de-pressed by the attitude…

I have been on this board for a few months, and in that time I have seen many users give great help to those in need (myself included), and then seen many of those same users berate another for a simple honest mistake or mis-use of terms, and I just don’t understand it.

I am thankful for the wealth of information that is available here, both for my specific needs, as well as general knowledge of letterpress, the history, and the business. But the attitude of some on here in regards to what a press is supposed to be called, mis-spelling Gutenberg’s name, whether we are letterpressing, using a letterpress, a platen windmill, etc. That is what us new guys come here looking for answers to. We don’t need the proverbial ruler to the knuckles.

We look to you who know more than we to help us get to where you are. And remember, you didn’t know all this stuff when you started out. Please don’t expect us to either. Knowledge is gained over time, not over night.

And be thankful we are asking questions beforehand (e.i: “Why does the platen close so fast on my Golding Pearl”, instead of “Why did the platen on my Golding Pearl close so fast on my fingers?”) Answer: “You are turning the flywheel the wrong direction.” I would never have known that without this site.

I don’t come here for attitude, I come here for help. Thankfully, no one has treated me as such yet. But I see it in other threads, and it just ain’t necessary. If you have an attitude about someone’s question, you have obviously lost some of the joy of letterpress you had when you started.

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A clear, concise, articulate and respectful observation.
I could not agree with you more.
Better to remain silent than condescending and unkind.

hold out your hand, one ruler to your knuckles. I’m on the fence, if you don’t use the correct terms it could be hard to give help, but today a lot of new kids call things differently from what we were taught. I try not to correct but to give advice the best i can. As one who can’t spell as long as most of the letters are there i can figure out what is being talked about, everyone has a different view on this.

My spelling is far from perfect, but proofreading of a website that claims to represent the history of the medium should be expected.

It appears to me as if people who approach the board having done a minimum of research and asking nicely, instead of flaunting ignorance and arrogance, have better results. Calling people losers won’t help, most message boards I visit would have banned that user.

I came on this board about two years ago with very little knowledge and have found answers to pretty much all my questions without taking any real flack in the process… making sure you ask the right questions goes a long way.

to all

Well said.

But I found as I moved from composing room to composing room, the language varied.

At one newspaper, I was confused by the term “author’s proof” referring to an advertisement, until I observed what it referred to.

Although Aussies like to think of themselves as one people (we have only the ocean as a border of our country), our language varies from region to region. One of the best examples no long applies, since enough people moved from south of the tropic to north, a variety of vehicle is no longer a tilly in north Queensland, it is now called, as in the rest of the country, a ute, short for utility. [Australia claims to have “invented” the utility, or utility vehicle, a Ford, circa 1930.] A suitcase is called a port or a portmanteau; a block of chocolate is sometimes called a slab; in some places the large packaged piece is a slab, but in others a block may be the same, while in others a block is the small piece which has depressed lines so that it may be broken off from the slab. Confusing, isn’t it? A compositor who had worked in Brisbane (southern capital of this, my home state) had me thinking when he referred to a nompule (or nomple, 6-point space), and the SPELCHEK on this machine also is confused, but SPELCHEK in its variations throws up a flag at its own name, unless there is another name I am not aware of.

Where problems arise is when proofreading is “not needed” so that a garbage-collecting group in this district was invited to Sandy Creek instead of Sandfly Creek; they are about 20 miles apart.


I have (I thought) gently corrected people for using certain terms like “letterpressing,” but I certainly didn’t do it to berate them. I did it to help them to learn, to progress from using the language of the less experienced to using the language of the more experienced. If I hear someone say they love letterpressing, I immediately think that person is on the less experienced side. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I am assuming that people would like to use the language of the trade so that when they become experienced, they will speak like they are experienced as well.

My experience is 40+ years in the printing industry including teaching 14 years in a community college, and many more years teaching night classes when I was working in industry in the daytime. During that time, there have been students with many different personalities, including those who resented being told anything, to varying degrees. But hey, that was my job. I would have been doing them a great disservice if I didn’t tell them anything. There were also students who gained a little knowledge and then thought they knew everything and that they should get a great grade for the course without any further effort. That is also quite an educational challenge. Luckily, these types of students were not too common.

By posting on Briar Press, I am just trying to continue what I have been doing for a good part of my life, trying to help people gain and upgrade their skills.

Not being good with computors i dont get spel lcheck but i do know that print terms dont always check , Alan nankivell choosing nompareil for instance is a french word and spell check works in american english i believe ,it corrects a properly spelled word SERGEANT and from somewhere it puts a J in it ,also the spelling of “colour” We argue with americans that have changed a language they took from here with the founders , no one is to blame ,its not deliberate and time changes things but if i want information from the dictionary i have to go to the correct spelling first to get that and to be honest questions on here can only get answers with the same approach .

@kimaboe: I agree in some respects, but their posting of the history of letterpress does not necessarily require 100% accuracy of spelling. I have read books that probably had more proofing eyes than that site, and still found mistakes. As anyone in graphic design will tell you, you spend enough time on one project, you become a bit desensitized to the content, and mistakes make it thru. Perhaps her sources gave her the wrong info, who knows, who cares. It is minor in the when looking at the site as a whole.

I also agree that some research is necessary before posting to a forum, but in my experience, some info is not there, or does not come up when searched for in the forum’s archives. And, if your new, how do you know how to “ask the right question”?

@Geoffrey: Gentle correcting is fine, but I sense some “holier-than-thou” attitudes (not from you), or “how dare you ask such a question here” mentalities that I do not feel are asked for or needed in any community where users come looking for help from more experienced individuals.

Perhaps I am being a bit sensitive. If so, I digress.

… trbloco2402 You’re more profound than you probably give yourself credit for by saying …”some info is not there, or does not come up when searched for in the forum’s archives. And, if your new, how do you know how to “ask the right question”?”

This site, and many others, have most of the answers anyone new could need, even if you were to exclude the books written on the subject of printing over the last 150+years. PROBLEM IS; the original poster gives little thought to the “SUBJECT TITLE” in their posting. By not looking up a proper part name or proper wording of their concern, they make it extremely inefficient to search and find answers where they belong. It is important to do research before making a post because stupid, lazy, skilled, un-skilled and intelligent all get the same ink when it comes to posting. I can point to countless subjects lines that say “what is this?”, “can you help me?”, etc., where with a little fore-thought the subject line could create a valuable honey-hole of info for everyone, instead of the immediate gratification of just one. I’ve lurked on this and other sites for more years than many of you are old. Over those years, I’ve amassed 2 large file boxes packed full of copies, much of it simply because I know I will never be able to find it again.

Guess I’ve digressed, but conclude by suggesting to future posters, upgrade your subject lines to read like those of a “table of contents” of a book. Then “finding some info” and “asking the right question” will be made much easier.


You do understand that no one has to answer you. No one gets paid to do that and no one is responsible for having to do so. If you don’t sometimes like the responses, well, that might be because folks who kind to respond might not share your whatever.

It’s sometimes a game of chess, especially for the hardcore, make a move, expect a move. Doesn’t hurt to have a thick skin.

There are a lot of resources out there. Both in print and on the web. DIY.


trbloco2402: I agree with you as well, in most respects.

I’m a designer myself, which is why I hire or source a proof-reader when working on something for which the copy is my responsibility. I know that these things happen, which is why I try harder to make sure they don’t (which is made more difficult by the fact that English is not my first language).

I feel it is worth noting that we weren’t talking a couple of minor typos that slipped through the cracks when the client was signing of on their proof. Instead, repeated misspelling of a name which the entire article was named after. To be fair it is ultimately Neenah’s responsibility to make sure it gets caught before the site goes live (supposing the client has final sign-off).

Either way, I’m wasn’t trying to be a pedantic ass, although I’m sure it could been taken as such, especially in a written format.

It happens to be my job to give lengthy, honest critiques every day on others’ design decisions and attention to detail, spelling included. Often I’m speaking to students with little experience, a majority of which are ESL students (and I happen to be one of those myself) or students with learning disabilities, but I’m always honest, or I try to be. I also try to be rather cheerful and encouraging, most days I learn just as much as those on the other side of the table.

Posting on forums is an art in itself. Especially when venturing into unknown topics. I agree that it can be tricky finding information hidden in threads and links, but often, reading enough to know *how* to ask a question goes a long way towards your goal. Even if the response is “use the search function”, it is after all easier to find it if you know it exists. :)

Old men. Trying to prove their own self-worth. By belittling others.

Thankfully not everyone here.

Everything [i think] i know about printing (nothing really in the scheme of things) i have learned here the last couple of years. Quite amazing to think. Thanks guys! I believe sometimes recentment starts with posts from someone trying something that is not in line with tradition. I believe tradition is important and perhaps could be learned first to then experiment. But wouldn’t you agree that everyone these days, to some degree or another, need to experiment given the unavailability of some materials and sources for what we do?

I wouldn’t feel comfortable posting here about some of the things i have done in the past to solve printing problems. But perhaps there could be a space in this forum for posting these kind of topics. It could be called “alternative processes”. Just an idea…

PS. I am an ESL writer, (English as a second language). But that is not the real reason why i can’t spell or write properly. I am just terrible at it!!

cortneydoyle, it is not exclusively a gender issue and it well may be more of an age issue. As someone doing job printing, consulting, and maintainance of equipment, most of my customers are women, and most of them older women who came into this well before DTP. That is the huge disconnect: whether type is something that conveys some actual content, or whether it is just decoration of disposable paper or temporary webpage. Unfortunately today, editors and proofreaders now rank far below designers, where they exist at all.
At a previous job I was always respectful of the well-trained “old man” who actually proof-read the negatives sent in by photopolymer printers for platemaking. The designers didn’t give a damn if that Saturday was actually the 12th or if it was really the 13th, not just if the language was correct. Our guy did. A fully-trained ITU apprentice, he understood that words matter.

When I was 18, I worked at a fabric store for my very first “job”. I knew nothing about sewing. I always worked nights with an 83 year old women, who scolded me constantly for everything under the sun. Newbie mistakes. Her attitude was like some of the folks you describe on this forum. You would have thought she had invented sewing herself. Even still, I never argued with her, and I always listened. I learned a lot from her, and she took a liking to me. People like her take pride in what they love, and sometimes that makes them a little grumpy. It’s almost like they are defensive or guarded as to who enters their beloved craft, like it’s a club. It’s nothing against anyone, it’s merely just their nature.

If you can look past some of the biting personalities, you can still learn from them. Whether they are yelling or not, they are still sharing. If you find that their way of talking to you (or others) bothers you, just throw in the word “letterpressing” every now and then to get your digs in. ;)


vettelove: very well said! I think you will find that in many people who have dedicated a significant portion of their life to a craft will be that way—not intentionally, but perhaps out of respect and preservation of the craft they love. And like I said above, perhaps I was being a bit too sensitive or reading too much in to what was said.

the “straw” that was the impetus for this thread was in defending another user who now seems to be worse than the offenders I originally was ranting about. But, again, I digress. I made my point and was able learned something along the way.

Thanks to all.

Ok so I’m one of the people who like to use the word “letterpressing” but if you get to know me as a person I’m a word maker-upper, that is what I do. I mean weren’t all words made up at some point in life. I could say I’m printing, but printing what? When I do letterpress I’m “letterpressing”. When I screen print I’m “screening” When I do flexography printing I’m ”flexing”. When I eat a meal I’m “eating”. Makes since to me. That is the action I feel I’m doing at that time. Even my printing teachers laughed at me and rolled their eyes. I think correct terms are more important in the medical field.

I had I yell at a few people on here. I hate that I got that mad, but for me I’m really sensitive when I think men are trying to make me feel stupid, or anyone, but mainly men. I was mentally abused by a lot of guys I dated in the past since middle school, I know right, middle school. In my 20s it got really bad. I felt worthless like I was dirt. I didn’t want to be here anymore. Also I always struggled in school. I never made above a C except in art class. Art was my saving grace, my parents never made me feel bad about not being book smart because my art talent was awesome. Anyway, I come on here and it’s not like I can’t take criticism, I can. But I know the different between criticism and being a jerk. So when some of these men try to make me feel stupid or less than for asking a question, I jump like an ally cat. I’m in my 30s and I don’t take crap from anyone.

I get that letterpress use to be the boys shop. A new guy would come in, you rough him up some until he proves myself, I get it. But back then you would find a shop and work there for years. You had “letterpress gatekeepers”. They were “those guys”. But now with the world so global. I can now buy my own Windmill online, find a tutor online, and ask for help and have a lot of people willing to help me from anywhere, online. So these use-to-be “letterpress gatekeepers” are not needed. I respect them, well, the ones that help. But “you” are no long the gatekeeper. I have a choice to go somewhere else, and get help from somewhere else, and get all the info I want without having to go through “you”. And some seem to bring that, I’m the only shop in the city so if you want to work in letterpress I’m it, mindset to this website. And we are just like “Brotha please, you betta get outta with that mess!”

A lot of them may see us a too cocky, but I’m just excited. Trust me, I’m am humbled by my Windmill and the task ahead, and I would like their help and advice good or bad. But if newbies have to keep making threads about the nasty attitudes on here we may have a problem.

Just focus on those who want to help, they are on here and are very nice. But the ones that are mean and lonely with no clients are going to be the loudest. Good luck hun.

Oh, brother!


When You Tube caught on, I recall reading an interview of a well known alternative filmmaker who was asked what he thought about it all.

“Ants at a picnic,” was his comment.



I could care less if you are a woman, a black person, a newbie to printing; nor interested in your story (we all have those, but to use them as a crutch…?). Someone once said to another newbie on this very list that if you want to prove your worth to Gerald Lange (yeah, I can be nasty… I don’t care in that regard—if you don’t care enough, why should I?), do it through your work. Prove it, don’t just talk the talk. Yeah, really, that’s how it works. Hey, that’s how we “old cranky men” and women had to do it. I wouldn’t even dare put up my sign as someone willing to do work for others for about six years (not until I could prove to myself that my work was good enough). I was actually concerned what those old guys would think about it, cause, well, I actually respected their achievements.


When I started my “career” back in 1968 in a hot metal shop I was only 16 years old and the youngest guy in the shop, and I was put through hell for the first few years. Not days, or weeks, or months, but actually years, as I completed my apprenticeship. I was ignorant and often stupid, but I took the crap and the humiliation, put in the time and effort, and learned the trade. Why do people nowadays think that everything should be handed to them on a platter just because they want to know what the people know who actually worked for it? ‘Old’ printers are more than willing to pass on their knowledge to people who are genuinely sincere about preserving and even perpetuating a trade that by all accounts should be long dead, but for some reason simply refuses to die. Too many want-to-be printers think that they can just run out and spend gobs of money to buy what’s left of the old equipment and then hang out a sign that says ‘LETTERPRESS’ and that makes them a printer. It takes serious time and serious effort to learn a trade. There are some really great printers on here that can help in ways that you will NEVER figure out on your own. You need these guys whether you like them (or their attitudes) or not. They’ve earned the right to share what they know in any way they choose, and if they actually make you earn it by making you feel ignorant it’s because you ARE ignorant and you need to accept that. That’s not an insult; we were all ignorant in the beginning. Take the crap, don’t complain, and just be aware that it’s a small price to pay for what you are receiving in return. Nobody is obligated to share the knowledge, techniques, and even trade secrets that took a lifetime of hard work, dedication, and personal expense to acquire. And nobody will be eager to help someone who acts as if they are somehow entitled to it.



Do I detect a sea change? This can only be for the good, young and old.


I’m beginning to understand the logic behind the old guilds.

“….don’t take crap from anyone.” Obviously don’t take grown-up advice either. This is not a kindergarten, nor is it a touchy-feely’ forum. Brag about access to the worldwide web? Then do so. No one cares wether or not you take the information freely dispensed from the knowledgeable on this site. This is the real world - either take the talk or make the walk. And please - save the personal for Dr. Phil.