THE PRESS

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Welcome to Lark Sparrow Press

We’re glad you’re here

Lark Sparrow Press is a private press that hand prints books, broadsides, and stamps. Unlike mass produced books you may find at a local book store, the books printed at Lark Sparrow Press are meticulously crafted with handset metal type, handmade papers, and bound by hand. The covers are made by hand using a variety of materials, and final editions are in sets of 2 – 60. If you’re looking for a truly unique and remarkable piece of art work, the titles of Lark Sparrow Press are sure to impress.

Enter the studio: a building erected sometime in the 1930’s, originally used to house a venetian blind making operation.  Half of the space, an incredible 2,900 sq.ft. is equipped with light, furnace, water, concrete floor, and air conditioning and is known as Lark Sparrow Press.

the cases

type cases

One book made at  Lark Sparrow Press can take thousands of individual pieces of moveable type to complete. One 72-page book in particular contained over 200,000 pieces. Each individual letter of a particular font is stored in cases (left). 

In contrast to the hundreds of font options found on a computer or mobile device, press work like this is limited to the actual physical presence of a given font and all the required letters, symbols, sizes and weights.

One book made at  Lark Sparrow Press can take thousands of individual pieces of moveable type to complete. One 72-page book in particular contained over 200,000 pieces. Each individual letter of a particular font is stored in cases (above). 

In contrast to the hundreds of font options found on a computer or mobile device, press work like this is limited to the actual physical presence of a given font and all the required letters, symbols, sizes and weights.

the type

setting the type

With type trays pulled out and arrayed on the desk, each piece of metal type is selected, one by one, and placed by hand. Each letter must be placed in reverse order to create the mirror image plate needed for printing. Metal pieces fill in the gaps to create spaces, and the completed type is secured in place with wooden blocks.

CUT TRIMMER & JOB STICK

The most efficient way to move hand set type from the type drawer to the press bed is through the use of the job stick (bottom left). Individual type pieces are placed or “set” upside down on a job stick, tied up with thread and then moved to the press bed, where they are carefully slid onto the press bed.

The cut trimer (below) is a powerful saw used to cut the the thin metal strips between the lines of type called leading. It’s accurate to 100ths of an inch.

The most efficient way to move hand set type from the type drawer to the press bed is through the use of the job stick (above). Individual type pieces are placed or “set” upside down on a job stick, tied up with thread and then moved to the press bed, where they are carefully slid onto the press bed.

The cut trimer (below) is a powerful saw used to cut the the thin metal strips between the lines of type called leading. It’s accurate to 100ths of an inch.

Passing through

Continue on your stroll and pass the flat file (right) for storing sheets of printed works.

Flat file for large thin sheets

The press

placing the GALLEY

After the type is set, the galley (left) is brought to the press, lined up and secured.

After the type is set, the galley (above) is brought to the press, lined up and secured.

printing

A single sheet of paper is secured in the press and ready to print. The gears of the press begin to work, as the handle is cranked to roll the sheet onto the inked plate.

Cactus Farm

In addition to exploring the art and process of the press, you’ll encounter the cactus farm and other eclectic pieces that make the studio charming.

Pulling a Proof

Drying

After a proof is pulled from the press, it’s laid on the rack to dry.

Broadsides

A broadside is simply a single sheet printed on one side. Historically, the broadside was used as a form of advertisement or propoganda.

Hanging Broadsides

Final Product

Signatures

The process of setting type and printing is done over and over again, until all the pages are complete and the pages can be organized using the proofing board (top left). Each sheet is folded and nested within a group of sheets to form a signature (bottom left). The signatures are put in the correct order and sewn together to create a block: the complete set of pages found within one book.  

The process of setting type and printing is done over and over again, until all the pages are complete and the pages can be organized using the proofing board (two above). Each sheet is folded and nested within a group of sheets to form a signature (one above). The signatures are put in the correct order and sewn together to create a block: the complete set of pages found within one book.  

Finishing Touches

The remaining steps needed to complete the final product are equally meticulous. Each book is cased in a specially designed and custom made cover. 

This particular book needed about 2,200 pieces of hand set type per page. At 72 pages, that totals over 200,000 pieces of individual type for the entire book.

Tools

Containers full of brushes and bone folders line the window. Folders used to precisely fold each printed sheet and the brushes to carefully apply a special glue to assemble the books.

bone folders and brushes

Thank You for Visiting!

Few printers in America still use these technique to print books that can be identified as fine press/book arts. No more than 200 printers self identify as private press book printers in the United States.

We all have a vision of how a story can inspire us and how craft can enhance that vision. Stories can heal the broken world and it’s worthwhile to make an elegant effort.

If you’d like become a collector or schedule a physical tour, contact us or view the gallery of work for available titles.

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