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The Art of Letterpress

With The Letterpress Collective

11 November 2022 - 13 November 2022

2 and a half day course 10am - 4pm / 10am - 2pm

Grab your apron and get messy by immersing yourself in the Art of Letterpress! Over this 2 and a half-day course, The Letterpress Collective will teach you how to set lead type in a composing stick and how to use a small tabletop press, which can be used to create personalised posters and prints.

The Letterpress Collective will also bring a selection of beautiful wood types and will show you the process of locking lead and wood type into a chase or onto the flatbed cylinder presses.

On these larger presses, you will be able to print poster-sized text-based images such as a favourite lyric, a line of poetry or something of your own. We’ll have some decorative borders and some vintage wood and metal etched illustrations to play with.

This 600-year-old craft course requires no previous experience, just an enthusiasm to learn!

By the end of the workshop you will:

  • Learn how to use a tabletop press
  • How to mix ink
  • How to register a two-colour print
  • Leave with an armful of your creations


We ran this course earlier in the year. Read about what the participants got up to!


Clayhill is set up to run craft based workshops. The rooms are super comfortable. Deborah is a super talented chef (very good food all week). I can’t tell you how great it is and I’m sure it will become an important part of the art and craft landscape. Please take a look at their programme.
The Letterpress Collective

What a great course. Loved the whole experience, the gorgeous people, tutorsfood, ambience…
And came away with so many ideas and really inspired!
Ava Reeves

The Letterpress Collective

The Letterpress Collective is run by Nick Hand and Ellen Bills.

It is the printshop of The Department of Small Works which was created by Nick as a home for design, photography and print. Both reside in Centrespace, a cooperative of artists and craftspeople, in Bristol’s Old City.

Silently and without anyone noticing, the last commercial letterpress printer shut its doors in Bristol in 2012 after 600 years of continuous work in the city. Nick Hand saw a chance to learn from the last of the printers and compositors in the city, so that a new generation can understand and learn the thrill of working a small press and seeing your creation in ink on paper.

Since 2013, The Letterpress Collective has been gathering beautiful wood and lead type as well as collecting amazing printing presses including a Heidelberg Windmill Platen (winched out of the MShed store by dockside crane), a Stephenson Blake proofing press and a set of  Adana hand presses. Printer Ellen Bills runs the presses for the wide range of projects that pass through the printshop and also the regular workshops and courses.

Nick Hand: The Letterpress Printer from Storm & Shelter on Vimeo.

• On this first day we will introduce the language of letterpress including the measurement system. • You will be shown the method of preparing type for printing, how to set lead type in a composing stick and how to use a small tabletop press. • This will be so that you can print bookmarks, ex libris, postcards, tickets, business cards, anything that is small. • We will also introduce you to a selection of beautiful wood type and we will show you the process of locking lead and wood type into a chase or onto the flat bed cylinder presses. • On these larger presses you will be able to print poster-sized things: a favourite lyric or line of poetry or something of your own. • We’ll have some decorative borders and some lovely old wood and metal etched illustrations to play with. It will be inky, you will end up with an armful of print, it will be instructive and lots of fun!

After exploring the process of letterpress and printing on day 1, this second day is about experimenting and creating your own work to take home with you.

You will have half a day to work with the presses, before heading home.

We have a fantastic accommodation offer onsite, and would recommend staying here for the fully immersive Clayhill experience. All our accommodation is reserved for the students for the duration of the course and you will have a bedroom of your own. Our rooms have been converted from a series of old cattle sheds and from an old milking parlour and retain characterful features such as exposed wooden roof timbers and stone walls. Each bedroom has its own tea and coffee making facilities and outdoor seating area.

We also have an onsite laundry should you need to use these facilities during your stay with us. WIFI is available throughout the complex, heating and hot water is supplied by biomass technology, electricity by solar technology and all of the water around the site is fed by a natural spring.

Accommodation is offered at £80/night. If you would like to make your stay here more comfortable, you can also buy single additional nights before or after the course. (Please note - Any additional nights before will include catering in the evenings, and additional nights after will include an evening meal and breakfast the following morning)

All courses at Clayhill Arts are fully catered, and our locally-sourced food is included in the price of your course ticket. If you do choose to stay with us a bespoke evening meal as well as breakfast and lunch will also be provided.

Please note - we do not have an alcohol license but you may bring alcohol onto the premises for your own consumption and to share with the group if you wish.

To read more about our food offering, follow this link. About our catering

Bring a set of old clothes that can get inky! A notebook for jotting down/sketching out your ideas.

This will be an introduction to letterpress, aimed at practicing artists, craftspeople and designers.

We provide refreshments throughout the day and a home-cooked lunch which is freshly prepared in our Granary kitchen. Please advise us of any dietary requirements before arrival.

You will have your own private en-suite room to retreat to and relax in . We provide you with your own towels and bathroom products for use throughout your stay and you can enjoy the extensive grounds well into the evening.

Buy Tickets


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Course Ticket: Day Access - The Art of Letterpress with The Letterpress Collective
Day-time access, 10am - 4pm for each of the 2 days (11th, 12th November) 10am - 2pm on the half day (13th November) Lunches included.
£ 420.00
12 available
Course Accommodation - The Art of Letterpress
£100/night x 2 Nights of the 11th and 12th November Breakfasts, Lunches and Dinners provided.
£ 200.00
8 available
Extra night - Before
An extra night before the start of the course. (10th November) Includes breakfast on the day the course begins.
£ 100.00
8 available
Extra night - after
An extra night after the course has ended. (13th November) Includes breakfast Check out is at 10:30am on the 14th November
£ 100.00
8 available

We have also set up a payment plan so that you can spread the cost of the sessions over the next 4 months. You will find the option for doing this as you enter the checkout page.

Find out more about our Partial.ly Payment Plan here

partial.ly payment plan logo

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Working with Deborah and Michael was such a pleasure. They understood the project from the beginning, what the needs of the makers and our audiences would be, and acted as thoughtful ambassadors for the project when we were not able to be there. Every aspect of the exhibition and events was facilitated in such a calm and confident manner, which made my job of coordinating a group of artists so much easier! The whole event became a pivotal moment for the project, bringing people together in a way I could never have anticipated, and which has altered my thinking about the future of the project. Thank you for making us feel so welcome.


The weekend I spent at Clayhill Arts was a very welcome change of scenery to my otherwise urban setting. I felt calmed yet invigorated by the surroundings, and the accommodation was beautifully tasteful and very homely. The main space is wonderfully considered and very versatile - an ideal space for creativity and dynamic discussion. I left on the Sunday feeling energised and inspired by the experience of staying at Clayhill.


As a singer it has been one of the best spaces to sing in with generous reverberation and acoustics.  It is a space which complemented the type of instruments I was working with and the songs.


I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed being at your venue. It is a lovely and inspiring artistic space. The food was fantastic, homely yet unusual. I really enjoyed the day.


As an artist retreat, the venue at Clayhill Arts provided a warm and welcoming environment, allowing a safe and constructive space where individuals creative needs can be met. 


We were lucky enough to be able to take over the whole venue for a weekend, using the Granary as our base for experimentation, discussion and shared learning. The informality of the accommodation, and the relaxed surroundings, put everyone at ease and offered a space where cooperation and encouragement evolved naturally.


Everything was wonderful! This is a beautiful place. Thank you, we really enjoyed our stay.


Clayhill feels remote which is great but it also is close to Cannington which has everything, so supplies can be bought without travelling a great distance...I also really enjoyed that it is still a working farm, because it feels productive and there is such a lot of life around us which is very inspiring


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