Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Getting Ready for the Holidays!

Well, here we go, getting ready for the Holidays all over again. Today I thought I might start off by printing Christmas tags. These are larger tags, 4 x 1.5 inches, almost bookmark size. They can serve as a gift tag . . . or a micro-Christmas card. The perfect thing to slide under a windshield wiper or in a door jam or any place where you might wish to slip a discrete Christmas greeting. Or . . . use it for a large gift. I like to use this sort of thing to accompany a tip at a restaurant. These will be banded in quantities of ten.

The text is set in 30 point Chaucerian Black Letter. The Holly border font came from Quaker City. The Blackletter font is about fifty years old. Possibly older. Colour is process red, oil base, and process green, rubber base. Paper stock is 110 lb cotton rag (Crane Lettra.) You might be able to see from the photo how nicely this open fibre stock gives way under the pressure of the impression, leaving a nice debossed print. Ahh, classic Letterpress!

These are limited quantity. While these are being produced for friends and family, I will make the remainder available for purchase if anyone is interested. Just e-mail me at wd4nka@aim.com for pricing. I promise a hard to beat price for a two colour hand crafted Letterpress Item.

That's it for this installment. Short and sweet.

Good Providence in all your Letterpress Endeavours!


G. Johanson, Printer.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Finishing the Scratchboard

Here it is, finished up and "cleared out". The "clearing out" part meant scraping the white areas because ink dust from the stylii and the brush can actually tone the white areas in the same manner as graphite dust. What you see in the foreground are my makeshift tools: an Exacto knife (for clearing broader areas), a stick-pin in a brass optical reamer holder (use the needle for fine areas and for layout outlining - depending on the needle, the line produced can be so thin as to serve as a guide line which can be easily scribed over), and a Mabelene mascara brush to wipe away scribing dust, yet not so heavily so as to rub it into the white clay area. Yet another tool is a fine point Sharpie for corrections. I would have used my Rapidograph, but when cleaning it this morning I discovered the pin plunger in the venturi had broken somehow. It's now a casualty.

Here is a bit better view. Just to review, what I did today was finish out the flywheel, the ink disk and the drawers. This particular press is actually a Golding Pearl Old Series 5x8", using the three drawer storage table. My actual Pearl is larger, 7x11, and uses the two drawer table. The drawers are bigger. Those of you that follow my blog and know your Pearls might also note the roller hook journals were adapted from my 7x11. The 5x8 in the engraving that I photocopied had something different, and it wasn't clear just what I was seeing.

Yet a closer look at some detail. Here is where the "woodcut" nature of scratchboard or Clayboard really stands out. And to be truthful, my earliest background in graphics and pen and ink rendering as a kid of 7 or 8 years old was copying cuts from Duerer and engravings of Theodore De Bry. I loved how the hatching of lines could produce a building up of tonal values. Then later, I was introduced to a gentleman named Thomas Bewick, and a whole new world of white on black line scribing technique was introduced. All this to say, the natural wood-cut 'look' is most likely further enhanced by my personal technique, which is very wood-cut influenced.

Boy, I talk a lot, don't I?

Well, anyway, that's it. I may attempt to plate this, but I think I will hold off on that until the next experiment which I hope will be something that will eventually end up being printed on paper - via the iron Letterpress, of course!

BTW . . . I ain't no Bewick. :>)

Good Providence in all your Letterpress Endeavours!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Scratchboard Technique for Letterpress

I wanted to produce some very high contrast artwork for Letterpress use. I can't think of a higher contrast media than Scratchboard, or "Clayboard". This is a media that I used with my first Letterpress operation "Heirloom Press" in Palm Harbor, Florida. Back then, the images were shot using high contrast line film by Southern Engravers. These days, this sort of thing is scanned and processed as a vector image, then sent to a plater for a Letterpress die.

The above subject is a Golding Pearl Old Series No. 3. I used both the photocopy of a 19th century engraving and my own 1909 Pearl. Hence, some differences.

Clayboard, or Scratchboard, is traditionally a stiff paper or board [in my case, tempered masonite] layered with a white clay or chalk substance, then covered with an even coating of black India ink. The idea is to scratch through the ink to expose the white clay beneath. The result is essentially an engraving, which can very much take on the personality of a woodcut or wood engraving. The size of the above piece is 5x7 inches.

Here is a close-up. You can see that I am not yet finished, I have yet to do the ink disk and flywheel. Then, I'll "open" up the white background to create a black border. Now, this is my first crack at doing this in twenty-odd years, so the old hand-eye factor is a bit rusty. Critical evaluation tells me that this particular image may not be so well suited for plating, the lines on much of the shading are really too thin, and will not reproduce well as a vector. If I send a high pixel image (1200 dpi or higher) to be reproduced photographically it would be a trick to keep the very shallow lines from filling in. So my next attempt will be less "shaded" and more "woodcut" looking.

I will add that Clayboards can be touched up with pen and ink. Just as the ink is scratched away, corrections and additions can be made by re-applying ink, letting it dry, and doing a re-work of any given area. I will probably take a Rapidograph pen to some small parts of this piece.

I want to create a Kelmscott Press looking Book Plate. I think this technique can provide a good artboard resource.

That's it for this installment. And as always, Best of Providence in your Letterpress endeavours!