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The LetterPress Lab

Living the History of the Book

The students and faculty of the Texas Tech English Department’s specialization in Book History are committed to the importance of practical experience of material texts and their production in the teaching and researching of the history of the book.  To that end, we have begun to assemble the Letterpress Lab (LPL), a workspace and gathering place within the department for students, faculty, guests, and members of the Texas Tech and larger community who wish to have firsthand experience of the stages of handpress book production, including, typesetting, printing, paper making, folding, binding, etc.  We intend to use the LetterPress Lab for curricular and extracurricular purposes: students in our Book History courses will use it for required, hands-on practical exercises, faculty and students in the department’s Book History group will have access to it for practice and demonstrations, we’ll use it to print broadsides for visiting and resident writers in the department’s Creative Writing Program, and for print-related collaborations with Texas Tech’s Fine Arts department.  Eventually we hope to use the Lab for outreach to those in the Texas Tech and Lubbock communities who are interested in handpress production and book arts.

If you are a student who would like to learn about letterpress by volunteering in the lab, we have a required curriculum that will help you learn safely by taking you through several stages. For more details, see the LPL Handbook and visit the LPL website.

The Letterpress Lab is a work-in-progress:  we are currently collecting equipment and materials to one day make it representative of the complete process of book production during the handpress era.  Most of the things we need are old and hard to locate; many are also unwanted in today’s climate of industrialized and electronic publication.  Our resources for purchasing them are limited, so we welcome any and all donations – we’re happy to haul away any unneeded printing equipment and supplies. 

On our wish-list:  all kinds of printing equipment and supplies:  type cabinets and cases, type (any font, any amount, any size), composing sticks, paper, ink, lithographic stones, hand-presses, etc.