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This is How We Do It - A Fine Press
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Aug 14 2017

This is How We Do It

OK, so it’s not how we do all of it. But here’s a sneak peek into the production of a letterpress wedding invitation. Letterpress projects tend to be fairly straight-forward in the shop. Pick the paper, pick the colors, order the supplies and print.

When we add more unconventional materials or exotic processes, everything gets a little more complicated – more on that in an upcoming film.

But for now, enjoy this little behind the scenes. Watch it and come back for a few explanations:

0:57 – That’s a small scale that measures to the 1/100 of an ounce. Since virtually every letterpress paper is uncoated, I use the PANTONE solid uncoated swatch deck┬áto mix by. There are 14 base colors in a set of PANTONE inks. The formula gives me a parts ratio calculation as well as a percentage calculation of each ink. I measure out 0.5 oz. or 1.0 oz. for most projects.

1:16 – Those blue rollers at the top don’t really serve a purpose in the particular project. On larger runs, they pull ink from that metal contraption at the top (the one they roll up to – it’s called an ink fountain) and replenish the ink on the big ink disk. The black rollers move ink from the ink disk down to the forme, so we call them forme rollers.

1:19 – That’s the photopolymer plates I’m printing with. One for each color. There’s an old, bad video on my channel that tells you a little more about them.

2:19 – I print one impression on that manilla paper – called a tympan – so I can know where to position my press sheets. The art has to be perfectly parallel to the bottom edge so that everything stays square when I trim them.

2:41 – That lever turns the impression on and off. When it’s thrown back, the press won’t print. I need this so it doesn’t print on the tympan when there’s no sheet in there.

3:53 – There’s no ink at all on the press here.

4:00 – The vellum overlay is printed digitally. I run it on copy paper first to make sure it sits where it’s supposed to on the sheet. That’s a good rule of thumb. Use cheaper paper to get your positioning (register) right.

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