At the Frederick Book Arts Center, more than 10 pieces of equipment are scattered around, each of a trade Johnny Carrera is deeply passionate about.

“I think the fear of computers taking over hand-held books has really inspired people to learn the arts of letterpress printing and there is just such a joy that people get when they print something, and they can hold it in their hands, and it’s beautiful,” Carrera explained.

Carrera, who is the executive director, and partner Sara Friedman are opening the space to help teach bookbinding, darkroom photography, printmaking, and letterpress printing.

And it’s using the letterpress where Carrera demonstrated the art of setting a line of words in 12-point century Schoolbook type by each individual letter.

“You handset letter-by-letter lines of type and that’s how books have been made since the time of Gutenberg,” Carrera said.  

Some of the equipment used in the four disciples dates back to the late 1800s, and early 1900s, including a guillotine, used to trim the edges of a bound-book, and a platen press.

“[While using the platen press] you stand in front of it and you set the paper in, and it can go rather quickly moved with your hand or you work a foot treadle, so you’ll work it with your foot and be feeding paper in and out,” Carrera explained.

And it’s the mechanical repetition of these skills from generations past that pull people in, like Corrine Wilson, who creates linoleum relief prints.

“When I’m carving the linoleum, it’s a very meditative process, and I think that’s probably my favorite part. People like to use their hands, they like to have things that are unique, that are made just by them,” explained volunteer coordinator and communications director, Corrine Wilson.

The Frederick Book Arts Center will officially open in March.

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