Typesetting and Printing the Stories of Paper Dolls


Typesetting uses individual letters and spacing made of lead to construct the paragraphs which are then printed with a letterpress. The inked letters press into the paper leaving the printed image behind. This method is full of rich tradition and craft.


More than half of the authors came and set their own type. None had done it before so they needed to use a diagram to find the letters. 


photo courtesy Dottie Guy

 The letters are placed in the composing stick (shown) upside down and backwards.  Definitely a tedious task.

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Careful proofing is needed as letters, spacing, even entire sentences can find themselves way out of place.

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Intricacies and finesse are needed for just the right amount of impression, ink, margin and correct placement. 

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Riza and Habib were our typesetters from Diablo Valley Community College. They came every week to set type.

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Margarita’s (U.S. Air Force) story ready to be printed, along with the item of her Air Force uniform that inspired her story.


Dottie (U.S. Army) working through her story. She set her whole story in about five hours. Way to go Dottie!

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Jo (U.S. Air Force) and Luana (U.S. Army) came for several days all the way from Nevada!

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Pam and Michele (U.S. Army) collaborating.


Susanne (U.S. Air Force) proudly displaying her completed page. She was our first typesetter.

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This is our letterpress. A 10 x 15 hand-fed Kluge.


Left: the ink is on the disk.  The rollers pick it up and then pass over the type which then presses into the paper.
Right: Pam hand-feeds the press. Over 6500 pages were printed one-by-one for the book.

Posted by: on October 30th, 2013