Note To Self: When you proclaim “I think I’m getting the hang of this,” the letterpress gods shall show you otherwise, and chuckle to themselves.
After Friday’s successful prints, I went in to work on the big press on Saturday. I mixed a nice orange, I taped the rails, I took some ink off after getting a little slather happy, I got a good impression, and I thought everything was swell. After a few prints I started to notice the tiniest dusting of orange bits on the prints in areas the plate didn’t touch. I wiped off the plate and the speckles moved. I taped the rails, I untaped the rails, I adjusted the packing, all the while becoming increasingly frustrated with the tiny speckles plaguing me. Finally, I decided to call it a day with not a lot to show for it. As I began cleaning the press, I noticed that the handy cheapo shop rag I had used to wipe some of the ink off the press mid way through the print tests was leaving little bits of fiber on the platen, which were then transferred to the rollers. The bits were then stuck to the ink on the rollers, picked up more ink from the platen as they rolled, trailed across the plate, and voila – orangey snow effect on the prints.
At this point I was already halfway done cleaning, and didn’t fancy a run to Home Depot for lint free cloths, another inking, another printing, and another cleaning. So, I came back today to finish the job. I was very careful this time to make sure there was hardly any dust or rag lint on the platen or rollers before inking, and sure enough my friendly orange bits disappeared. I suppose that’s one more thing to add to my ever growing mental list of letterpress troubleshooting tidbits. Man, by the time I’m 80 I’m going to rock at this! Here are the results of my 2 days’ labor:
Some beautiful #10 note cards in chartreuse and pool, with a nice deep orange print color, for Page. Next purchase – a print drying rack to prevent ink transfer onto the backs of the cards. Blah! Other than that, they’re gorgeous.
I just realized that I’ve now printed for 3 days in a row. Holy crap. And I’m not even remotely joking about letterpress being a workout. Since I continue to be timid about using the motor or my 8 x 12, there is a lot of wheel pushing and foot planting that goes on in addition to the cleaning. You know those little diagrams on the weight machines at the gym showing you “muscles trained”? Here’s what one would look like if they had a platen press at the gym, based on where I’m currently feeling the most pain. 200 reps!