Saturday, June 13, 2009

Letterpress Set-up

When I describe my interest in letterpress, many people have lots of questions and can't really visualize the process. Today I finished up printing some new business cards and thought it would be a good opportunity to "show off" my set-up.

For my business cards, I started out designing in InDesign. Once finished, a pdf is sent off to get a letterpress cut. These cuts are made of magnesium and are reflected so they print correctly.

Mixing the ink color comes next. For my business cards, a dark orange was appropriate. This is where my background in painting comes in handy to mix up the right color. I use a Nolan Proof Press, so I hand ink every pass of the press. After inking the cut, I place the stock on the cut, apply the packing, and pull the roller across the cut. And then I repeat and repeat.

Since each piece is hand inked and pulled, one consideration to keep in mind is registration. Each color on a piece has to go through the press a separate time. In addition, the paper has to be registered properly to ensure proper placement.

There are many ways to handle registration, but thus far I've been using masking tape to eyeball the placement. Thus far it has been working fairly well, but tight registration does pose a problem with my masking tape system. I hope to look into a better registration system as I get into more complicated designs, but for now it works.
There's a short overview of letterpress. Hope you all enjoy :) Back to making more prints!


The Dingbat (Adrienne) said...

This is a great post, I love seeing how other people set up. I like to include crop marks on my business cards for tight registration but another way to do it without crop marks is by using graph paper when printing your first few sheets, then registration for the second color is a breeze. Keep it up!

Brandi Powell said...

Great Post Danielle! So fun to see your studio! Awesome!