Making & Teaching: Printing Technologies at Work (Presswork Symposium)

Date: 25 March 2019
Time: 10:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.
Location: Rare Book School (118 Alderman Library) & the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library
Presented by: Rare Book School, UVA Library, the McIntire Department of Art, and Virginia Humanities

A public symposium jointly sponsored by Rare Book School, UVA Library, the McIntire Department of Art, and Virginia Humanities as part of Presswork, a project funded by The Jefferson Trust, an initiative of UVA’s Alumni Association.

The history of the book is, in many ways, the history of technology—a study of the invention and development of special tools, machines, techniques, and crafts for manufacturing texts. Yet few people ever have the chance to try their own hand at using a printing press, or ever see how printing type is cast and made.

Rare Book School invites members of the University and surrounding community to participate in a symposium, free and open to the public, that will focus on how older craft technologies, such as intaglio printing, letterpress printing, and typefounding, continue to inform and enrich our understanding of the book, broadly conceived.

The first half of the day-long symposium will feature a series of overlapping, hands-on demonstrations with specialized printing equipment, including a recently commissioned facsimile eighteenth-century French rolling press, as well as a hand-made facsimile type mold from the same period, built using schematic plans from Diderot’s Encyclopédie. Participants will have an opportunity to see these machines and tools demonstrated, as well as speak with the individuals who made them—and also try their own hand at printing.

The second half of the symposium will feature a roundtable discussion exploring how hands-on teaching with facsimile machines and legacy equipment continues to influence cutting-edge  scholarly research with books, prints, ephemera, and related documents. Guest speakers will explore issues including: how printing technologies shed light on textual instability; how bibliography’s traditional focus on letterpress printing has limited understandings of scientific illustration (primarily produced using intaglio techniques); and how traditional bibliographical methods for studying hand-press materials can be applied to twentieth-century media.

The symposium will conclude with a keynote delivered by Amos Kennedy, who will speak on community printing, or the importance of bringing the craft of printing to broader publics. Mr. Kennedy will discuss insights and strategies for reaching out to community members through various venues, including public schools and libraries.

A reception will follow.


Part I: Making — 10:00 a.m.–noon

Rare Book School (118 Alderman Library)

  • Josef Beery demonstrates the BookBeetle, a portable, table-top press he designed for practical, hands-on classroom teaching
  • Amos Kennedy and Amanda Nelsen host the “Finding Wisdom” project, printing with wood type on the Vandercook proof press
  • The directors of Pando Creative Co. screen a new short documentary on UVA’s Presswork project, and discuss their work putting together the film

South Gallery, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library

  • Roger Gaskell conducts printing demonstrations on Rare Book School’s facsimile “Diderot” rolling press

Ruffin Hall Courtyard

  • Stan Nelson (Proprietor, Atelier Press and Letterfoundry) conducts a typefounding demonstration

Part II: Teaching

Auditorium, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library

2:00–3:45 p.m.
Roundtable discussion with Q&A
Speakers: Krystal Appiah (Head of Instruction, Special Collections, UVA’s Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library); Roger Gaskell (Proprietor, Roger Gaskell Rare Books); Erin Schreiner (Executive Director, Bibliographical Society of America); David Whitesell (Curator, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library)

4:00–5:00 p.m.
Keynote lecture by Amos Kennedy, followed by Q&A

5:00–6:00 p.m.