Friday, September 16, 2011


The first printing project that we did in our Block 7 Book & Book Structure class was a collaborative book involving every student in the class. It covered all of the basics of letterpress printing: page imposition, hand typesetting, locking up & registration, and printing text and images. And of course it had some chance operations driving the whole thing.

To begin, the students were asked to bring in a quote having to do with chance. We shared these quotes as a group and talked about the different aspects of chance that they brought up.

We also gathered a bunch of old image plates that we have at The Press, both random stuff that’s been collected over the years and plates used in older Press publications.

And then the class, using a system loosely devised by Robin and elaborated by them, performed a variety of chance operations in order to determine which quotes and images would be printed on which folios, the position of those elements on the individual pages, and the colors of the images (the text, it was decided, would be black so that it could be printed over the images if need be).

By far our favorite chance procedure was the use of plastic of jumping frogs. You can never go wrong with jumping frogs.

[A brief aside: The textbook for the class was Ellen Lupton’s Thinking With Type: A Critical guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, & Students, 2nd Edition,  (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2010). You can see its brightly colored cover in the images above. It’s a great book, and it also has a great companion website.]

After the placement of everything was determined, everyone set their type and then we began printing in teams. Printing lasted two classes. The final step was for each student to take two copies of each folio and to make two books, one by simply arranging the pages as they were, and the other by adding new content of their choice. The variety of results in the books that they added to was pretty amazing. Unfortunately, we don’t have any images of those….

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