Jeff Shay

Jeff Shay, principal of Buzzworm Studios, Board Chair, C.C. Stern Type Foundry, has been making art for over 25 years. Jeff earned a BFA with Distinction (magna cum laude) from Art Center College of Design. He has taught a full range of printmaking techniques as a lab instructor at Art Center. Jeff acquired his first letterpress equipment in 1995 and has been collecting cast iron ever since. In 2010, he joined the Board of the C.C. Stern Type Foundry, where he works to restore, run and display the type casting machines that form the Foundry’s Museum of Metal Typography.

Jeff Shay has been a major contributor to the following articles:

Installing a Press

There is more to installing a press than rolling it into a space. A bit of planning and gathering of supplies will make your installation easier in the short run and printing more efficient and enjoyable in the long run. While this article deals with presses specifically, keep in mind … Continue reading

Leading and Border Casting Machines

Letterpress printing requires more than type—word spacing, line spacing (leading), rule, fancy borders, and ornaments all contribute to the legibility and beauty of the final printed piece. Word spacing (and ornaments) are most commonly cast with a sorts caster such as a Thompson, or Monotype Type and Rule Caster. While … Continue reading

Thompson Type Caster

The Thompson Type Caster could in many ways be considered a transition machine, sitting between foundry machines like the Barth casters that were used by the American Type Founders Company (ATF), and machines that were intended for casting slugs (Linotype, Intertype and Ludlow) or composed type (Monotype) for printing office … Continue reading

Type Founding

From Gutenberg’s invention of “movable type” in the 1400’s until the mid 1800’s, type founding remained essentially the same—type metal was poured by hand into a mould closed by a matrix. With the industrial revolution and the increase in literacy and the accompanying rise in the demand for printed material, … Continue reading

Ludlow Typograph

The Ludlow Typograph (Ludlow) was perfected in 1909 by William A. Reade. It is a linecasting machine that utilizes individual hand-set matrices (mats). The mats are assembled in a purpose built stick that is then locked into the top of the machine. When the casting lever is tripped, a mould … Continue reading

Linotype and Intertype

The Linotype is considered to be the first commercially successful automated typesetting machine. While the development of the machine was iterative, 1885 is given as the invention date for the original machine, and in fact the same basic principles were used in all subsequent Linotype and Intertype models. The Linotype … Continue reading


The Monotype, or more accurately, the Monotype System, was brought to market in its most common current form in 1900. This followed a number of years of experimentation that created working machines that were displayed but not mass produced. While the competition between Linotype and Monotype was fierce, the printing … Continue reading


While ventilation needs in the letterpress shop can be minimized through the judicious use of solvents, some solvent use is unavoidable. To minimize exposure to yourself and your shop mates, proper ventilation is key. Setting up a Ventilation System The first thing to remember when setting up a ventilation system … Continue reading


Since we rarely have the luxury of beautiful north light in our shops (or for that matter the luxury of only printing during the day), good artificial lighting is essential. Luckily, technology has progressed from the kerosene lanterns and gas lights of our forebears, allowing us to print in well-lit … Continue reading

Water and Electrical Needs

Water and electrical needs in the letterpress shop are generally modest. All but the largest presses typically use motors under one horsepower, and unless you’re processing your own photopolymer plates, you’ll use more water making coffee than letterpress printing. That said, there can be surprises and obstacles when dealing with … Continue reading


As with any activity that involves machinery, chemicals and people, there are risks associated with letterpress printing. But with thoughtful preparation and procedures these can be minimized. Here are some things to think about when you set up and work in your shop. And one general safety rule to start … Continue reading

Equipment Moving

Moving equipment can be one of the most daunting parts of setting up your letterpress shop. Whether you hire professional riggers or convince a few knowledgeable friends to help you, here are some things to think about. Hiring a Professional First and foremost, if you’re not comfortable moving heavy equipment, … Continue reading