Start from square one! Learn how to hand-set type and stitch a pamphlet.

The two Vandercook Universal presses in the Maine Media Book Arts studio are descendents of a rich tradition in movable type that began with Gutenberg in the 1400s. While the letterpress process is no longer the quickest way to spread information, it remains a highly relevant, versatile technique that can be used to create anything from artist books and posters to business cards and zines.  

This course will cover everything you need to know to start hand-setting type and use the printing press on your own. This class begins by providing a strong conceptual foundation to your practice by covering history, terms, tools, type, and material. Then, through demonstrations and hands-on practice, students will learn the correct procedures for setting type by hand and for printing on a Vandercook proof press.

Each student will have the opportunity to print a two-color broadside as well as various, smaller, one-color pieces. Students will also be exposed to the pamphlet stitch, learning how to combine a few printed sheets into a small booklet as a precursor to Book Arts Basics Part II, which covers bookbinding techniques.

This course can be taken with Book Arts Basics Parts II & III for a for a comprehensive foundation, or individually to just get comfortable with letterpress printing. Students who take this course will be eligible to join the Book Arts Membership program at MMW+C, which grants access to the equipment at the Maine Media Book Arts Studio on a reservation basis when the studio is not in use for classes or residencies.

Special bundled pricing: Register for any of the others in this sequence and earn special tuition pricing.

Part I and Part ii $1780

Part I, Part II, and Part III $2690

Part I and Part III $1845


Richard Reitz Smith

Richard Reitz Smith, recently, was selected as Book Artist in Residence at Maine Media Workshops + College where he wrote, illustrated, printed and bound a limited-edition abecedary of alliterative haiku. 

Richard received a BFA from Carnegie Mellon University in painting and illustration.  After working for three years developing products for Crayola and Liquitex, he returned to school and earned an MFA in graphic design (Tyler School of Art- Temple University). Then started a five-year tour of universities as an art and design professor which led him to New York City where he taught at Pratt Institute and School of Visual Arts. While doing this, he freelanced as an illustrator and graphic designer for companies like The GAP, Macy's, American Craft Museum, Metlife, Pearson Education and Scholastic. Then he took positions at Clicquot, Inc. and Clinique Cosmetics consecutively.  For Clinique Cosmetics, he managed multi-million-dollar, international, seasonal product and promotional launches as the director of package design-worldwide. For Clicquot, Inc. he was a one-person art department for the wine importer/promoter of Veuve Clicquot, Krug, Bouchard and many other ultra premium wines. 

It was in NYC, that he found and frequented The Center for Book Arts learning much about letterpress and the book as an art form. 

In 2002, Richard moved to Maine. He worked in-house at William Arthur Stationery and Briggs Advertising, then started Design& Smith Creative Ventures, a Camden-based art and design studio focused on creative custom solutions for visual problems. Richard’s work has won awards across a wide-ranging platform like logo and brand development, package design, print collateral, as well as book arts, painting and drawing.  He is comfortable marrying traditional skills with technology and often incorporates handwork into Adobe Creative Suite.   

Also, Richard is co-owner of the Letterpress Studio at Steel House Collaborative in Rockland where he has taught letterpress workshops.

Course Dates

Jun 18 to Jun 24




Class Size