Letterpress debuts for hands-on printing

(Photo by Maia Milas)

The letterpress thrives at Stevenson University.

Letterpress printing is a technique of relief printing using a printing press, a process by which many copies are produced by repeated direct impression of an inked, raised surface against sheets or a continuous roll of paper. However, George Moore, professor and department chair of art and visual communication design, would provide a simpler answer. The letterpress, said Moore, offers a hands-on process different from digital printing.

(Photo by Maia Milas)

The new letterpress is located in the Owings Mills North Academic Center. (Photo by Maia Milas)

The letterpress at Stevenson belonged to the family of an adjunct professor, Ursula Mineruini. According to Moore, Stevenson negotiated with the family for about five years in order to bring the letterpress to the university.

Throughout the negotiation process, many factors were considered such as funding, ways to incorporate the letterpress into the core curriculum, and capacity of use. Since Stevenson University expanded the Owings Mills North campus, the school is able to provide the space needed not only for the letterpress but also for a printmaking lab, said Moore.

Stevenson University hosted an event titled “Art and Visual Communication Design Artist-in-Residence: Mary Mashburn,” on Nov. 2, 2016. Mashburn, a letterpress printer and graphic designer, is an instructor at Maryland Institute College of Art, and talked about her knowledge and experience with letterpress printing, including the history of letterpress work. The audience included about 100 students from a variety of different majors, said Moore.

About a week after the event, said Moore, Mashburn conducted workshops at Stevenson, where she was able to work hands-on with about 15 design students in each workshop using the letterpress. Students also took a field trip to MICA with Mashburn to visit the print studio there.

The use of the letterpress is not restricted to those students majoring in art or design. Once the printmaking lab is organized and running, any student will be able to learn more about letterpress printing and design making.

According to Moore, the first class that will include the use of the letterpress will be held during the spring 2017 semester. However, for those interested, the prerequisite for the class is Fundamentals of Design. For further information regarding the letterpress, take a look at the art and visual communication design department blog, which is located on the SU Now Portal.

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