New North Press at Chelsea

Following a long-standing relationship with Chelsea College of Arts (whose students have been visiting New North Press to learn letterpress since 2002) we are pleased to announce ‘New North Press at Chelsea’.

Anyone who has visited NNP will know that it is a treasure trove that is almost filled to the rafters as we continually try to squeeze more cabinets of type into the space we have. Until recently Graham also had a storage unit of equipment that was, in all honesty, never going to fit in our studio. So, rather than letting it gather dust in the dark, he decided that the teaching experience for Chelsea students could be enhanced by using this to set up an on-site workshop.

It is early days for the facility (this years’ 1st year students on the BA Graphic Design Communication course will be the first to benefit, under the experienced eye of Nigel Bents) but we are very pleased that the equipment will be in use and that the initial experience of hands-on learning with us will be extended by its existence.

Advanced letterpress classes

Attendees of our Introduction to Letterpress classes often ask us about coming back to further their knowledge, and there certainly is a lot we don’t have time to cover in a day where the priority is getting to grips with the basics. So we decided to begin a series of Advanced Letterpress classes, covering a selection of techniques and the pressmanship involved in executing them.

The first class (June 2017) covered debossing, overprinting and metal type composition. Participants chose a letter and used our type library to design layouts employing each technique which would also later be combined as a complete print: a dictionary definition composed in metal type, a lone debossed character, and alternate styles of character overprinted. Everyone was able to print multiple versions on various paper stocks so it was a very productive day with some great results.

Advanced letterpress classes covering different techniques will follow, alongside our regular Introductory classes, but in the immediate future we’ve decided to repeat Class 1 in November. See our Classes page for all upcoming class dates.

After-school club in collaboration with local Nature Reserve

Starting this June, a small group of young people aged 8-14 meet once a week (over 6 weeks) after school at Standpoint Studios in Hoxton. Together they gain new skills in traditional printmaking techniques such as letterpress and monoprint within a professional studio setting. Each participant will carry out their personal research on the fascinating wildlife of bats on field trips to Phytology, a unique Nature Reserve in Bethnal Green. At the end of the course each child will take home their hand-printed & hand-bound booklet based on their own studies. All outcomes will be celebrated with a window display at Standpoint Gallery in Hoxton and around a final campfire at the Nature Reserve!

PLACES ARE LIMITED – Book your place here!

This is a special project thanks to collaboration with:

Hexagonal woodtype

We’re always looking for opportunities to move letterpress forward and a recent project with Greenspace presented a chance to rethink the conventions of moveable type by creating a hexagonal woodblock system.

The blocks, named ‘AHP Six’, are a modular set that can be tessellated to create letterforms, borders, patterns or any variety of outcomes. Expertly laser-cut from maple by Thomas Mayo, the hexagonal blocks contain several different shapes and patterns making for a range of textures and effects. The project was commissioned for a David Chipperfield- and Karakusevic Carson-designed residential development near us in Hoxton and we are looking forward to using the blocks in the upcoming workshops with Shoreditch Park Primary School (as well as in our public classes and experimenting with it ourselves!)

New New North Press

As you can see we have a fantastic new website (which we hope will be more functional and current than its predecessor). A big thank you to Mark Pavey for his expertise and patience.

We also have new work to share in the shape of our huge new Under Pressure print, case studies of Commissions such our Guinness harp branding and Projects like our In Your Hands children’s workshops.

Anyone in a festive mood can find plenty of Christmas cards and – the present everyone wants to receive – Introduction to Letterpress gift vouchers for which we now have 2017 dates on our Classes page.


large_33870b4a-b1f4-43f7-b6f5-65dc33606119Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft’s Interrobang exhibition of international letterpress has now closed but we would highly recommend getting hold of a copy of the beautiful Random Spectacular journal that accompanied the show while they last.

Interrobang journal includes all of the work from the exhibition plus some great articles and opinions on the current state of letterpress.

Simon Lewin from St Judes, who published the journal, has also written about a few of his favorite prints from the show on Grafik.

Big Steam Print

On Saturday we made our largest ever print using a steamroller! We were thrilled to be invited by Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft to take part in the second stage of their Big Steam Print event at the London Transport Museum depot, Acton. It was great to share the excitement for printing with everyone who came. Our print – artwork based on a letterpress forme cut and into linoleum – will be exhibited with all the other steamroller-printed work at Phoenix Brighton from 6th – 21st August 2016.

Printers’ mark

This post aims to explain the back story of the New North Press monogram, or printers’ mark.

A printers’ mark was a symbol used by early printers to trademark their work. From C15th onwards printers such as William Caxton, Aldus Manutius and Christophe Plantin used these decorative devices to sign their work and they became associated with a mark of quality.


Left, egs from Notable Printers’ Marks, by Paul Moxon. Right, Zerkall watermark

Having always admired the watermark of the Zerkall papers that we often print on at New North Press – a symbol which invokes similar iconography to these printers’ marks – we decided to do some further research. We discovered that many of these historic devices use an ‘orb and four’ motif, related to the ‘orb and cross’ – literally the earth surmounted by the cross – which is also the alchemical symbol for antimony, an ingredient in type metal. Often incorporated was the ‘4’ character which long before the development of printing had been a mark of merchants to identify their wares.

Inspired by this we set about to form a New North Press printers’ mark by combining the initials NNP into a single device with an elevated P in reference to the 4 of the historic marks.


New North Press printers’mark cut in linoleum

To be able to print our new mark alongside our type we initially cut it from linoleum and mounted it to type high. However on a recent trip to Switzerland, Beatrice visited good friend Dafi Kühne who offered to cut us custom blocks in wood using his pantograph machine – a far more elegant and durable solution.


New North Press printer’s marks cut using a pantograph by Dafi Kühne