The art of printing by hand

A demonstration of letterpress hand printing by Nelson craft printers Peter Bartl and Jane Merks will occur on November 22.

A demonstration of letterpress hand printing by Nelson craft printers Peter Bartl and Jane Merks will occur at the talk by poet-publisher-book designer Jason Dewinetz at Nelson’s Oxygen Art Centre on Friday, November 22 at 7:30 p.m.

Bartl and Merks — who for a decade ran PB&J Press in Balfour before moving to Nelson last year — will use their press to emboss free keepsake coasters for audience members to commemorate Dweinetz’s visit to Nelson.

The Vernon, BC author and educator will be reading from his poems and speaking about his award-winning work as book designer, publisher, and typographer.

The Oxygen Art Centre is located at 320 Vernon Street (alley entrance).

Dewinetz’s appearance, part of Oxygen’s Presentation Series, is free ($5 donation appreciated) and open to the public.

Merks said the Pilot press she and Bartl will be using at Oxygen is a small version of the printing press used by many artisans to keep the art of hand printing alive in this digital age.

“Type is set one letter at a time, using lead or wood type,” Merks said.

“Normally each print is inked as it presses into the paper. Blind embossing uses no ink but instead uses extra pressure so the type bites into the  soft paper, leaving an impression.”

Merks said the traditional way of printing allows a more visceral connection to the words on the page than is possible using computers.

“Producing something by hand also helps creativity flow,” she said.

Dewinetz’s books of poems include Clench from Nova Scotia’s Gaspereau Press and Moving to the Clear from Edmonton’s NeWest Press.

His book design and production for his Greenboathouse Press in Vernon have won 10 national book design awards. He teaches English and printing at the Vernon campus of Okanagan College.

The Oxygen Art Centre’s 2013-2014 Presentation Series is supported by the Columbia Basin Trust and the Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance.