Letterpress printing is the ‘relief’ printing of text and image using a press with movable type or plates, in which a reversed, raised surface is inked and then pressed into a sheet of paper to obtain an image. Invented by Johannes Gutenberg, it was the usual form of printed text from the mid-15th century until the 19th century and replaced hand-written calligraphy.
If you ever have the opportunity to admire a 15th Century book you will see the enduring and timeless quality of letterpress. Letterpress fell out of favor as more efficient forms of printing were developed, but has recently experienced a renaissance with the renewed interest in craft and handmade objects.
Letterpress machines are impressive: heavy and substantial with thousands of mechanical parts. They come alive with a cacophony of clinking, clunking, and whooshing. The star of our studio is our beloved Heidelberg Windmill press, which inks plates and then presses against soft, cotton paper; not just printing graphics but also leaving shaped impressions on paper. Letters and images look crisp and sharp on the page, and as you run your fingers over the surface you can feel the recessed texture of the type. So in both look and feel letterpress is distinctive. It is an enduring art form that produces beautiful, elegant and unique pieces.
Moontree Letterpress is an artisan studio, located in the town of Durham, Pennsylvania, nestled next to the Delaware River in beautiful Bucks County. If you're interested in seeing the letterpress process, please check out our blog, Instagram feed and Facebook page for behind the scenes photos (links above and below).
Finally and most importantly, we love our work and take pride in the quality of every finished project that leaves our studio. When you choose Moontree Letterpress you are supporting a small business and ensuring the preservation of a craft: the historic form of letterpress.
Minimizing environmental impact is a core value here at Moontree, and we are proud of our extremely small carbon footprint. Year by year, we are increasing our commitment to eco-friendly methods of production. With platemaker, guillotine cutter, presses and supporting equipment fully on site, we have eliminated emissions from outsourcing any phase of production. Following production, all letterpress plates and paper scraps are recycled.
Our in-house paper stock is made from 100% recycled, acid-free rag cotton. This stock is tree-free. Any scraps left over from production are saved for year-end holiday tag printing. And scraps less than 1" are shredded and composted.
The "official flock" of Moontree Letterpress includes nine beloved Rhode Island Red hens. In addition to providing a world-class breakfast each morning, their manure is combined with shredded stock scraps to create spectacular compost. Not too many letterpress companies are mentioning chicken poop on their websites, but there you go.