Beautiful short film about a letterpress printer from Why Craft. Complement with Anaïs Nin’s poetic case for the joy of letterpress from nearly 8 decades ago.
The relationship to handcraft is a beautiful one. You are related bodily to a solid block of metal letters, to the weight of the trays, to the adroitness of spacing, to the tempo and temper of the machine. You acquire some of the weight and solidity of the metal, the strength and power of the machine. Each triumph is a conquest by the body, fingers, muscles. You live with your hands, in acts of physical deftness. You pit your faculties against concrete problems. The victories are concrete, definable, touchable. A page of perfect printing. You can touch the page you wrote. We exult in what we master and discover. Instead of using one’s energy in a void, against frustrations, in anger against publishers, I use it on the press, type, paper, a source of energy. Solving problems, technical, mechanical problems. Which can be solved.
The relationship to handcraft is a beautiful one… You pit your faculties against concrete problems. The victories are concrete, definable, touchable.
Anaïs Nin on the magic of letterpress and the joy of handcraft – beautiful meditation penned in 1942, but timelier than ever.