Press video on letterpress

Shayna Norwood from Steel Petal Press does a masterful job explaining letterpress for a new customer. You can watch each part of her studio process, from inking all the way through to cleanup.

Heidelberg windmill video from Invitations by Ajalon

A very good explanation and demonstration of the Heidelberg Windmill from Invitations by Ajalon. A great example of German engineering and yes, that is a Boxcar Base (it’s one of the original bases with the older design).

Short & Sweet letterpress video by Naomie Ross

A brief but well done video of printing with wood type. There are no words, but the videographer added some great descriptions and artsy touches.

Steamroller Printing with the University of Montana Printmaking Division

Many have tried this supersized printing method. This video combines a fun, musical look at the artistic efforts of the University of Montana students in their annual event. All of the artwork had a “Day of the Dead” theme, so it’s very bold, and at the end of the day they held a parade to show off the art. Check out the sketching, carving, inking and yes, the unveiling.

Jack Daniels does Letterpress – with Yee-Haw Industries

From the toe-tapping banjo music to the long shots of the Yee-Haw studio, this video is very appealing on so many levels. Yee-Haw worked on 10 letterpress posters for Jack Daniels, and this video shows the creation of just one of them (and it’s a beauty). It’s also nice to see because Yee-Haw closed their doors in April 2012 and they did masterful work.

Typeface Movie trailer

This trailer gives a peek at Typeface, an hour long immersion into the history of the Hamilton Type factory (now known as the Hamilton Wood Type Museum). The film has inspired many visits to Two Rivers Wisconsin for the real thing, but is also available for purchase on DVD.

Boxcar Talk With Shayna Norwood

It’s been a long cross-country ride through the remarkable realms of painting, book-making, and letterpress printing for Shayna Norwood, the daring woman behind Steel Petal Press. We were able to catch up with her in between runs to get the deep dish on printing in Chicago, Illinois.

Can you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Shayna and I currently live in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago by way of San Francisco, New Orleans, Los Angeles, St Louis, and Washington, DC. I print handmade letterpress greeting cards, custom wedding invitations, and make hand-bound journals. I’ve always known I wanted to be an artist. Right out of high school, I went straight into art school to study painting. Since then I have explored many different mediums before finally landing in book arts and letterpress printing.

How did you first get involved in letterpress and who are your printing mentors?
While finishing up my BFA at San Francisco Art Institute I took a year long Book Arts class that first exposed me to the art of letterpress. Following graduation, I was accepted to a six month residency at Women’s Studio Workshop where I continued to focus on Artist Books, letterpress printing, silk screening, book binding and paper making.

As I moved around the country, I continued to volunteer and take classes at Pyramid Atlantic in Washington, DC and at the San Francisco Center for the Book. In 2008 I moved to Chicago to work towards my MFA in Book and Paper Art at Columbia College Chicago. Although I left the program early, I was able to use the knowledge I had learned throughout the years before to move forward in starting my own business.

Are you a designer and printer, or printer only?
Mostly artist, full time printer, and self taught designer.

If you design, tell us a little about your creative process.

For my creative process: First, I have to think up a new idea. This can come at any time and is usually out of the blue: riding the train, while jogging, on a Sunday morning reading the paper, running errands, riding my bike, etc. Then I need to transform the idea into an image or object. This takes some time tinkering with the materials and the images to see what looks best. Then there’s production mode, in which I just crank out a bunch of work. The last part is much less creative.

When I work with clients on custom jobs, I listen to them and their ideas, collect image samples and inspiration and move forward from there.

What is the story behind your very first press?
I just bought my very first press this past year! Her name is Penelope and she is a C&P model-n. I am still in the process of getting her up and running, so in the meantime I rent press time on the Vandercook presses at Evanston Print and Paper. Also Kimberly at Daily Sips Studio generously lets me use her Vandercook SP-15.

Tell us about your print shop or where you print! Any cool things about it or its location?
My print shop is in a shared studio space that takes up the floor of an unfinished warehouse in West Town, Chicago. I moved in before I had committed full time to printing. It’s good for the time being, but not somewhere I picture myself long term.

Do you print full time? For how long?
YES! I have been printing full time since January 2011, so it’s all relatively new for me.

What are some accomplishments you are proud of?
Setting goals, working hard to make them happen, and ultimately starting my own business.

How has Boxcar Press helped you with your business and printing?
I do not have access to lots of type, nor do I have a polymer platemaker, so Boxcar really helps me turn my digital designs into polymer plates for printing. I’ve also ordered inks and other supplies from Boxcar in the past.

What’s your favorite piece of business advice you’ve uncovered so far as a letterpress printer?
Network! There’s a really great community of letterpress printers in Chicago and it seems everyone is somehow connected or knows each other. I have been saved from impending deadlines (on more than one occasion) by generous letterpress printers willing to help me out of a bind.

Big thanks to Shayna for letting us get such a cool, closeup look on Steel Petal Press!