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Letterpress Studio

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Mudd Learning Center, Room 212


Ed Vermue, Special Collections Librarian



About the Letterpress Studio

The studio was organized in 2010 largely using gifts of type, cabinetry, and presses from the family of Gus Brunsman II, as well as Dewey and Carol Ganzel. The former was the owner of Dayton Process Engravers, Inc. and had run Trailside Press privately in his retirement. Dewey Ganzel taught English at Oberlin from 1958-1997 and was a partner in the small poetry Triskalion Press of Oberlin, Ohio that included David Young and David Walker. Carol Ganzel had also worked for the Oberlin News and some of the Triskelion type comes from that source. Some of the archives of both presses were retained with the equipment. Further gifts from Deborah Moffett and the Jelliffe Fund allowed the Library to arrange the move of equipment, and purchase the 1963 Vandercook SP-20 proof press. Further additions have been funded by the Library.

Opportunities to use the Letterpress Studio

The Letterpress Studio extends Special Collections to include opportunities to learn to compose text by hand using cold type, and to operate both cylinder and iron platen presses. Students can create their own original work while consciously making decisions about paper, impressions, layout, typography, color, illustrations and ornaments, format and special effects.

Opportunities to use the studio can take the form of class visits, a January Winter Term intensive, a student co-op and ExCo, and private use for those with training and permission. Class visits can range from a quick tour to a 1 hour overview with a preclass setting of type and a demonstration (for up to 25 students). With 1.5

hours to 3 hours it is possible to have students set a simple – 2 line - composition using type of a preset line length for a class print, or cut a small linoleum block (limit up to 10 students at a time). With 4 hours or longer students can create short compositions of varying size, lock them up in a chase, print, resort and help with clean-up of presses (limit up to 6 students at a time). Some faculty have class visits over multiple days, or one schedule a lab session outside of regular lecture times, breaking larger groups into sections as necessary.

Related activities have included guest instructors and lecturers, documentary screenings, paper making (off site), observing a linotype in operation (off site); paper marbling and operation of a pantograph machine for cutting wood type.

Last updated:
July 29, 2020