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Long-Distance Letterpress: Math for Printers

with Jennifer Farrell
Sunday, June 13
10:00 am – 12:00 pm PDT
$50.00 – $75.00
A Zoom link will be sent in advance of class


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Why you should take this class

Most letterpress printers tend to avoid numbers—after all, we’re artists, not mathematicians. But working with handset metal type and ornaments can be a lot more pleasurable when you take the time to learn some simple mathematical tricks. It’ll not only improve your typesetting, but it will help you achieve beautiful results, faster. It’s what Jen Farrell of Starshaped Press practices daily, and what she’ll pass on to you in this installment of Long-distance Letterpress.

What you’ll learn

Jen Farrell of Starshaped Press will show us how she uses math in ornamental typesetting to build better images, whether they’re abstract, organic or architectural. We’ll explore the patterns and expressive nature of metal type ornament, and then we’ll learn how to plan our designs in advance based on the materials that are available. We’ll also cover:

  • Applying math through the use of a pica grid system
  • Getting the best results from your existing ornament collection
  • Capitalizing on the positive & negative space on each ornament
  • Building ornamental letterforms using both symmetrical and asymmetrical forms
  • Using spacing material effectively
  • Expanding your own collection of ornaments

All participants will receive a copy of the class project via snail mail as a tangible reminder of the experience.


This workshop consists of a demonstration and interactive Q&A, with no advance preparation or supplies necessary to participate. Experience setting metal type and understanding how to measure it is helpful but not required.

Who should take this class?

Letterpress printers & designers looking to improve their work with handset metal type and ornaments.

About the Instructor

Jennifer Farrell
Chicago, IL
Since 1999, Jennifer Farrell has operated Starshaped Press in Chicago, with a focus on designing & printing everything from business cards to posters, as well as custom commissions, wholesale ephemera and limited edition prints & books. All work in the studio is created with metal and wood type, making Starshaped one of the few presses in the country producing commercial work while preserving antique type and related print materials. Jennifer’s work has been repeatedly recognized in books, magazines and design blogs, and has appeared in poster shows throughout the USA and Europe.