Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Beary, Berry Christmas: a Christmas Card Design by Anna Coleman.

Anna decided that she wanted not only to design her card, but to do the actual printing.  We decided to use the Pearl OS Model 3 (7x11), despite the absence of rollers.  This gave her the opportunity to hand ink the die.  It was a bit of a process, but she did develop a cadence.  This also gave me a chance to put the Pearl through a few cycles of actual printing.

We used two types of card stock, a classic white linen finish and a light grey laid card stock, both by Neenah.  The original artword is pen and ink on bristol board.

Anna's favorite subjects are animals.  She has a unique style that can give very human personalities to them, yet keeping them completely in their natural animal state.   Her graduate portfolio review show was based on "Anthromorphism", the rendering of human likeness through animal behaviour in illustration techniques.  Anna has a background in illustrating childrens books going back to her first professional contract at age 12.  She currently works at Rifle Studios, Winter Park, and does freelance design as the occasion permits.

The cards were a big hit. Publication was limited to 100, handed to friends, family, and associates.  And dear old dad.


Ex Libris

This Christmas found me printing something I always wanted, but never had time to do for myself: Book Plates!  Sometimes, these are referred to as 'Ex Libris' cards, or labels.  Ex Libris is Latin for "Out of the Library of".  Book Plates are as old as the Book itself.  It was created to mark the owner, in a day when books could cost anywhere from a months to a year's salary for a skilled workman or Professional.  To loan a book was to lend a substantial investment.  Figure that, say, Bailey's Etymology, a Dictionary from the 1730s (mine was printed in 1732) took a single printer about one year to compose, set, print, bind, and put into the sales line-up.  In some cases books took several years to produce.  Matthew Henry's Commentary took so much effort to print that Matthew Henry Himself took part in the process of printing it.   As mentioned above, the price of such an item reflects the work that went into it (as well as the demand for it, which must have been likewise substantial!)

The Book Plate played the same role as a brand mark on cattle.  There was no mistake who the owner of the book was.  Any attempt to remove the Book Plate left disfigurement that made it obvious that a person's Book Plate was once there, and that the book itself may have been stolen. To put it in today's vernacular, lending a book was much like lending out your iPad 2.  You sorta kinda would like it back.

Book Plates were very personalized.  Earlier examples were often very simple printed labels, typeset, with perhaps a decorative border.  Many book collectors still prefer these types.  Some featured a family's coat of arms, such as the plate on my 1807 copy of Walkers Dictionary, sporting the Plate of  John Stephenson Cann, brewer of Wymondham, Norfolk, and owner of the Kings Head Publick House 1780 - 1840:


Others carried regular works of art, and were commissioned.  In the latter 19th century and early 20th century, many notables of the day had commissioned Book Plates that reflected something about the owner.  Masks of Comedy or Tragedy perhaps, if you were an actor.  Artists, Scientists, Philosophers, Military Officers, Politicians, Musicians, notables of all walks of life....even silent screen actors.....used custom Book Plates to mark their libraries.  And yes, some of these folks had very large, well appointed libraries.  It was a very literary era.  One that I find more imitated, rather than actuated, today.

My son in law, Zac, recent biblical studies graduate, mentioned his attraction for Ex Libris cuts and expressed a wish to one day have some for his own growing library.  That was all I needed to hear.  Dad-in-law happens to have a Letterpress Shop.  How convenient.

I took for the central design a cut that dates to the 1640s.  It had been modified when I found it.  It is a zinc cut, in very good shape.  The design features a Post Rider, known as a Postilion.  His dress suggests Germany or Austria.  His mount is fully loaded and he is announcing his arrival with what became known as a Post Horn, which became the symbol of the Post in many countries of Europe for centuries.  In the upper left is the Arch Angel Michael announcing through a voice horn (fire masters used voice horns, predecessors to the megaphone, well into the 20th century to shout orders in the midst of a raging fire) - or maybe it's Gabriel playing a Sackbut.  On the right is Hermes, representing speed, handing off a sealed message to the post rider.  Possibly the world's first Air Mail delivery....

To the lower right we see townsfolk standing, hat in hand in a salutary gesture, awaiting the arrival of the Post.  Under the horse we see grave markers, broken impliments of war, and to the lower right we see a ship sailing into a serene and calm harbor.  We find flags mounted from a church steeple, from ships' masts.  All of these were symbols of things that marked everyday life.  Remember, this illustration was cut right at the end of the Thirty Years War, which ravaged Europe.  Death, War, Pestilence, invading armies, all determined your circumstance in the realm of things Temporal.  The Post Rider carried not only the mail: he was the Six O'Clock Evening News!  He was your connection to the outside world.  Not many newspapers were in circulation then, that would wait for another generation or so.  Hence, the post rider became symbolic for not only news from home, but news from around the world. 

This is a bit of detail.  The image is 3.5 x 2 inches.  The original illustration was a wood cut.  This is a "Zinco" from the original, date unknown.  My guess places this cut around 1920.  Note the retention of some rather fine lines.  I've seen the original cut, and have noted there were some editing that went on with this particular cut, but nothing significant.  I chose this cut for the "News" theme.  I like to think in terms of "Good News".  The news that Christ had come to rescue men from their certain and tragic fate.  News that God had so loved His Own that He gave His only son to be delivered for our transgressions and to be bruised for our iniquity.  This, Charlie Brown, is the meaning of Christmas.


Featured above and below the central cut are foundry cast crowns, from one of my traditional/18th century border fonts, using 18 pt. Lombardy.  I am not sure of the name, the type trays that contained these fonts were donated, and date to approximately 1900.  I carry these as a titling font, from 18 to 36 point, stored in home-made trays.  Home-made, I assume, by the prior owner. The Crowns are courtesy Quaker City Type Foundry, Honeybrook PA.


Here is a close up of the lower portion.  The impression is classic 'kiss', that is, enough pressure to adequately transfer the ink from the forme to the paper.  The paper itself is a discontinued vellum.  I chose this paper because of all the stock that sports the name "vellum", this paper actually has the look and feel of flesh-side vellum.  It has very nearly the same translucency and general conformation, although the grade is thinner and much more even in thickness.  It is slightly thicker than text weight, but no where near card stock.  It was a close-out item at my Orlando supplier, and I grabbed the one remaining ream.  I've been picking at it very slowly over the past two years.

My packaging was inspired by fellow blog-spotter Luis Seibert. My package is made from the same vellum as the cards, cut by scissors and sealed with a Letterpress Christmas Seal, the Centennial Commemorative of the first American Christmas Seal designed by Emily Bissel, 1907, for the National Red Cross.  I issued these in 2007 and in 2008 from the Florida Pioneer Settlement for the Creative Arts.  Printed in sheets of 12, they are the only commemorative seal that I know of.  The design is taken from that very first "Merry Christmas" seal. I thought it appropriate to use it to seal this little 'stocking stuffer'.  A cranberry ribbon surrounds the sides, held in place by 3M two-way framer's tape.

Here's a bit of a closer view of the Ex Libris package and seal.  Making the package was a project in itself.  If I decide to package Book Plates like this all the time, I will be designing a die to make the cuts.  That will speed things up tremendously.

Here are a couple shots of the ribbon around the sides.  Added a nice touch.  It would have been really classy to have a wax seal made.  That would require some sort of monogram design on my part.  But . . . . that's another project for another day.

So, in conclusion, the specs:
Size: 3.75 x 2.625 inches, horizontal orientation
Paper: Magna Carta Parchment "Coachlight" vellum finish, 60 lb, grain: long.
Inks: Kelsey Brown, tube, mfg 1980 ; Black, "Ink in Tubes"., purchased this year.
Type: 18pt Crown ornaments, monotype, Quaker City ; text: 18 pt. Lombardy, foundry: unknown
Center cut: Zinc, 3.25 x 1.75 inches, hardwood base, mfg. unknown, age unknown.

Availablilty: upon request.  E-mail wd4nka@aim.com

That's it for now.  Good Providence in your continued Holiday observation, and a safe, prosperous New Year!


Saturday, December 17, 2011

"I Thank My God for Every Rememberance of You...."

Such was the Apostle Paul's heartfelt greeting to the young Church and Philippi. To many of us, these words characterize the most warm and embracing thoughts of rememberance.  We captured these words as part of a greeting and note card series we are hoping to offer in 2012.  

My last installment showed the frame.  Since these cards are being given out to associates and friends of ours, we felt it appropriate to post the full description and photo essay until now.  

A brief description: These cards are pinted on both Neenah Classic Laid and on Crane Lettra, 110#.  The size is A2, 4.25 x 5.5 inches. They will be offered for sale in Lettra, with matching envelopes.  The wreath is green with just a touch of blue to tone it, and the text is cranberry.  

The florals were originally a woodcut created in the late 1890s by Derbeny et Cie, Paris.  The text is handset in open face Caslon, 18pt.  The process of printing, of course, is hand-fed Letterpress using my trusty 1936 New Series C&P 8x12.  The music that saw these cards through the processing, scoring and cutting was probably Beirut, Iron and Wine, and probably some Bridget Bardot from 1967.  Music is important in my shop.  Everything has a rhythm. You, me, the presses......gotta have music.

We are taking steps to open an Etsy Shop.  We will announce when that happens.  Fingers Crossed: I still have a 'day job' to contend with.  But, as the witch told Dorothy, "All in good time, dearie, all in good time.....and your little dog, too!"

Here is a bit more of a close-up of the card.  It is a horizontal fold-over type card.  One thing I noticed was that Lettra is not great for Calligraphy....it's great for ball point pen!  Thus, it makes a great paper for note cards!


Here is a close-up of the left side of the card.  You might click the photo to zoom in.  These cards are shaded with hatch lines, very fine.  Not an easy card to print.  Originally, these cuts were printed on a polished granite paper.  Open sized papers were not really used for production pieces in the 1890s, although you did see them used for Art pieces, art books, etc.  But in the late Victorian Era, polished stock was King. (Queen?)


A closer view of the right hand side.  These are either gardenias or camillias.  Just my guess.  These cuts frequented menu and stationery headers in their day.

My house font is Caslon, largely because in the 18th Century, it was the predominate face of the Western World.  Even Germans preferred it as a Roman face. My font of Open Face Caslon is used for titling, and is more than likely close to one hundred years old.  We believe this because it came with a lot of World War 1 items.  The font cleaned up nicely.  It is still being cast in monotype by Quaker City and, I believe, M&H. 

Marjorie, of "3 Toad Press" shared with me that a good way of toning red was the addition of black, which I did, about 7 parts 185 red to 1 part process black.  What resulted was a great, almost cranberry red.  Thanks, Marjorie!!

This is a final close up.  The photo was dark, so I lightened it a bit, which brightened the red a tad brighter than reality.  But it's a good clear shot of the 337 Caslon Old Style Italic I used for the address.  I order my Caslon from the same supplier that Colonial Williamsburg uses.  Caslon fell out of favor in the United States by 1810, being replaced by the heavier, bolder faces of Bodoni and the like, which seems to align with the growing feeling of "Manifest Destiny".  Caslon was too gentle, to graceful for the swaggering, westward seeking pioneer spirit that began to dominate the New Republic at the end of Mr. Madison's administration, the successful closing of the War of 1812-15, and the Jacksonian Era.  Alas.....I remain in the company of Franklin, Dunlap and Sellers.  Bottoms up, gents!

A Merry and Convivial Christmastide to you all, and the most Providential of New Year grace us all!!

Gary, the Printer.

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Stationery "Shell Design".

The idea here is to produce a nice looking 'shell' into which I can handset a Scripture verse.  The cut itself dates back to the 1890s, and was originally a wood-cut used by a Parisian printing company, Deberney et Cie.  The stock used is Crane Lettera and Neenha Classic Laid cover.  These are A2 broadfold cards, and will include a matching envelope.  

I have several fonts of foundry type, my 'house font' being Caslon Old Style No. 337, which is also used at Colonial Williamsburg, cast by the same founders, M&H and Quaker City.  My titling fonts are Frederick Goudy's floral caps, and Chaucerian Blackletter.  I am not sure as yet what colours to use for the verse, or if the title cap should be a different colour from the body.  Since we are going into the Holiday Season, I chose a deep green for the shell, the type will probably be black with a crimson opening capitol using on of my titling fonts.  [Cindy, my designer wife's opinion: Don't go with red, it will be too, well, . . . gawdy. Stick with black text. Hall & Sellers would have.]

Here is a close-up of part of the design.  Note the very defined hatching in the shaded areas.  These very fine lines require the rollers of the press to just touch the die face, or else the ink can gather between the lines, which greatly muddies the image.  Naturally, Lettera responded well with a nice deboss. 

Here is a card right off the press.  Before it gets scored and folded, the Scripture verse and Cap will be added.  At this point, these cards will be Christmas gifts for family and personal gifts for friends.  After the first of the year, I should be offering this as a product for general sale as both personalized stationery and stationery with pre-printed verses.  

That's it for now.  Stay tuned!

Good Providence in all your Holiday endeavors!


A Card for Heather

It's been a while since my last post.  I've been pretty busy designing and printing for the Central Florida Pregnancy Center's annual banquet.  I did take on a client in the midst of the rush, which was a "ground-up" design project.  An original design, from the ground - up.

Heather is a professional pianist, accompanist, and performer.  I mentioned my Letterpress shop to her about a month ago, and described some of the features of a business card produced by hand and by century old iron presses. She decided these were just the thing she needed.

The design itself is very simple: a top view of a grand piano, creating an interesting white on black and black on white juxtaposition.  The curve of the piano creates a classic self balancing image.  The neat thing about using Lettra is that with a little deboss, Heather's name and the piano keys "pop" up in a manner that can only be duplicated by engraving. This creates a very tactile card.  But it also creates an extremely tricky card to print.  

The image is cut to full bleed on top, side, and bottom.  The very end of the piano comes very close to a bleed.  The margin I am dealing with is from 1/32 to 1/64 of an inch.  However, hand feeding a press can often produce variances equal to these fractional margins.  Letterpress is a hand wrought process, not an automated machine process [that is, if you are hand feeding and inking your press!].  It is not unusual for an image to vary side to side ever so slightly.  Thus, cutting down these cards was a very slow process.  My 1908 Craftsman Cutter is accurate to a fault, which made things a bit easier.  I don't know what I'd do without that cutter!

The cards are fun to handle.  It's hard to resist running a thumb or finger over the piano keys!  I might expand this design by die-cutting the piano top so that it lifts up, just like a grand piano, making it possible to place information under "the lid".   That will be for another day.  Or, rather, another month!

One hundred and fifty "Piano Cards"
Thanks, Heather, for the opportunity to do something creative for ya!


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

New Equipment: the Kimble Electric Motor, c. 1915

The Kimble Electric Motor

Recently, I had my ancient 1hp GE motor totally repacked and restored.  I am considering having the same thing done to the Kimble motor for the 10x15 by the same folks, but my suspicion is that restoring a fairly modern motor from 1960, and resurrecting a variable speed motor suffering the ravages of nearly a century, which means at least half of that time, no climate control was available - in Florida - might be a "3/4 horse" of a different colour! So, for the benefit of the folks that may - or may not choose to take this project on, I took some photos and made a short video of this motor, still on it's mounting shaft.  The photos show the specs indicated on the face plate, the video shows the movement and some of the interior dynamics, some of the wire corrosion, etc.

As a former restorer of communications equipment from the 1920s and 30s, I was personally impressed by the lack of oxidation and corrosion that I can see from my perspective, the contacts need cleaning, but are overall in much better shape than rigs I've had to restore that were much newer and coming from a more protected environment!  But I am not a motor expert, and I may have an unpleasant surprise coming, so I'll not get my hopes up.  I can say that the rotor spins freely, there does not appear to be bearing noise when  slow  turning by hand, the speed control armature glides freely, and the rotor contacts look pretty clean.  

The saving grace may be a phenomena I observe with most old press-room equipment: a thin sheen of oil, or grease, seems to collect on this equipment when stored in shops over time, and while it collects dust like a magnet, which requires a lot of elbow grease to get off, it does one thing pretty well - slows down penetration of humidity.   Very often I've cleaned these machines off to find the iron or steel beneath clean as a whistle!  In fact, clean enough to run and operate almost immediately.

Here are close-up shots of the Kimble itself, and it's brass face-plate:

Here's the motor itself, on it's C&P mount and attachment arm.

Plate reads: "Kimble Electric Company, 3/4 hp., continuous duty cycle, 1(single) phase, 110/220 volts,
12a (@110vac) / 6a (@220vac), 60 cycles."

"Speed (rpm): 500 - 2000, Serial No.: 44785"
The newest patent date reads 1915.

A full shot of the face-plate, which, I think, is either copper or bronze.

Bottom center has that cool Kimble Motor Company, Chicago Logo.

That about does it for this installment.  Apart from this we have designing and printing banquet announcements, more wedding announcements, and we may be doing more coaster work if all the links fall into place!  We've been pretty busy.

On a personal note, all the while I've been operating G. Johanson, Printer - largely a labor of love - I have also maintained a full time management position in a local optical clinic.  I am stepping down from management of that facility in order to pay more attention to Letterpress.  I think it holds great things in store, despite a turned-down economy and standard printing operations going belly up to the tune of two-thousand per year.  These are huge operations.  But . . . Letterpress printing is not 'standard'! It is an artisan craft that produces a finely crafted product that you don't get at Hallmark or from China-based corporation.  

I've heard "They don't make 'em like they used to."  

Well, I'm here to tell you they doWE do!  Still by hand and eye.  Still by utilizing ancient skills and equipment.  Still by touch, one print at a time. American manufacturing is alive and will in the World of Letterpress!

-Gary Johanson, Printer & Proprietor

G. Johanson, Printer
Letterpress Printing & Design.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Move Day!

What are we moving, anyway?

G. Johanson, Printer, is expanding his facilities. . . . the hard way.  Not a new and spacious building, but rather, a small storage room just big enough to fit my "new" 1915 New Series 10x15 C&P Platen Job Press, as they used to call them, and sharing the same space, a 28" C&P Craftsman paper cutter. To further take up space we also included a 3/4" Acme Wire "Book Stitcher".

The paper cutter isn't really all that old, it only needs to be cleaned up and oiled.  Same with the Acme wire stitcher. The press needs a bit more than cleaning.  This press has seen it's share of mileage, and needs some cosmetic attention, deep cleaning, the oil ports need to be checked to ensure positive oiling, the motor needs to be rebuilt (I have a rebuilt motor already to substitute in case the original motor becomes a protracted project), the rails need to be checked for level and consistent depth side to side and "fore & aft".  Also needed are new rollers, and I must find a larger imposing stone.  My graded iron type bed, used for imposing for my 8x12 is too small, now.

The 10x15 has a split ink disk, which means two concentric disks that turn opposite directions, although they are connected without a differential gear, so they turn together, which is my preference.  I am not a huge fan of the split disk, but not opposed to it's presence by any means. The inside disk sometimes collects moisture, and must be taken apart fairly regularly here in Florida to prevent possible introduction of rust, which I have seen down here before with these kinds of disks.

This press has an ink fountain!  I have to remove it, clean it out, and find a connecting rod for the ink roller ratchet.  This is something that I am looking forward to because my other, smaller C&P must be stopped now and then for a re-application of ink as it gets used up.  With large areas of ink transfer from the dies, this can be every one hundred impressions sometimes!

I have a counter that is ready for re-habbing that will fit nicely on this press, and I will be reconstructing new tables to replace the worn and separating originals.

This press also has a power drive pulley.  Until the motor gets restored, I'll be belting my 1.5hp GE that was just re-packed, re-sanded, re-wound, re-capped and re-painted to the flywheel in the interim. Somewhere, I need to find 2" wide flat leather drive belt.

The Move:

On September 15th, just before my birthday, some of the guys from the college ministry  I work with decided to gift me with their help, hauling these items from downtown Orlando to Orange City, 30 miles northward.  One of these fellas is an aviation mechanic and regularly hauls and loads very precious cargo weighing similarly (read: tonnage), and is experienced in moving this sort of thing.  The other three guys, myself included, basically followed his orders.  He brought along his own pallet jack.  Tell me if that wasn't preparation?  And helping out the guys was Tess. Tess is the gal that shot the video, and part of our crew.

The video was processed as a high density mpeg, and choked both YouTube and Vimeo, although the total file size of the original edit was only half the maximum acceptable.  Thus, these videos will be released in partsPart one shows us rigging and loading, the next part will be the tying down in the truck, and the third will be - hopefully - the unloading and installation.

Why did we shoot this video, where there are so gosh-darn many "moving the Letterpress" videos out there already?  It's to record the great time we had, for just ourselves. We had a lot of fun, and frankly,  sorta partied as we did this.  Here we go:

It was a lot of fun, and I owe a lot,  or rather, G. Johanson, Letterpress Printer owes a lot to these guys, and folks behind the scenes.  Thanks Chris, Josh, Jimmy, Tess, Colin (on part 3), and Jared O.,  not featured, but who had my 1.5 hp motor rebuilt and restored.  You are all part of the Ministry of G. Johanson, Printer!

So, that's it for now.  My latest installment.  And what will we do with all this equipment that has effectively, doubled my small shop's size?   

. . . . stay tuned!

I remain, your most humble and obedient Servant,


Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Making of a Letterpress Project: Jessica & Felix's Invitations.

The debossing and printing were two separate operations.  Because of the depth of the blind deboss and the almost seven inches of coverage, I opted to use the Kluge Letterpress at Mama's Sauce in Orlando Florida.  This is a substantial machine that could take that sort of pounding.  Although we were careful not to go overboard: even a Kluge can crack a casting.

The video was shot with a Handy Cam, using Mpeg-2 video formatting, which is a good quality format, but uploads just a tad bit squeezed due to compression.  Also, my video editor of choice does not handle Mpeg-2, forcing me to use the editor that came with the camera, which proved very primitive.  All this to say, it is an under seven minute video that is essentially a sequence of raw footage with on-the-site sound.  There was a small crowd of interns in Mama's Sauce that day, so we had an audience that stayed behind the camera (largely to flirt with the cameraman!)

The printing was done up at my own shop, G. Johanson, Printer, in Deltona/Orange City, Florida.  The last couple sequences are filmed there, with Beirut as background music competing against the A.C., Dehumidifier, and the motor that powers the New Series 8x12 C&P doing the printing.  The change of atmosphere between  Mama's Sauce and my place was like going from a Mad House to a Padded Cell!!


Anyway, pour some coffee while the video loads up, settle back, and watch the bearded old man in the red shirt for a while.  The little old printmaker . . . . me.

Best of Providence on your upcoming marriage Jessica and Felix!!  Send some photos of the ceremony up my way!


Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Kluge Proofs

These are a few images of some proofs we made from the 12x18 Kluge at Mama's Sauce over the weekend.  The Debossing was done at the 'Sauce down in Orlando, the inked text was run from the NS 8x12 C&P at my place (G. Johanson, Printer).

The stock used is 220# / 600gsm Crane Lettra, their thickest cover stock.  This was selected owing to the deboss, which covered very nearly 7 inches.  The stock behaved quite nicely, especially where the depression comes close to the edge of the stock.  No creasing or warping.

Debossing tends to polish the paper where the die face meets the fibers, creating an interesting reflection and shadow-play.  I angled the cards to create the shadow, showing the depth of the deboss.

Here's a shot of the text.  After we did the leveling of the Kluge's platen, and the testing of the deboss., I thought I would simply take these test cards home, 40 minutes north in Volusia County, and ink up my own press and do some proofs of the text block.  Just to get an idea of the finished product. 

The inked text debossed nicely too.  Here, we do not want to punch as deep as with the blind deboss image.  Type will slice fiber, which makes it possible to punch through the stock if you aren't careful.  You want a nice balance of sharp ink transfer and enough depression to create a pleasing presentation.

Here's a bit of a close-up.  The ink is a Charcoal gray, 3:1 dense black to opaque white.

So, this is what we did over the Memorial Day Weekend.  Hope your weekend was good, too!


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Anna & Zac Coleman's Wedding: Photobooth

Well, the nearly one year's worth of planning and getting stuff together, printing Invites, RSVPs, Coasters and Programmes, going back and forth to the venue 45 minuites away finally came to fruition at six o'clock p.m. on Saturday, May 21st, 2011, in spite of Judgement Day!   The funny thing was that we, the parents, were also married on another famous predicted day of the Second Coming: September 24th, 1988!  Could it be that the Johanson Family is messing up the Divine Timeclock?  ( I hardly think so.)

The wedding was held at Harmony Gardens, DeLeon Springs, Florida.  One of the fun things we set up was a Photobooth consisting of a three sided tent, a picture frame hanging from wire, a tripod, my sweet wife's digital camera, lots of cheap costume props, and a lot of folks with character playing around with it, including the Bride herself.  This is a sequence of over 100 photos taken that evening. 

So Anna and Zac, from us (crazies) to you: all the Sovereign's best in the years to come!

And Anna: get some ideas while you are skipping and hopping up there all over the Smokies ,for some Paper Bird designs :>)


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Invitations for Jessica & Felix!

Jessica asked me to do some Invites for her down in the Coral Gables area, my old stomping grounds (back when we had White Tower Hamburgers and Burger King wasn't even thought of yet!).  The plan was to have a heavy blind cursive deboss covering close to half  of each card.  Because of the broad area of coverage, we opted for the heavier cotton rag stock, Lettra 220#.  While debossing is common in Letterpress, particularly the blind deboss, wide area coverage on average thickness cover stock such as 110 could create a very heavy depression on the rear, and worse, since the deboss comes so close to the edge, could create a crease.

Both RSVP and Invite will be housed in Crane's matching envelopes.  All dies are designed via FreeHand, and are etched in 16 gauge magnesium, hardwood mounted by Owosso Graphics, who does a killer job.  Why not photopolymer?  I'm a traditionalist, and prefer metal if I can possibly use it.  For debossing, I believe it's the best thing to use.  Yes, it costs a bit more, but honestly, not significantly so. 

Oh, there's ink used, too!  It will be a softened black, a shade of charcoal to de-emphasize severe contrast between the Pearl White and the darker text.

So, here we are, dies, envelopes, paper and "paste-ups", which are made from Owosso's Proofs.  They are cut and taped into position on cut stock to give an idea of proportion.

A close-up of the deboss and text dies for the A7 size invitation.  Each card will go through a press twice, once for the deboss, for which we will use the big locomotive sized 12x18 Brandtjen Kluge, and then once through an 8x12 C&P platen jobber up at my shop.  I could do the whole thing there, deboss and all, but that's a lot of ink, and technically, I am borrowing time into Nick's work-flow, so while I want to take my time to do it right, I don't want to gobble up all the production time at that facility.  Thus, the heavy work is done at Mama's Sauce, Orlando FL, the inking being done at G. Johanson, Printer, in Deltona/Orange City, FL.  Incidently, if you go to the Sauce link, one of the videos shows the Kluge in action, starring Nick and Yours Truly. 

These are the mag dies for the RSVP.  Again, the top die is for the blind deboss, the bottom die is for text. 

The next shots are of the mock-up, or "Paste-ups", which use the actual proofs supplied by Owosso. Graphics.  These guys do a great job.  And frankly, anyone who takes FH11 files is awesome in my book.  The above image is the RSVP

This is the A7 invitation paste-up, on the actual 220# cover stock, Lettra 220# Pearl White.

Just to give you an idea of the thickness of 220#, here's a close-up of one of the corners  While not beer-coaster thickness (which is another thing I do: Beer / Drink coasters.) - it's pretty beefy stuff!  And oh, is it posh.  I've heard this product referred to as Letterpress Crack.

This is a shot of both Invitation and RSVP in the same envelope, along with the RSVP 4Bar envelope.  I love the simple elegance and understated presentation of unadorned Pearl white.

And finally, this is the 'bundle' all put together and placed in Crane's A7 Pearl White envelope.
Well, that's pretty much it for this installment.  Stay tuned for the next progress report.  There may be a film short of the debossing at Mama's Sauce using the Kluge.  It's an impressive machine, which must be hand fed owing to the stock thickness.

Good Providence in all  your Letterpress Endeavors.!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Finishing Touches for the Reception

Boy, "The Time" is coming quickly upon us.  Last month, we ran the invites and the RSVPs with addressed envelopes.  Now, ideas are popping up for what to do for the reception.  A popular item that seems to be getting a lot of press from Victoria and Good Housekeeping, plus State and Regional Wedding Industry publications is the Pulp Drink Coaster.  So I contacted my fav vendor and the artist / bride-to-be.  Two millimeter four inch round coaster blanks were still the same price as they were when I ran my last run of coasters, and Anna determined that her original artwork used for the invitation design could be adapted to her liking, so we did a little digital magic and voila!

These will be reception gifts, banded in groupings of six, which will be placed on the tables at the out-door reception venue at Harmony Gardens, DeLeon Springs, Florida.  Since the wedding colours are teal and coral, I used my original CYMK (read: eyeball) mix formula and made up some custom teal for the coasters to match.  Instead of belly-bands, we are going to tie formal ribbon around each set of six, to give a more lacy and whimsical effect.

Hear is a shot of the coasters, hot off the press.  I ran these on my 1936 Chandler & Price "New Series" platen "job press", which is the perfect press type for coasters such as these.  We discovered that you really don't want to 'punch' pulp-board, that is, you cannot really strike a deep depression, or 'deboss' in pulp board owing to it's naturally short grain, which cracks rather than gives.  However, you can give a nice impression

This photo shows the level of impression that can be had just before the pulp gives way to cracking, which is fairly considerable.  The original artwork was pen and ink on paper, which is perfect for Letterpress because of it's natural high-contrast dynamic.  Pen and Ink illustration and Calligraphy are perfect sources for Letterpress Typography, which is why I always encourage folks who wish to design and illustrate for letterpress to utilise these traditional tools.  The steel nib pen or the quill, india ink, bristol board with a slight polish, Rapidograph pen or the more modern counterparts. 

Here is a close-up of how close I could take the image to the edge without sending a crack.  Pulp is amazingly resilient, so long as you don't broach the cracking point.  I wanted to avoid any bleed because if the image did this, then I would have to use parent sheets, cut the board down to press size, run it, then die cut it.  That is not only hugely time consuming, but it's also not a money saver.  Two millimeter board is not available in parent sheet anyway, so just as well design for availability, and save the client some money.

Here they are, One Thousand Coasters.  Hmm, that sounds like a group of indie buskers down on a St. Augustine street corner!  (Gary is thinking of "One Thousand Portraits", who, with "Waterdown", created some landmark music in the Christian Contemporary Music scene, some of which was picked up by Third Day.)

Well, as Walter Cronkite used to say: "That's the Way it is . . . . "  for 1 April, 2011.  Another press run at G. Johanson, Printer.  Only one more thing I might add: many of you may have checked out my video showing the makeready for the last coaster run from last year.  I did the same thing.  Would you believe that I had no makeready waste?  Everything registered perfectly, centered exactly right, with the very first impression!  Usually, it takes between ten and, depending on the colours used or how many times you have to feed your project through the press, twenty-five percent of your stock to properly set up, ink up and get your impression and registration lined up properly for your run.  And when your stock costs a couple bucks per sheet, that's a lot of waste!  But you MUST use the stock you are going to run, so it's unavoidable.  Using the transparency method really helps me out a lot, and I can transmit that savings to the client! 

Good Providence, fellow Letterpress Artisans, in all your Printing Endeavors!  And to you Brides and Grooms to be, looking forward to that Big Day, I wish you "God Speed".  The best house is always built upon a firm foundation, and the firmest foundation anyone can have is Jesus Himself, Who is abundantly able to carry you safely home.  

God Speed.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Another Hornbook Edition in Process!

Ok, it's that time again!  Sufficient orders have been placed to proceed on a new production of the Colonial American Hornbook, part of a series that I initiated back in 1992 at Heirloom Press, Palm Harbor, Florida.  As with each production, or should I say, 'Edition', because these are books, the very first Public School Books on our shores - this one is unique.  Prior editions used various types of Pine, which would have been one of the woods available to the Printer of Massachusetts Bay and Providence Plantation of 1700.  But hardwoods were certainly available, too.  This Edition is Hardwood, stock Poplar.  Nails are cut copper.  Also, we are going one step closer to the original decoupage process: Shellac.  This makes things a bit slower.  Shellac goes on in much thinner layers, and build-up will probably result in more layering, with steel wooling between each layer.  The 'up' side is an interesting and attractive patina.  The downside: more time with steel wool, circle-scrubbing each layer, front and back.

What is remaining the same is the printed face piece, and the cherry stain.  Poplar does not drink in the stain like pine, it rests more on the surface.  This offers the opportunity to 'age' a book by sanding the extreme edges of the wood to bring the lighter wood behind to somewhat show through the stain, creating a time-worn look.  This is a new thing for me, but I like the variety this creates!

The production run on this edition is a bit smaller because the wood available comes in shorter lengths and is more expensive.  In the above photo, three books are drying while the upright one is mounted on it's jig awaiting the next coating of shellac to be brushed on.

That's it for now.  If you wish to know more about the Colonial American Hornbook, America's very first public school "Textbook", you will find a link to my Hornbook FAQs in the links section to the right, and more photos.

Just a reminder: these books are $15.00 each, plus $5.00 postage. If you would like one, drop me a line at wd4nka@aim.com  .  I also usually give notice of upcoming releases on the Letpress List, the Florida Letterpress Yahoo Group, and, of course, here on the blog.  Please allow 2-3 weeks to receive your Hornbook, in that this is about how long it takes to make them and permit the decoupage layers to cure.

Good Providence in all your endeavors!


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Anna's Announcements

Anna's Wedding Announcements were designed by herself.  The original artwork was in Micron pen, scanned and vectorised.  Colours are Teal and Coral. Paper is 140#/300gsm Canson Watercolor.  The colour is identical to Crane's Pearl White.  All text is 'French Script'.  Two Hundred of these two-colour fold-over A7 announcements and 4-Bar RSVPs ran today, plus the scoring of the A7 card.  No mean feat, it was entirely hand fed on my 8x12 New Series C&P Platen Jobber.  Including the time to wash up between colours, blending the colours (Inks: Daves Inks In Tubes.  Thanks for getting these inks out to me so fast, Dave!!),  and all the makeready typical for a job that passes through the press once for each colour, plus once more for scoring, I was on my feet from eleven in the morning until ten o'clock tonight.

Here is the full set, A7 Fold-over announcement and RSVP card.

A closer look at the RSVP card.

A little detail.  We thought the French Script went well with the airy, whimsical feel of the design.  It is very 'Anna'.

What I love about this card is the cover.  That's Anna and Zac, her fiance.  I think they were sitting on a porch swing.

The interior is my design, actually.  I took part of the flora that Anna drew, and using FreeHand, duplicated it in vector, to create the border, and keep continuity.

A close-up of the border detail. Owosso Graphics, once again, did a superb job with the metal dies used to make this suite.

A close-up of the inside text.  While I allowed for substantial deboss of the illustrations, I opted not to go so deep with the text.  There is still a little deboss, but the letters are very crisp and sharp.  Debossing can interfere with sharpness of image, ink distribution on the die must be carefully monitored.

A closeup of one of the dandelions on the front cover.

....and - a closer look at the front cover design.  Anna's wedding colours will be teal and coral, so we repeated that colour scheme with the Wedding Stationery as well.

Well, that's about it for this installment.  Cards came out great!  Special thanks to Nick and Mama's Sauce for the use of his paper-cutter to cut down the parent sheets.  Your a lifesaver, bro!

Good Providence in all your Letterpress endeavors!