Wednesday, April 10, 2019

The Itinerant Printer

The Itinerant Printer is Chris Fritton. 

He spent a year on the road visiting letter press establishments all over the country
introducing a current generation to the old way of printing text & graphics as well as working hand in hand with many small press shop owners.
Letter Press Printing creates a beautiful tactile result.

 He now has a coffee table book out about the journey,
those he met along the way & the art of letter press printing. 

His TED talk is what really got me interested in the details of his journey. 
The idea of apprenticeship has been lost & should be reintroduced. 

Chris has his own process & style. Learning new ways to use an old technology. 

Then this podcast. The serendipity of this sort of undertaking is never lost on me.  
If you have the time it's worth a listen. Then end will bring tears to your eyes. 

I had the opportunity to take a letter press workshop a few years back.
It is a laborious process when you are setting type & printing by hand. 

The above is a shot from my class. Notice all the hands & tools and pieces involved.

All this gives a new appreciation for old books. We humans have worked
hard over the ages to make reading available to the masses. Must be very important.

Have you ever felt a book printed in this way? The impression of the words on the paper?
Do you own any books done with letterpress?


  1. Yes, I have own several. I love the feel of the letters. Some were my grandfather's. I love the illustrations in these old books. They are works of art. I hate seeing them destroyed for the prints, sold individually, although I do own a few.
    Could newspapers still have been using this method in the early 60s? When I was little I went on a tour of a newspaper printers and they had made us little metal pieces that had our names in block letters, in reverse.

    1. I vaguely remember the same "field trip". I'm sure it was the way many papers were done into the 60's. Not that long ago in the big picture. Seems today many printers have moved to plates for art work & letters rather than setting type.

  2. What a wonderful post and I'm delighted to be introduced to this artist - thank you. I love letter press and was delighted to take a workshop intensive it years ago. What fun - what massively hard work!

    1. I'm so glad there are folks like him out there, and glad my quirky subculture of book binders & paper artists lead me to them. Yes it is terribly hard work!

  3. I supported him and received several printed postcards when he made that trip.

    1. That is great! Glad to find someone else out there who found him.

  4. Replies
    1. Yes he is! Thanks for commenting. I've been remiss in replying this year...loving your posts.


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