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Pilot Printing Press

Heidi Shenk

Pilot Printing Press

You may have seen small glimpses or heard about my printing press through Instagram. Last year, I launched an entire line of letterpress Valentine's Day cards, and while I talked about my excitement of letterpress, I'm not sure how many people really understand what letterpress is.

Letterpress Greeting Card

Letterpress is very different from standard digital printing because you're using an old printing press to imprint an image using hand mixed ink, printing plates, and man power to run the press. The effect is a beautiful finish in which you can actual feel the imprint that the press has left from transferring the ink to paper.

Letterpress Ink

I learned how to letterpress print using a beast of a machine in a shared letterpress studio. As I spent more time with printmaking, I found that I really liked it and wanted the convenience of having my own press. However, as we all know, my studio is cramped and fitting a mammoth of a machine (we're talking a ton in cast iron weight) in my home studio was just not going to happen.

Pilot Letterpress Printing Press

I began researching other options that would be more suitable for my space, and happened upon a 6x10 Pilot press that was located in Columbus, Ohio. These types of machines are old, and not always easy to find, so if you're committing to acquiring one, you know that travel is likely. Thanks to my father in law's ideas and shenanigans, we were able to drive up from Baltimore to spend a quick night in Cleveland, swap our car with his SUV, head on down to Columbus, pick up the printing press and introduce it to it's new home.

Letterpress Printing

While still not completely ideal for the work I'd like to produce, I can do what I'd like to do with the press-- print beautiful letterpress greeting cards. And it's a great stepping stone while I learn more about printmaking through the process of it all. Perhaps some day if I have a larger studio space, I can get a bigger press, but for now this Pilot does the trick.

Have you learned any new skills lately? Have you ever done letterpress priniting?

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