Heirloom ink evangelist travels the US with an old fashioned letter press

Woman travels the country enlightening the Millennial Generation about letterpress writing.

• A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.

In a white, repurposed step-up van, Kyle Durrie travels the country visiting art schools, craft fairs, and even tattoo parlors to enlighten people about old-fashioned letterpress printing.

Ms. Durrie owns Power and Light Press in Portland, Ore., and calls her nomadic project “Moveable Type.” Since the summer, she has logged more than 100 stops in the United States. She will travel for another four months in the Type Truck that has a bunk, road maps, a heater, and an 1873 Golding Official No. 3 tabletop platen press.

“I find that letterpress is a counterpoint to digital media,” says Durrie, who has a loyal Internet following that initially helped fund the project.

On a cold night outside Electric Heart Tattoos, people lined up to create an old-school letterpress poster in the van – free of charge. For the Millennial Generation, the letterpress is a mythical contraption used decades ago for making posters, business cards, and greeting cards.

Each guest learns to ink the type blocks and place the sketch paper properly in the 1950s printer before rolling the heavy press. A Wisconsin museum donated the press, once used by Sears, to Durrie, who has become a letterpress evangelist.

“This kind of printing offers a very different hands-on experience,” Durrie says. “It connects with various areas – artistic, literary, historical, and industry.”

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