About Book History Workshop

Student prepping a ball ink tool

This five-day workshop, limited to 20 students, provides an intensive, hands-on introduction to the history of books and printing. The workshop is intended for librarians, archivists, students, teachers, collectors, and private individuals who have an interest in the first three and a half centuries of the printed book.

Daily lab sessions concentrate on printing in the hand press era and its allied technologies, including typecasting, papermaking, bookbinding, illustration, and ink-making. Among the activities included in these sessions are casting type in a hand mould, setting type and preparing it for the press, printing on a period-accurate common press, papermaking, creating marbled and paste papers, and experimenting with a number of book illustration techniques.

Throughout the week, seminar sessions provide a thematic survey of book and printing history, with the collections of Cushing Memorial Library providing examples of some of the most significant artifacts and books in the history of recorded culture. These objects include Mesopotamian clay tablets and medieval manuscripts before focusing on developments in the hand press era.

The workshop concludes with a celebratory wayzgoose, a reenactment of the annual party traditionally thrown by the master printer for his journeymen and apprentices.