Snow-capped mountains
« All Posts by this Blogger
up-close on the type plus some cyrillic letters in the background


"Here am I–breathing, 



And Writing my poetry

(My best to it giving)..."

So goes my favorite Bulgarian poem, "Faith." I can't quite tell you why lines from this poem started appearing in my head these past few weeks — I didn't even think I had them memorized so well — but I found myself constantly quoting "Faith" on the phone or in my letters to Bulgarian friends… So it wasn't quite a surprise when this Wednesday, November 1st, faced with the decision to choose a quote to print manually with the letterpress in the Book Arts Workshop, the first few lines of "Faith" swam to my consciousness. 

You can find the Book Arts Workshop in Baker Library–just walk down the stairs into the nice corridor ornamented with hundreds of beautiful prints and charming doors leading to rooms full of racks of type cases. What do they keep in the type cases? Movable type–the tiny metal plates ending with letter engravings:

a composing stick full of iron type in Kalina's hand
Notice how the letters are upside down!

The Book Arts Workshop has hundreds of fonts–including my favorite Garamond (Did you know that this is the font used in the original Harry Potter books?)–and apart from English fonts, they also offer Greek, Hebrew and Cyrillic. As a student at Dartmouth, you can visit the Book Arts Workshop during their open studio hours and learn how to bind a book or use the letterpress. I don't know much about book-binding yet, but I got my first lesson in letterpress printing.

First, you need to pick your quote. Then, you need to pick a font (or in my case, an alphabet, since Cyrillic comes in only one font). And then you start composing (or typesetting, if you wish) your quote–place the type into the composing stick and make sure that if you're going left to right, each letter is upside down! After that, pick a color–I chose Dartmouth-green–and spread it over the secured composing stick. Gently put your sheet of paper on top of the inked type and print! 

gloved hands spread out the ink on a table
Preparing the ink

spreading the ink over the type
Getting ready to print!

Congrats. Now you know how to use the letterpress at the Book Arts Workshop in Baker Library! Let me know what quote you're gonna print!

a sheet of paper with the first two lines of Kalina's poem
Here am I - breathing, working, living / And writing my poetry / (My best to it giving).
Ето - аз дишам, работя, живея / и стихове пиша тъй както умея.

Posts You Might Like