Letterpress Workshop with Harrington & Squires

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Harrington & Squires is a gorgeous, tiny letterpress workshop in Tufnell Park, London. Affectionately known as The Corridor, the workshop is three storeys high and a miniature 1.2 metres wide!

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I had already been printing with my lovely Adana 8×5 letterpress for a few months, but felt I could be doing things more efficiently if I was just steered in the right direction.

On the day I walked past the slender sliver of shop-front twice before I found the door! Directly inside is the shop for H&S stationery, and then further in began the rows and rows, and drawers and drawers of type.

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Upstairs, the space has windows at either end meaning, even though it’s a squeeze, you never feel closed in and there is plenty of natural light. Every bit of space is utilised and there’s even a tiny terrace.

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There were rows of presses on shelves, and a plethora of furniture, galley trays, type, and all sorts of other letterpress paraphernalia.

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On the top floor, in the office/pop-up dining area (via a very nifty fold out table), we sat with Chrissie and Vicky (also known as Bob and Horace), who told us how they’d acquired this beautiful building by luck when coming to visit it as an art gallery and discovering it empty. They had wanted a high street presence, and here was the perfect opportunity!

We spent some time going through post cards, business cards, and beautiful books other people had made in their workshops and gathering inspiration for what to print ourselves. We sketched out a few ideas and then headed back to the ground floor to choose our type.

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I had only worked with one colour at a time in my own designs at home, so decided to print a simple message using two types and two colours.

Once we’d made our choices, we headed back to the first floor to set the type, ink the press, and learn the fine art of makeready (I’ll write another post to go into more detail on these steps as it needs a post of it’s own!).

But first we stopped to have a bite of lunch. A delicious picnic of bread, soup and cheese!

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Back to the press, and next we chose from hundreds of weights and shades of paper and card. I tried four different postcards and the different effect each had on the final look of the design was tremendous.

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Letterpress is a fiddly, messy, time consuming process that’s both physically and mentally demanding. You need to have a lot of patience and energy (and a touch of OCD), but it’s this hands-on, tactile aspect that makes it such a joy. It’s satisfying and methodical and I love it.

There is nothing like, after a thousand minuscule adjustments to your design, and to the press itself, having the ink and impression come out crisp and clean.

Here are my finished postcards. Prince of Goodfellows was a lovely term a family friend used when describing my father.

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H&S run workshops on most weekdays around their other commitments, for a maximum for two people at a time (there isn’t space for more than that!) and take you through everything from introductions to design and typography, to typesetting, to bookbinding.

It’s £175 for an intensive course from 10am-5pm, and includes lunch and materials. It’s well worth it to learn the tricks from the masters, and was a thoroughly enjoyable day. Personally, I came away a quicker, keener and more efficient printer.

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As well as running workshops, Harrington & Squires sell their prints and products directly and wholesale, and take on bespoke commissions so do take a look at their gorgeous work.

Jen Wright

Jen Wright

Letterpress printer, maker and freelance writer. I blog about the people and things that inspire me, and that I hope will inspire you.
Jen Wright

So, what do you think?