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Rome Day 9: Letter Pressing

Jun 05 2014

Photos by Jan Ballard

by Jan Ballard

Today we visited Rome University of Fine Arts (RUFA) for a day-long letterpress workshop with Mario Fois, Mario Rullo and Maria Pina Bentivenga, where we were warmly greeted in a conference room surrounded by an amazing mural of typefaces and their classifications.

Moving to RUFA’s well-equipped printmaking lab, we began a two step printing process:

The first step involved impressing tactile materials such as fabric, leaves, twine, and textured paper into a soft emulsion on a zinc plate. After learning to wash the plate in an acid bath, primary colored inks were applied, and three postcard sized prints were pulled.

The second step required us to create a typographic composition using Aurora wood and Forma metal fonts to overlay another letterpress impression on the postcards. This experience necessitated composing to read in inverse, letters such as p and q, and b and d; locking up the matrix tightly, and printing on the letterpress using black and silver inks in overlay.

The hands on workshop provided a wonderful opportunity of combining image and typography in a beautifully sensitive and historic tradition. Grazie mille RUFA!