UNT Letterpress Revival (Part 2)

As promised, here’s part two of last week’s UNT Letterpress Revival post (part one here).

Inside the sandblasting cabinet.

In 2011, Professor Lari Gibbons and Laura Drapac, Linda Lucia Santana, Cat Snapp, and Christopher Wallace, four graduate students at University of North Texas, collaborated on a major letterpress restoration project. Over the course of a semester and a summer they made operational a total of four presses (and still found time to make their own work too!). Three of the presses belong to UNT’s P.R.I.N.T. Press and the other to the UNT Printmaking program. Clearly this kind of project requires a lot of energy so let’s give credit where credit is due. According to Gibbons…

I had been researching the presses since 2009, but the project didn’t really get going until the students got involved. We worked together during the spring semester of 2011 to get as much done as we could. The students did an incredible amount of research and devoted many hours of hard physical labor to the project. Our budget was very tight and most of our solutions were made possible by the ingenuity or generosity of people who became interested in our project.

The project is mostly complete–there’s still a few final adjustments that need to happen. We don’t have a good type collection, so many of our first images were completed with blocks routed in a CNC router, polymer plates mounted on “faux” backers (made of MDF–cheap!), and linoleum blocks.

The last post focused on the presses themselves but clearly tons of work went into the restoration. So without further adieu, here are a bunch of images documenting various stages involved in restoring these old workhorses. Blood, Sweat, tears, and no doubt, some laughs… all captions provided by Lari.

Christopher Wallace in CVAD shop building friskets and tympans for the hand-iron presses.
Linda Santana in CVAD shop sandblasting press parts.
Jeff McClung, CVAD Shop Technician, with computer-numerically-controlled (CNC) router.
Christopher Wallace and Cat Snapp at Print Research Institute of North Texas (PRINT) Press at one of first cleaning sessions.
Linda Santana, Laura Drapac and Cat Snapp working on press parts at UNT Printmaking.
Christopher Wallace taking apart the Gordon.
Cat Snapp taking apart the Gordon.
Linda Santana with a restored press part for the Gordon.
Christopher Wallace and Cat Snapp reassembling the Gordon.
Laura Drapac and Cat Snapp reassembling the Gordon.
Laura Drapac, Cat Snapp, Linda Santana, and Christopher Wallace reassembling the Gordon.
Laura Drapac, Cat Snapp, Linda Santana, and Christopher Wallace reassembling the Gordon.
Laura Drapac, Cat Snapp, Linda Santana, and Christopher Wallace reassembling the Gordon.
The group also made research excursions to see DeLea Sayer’s linotype in his printshop in Arlington, Texas and visited Virginia Green at BlackHare Studio in Corsicana, Texas. As a culmination of their efforts, the group exhibited at Houston’s Museum of Printing History. The exhibition, titled Second Edition, was part of the Museum’s Hot Houston, Cool Prints summer series juried by Patrick Palmer.
And if you like these posts, I’m visiting Denton next week so I’ll probably do another round-up of UNT activities. Hopefully, that post will even include some pictures of artwork!
Bookmark / Share / Print
Categories: Resources


5 Responses to “UNT Letterpress Revival (Part 2)”

  1. amze says:

    This project is AMAZING!
    If there was enough of an audience for a press-rehab reality show you’all would win!

  2. Lari says:

    Thank you to Printeresting for showing the work of our amazing students and staff!

    @ Amze, I love the idea of a press restoration reality show! If only press restoration were as sexy as Mad Men, we’d have a winner.

  3. Luther says:

    “If only press restoration were as sexy as Mad Men, we’d have a winner.”
    You’ve never seen me covered in crankcase oil. Also, there must be a reason all my suit jackets have ink on them.

  4. bill says:

    If only Mad Men was as sexy as press restoration.

  5. Linda Gibbons says:

    Looking forward to seeing the prints from your next visit to Denton.

Leave a Reply