intro to the letterpress community

Hello, my name is Heather and I’m a newbie to the letterpress community. I thought I’d introduce myself here. I recently purchased a Kelsey 5x8 and last weekend finally took an intro class on letterpress printing. I’m absolutely smitten. I hope to learn a lot here and look forward to getting to know other printers. Last night, I got my Kelsey up and running and I suspect that I’ll be spending all my free time from now on in my little corner of the basement. I’ve attached a couple of pics of my press and “studio”.

all best,

image: studio1.jpg


image: studio2.jpg


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Congratulations Heather. Authenticity feels good doesn’t it?
All the best

Welcome, Heather, and congratulations on your new studio! I remember so well having my California job case “road map” propped up like yours. Now I think I could typeset blindfolded. I hope you enjoy the learning process as much as I have.

Congratulations also for taking a letterpress class. I don’t know what textbook you’re using, but if you haven’t yet picked up General Printing by Cleeton, Pitkin, and Cornwell, I think you’ll find it very useful. As a preview, here’s page 70, which shows how to position a form for lockup. Note that the quoins should be close to the form instead of against the chase.

Please post a photo of your first print!


Thanks, Bill! This is so fun. And thank you, Barbara. Yes, I’ve got “General Printing” and in my class we did put the quoins near the form rather than the chase—I guess I forgot! :) I’ll make sure to remember that. Right now, I’m trying to get the platen leveled. I’ve read up and I’m going to try putting four pieces of type in the corners and one in the middle to see if I can get an even print. I’m finding it difficult to press at the final closing. It moves fine until I get almost to the form and then it takes a significant push to finish the stroke (close the press). I don’t want to bust my type, so I’ll spend today adjusting.

all best,

Heather, you are going to find with the Kelsey that anything much larger than maybe 2x4 inches printed even hard enough to get a good solid impression on relatively smooth paper will make a fair amount of resistance on impression and when pulling up on the handle after impression — it’s how the press works. You might want to screw the press to the tabletop of a relatively heavy workbench table to make that part easier. This is also one of the hazards of trying to make a deep impression on such a press.


Thanks, Bob! I do plan on screwing the press down to the table. Right now, it’s not screwed down, because I’m just trying to get it in a good place for working. Thanks also for the tip about the print area size and the resistance. My husband and I just tried leveling the platen by adjusting the screws and we’ll see how that prints later today. I know my Kelsey won’t be as smooth as the C&P I played with in my class last weekend, but I’m awfully worried about smashing my type. I really appreciate all of the advice. Thanks so much!

all best,

Welcome aboard Heather, there is a ton of good information in the archives on this site, good luck and happy printing!