Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Calligraphic Collaboration!

Angela Welch has been creating awesome calligraphy for people all over the world.  She is the closest thing to a "Zanerian" that I know, that is: she handles the pointed Spencerian pen with a competency that is outstanding.  Little wonder that she's created designs for Crane & Co., for international clientele, and has even found herself working at her Art in the presence of the Vatican Guard! (that's another story.)  When she asked me to print her Wedding Stationery designs for her client Mandy, I fairly jumped at the opportunity.

This order called for an A7 invitation with envelope liner, including a printed return address, and a 4-Bar sized RSVP with printed address on it's envelope.  Stock selected was #110 Ecru Lettra.  Four magnesium dies were involved, and about two solid weeks working with the copy.  

Angela sent scans of her work, which which were perfect.  The challenge, however, is to take that file and make an intelligible "black file" for plating.  This is where the raster file is converted to a vector file for sizing, and is the file the Plate & Die maker uses to create the letterpress die from.  

Being a calligrapher myself, I have a pretty good idea how the finished product is supposed to look like.  The   challenge is to preserve the look of a hand-executed piece.  This involves paying close attention to the thick and thin strokes.  A great looking 'thin' that will impress into open fiber stock and leave a great line may turn out to make the thicker strokes too heavy.  Backing off the thicker strokes may cause the thin lines in the flourishes to break up, or become too thin.  Sometimes I have to go into the original raster scan and physically edit the thin or thick so the vector 'engine' can plot a course that makes sense and leaves the line the way I want it.  And when the copy originates from a hand drawn line on proper paper that draws ink from the pen for a well executed piece, sometimes the macro-close up nature of a scan can make what appears to be a smooth line. . . pretty rough.  Enough to confuse the vector plotting.

Needless to say, it was a challenge, and the end product was worth the effort!  We held a very delicate thin line, and a healthy thick downstroke.  The most important thing was that the dies conveyed a great impression into open fiber stock that left a nice deboss, yet retained the hand-wrought calligraphic look.

The printing was accomplished on my 1936 New Series C&P, moderate hard packing, and I got to use my brand new Megill adjustable gauge pins!  Man, talk about easy set up.  The only thing that really took time were the 4-Bar envelopes.  I had to place a card-stock insert into each envelope to avoid the effects of the glued envelope seams on the back of the envelope.  These seams can interfere with the impression and create unwanted darks, lights, and complete misses because to a Platen Job Press, envelopes never lie flat.  There are variously thicker in some spots, thinner in others depending where the rear seams are placed.  Here is a shot of the mid-run.

Aren't those gauge pins pretty?  They screw down very tightly, thus eliminating the need to tape or drip wax or hot glue or any other added method of locking the gauge pins into place once set.

This shot was taken from the take-up pile. One thing about feeding envelopes: definitely a hand-fed job.  

Here's the finished grouping, with the RSVP envelopes on the left, Invites in three piles, and RSVPs in two and a quarter piles.

Here's the rear flap of the AS envelope.  The colour of the envelope is Ecru, but it was shot using a 6500k flourescent bulb, which tends to make Ecru look more like Pearl White!

This is the pre-addressed 4-Bar envelop for the return cards.

A bit of a close-up of the envelope.

The RSVP card.

A macro shot of the RSVP

I love the Flourishes on these cards.  Angela is great at determining when enough is . . . enough!

Here is the five by seven inch  invitation 

And here is the whole set, minus the 'inner' A7 envelope.

Well, that's what's new here at G. Johanson, Letterpress.  Stay tuned for more entries coming up.  

Good Providence in ALL your Letterpress projects.