If you're a digital native, you may have grown up without ever interacting with physical type. Here's a fun new project that can round out that experience.
We spend so much time working in digital nowadays it's hard to remember that for hundreds of years, typography was a purely physical medium. But if you don't have a letterpress studio of your own, here's a great way to experience that analogue experience for yourself.
BlockFace is a stamp kit designed to help you explore typography and more. Designed by graphic artist Will Mower, it's essentially a modular typography printing kit that's very easy to use. You simply combine the stamps to construct letterforms, design typographic posters and cards, and explore the joys of printmaking.
An artist, designer and printmaker, Will first became interested in modular systems and printmaking in 2013 during a period of creative block. Influenced by an interest in play, he began designing toolkits that could free up his approach to making.
The first BlockFace type kit, originally named Alpha-Set, was released in 2018 and contained 16 laser-cut rubber stamps with wooden grips and a set of instructions for creating a single typeface.
The set was then developed through workshops, and an updated version that offered more flexibility and a wider set of typeface options was released in 2021.
Going open source
Because Will struggled to keep up with the demand for the kit, he partnered with the Open Press Project to figure out how to make it more widely available.
Like Will, the people behind the Open Press Project are printmaking enthusiasts dedicated to making the medium more accessible. Since 2020, they've been manufacturing small 3D printed printing presses and shipped more than 5,000 to all corners of the world, so they know how to mass-produce 3D printed parts, assemble them into products and ship them reliably.
Together, they created the current iteration of the BlockFace kit: a set of 24 rubber stamps with a 3D-printed grip and a layer of cushioning foam. The kit comes in a fancy cardboard box with magnetic closure and the Typebook, a manual containing instructions on constructing six different letterform styles.
The BlockFace kit is available to purchase through a Kickstarter campaign. BlockFace is also an open-source project, so if you have access to a 3D printer or laser-cutting machine, you can freely download the files and guides and create your own kit.