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Letterpress Workshop - Sir John Soane Museum Collaboration

After our visit to the Sir John Soane Museum, I was looking forward to our letterpress workshop. I had never done letterpress before. In my sketches from the museum, I mainly focused on objects and elements of the architecture, because I knew that the design would have to be fairly simple. 

It was really interesting to learn about how to make prints in letterpress. It was quite difficult because all of the shapes and symbols are different sizes, and you have to find spacers to fill all the gaps to make sure that the print comes out successfully. It also takes a long time to make an image ready to print, and to put away all of the pieces in the correct place, but the actual printing is really quick. For my first print, I wanted to try and create an image of a column or pillar. I tried to keep it quite simple, but I chose lots of small pieces, and so it was really difficult to find the right spacers to use. I think my first print is ok. If I could improve it, I think I would have used larger shapes rather than trying to create an outline of the form. Also, some of the shapes didn't print properly. 


In the second week of the workshop, I felt more confident. I had thought about what kind of design I wanted beforehand, as I knew what kinds of pieces there were available to use. The live area for the final design is larger than the first print, and so I decided to use larger shapes and blocks. I found this a lot easier, and I managed to build up the shape of a pot on top of a column/plinth. I decided to start by using just squares to build the shape of the pot, and then once I had the shape, I swapped some of them out for some smaller pieces, which I arranged into a design. I am really happy with the design of the print. I definitely prefer the bolder design, rather than all of the small pieces I used in my first design. 

Once the design was complete, I found it hard to find the spacers to fill all of the gaps. James told me the easiest way to do it is to find the same size spacer as the block next to it in the design, and work from the design outwards towards the edge. 

Although the days were exhausting, I really enjoyed the workshop, and I would like to try it again soon. I am excited to see what happens with the prints, and whether a publication will be made to sell in the shop at the Sir John Soane's Museum.