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Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Well, whatever else one might say about that experience, I think you learned more about the actual craft of printing from that one invitation than most people do from dozens of deep impression jobs with photopolymer plates. You're learning to be a printer and not just a print-maker.

I'm guessing that the paper and possibly the ink may have combined to cause the problem with the Gallia. Lettra is "made for letterpress" in the sense of the modern, deep impression style. I've heard, though not experienced as I've never used it myself, that it does not always do so well with a lighter impression.

I helped a friend about a month ago print some invitations on a Vandercook with a photopolymer plate. To soften the paper for the crush of the impression I held the sheets over a steaming coffee pot, moving them back and forth for about a minute before handing them over. That seemed to work really well without soaking the paper. If I even have a need to dampen sheets for printing I'm going to use that method.


Thanks, Rich, that's a really nice thing to say. Becoming a good printer is the goal, so you're right, it was all in service to that goal.

I think that is a fantastic idea for dampening paper, and next time I will try it. I wish I had thought of it before!

I bought some Lettra when I first got the Kelsey, just to give it a shot. I go back and forth about how much I like it - perhaps because I don't do huge impression. But since I have it, I use it.

But in the coming month or so, I'm planning to start experimenting with a few different papers to see what kind I like the best.

Do you have a current favorite stock?

I've used a number of different kinds of paper, from bond and index to laid 100% cotton Stratmore. It's all found paper, I've not actually had to buy any yet.

I tend to choose from the stock I have available what I think will work best for the application. When I printed the poetry broadside I used a 100% cotton laid paper because I was trying to get an antique look and feel. For my pads I had some fairly heavy weight bond cut-offs, some of which were a bit creased. Since the pads I've made so far have been nothing fancy, strictly for their intended purpose, I used some of that stock. I had a lot of boxes of older die-cut card stock a bit larger than standard modern business card size (which I like) with a very slight vellum finish and I used some of them for my business cards, trimming the corners on my corner rounder.

No doubt I'll have to actually buy paper for some reason at some point but I've a pretty good selection and I like the challenge of working out something with what I have, like I do when choosing a typeface.

I have nothing against Lettra, and if I was printing wedding invitations for the average modern client would use it if that's what they wanted. But on the other hand, why do what everyone else is doing, even in that area. I think that good typography, paper and ink selection including color, quality of printing, etc. have a lot more to do with a good job that sets letterpress apart than debossed letters.

Hi! It's been a while. I think it all looks terrific, though I can totally feel your pain. When I first started up I volunteered to print the invites for a fundraiser, and included a large, completely opaque tree in the design -- not ultimately knowing what I was up against. I could not for the life of me figure out why the impression was deep at the bottom and light at the top until duh, I realized it was the mechanics of the press. My point being that it's not all obvious, and hindsight is twenty-twenty.
I wish I could say why you had such problems with the type on the invite --I have nothing to offer. Meantime I've been making notes on a soon-to-be order from Don Black and they're both on the list! Anyways I guess my best advice, based on what I've learned is:
1. Build a pyramidal stack of paper to correct for the impression
2. Shave your rails to smooth them -- which everyone advises against but you can simply add a piece of cardboard behind your form -- do it with a fine grit sanding sort of thing. My vocab is obviously rusty but I think you'll know what I mean.
More importantly I just moved studios and despite expanding am running out of space -- I have my original Pearl Improved that is broken, and needs to be braised (spelling?) that I would love to see go to a good home. If you think you can fix it -- it basically needs to be clamped and braised -- it's yours for the taking. I'd like to see it go to a good home.
Email me if you'd like it or would like to see it. And I should mention that it won't be too difficult to move -- I can have my husband come help your man move it onto a truck or whatever, and you'll need two burly guys at your end.
Okay that's it. But free Pearl that needs some love. Think on it, I'd rather you have dibs on it before I put it on Briarpress.

Ahem. I also don't know the terminology for what's broken -- I'm happy to send pictures but it's basically the base of the top half that connects to the platen. A fairly significant crack that, again, needs a bit of goop.

Wow, Elisabeth is the most generous person ever.

I also like this, like on the part one they are truly beautiful invitations. :)


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