Today I was sent a link to a cheering article about letterpress, via the artbooks discussion list (worth subscribing to, if you have an interest; you get all sorts of news about artists' books in Australia).
Of course, it's an article about letterpress in the United States, where there are mouthwatering presses everywhere and type and plates can be found at yard sales and in junk stores. Here in Australia it is possible to find bits of letterpress equipment and type, but only rarely, and it usually costs a bomb.
Unfortunately most of Australia's old type has been enterprisingly melted down for scrap or made into sculptures. Mind you, it seems that there are a lot of interesting letterpress bits and pieces sitting around in the garages and sheds of many offset printers of a certain generation, so if you're interested, keep your eyes peeled and never pass up the chance to talk to aging commercial printers. I certainly take the conversational plunge as often as I can, but be warned -- you may have to sit through a lot of gumph to get to the treasure! I have discovered a few Canberra troves that have possessive printery gargoyles sitting on top of them, but I'm a lot younger, and in the words of the immortal bard, we'll see who rusts first.
By the way, I love the fact that the article in question is all about the pleasures of using metal type, yet the photo on the first page shows a printer printing from a polymer plate, which is UV-cast in plastic from a photographic negative and usually set from a computer file! Heh. It's the little ironies in life that keep me jolly.
And while I'm here (and I'll be contacting her in person about this), a rousing GOOD LUCK to Girlprinter, who is living the dream and overcome obstacles of the heart to celebrate the opening of her Press yesterday in Melbourne. I'm ashamed that I didn't mention this beforehand, and I hope it went swimmingly. We need more of this in the Antipodes, and she is now my virtual rolemodel until I can get south and make her a real one. May the smell of wet ink linger in the air for many years to come.