11045Re: [PPLetterpress] photopolymer plate newbie
- Sep 18, 2009On 17 Sep 2009, at 8:32 PM, Claire Gendron wrote:
> This is my first post to this group.Welcome Claire!
> I've used illustrator and photoshop quite a bit and just bought aCongratulations!
> pilot and
> am really excited about creating my own designs.
Welcome again to the wonderfully fulfilling and regularly frustrating
world of letterpress printing (with polymer!)
> I know how to use the adobe programs but I don't know what resolutionUnless you are attempting to produce halftone images (ie, like photos
> settings/types of images are best to use to create plates. Are line
in a newspaper), which would likely increase your frustration level
quite a lot as a beginner, stick to line art, 100% solid spot-colors,
and relatively small solid areas. Small presses are great for type,
not for solid color across the whole piece.
> Can varying gray scales be reproduced? Also, would a deep relief baseOnly if the extra depth allows you to use gauge pins
> be better than a regular base?
> Why do they recommend a smaller base thanBecause on most hand-fed platen presses, you have to put gauge pins in
> the printer's chase size?
the tympan sheet and the base will smash into them.
> Any information would be appreciated as I don't have any otherHmmm. I highly recommend searching out the (inevitable?) other hidden
> source of
> information, have never used a press, and have yet to have
> goaded my significant other into setting up my pilot : (
letterpress folks in your area.
While this list is full of helpful people (and an invaluable archive,
highly recommended) there's nothing like seeing the real thing in
Here are my top five points for letterpress printers
1. Keep your hands out of the press when it's moving
1a. check three times before turning the press that no collisions
are imminent - between form and gauge pins, frisket arms and form, etc
etc. Go slow.
2. use waaaaay less ink than you think you'll need... a teaspoon of
ink will print thousands of business cards ;-)
But if you're mixing a color, mix more than you think you'll need! Mix
magnesium carbonate (a type of chalk from printmaking suppiers like
Daniel Smith) into your ink to 'shorten it'. Most commercial printing
inks are for lithography and are far too viscous to work well for
relief printing. Use more 'mag' than you think you'll need ;-).... but
not too much!
2a. Don't hesitate to dump your ink, wash the press and start over
if it's not working right.
2b. use waaay less ink on the press than you think you'll need...
did I say that already?
3. raise the rollers, using layers of thin, smooth (Scotch?) tape on
the roller tracks. If they no longer ink the form, they're too high.
Otherwise, keep raising them ;-)
3a. buy new rollers and never let them sit on the form or the ink-
plate for longer than a few seconds. Flat spots are easily prevented,
but will ruin any chance of good printing.
3b. use good steel roller trucks, and keep them as clean as possible
4. use an appropriate stock, appropriate packing behind the tympan
sheet and appropriate makeready. In the final days of commercial
letterpress, printers used as smooth and hard a stock as possible to
get a very sharp 'kiss' impression, with practically no depth. Today,
we have the luxury of using fine soft papers, like fine-art etching
(Rives, Arches, Hahnemuhle) or a few commercial papers such as Crane's
Lettra, designed to take the depth of impression. However, the back
side of the sheet should still show very little evidence. Use as
little makeready as possible (the sheets under the tympan added to the
packing), but use enough!
4a. Control the humidity in the press room. Winter dryness will make
for very hard paper. 50% humidity is excellent, but nearly impossible
to maintain in heating season (or in the desert, etc). Dampened paper
is a joy to print, but adds substantially to the time, and is
impractical for many jobs, and for many papers. Check the archives
here for more on that.
5. Demand perfection from your press. But be happy with progress ;-)
Good luck, and keep us up to date!
Exquisite Letterpress from Slow Print Studios
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