We are currently experiencing a letterpress revival. An international trend that has become more evident in the past two decades. As a technological process and craft-based activity, letterpress printing is an empowering and pedagogical process with multiple benefits not only for Art & Design education but also for literature authors and general citizens.
As this technology was offset from professional practices by the current digital technologies, material, printing equipment, and expert know-how have slowly been disappearing. Thus it has been increasingly difficult for students, designers, and artists alike to explore and learn this process. The role of schools and associations is paramount to maintaining and promoting its legacy. As well as to integrate this practice into current activities. But as material becomes increasingly scarce and expensive, or in order to provide this experience to individuals or students at home, we have to find alternatives to explore this process and technologies into current traditional, or hybrid practices.
The aim of this exposition is to present the research and development process of a simple and affordable cylinder-proof press that can be fabricated by individuals at home or in educational environments. This exhibition presents a sample of relevant projects and initiatives that aim to revitalize this practice. But it mainly focuses on presenting a critical description of a sample of proof presses being developed since 2018 and used throughout the international community. It then presents the development of the custom-designed press with graphic and editorial designers as their main target audience.
We have employed a research-driven process of iterative design, prototyping, testing, analysis, and refinement of the concept. It has been organized in a five-person team composed of professors, researchers, and post-graduate students in three phases
As a result, the first iteration of the cylinder-proof press has been developed and tested. As a result, the printer schematics have been designed and are being made available for community members to download and build
Currently, the first iteration has been developed and the first prints have been tested. We have found out several technical issues that are correlated with the aesthetic output. But more importantly, during these first tests, technical issues must be addressed in order to allow for a less hindered printer handling process. Issues such as roller calibration for ink distribution, roller rails improvement that has to be balanced and evaluated according to the difficulty and complexity of building it.
As a result of building a press with colleagues and students, we expect that this model can be explored (built and modified). We will build additional units and run test workshops in an academic environment soon and expect these presses and printing processes to be hybrid integrated into the current digital workflow of students. The ultimate goal of this project is to develop a shared activity — the fabrication and exploration of the XT-Press — to promote cultural interactions with the general community. In turn, this will empower the participants in a shared act to promote cultural heritage and identity equality — be it gender, race, age, or literacy — in an intergenerational approach.