Letterpress: a celebration


  • 09.30: Registration
  • 10.15: Introductions
  • 10.30: Phil Abel
  • 11.00: Claire Bolton

11.30: Coffee break

  • 12.00: Alan May
  • 12.30: Harry Macintosh

1.00: Lunch

  • 2.30: John Randle
  • 3.00: Rose Gridneff & Alex Cooper

3.30: Tea break

  • 4.00: Patrick Walker
  • 4.30: Alan Kitching & Celia Stothard
  • 5.15: Closing comments
  • 5.30: End


Phil Abel Zen and the Art of Typographical Arrangement

The why, how, what and who of commercial letterpress today.

Phil Abel started Hand & Eye Letterpress in 1985 with the hope of continuing the tradition of great twentieth century printers like The Curwen Press.


Claire Bolton Serendipity at The Alembic Press

The Alembic Press has been active since 1972 and has published over 100 books. It was begun by chance, grew by chance, and most of its publications owed their emergence to chance. However, underlying this somewhat unstructured approach to publishing, there has always been a strong core of interest in printing and book history and exploring the book form running though Alembic Press editions. In this talk Claire reflects back on the journey followed and some of the achievements of the Press.

Claire Bolton has been printing letterpress for over 35 years. Using that experience she has just completed a PhD at the University of Reading in researching fifteenth century printing practices – quite literally putting the practice into theory.


Alex Cooper Rose Gridneff The Changing Face of Letterpress

The proposed presentation would showcase current practice-led research underway at the London College of Communication (formerly London College of Printing). A collaborative project between students and staff, the project seeks to explore the value of Letterpress beyond a teaching tool for typography by creating a series of innovative learning resources to increase the accessibility and relevance of the medium.

Alex Cooper studied Typo/Graphic Design at the London College of Printing where he used Letterpress extensively in is work and has run the workshop there since graduating in 2003.

Rose Gridneff is also an alumnus of the college, graduating from the BA (Hons) Book Arts in 2005. She now works as an Associate Lecturer, teaching introductory courses in Letterpress. Together they are in the process of establishing their own workshop, seeking to challenge the boundaries of Letterpress whilst respecting its traditions.


Alan Kitching & Celia Stothard Entertaining Types…

Kitching and Stothard, partners in life and letterpress, give a brief verbal and visual tour of letterpress collections and creations at The Typography Workshop, Printroom and Studio in Southwark and Lambeth.

Possible highlights: Kitching’s first press; the custom made press and type, and the ‘Broadside’ prints that launched TTW; the mammoth ‘Wrington/Entertaining Types’ theatrical wood-type collection; current printmaking/publishing.

Alan Kitching left school to become a printer’s apprentice compositor in his native Darlington aged 15. He is internationally renowned for his letterpress typographic design and printmaking, creating visuals for publishing, advertising and limited edition prints.

Celia Stothard is a graphic designer, writer, teacher, social/arts activist and chansons/jazz singer. She first learned letterpress at St Martins School of Art.

Alan May Making the press for ‘The machine that made us’

As BBC4 broadcast ‘The machine that made us’ many will have enjoyed watching Stephen Fry discover something of the mastery of Gutenberg as demonstrated by press builder Alan May. May’s brief from Wavelength Films was to build a working press that was capable of showing the technical challenges faced by Gutenberg and his team, not a museum piece. The talk will outline the way in which he went about this.

Alan May’s career in printing commenced with his employment as designer to the Kynoch Press, Birmingham. He later took up design teaching and was employed at Stafford College of Art and in the Department of Typography and Graphic Communication at the University of Reading. His practical and research interests include lutemaking, wood-engraving and early letterpress printing.

Harry McIntosh Typecasting by computer

In this talk Harry McIntosh will set out a short historical background leading up to the introduction of MacTronic 2 – complete control of the Monotype composition caster by computer – in the context of a consideration of maintaining letterpress traditions in the 21st century.

Harry McIntosh trained as a compositor and studied at Heriot-Watt and Edinburgh College of Art. He established Speedspools in 1967 and the Chepman & Myllar Press in 2001.

John Randle Whittington and America

The Whittington Press made its first trip to America in 1976. John Randle talks about some of the American printers he has collaborated with since then.

John Randle started the Whittington Press with his wife Rosalind in 1971. Since then they have printed and published some 200 titles, and issued the annual Matrix since 1981.


Patrick Walker Printed Badly On Purpose

Letterpress has played a defining role in the upbringing of the designers involved with dust and continues to influence approach and the production methods used.

‘It taught us about material and tactility, colour and tone, weight and imprint, wet and dry, form and structure, order and organisation, the value of the unexpected and how precious time actually is. We had an e called Janet and an e called John. It taught us how to design and how to print.’


In addition to talks on the subject of letterpress we aim to demonstrate something of the processes involved throughout the course of the day. Working presses from the St Bride Library collection will be put to use in the generation of a keepsake for all conference delegates. Helen Ingham and Kimberley Vousden are both familiar with the material collections of St Bride and will be helping to bring these to life, demonstrating hand-setting and printing techniques and explaining what they are doing as they work. A range of tools and work samples will also be on show.

Helen Ingham

Helen Ingham instructs letterpress at London Metropolitan University and Central Saint Martins where she gained an MA in Communication Design in 2005, where most of the body of work was … letterpress! During this time Helen also did an internship at Hatch Showprint, the famous letterpress print shop in Nashville, Tennessee. Her print workshop, Hi-Artz Press produces small runs of ephemera from its Luton base whenever Helen isn’t busy with the ‘day job’. Helen also exhibits type and image based posters in galleries, and has done editiorial illustration commissions and CD artwork. She describes herself as leadite rather than Luddite!


Kimberley Vousden

After graduating in 2007 from Chelsea College of Art with a degree in Graphic Design, Kim has been doing various pieces of freelance typographic illustration alongside volunteer work for St Bride Library and other local organisations. With a particular interest in using various printing techniques and experimenting with new materials she is currently working on a number of small personal projects and from October will be undertaking further study at the London College of Communication in Book Arts and Crafts.


  • Deborah Akers
  • The Alembic Press
  • The Caseroom Press
  • Experimental Letterpress Workshop
  • Hand & Eye Letterpress
  • Hi Artz Press
  • I. M. Imprimit
  • Incline Press
  • New North Press
  • The Old School Press
  • The Strawberry Press
  • The Typography Workshop, London
  • Whitley Wood Press
  • Whittington Press

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