Ri Xing Type Foundry has the last complete set of traditional Chinese character lead-type molds in the world.
It was a solid month of brand new experience concentrating on Traditional Chinese Typography and letterpress. As a graphic design student here at MICA, I learn about detail typographic rules and skill set for English typography, and constantly work in digital format. However, I have always wanted to have more hands on experience with typography with my own native language and culture- the Chinese/ Taiwanese culture. The experience of interning at RiXing turn out to be exactly what I wanted, and I am really grateful for that I have seen and experience during that one month of internship.
I first encounter and visit to RiXing was back in summer 2011- It was an eye opening experience. The letterpress system which I am familiar with here in the States contain only 26 alphabets; however, in order to categorize the traditional Chinese characters- it is certainly a difficult task. In RiXing's categorization system: there are 2000+ “frequently” used words, and 6000+ ordinary words. Try to imagine the process of categorizing and placing each metal type to its own tiny little shelf? And not to mention RiXing carries 3 different font, and 8 different font sizes.... . The shop might seem old and dusty, but it is full of treasure, history, and its unique values.
During my stay at RiXing, I get to experience all work process for the shop: the character repair/ design, creating copper matrix using CNC machine, purely manual labor casting metal types, type setting, organizing, and printing. All these process link tightly with one another, and I am really thankful for the shop owner- Mr.Chang's supportive attitude and accessibility, I truly learned so much simply by talking to him on a daily bases.
Overall, this experience at RiXing was amazing- Although I know I wont be go for this industry for my future career, it was certainly an eye opening journey with tons of sweat (the temperature goes up to 617F when casting the types!!)
I am grateful for this unique internship opportunity at RiXing, and I look forward to see more people recognized and appreciate the great value for the Traditional Chinese Metal Type/ Letterpress culture.
For more detail information about RIXIng, here is an article about the shop-