Friday, 14 October 2011

Making an Impression

Its surprising how many common expressions are derived from printing, and specifically letterpress terminology. For example " to quoin a phrase" "making an impression" "mind your Ps and Qs" (lower case ps and qs being quite similar and easy to get mixed up when setting the type which is done upside down.) Indeed, the terms "upper case" and lower case" are more examples, and refer to the locations of the trays in which the type was kept. "Getting the wrong end if the stick" is apparently another one as are "stereotype" and "out of sorts". I could probably go on... I wonder if its possible to get them all into one sentence ? Anyway, last weekend I attended a wedding up in Scotland, the invite of which was done by letterpress ( can you see a theme emerging?) It was a great weekend away despite the dampness of the weather. The following day we visited Robert Smail's print works which is in Innerleithen near Peebles. It is a printing workshop and office which has been bought by the National Trust of Scotland to preserve it. It remains pretty much how it would have been in Victorian times, and as Robert Smail never threw anything away it has a fantastic archive of letterpress stuff. You can tour the works and have a look around, and even better do some actual printing. You get to make a bookmark. I'd recommend this place if you are in any way interested in printing. The tour is very interesting and informative and is free if you are in the National Trust - always a bonus.

By co-incidence, last week I discovered an app for the ipad or mac computer which is a kind of virtual letterpress thingy. Frustratingly though I can't use it as stone-age computers like ours are not supported. You can get it here (if you have the right equipment) By all accounts its quite good. But I will have to wait until our computer properly breaks before we have an excuse to get a new one. In the meantime I'll just have to make do with the old John Bull printing set.

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