Learning Letterpress

Letterpress Classes and Workshops in Boston, Spring 2021

Hello fellow letterpress enthusiasts and devotees,

Due to the effects of Covid 19 my letterpress classes are on hold until further notice. I feel that the best letterpress experience is to set type by hand and operate a proper press that delivers the desired results. I felt that it would be prudent to see how things progress and determine if classes may resume in the Spring of 2021. As soon as I have additional offerings to announce, you’ll find them here.In the meantime, feel free to take a look at some of the past offerings so that you can get a sense of the types of classes and workshops that have been available. As you might expect the 1-day workshops are a great way to dip your toe in the water. The multi-day workshops are a great choice for completing a small project or for really exploring the process. Then, for those who find that they want more time to explore the type collection, attempt more complicated settings or print techniques, or combine letterpress with book arts techniques, the classes are a sure bet that afford students extended access to the studio (30+ hours of outside access, pending monitor availability).I encourage you to sign up for the mailing list. Feel free to contact me with questions. You can also see pictures on Flickr or Instagram. Please excuse (and perhaps notify me about) any broken links or missing images.

1-day Letterpress Workshops

Dates TBD

The 1-day letterpress workshop is an introduction to letterpress printing and manual type setting for the complete beginner. You’ll learn to use a job stick, hand-set type from our extensive collection of metal and wood typefaces and ornaments. Then, and with much elation, you’ll print on one of our five Vandercook flatbed cylinder presses. We supply the paper, you supply the ambition!

For the first half of the workshop, each attendee hand-sets a six word memoir. After setting these memoirs, attendees will compose them into a single poem (à la Exquisite Corpse) and create a poetry broadside.

Phew! Break for lunch.

During the second half of the workshop, you’ll have an opportunity to thoroughly explore the wood type collection and create wood type posters using a variety of faces and in a variety of colors. Or perhaps you’ll devise a modestly-sized project of your own?


Typically runs on a Saturday; 9:00 AM–6:00 PM
Cost: $195 (non-credit, prices are subject to change)

2-day Letterpress/Book Arts Workshop

Dates TBD

Instructors: Keith Cross and Alice Stanne

This workshop is an introduction to letterpress printing and book binding.

On Saturday, you’ll learn how to hand-set type from our extensive collection of metal and wood typefaces and ornaments. You’ll create two printed projects which will be used to bind your books on Sunday.

The first project will be for a Gollywobble! book (oxplow). Each person will set a couple lines of metal type, then compose the type into a single page book format. We’ll also combine this with a book page layout using wood type. The second project will explore the wood type collection. You’ll have a chance to create wood type compositions using a variety of typefaces and in a variety of colors. These will be used in the second book format you’ll learn on day two. Projects will be printed on one of our five Vandercook flatbed cylinder presses.

On the second day, you will learn two book bindings. For the first you will use a single, printed sheet to bind an oxplow book. The second book will be a single-signature book sewn into a hardcover. No bookbinding or letterpress experience is required. Students will be introduced to all processes, tools, materials, and equipment.


Typically a Saturday–Sunday schedule; 9:00 AM–6:00 PM
Cost: $195 (non-credit, prices subject to change)

Letterpress/Book Arts Class

Dates TBD

Instructors: Keith Cross and Alice Stanne

Create hand-made books incorporating your own letterpress printed text and imagery. You will learn to combine metal and wood type with ornaments and print with a variety of papers on a Vandercook press. You will also gain insight into how to monoprint or edition your work with letterpress. You’ll learn an assortment of binding techniques such as non-adhesive, sewn, and accordion. Each simple technique can be expanded into more advanced and evolved structures. Additionally, you will learn how to make supplies such as book cloth, and time permitting, paste paper. We’ll show you how to combine your letterpress and binding techniques into one-of-a-kind books, small editions, or portfolios.

The first letterpress class introduces the basics of hand typesetting with an “Exquisite Search” Poem workshop. You’ll set 1-2 lines of type, normally a mashup of interesting search terms, but it can also be a simple quote or quip. Your lines of type–seemingly disparate ideas and types–will compose an impromptu poem. The exercise reveals how setting thoughts into letters of a physical nature draws attention to the relationships between letters, words, sentences, the page, and ultimately the reader.

Subsequent classes cover additional typesetting and image making techniques. You’ll learn how to operate a Vandercook flatbed cylinder press operation: inking the press, adjusting pressure, adjusting roller height, registering and feeding a sheet of paper, pulling a proof, and let’s not forget, cleaning the rollers with loving care.

The instructors will meet with the class to discuss book ideas and the feasibility of the layout using letterpress printing methods. Once you decide on a book idea (e.g., content, binding method, text, images) you’ll set you type and prepare blocks/plates for printing images from linoleum, wood, or sintra (a carvable plastic substrate). We also have the capability to print images–time and budget permitting–from copper, magnesium, or polymer plates.

Work time outside of class is expected and strongly encouraged. Pending availability, we’ll have monitors opening the shop. Work sessions are a great time to get to become familiar with the shop, investigate the type collection, and develop working habits that will assist you in completing your projects.


Typically runs on a weekday evening, 6:00 pm–10:00 pm, for 14 weeks (semester-long class).


If you’d like to be notified when the next full-semester class is scheduled, Sign up for the mailing list!

Hot* of the press!

Read a blog post about our Fall 2014 workshop!

You might also like this review of our Spring 2013 workshop.

Here are some wonderful pictures taken by Tom Bergeron from the June 20, 2015 workshop.

*Ok, moderately tepid press from days of workshops past, but you get the idea!


See pics below of past workshops…including a letterpress class for kids.

August, 2017, 3-day Letterpress Workshop

Each of the five students in the August 11–13, 2017, 3-day weekend workshop created amazing work.

Photo of participants of a 3-day Letterpress Workshop in Boston at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, August, 2017

April 9, 2017, 1-day Letterpress Workshop

An architect, a harpsichordist, a mother-in-law-to-be, recovering print designers, and others realizing they can’t hide their delight with this letterpress workshop!

1-day Letterpress Workshop in Boston at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, April, 2017

March 4, 2017, 1-day Letterpress Workshop

Ten letterpress enthusiasts spent the day setting ambitious projects and having fun! Remember! Concealing your identity is optional.

Students show their designs using wood type and metal type from the 1-day Letterpress Workshop in Boston at Mass Art, Spring 2017

Fall 2016, Meridian Academy Letterpress Workshop

Media and Journalism Students from Meridian Academy (ages 9–12) print a “Muckraker Headline” Broadside. Read the blog post with pictures!

Youth from Meridian Academy, Media and Journalism, take a Letterpress Workshop with Keith Cross in Boston at Mass Art, Fall 2016A letterpress type form used to print a poster in a letterpress workshop taught by Keith Cross for youth from Meridian Academy


Fall 2016, Visual Language Letterpress Workshop

Freshmen, Studio Foundation Students print woodtype collages:

Students from the Visual Language class participate in a letterpress workshop in Boston at Mass Art, Fall 2016

See more pictures!

Spring 2016, Type II Sophomore Letterpress Workshop

Take a look at these examples of woodtype/six word memoir prints!

Students from a Type II class enjoy setting wood type in a letterpress workshop taught by Keith Cross, Spring 2016

October 24, 2015 1-day Letterpress Workshop

Have you ever seen a happier group of letterpressers!?

1-day letterpress workshops at MassArt are a great way to get your hands inkey and inspire creativity.

December 5, 2015 1-day Letterpress Workshop

Big smiles and fun with these letterpressers!

A 1-day letterpress workshop can rejuvenate your creative spirit. Who doesn't want to set type and work with your hands?