I think I can safely say that this was my first “official” day of letterpress production. Even though I’m still in the test phase with the water-based inks, if these notecards turn out well and not too smudgerific I’ll probably put them up for sale.
These would work as a great all purpose stash if you just want to tell someone “crap, I’m an asshole” or even “sorry your dog died.” I have some more handy lessons I’ve learned from today’s printing on the Pilot:
Lesson #1: Don’t clean the Boxcar base with oil.
After my last printing session, I guess I got a little carried away with the canola and wiped down my Boxcar base to get the last traces of ink away. In my letterpress classes they always warned me not to be tempted to wipe down the base with anything really, even mineral spirits. Sure enough, when I went to stick the plate back on today it went sliding around, totally unsticky. So I had to use some serious elbow grease to um, de-grease the base before the plate would stick again.
Lesson #2: Distribute the ink on the disc and rollers BEFORE putting the chase in.
This probably seems obvious, but is a small breakthrough for me because I had been cranking away on the arm to distribute the ink after putting the chase in. This meant I had to be very careful not to let the rollers ALL the way down or I’d ink the tympan. If you work it out before putting the chase in, it’s a lot easier. Duh.
Lesson #3: Slow pressure yields better ink coverage.
I went through a lot of test prints before arriving at the method that ended up working pretty consistently, and found that a slow OOOOOMPH on the print yielded better results than a quick SNAP. Not really sure why.
Lesson #4: Rubber bands are your friends.
It took some practice, but finally I got the rubber bands across the grippers in a place that was helpful and not in the way of the print. The only problem I ended up having was that the rubber bands I found were old and a little sticky, and the paper kept glomming onto them as I pulled it away from the plate, whacking out and creating interesting random ink stripes from hitting the rollers. Eventually (as in, after I took this picture) I ended up taping a piece of paper to the top rubber band so my cards slid free more easily.
I’m still not ready to discuss gauge pins, but clearly I had a bit more success with them today as I was at least able to produce consistent prints. I probably just need to investigate some pins that are easier to work with – perhaps the ones I have are particularly irritating.
Pulp & Press Soundtrack 3/27/09: Talons (Bloc Party). We’re going to see them tomorrow night at the Aragon. YES!