Crossing Tampa Bay earlier this Spring, students of the Ringling College Letterpress and Book Arts Center (Sarasota) made their way to the TBAS, led by book artist Bridget Elmer, coordinator of the Ringling program. Our focus during their visit was to highlight two particular strengths of the Tampa Book Arts Studio: working typecasting machines and pre-1900 iron hand presses.
After welcoming the class and making introductions, Studio Director Richard Mathews began with a small tour of our “casting corner,” where the Intertype, the Monotype Composition and Sorts casters, and the Ludlow Typograph sit. He explained the workings and mechanics of each machine and spoke about their differences, advantages and disadvantages, and how each was typically used in commercial and book printing.
Following that initial talk the class separated into two groups. One group stayed to do hands-on work with the casters to set and cast their own lines of hot metal, while the other group moved to the hand press to ink and pull their own prints.
Letterpress Coordinator Carl Mario Nudi manned the Intertype, and after a bit of instruction had the students sit at the machine themselves to type their lines on the keyboard and cast their own slugs.
Both Carl and Studio Associate Joshua Steward split time helping students set large display type in Ludlow sticks and cast their settings on the Ludlow Typograph.
Because the students at the Ringling Book Arts Center primarily print using mid-century Vandercook cylinder presses for their projects, we gave them the opportunity to hand-ink and pull prints on our 1860s Hoe Washington iron hand press. In the spirit of Bridget Elmer’s other letterpress venture, Southern Letterpress, we had the students use a large hand roller to ink up the forme (a short quote by Benjamin Franklin, fittingly, a hand press printer himself) with a “rainbow roll”—a three-color gradient, blue to yellow to red.
Thanks to Bridget Elmer and the Ringling College Letterpress & Book Arts Center.
The TBAS is glad to add typecasting, hand-inking, and iron hand press printing
to the students’ growing knowledge and experience in letterpress printing.