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Re: [PPLetterpress] Digest Number 2404

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  • Elisabeth Long
    You asked about whether it makes a difference whether or not images or text should be printed first. There are several things you will want to think about: -
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 17, 2009
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      You asked about whether it makes a difference whether or not images or
      text should be printed first. There are several things you will want
      to think about:
      - Letterpress puts down a thin layer of ink which, consequently, has
      transparency. So you will see through one layer to the other and
      where they overlap you will achieve a mixed color. But the order can
      make subtle differences - orange over blue will not look quite the
      same as blue over orange because the top color will be 'floating' over
      the other. So, for instance, if you print black text and a light
      colored- image over it, you will see something of that color on the
      black type. If you print the text last, it will appear more black.
      Also, if you have large text or an image with a large flat areas of
      one color, the showthrough will be more obvious than on smaller text
      or more intricate images. In my piece for the Vandercook Centennial
      print bundle, I printed the word Vandercook over a background of
      numbers. (see here:
      As you can see, the large letter V very clearly shows the text
      underneath. The rest of the word, in smaller red letters, optically
      displays less showthrough. If you look closely, it is equally there,
      but it is more noticeable on large flats of color than on smaller

      - A second issue you may want to consider will depend on how deep your
      impression is. If you print something with a deep impression and then
      print something over it, the ink from the second pass won't get down
      into the deep gulleys of the first pass. So, for instance, you
      wouldn't get any color mixing in that case. Also, if you had printed
      a deeply impresses text that wasn't overinked (and so has ink in the
      base of the impress, but not squishing up the sides), and then you
      print a flat over it, you could get white outlines around the text
      where neither pass deposits ink on the area going up the sides of the

      So all of these properties of letterpress printing can be used to
      interesting effect. It isn't necessarily "right" to print the flat
      first and the text second, but it might be if you want a particular
      effect. And you might want to reverse the order if you want a
      different effect. The key is to understand the basic mechanics of how
      the ink is laid down on the paper, how that effects the final look,
      and how it is affected by the size and shape of the things being
      printed. You also spoke adding in silkscreening too - you'll need to
      consider the different qualities of that ink (which is often more
      opaque) and the flatness of that process.

      Oh, and I should mention that the amount of gloss in your ink can have
      a big effect on the layers. If you really want to understand
      layering, you should take a look at Ken Campbell's work - he is a
      master at it. Unfortunately the images on his website aren't big
      enough to do justice to his work which is best seen in person. I have
      a couple closeups of one of his books in an article I wrote about him
      on my blog http://www.signoftheowl.com/blog/2009/03/figuring-absence-pt-3/
      Scroll down to the one labeled 'detail' and then click on it to see a
      larger version. You'll see how mixing gloss and flat ink have a
      particular effect. You can also see what I was saying about color
      mixing and transparency in the area where the white bar overlaps the
      black one. The end of the article has a link to Campbell's website to
      explore more of his works.

      Good luck on your Penland residency.
      -Elisabeth Long

      > 1a. Letterpress papers
      >    Posted by: "mellen" camsoupy@... camsoupy
      >    Date: Sun Dec 13, 2009 8:58 am ((PST))
      > Any other recommendations for getting imagery in besides polymer plates? Should images be printed first, then text or doesn't it matter?
      > Also interested in combining silkscreen and letterpress. Same questions as above.
      > Thanks for your help. Feel free to make any other suggestions for this newbie.
      > Mary-Ellen
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