On a recent trip to visit a friend in Portland, I got a tip to check out Em Space, a letterpress studio and book arts center. Very cool place.

Em Space is located in the heart of the industrial part of the city (south-east), and we noticed that there were other commercial printing companies around, so we suspected we were in the right place.

Em Space is a co-op, where membership allows you rights to use the member-owned-and-loaned presses, sets of type, and more. Rory, the founder, was very cool and explained a little bit about the structure of the organization, and she was very open to sharing ideas for those who want to start a print co-op in their own city.

One of the presses they have in the studio is the Vandercook, which celebrated its 100th birthday in 2009! New York printers Barbara Henry and Roni Gross enlisted artists from around the world to create works on this press in honor of its place in history. The collection is named the Vandercook Book. Em Space was lucky enough to have access to one set of the prints, and we checked them out on the studio wall. Amazing work.

“The company was started in Chicago in September 1909 by R.O. Vandercook. Designed to proof a page of type before being sent to the press, the earliest proof presses depended on a roller and the force of gravity to make an impression of type on paper. The Vandercook proof press built upon this technology to incorporate a carriage and cylinder that could be finely adjusted.” (from The Museum of Printing History)