book-making videos

It’s one thing to read about how paper was made or how intaglio printing worked, but it’s a much better thing to see it in action. Below are some videos that help illustrate various processes of book-making activities.

books, an overview

The Making of a Renaissance Book was produced on-site at the Museum Plantin-Moretus in 1969 and goes through the entire process of book-making from cutting type, imposing, printing, and stop-press changes. It has an insistent harpsichord soundtrack and people look very 1960s, but it’s a lovely short introduction to the process.

Museum Plantin-Moretus has more recently produced a video introducing the museum and press more generally, taking the approach of “a day in the life of Christopher Plantin” that includes a look at his shop and, from around the 7-minute to 15-minute marks, an explanation of how books were made.


Creating Digital Collections takes a look at the decisions and processes of digitizing textual objects. (Centre for the History of the Book, University of Edinburgh)

intaglio plates and printing

From Paper to Copper: The Engraver’s Process shows a demonstration by Andrew Stein Raftery in creating an engraved copper plate, inking, and then printing the plate on a rolling press. (Rhode Island School of Design)

In How Rembrandt Made His Etchings artist Alexander Massouras demonstrates and discusses the techniques of etching used by Rembrandt, and other artists of the period. (Christie’s)

Printmaking Processes: Intaglio includes information about both engraving and etching copper plates, as well as the variant techniques of aquatint and drypoint, before concluding with inking and printing. (Minneapolis Institute of Art)


Music Printing in the Renaissance covers the various techniques used to print music in the early modern period, from double-impression printing to indvidual staved notes to plates. (The Open University)


Chancery Papermaking is a video of Timothy Barrett and his students making paper according to traditional papermaking techniques. A highly-recommended follow-up for those who crave more information is his essay, “European Papermaking Techniques, 1300–1800.” (Center for Book Arts, University of Iowa)

type making

Stan Nelson produces and stars in a series of 5 short films demonstrating how he hand-makes type today, from punch cutting to casting to assembling a mold.

woodcut blocks and printing

How was it made? Woodcut Printing 1450 – 1520 follows artist Anne Desmet as she transfers the images of old playing cards onto new blocks, then cuts and prints them; part of their very fun “How was it made?” series of short videos looking at objects in their collections. (Victoria & Albert Museum)