Letterpress Printing is a process that survived a massive shift from trade to art form. Because of generations before us, I, and many others, have had the opportunity to learn, create, and even employ myself using these historic methods.
As the generation who preserved and taught passes the torch, how can I help present letterpress printing to the next generation of creators and consumers?
In what ways can aspects of letterpress printing be applied to elementary student education to increase engagement with and knowledge of the subject?
Throughout a week-long day camp, students will practice letterpress without a press by learning about relief printing, type cutting, collaboration and feedback, modular construction and other letterpress related concepts.
By the end of the week each student walks away having created art, understood historical and social outcomes and is propelled towards continuing life as both a creator and consumer of unique crafts like letterpress.
I chose to focus on students in grade school who are still required to take an art course, and are eager to learn by making. Specifically my solution focuses on 4-6th graders.
As I was considering solutions to this problem I became inspired when Covid-19 forced letterpress educators to teach printing without a press, much like I hoped to with students who likely do not have access to these machines. The most impactful parts of my research were conversations with those educators as well as art and history educators. I also took insights from existing curriculum and state guidelines as well as the example of hundreds of printers and other creators who continue making despite the covid crises.
Design Solution + Testing
The solution I present is Camp.918, Print Camp for Small Caps. The name 918 was chosen because .918 inches is the American type how, meaning thats how high type needs to be to print. This would be a traveling camp that partners with art museums, schools and historical societies.
Brody Sloan is 8 years old and tested a project with me over zoom during Ohio’s stay at home order. We used a screen share presentation and interacted over video. You can see him below working on the activity for the lesson, building his home using modular square and triangle stamps.