August 28, 2011

Letterpress by David Jury [book review]


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Letterpress: The Allure of the Handmade
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Letterpress: The Allure of the Handmade by David Jury

I have an irrational love for stationery and paper products. If you're like me, you'll have noticed how letterpress seems to be everywhere these days (a bit more about after the photos). I have a nasty habit of buying and hoarding things and if a letterpress machine weren't such a novelty (and big and expensive), I'd probably already have one at home. Not having such luck, I have to settle for looking at all the lovely stuff at Etsy and other online stores.

I was delighted to get my hands on a copy of Letterpress by David Jury at the library. A happy accident. While I'm a great admirer of the printing technique (you only have to look at those beautiful end products), I have limited knowledge about it so the book was an eye-opener for me. It is actually an updated edition of a book first published in 2004, which is timely given letterpress' comeback in recent years, and not just within the handmade community.

Jury's book is a comprehensive take on the history of letterpress, which has been used commercially for over 500 years. He discusses the art and craft of the medium, as well as related issues like digital technology and mass production versus handmade, design versus art versus craft. He says letterpress is "not innately superior" to digitally designed and mass-produced print and has to be flexible and stay relevant and functional, not not be just decorative if it's to survive. A lot like other (sometimes dying) crafts and traditions, really.

The book is written a little like an academic thesis though it's a little heavy at times, it's not unapproachable. The plus is there's tons of information and some gorgeous examples of pages and materials printed by letterpress, wonderful for those interested in typography, print and design. I thought it was a pity that the cover of the paperback wasn't letterpressed - wouldn't that have been lovely?

from Letterpress: The Allure of the Handmade by David Jury

from Letterpress: The Allure of the Handmade by David Jury

from Letterpress: The Allure of the Handmade by David Jury

from Letterpress: The Allure of the Handmade by David Jury



Letterpress: The Allure of the Handmade
Author: David Jury
Publisher: Rotovision (February 2011)
978-2888931638


buy at Amazon
buy at The Book Depository (free shipping worldwide)






In a recent article, the Wall Street Journal said social media fans are embracing stationery, helping give rise to small stationery-makers, many of which produce letterpressed products. Isn't that cool?

In this video, Harold Kyle, founder of letterpress print shop Boxcar Press and co-owner of online shop Bella Figura talks about the rebirth of letterpress.



Harold Kyle, Boxcar Press: the growth of letterpress (YouTube)

More videos of Kyle being interviewed about running an online business and keeping up with design trends at the Felt and Wire site, which also writes about stationery's comeback. Hooray! Just look at these wonderful designs.

FB-inspired congratulations card from Kiss and Punch

eyelet lace, letterpress card set from pistachiopress (etsy)

vintage camper trailer letterpress note card from sweetharvey (etsy)



[ check out my other book reviews ]
[ check out my posts on typography, typefaces and fonts ]
[ check out my posts on design ]




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