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2015 Conference: Printing on the Hand Press & Beyond articles:

Jeffrey D. Groves’ Plenary Address

John G. Henry


Carving the cheeks and setting the till for a common press. (Jeffrey D. Groves)


“A Hands-On Approach to Printing History: Lessons Learned in the Construction of a Common Press”

9:30 am saturday, october 24 

In his classes, Jeffrey D. Groves utilizes the iron hand press to provide students with an introduction to letterpress printing as well as to an historical background of the process. A hand press is something which in our digital age is very attractive for students to use. Groves says to hear the snap of the frisket releasing the paper from the type form provides an audible sign that the ink has been transferred to the paper and gives students a hands-on experience with the process. [Read more]

Form as Print

Val Lucas


Building printing forms with furniture and reglets. A form on the Cary Graphic Art Collection’s Vandercook SP20. (Val Lucas)


Suzanne Powney: “Printing Expressively with Furniture and Reglet, a Typographic Map”

9 am-noon  friday, october 23

In this workshop, participants were shown that the horizontal beds of a Vandercook proof press and an Albion hand press are ideal for printing wood furniture and reglets—materials not normally thought of as relief surfaces—to create printing forms in the shape of maps and skylines. To inspire us, instructor Suzanne Powney shared pages from her 2015 calendar that used this technique. [Read more]

Hands-on Approaches for Teaching Book History

Casey Smith


Josef Beery demonstrating the common press at Rare Book School. (Amanda Nelsen)


Amanda Nelsen & Josef Beery: “When the Printer is a Press: Teaching with the Common Press” ¶ Todd Samuleson: “Manageable Engine:” The Common Press as a Focus for Book History Pedagogy” 

10:45 am saturday, october 24 ⋅ track 3 

In a refreshing change to academic protocol, the presenters of this panel decided to deliver their talks as one big program rather than two distinct ones. They asked the audience, well over thirty people, to circle around their chairs and to interject with comments and questions in the course of the discussion. This roundtable format helped to bring out the central and shared ideas in the approaches of teaching book history at Rare Book School at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville and the Book History Workshop at Texas A&M University in College Station. Both programs emphasize the necessity for returning the human body to the study of books and bibliography. Reading about books and their histories can not substitute for the kinds of practical knowledge that material study affords. Likewise, while better than consulting digital surrogates, merely viewing book-objects in a special collections library cannot teach our students half as effectively as hands-on encounters with the materials and processes of composing, imposing, printing, binding, etc. [Read more]

Tour of RIT’s Image Permanence Institute

Dianne L. Roman

Image Permanence Institute's Alice Carver-Kubik in the Microsocopy Lab. (Dianne L. Roman)

Image Permanence Institute’s Alice Carver-Kubik in the Microsocopy Lab. (Dianne L. Roman)


Behind-the-scenes with the renowned archival preservation foundation that serves collections worldwide.

11 am & 1 pm,  thursday, october 22

The Image Permanence Institute primarily focuses on assisting institutions with their physical environment for the preservation of their cultural property through monitoring and managing humidity and temperature, yet there is much information here the individual producer of materials and the small-personal collector can benefit from.  [Read more]

Making Ready Again

George Barnum

CBA Hoe 5703 1024

R. Hoe & Co No. 5703 at the Center for Book Arts with its new tympan and frisket. The HVAC duct doubles as the frisket stop.


Richard Minsky: “Restoring and Adjusting Two Iron Handpresses” ¶ Amelia Fontanel: “One Press to Rule Them All: The Kelmscott/Goudy Legacy at the RIT Cary Collection” 

3 pm saturday, october 24 ⋅ track 2

After two solid days of all things hand press (and beyond), it would have been hard to imagine a more a propos final session than Richard Minsky and Amelia Fontanel’s talks on the restoration of three iron hand presses. [Read more]

Albion Finesse

Jill Cypher


Johnson lifts the frisket to show the inner packing and gauge pins on the tympan. (Jill Cypher)


Chad Johnson: “Quality Assurances for Printing on the Hand Press”

9AM-Noon thursday, october 22

Dating to the 1820s, the Albion iron hand press we practiced on was once used by American wood engraver John DePol. Presenting from the perspective of a journeyman printer, Chad Johnson explained that “the right impression is what the client wants.” Noting that Richard-Gabriel Rummonds’ Printing on the Iron Handpress is the reference, Chad described the dressing of the frisket using Linson paper and suggested that from a production standpoint it would be ideal to have multiple frisket frames.  [Read more]

Work It Like Werkman

Ray Nichols


Positioning a large wood type “A” in exactly the right spot. (Ray Nichols)


Jamie Mahoney & Dianne L. Roman: “Druksels on the Hand Press: Experimental Printing Based on the Work of H.N. Werkman”

1-4 pm thursday, october 22

For our afternoon workshop session, we went to the Rochester Arts Center for a wonderful hands-on letterpress experience based on the work of H.N. Werkman. Werkman was a printer in the Dutch province of Groningen. His biography is a sad one of losing almost all of his work in a bombing raid and being executed by the Gestapo a mere three days before Groningen was liberated. [Read more]

Wood Type Fabricating Demo

Ray Nichols


Conference speaker Todd Samuelson uses the pantograph to trace a pattern, at right, this defines the path of the router bit over the wood block, at left. (Ray Nichols)


Geri McCormick & Matt Rieck: “Making Wood Type Today: Using the Same Methods from Yesteryear”

9 am-noon thursday, october 22

Geri McCormick & Matt Rieck hosted a hands-on morning making wood type at Virgin Wood Type. The garage-sized workspace for the beginning stages of the production process was packed with boxes of wood ready for surfacing with shellac, shellaced-wood ready for cutting, and boxes of patterns.  [Read more]

Alix Christie’s Keynote Address

Cait Coker


“Aurea Moguntia” – Golden Mainz. Hand-colored woodcut by Franz Behem, 1565. (Courtesy Mainz Stadtarchiv)


Gutenberg’s World: How Printing Arose in 15th Century Mainz

6 pm friday, october 23

Before explaining how she came to write the historical novel Gutenberg’s ApprenticeAlix Christie won the audience by divulging her background as a letterpress printer. This lends authority to her book wherein she imagines the circumstances that produced the 42-line Bible through the eyes of Peter Schoeffer, the young scribe-turned-printer in Johann Gutenberg’s workshop. With this the stage is set for a reexamination of the myth of the mistreated genius Gutenberg and his rapacious financier Johann Fust who foreclosed on the enterprise. Christie, a journalist, spoke eloquently about the inspiration for choosing the invention of printing as a topic for fiction: a theory posited by Paul Needham and Blaise Agüera y Arcas in 2001, that elemental punches and temporary matrices were used to cast the type for the 42-line Bible. Christie’s book assigns the development of both whole-letter punches and metal matrices to Schoeffer. She reminded us that Schoeffer, who was essentially the first master of the trade, was also responsible for inventing the title page, printing or publishing 300 books, and co-founding the Frankfurt Book Fair. These are accomplishments obscured by the popular, heroic version of the invention of printing. 

Conference Registration is Open

Sara T. Sauers

APHA’s 40th Annual Conference, Printing on the Handpress & Beyond, hosted by the RIT Cary Graphic Arts Collection is now open for registration. Workshops, tours, demonstrations, lectures, famous printing presses, excursions in Rochester and Upstate New York, a vendor fair, and great camaraderie all await you! Printing on the Handpress & Beyond will examine and show you the creative ways these earliest printing machines are employed today by printers, artists, scholars, and educators. Program information and registration are now available