Lightbulb Moments

I know you’re all sweating with anticipation after my teaser post from the other day…but you’ll have to hold out for a few more days. A reader just commented about moving their own C&P recently, and asked if I had any tips to share. I started to write a whole big long list as a comment but then realized it probably made more sense to dedicate a quick post to the subject. So, without further ado:

The Most Useful Things I Have Learned About Printing With A C&P (or any platen press, I suppose…)

1. Taping the rails is OK, but if they’re really uneven like mine then adding roll bearers in the form works wonders for more even inking.

2. Learning how to adjust the 4 points of platen pressure alleviated a lot of tiny strips of packing makeready and helps to avoid the dreaded bottom right corner mega impression.

3. Hard packing!!! I can’t believe I was soft packing for so long and didn’t realize this was making the paper underneath absorb all the impression instead of the paper I was printing on. Definitely order a bunch of pressboard and hard packing sheets from NA Graphics right away!

4. Speaking of NA Graphics, order some pre-cut tympan sheets right now too! They even come with a crease and the corners pre-trimmed so you can open and close the clamps without tearing the sheet.

5. While I am still not friends with gauge pins and still occasionally ram them into my Boxcar base (yeah, I need a new one…), a good realization is that you don’t have to use manufactured pins in all cases. If you’re printing on a pre-cut sheet with no crop marks and need to get artwork really close to the edge, you can always tape a thick strip of paper to the tympan instead of a pin so it won’t interfere with your base.

6. I have found that it’s difficult to get a good layer of ink from just one pass, i.e. print, print, print. Adding more ink to where one pass lays down enough actually makes things TOO inky. My solution has been to remove the bottom most roller and only print with 2, and use enough ink to where you print, trip, print, trip. This, of course, puts a lot more repetitive movement into the trip lever (and your arm!) but is worth it to avoid the ink squish out factor. Also, it gives you a few extra seconds to collect yourself in between prints while the motor is going, if you’ve got one.

7. WD-40 is NOT a lubricant. I can’t tell you how much more smoothly Leonard has been running and inking since I got some 30 weight non-detergent motor oil. It was hard to find – I had to ask my mechanic for it  – but it’s worth it.

8. When trying to register multiple colors and it become obvious that you need to rotate the entire sheet of paper a bit, raising or lowering one gauge pin doesn’t work very well. Instead, I take an exacto knife and hold the sheet down in the middle to the tympan. I then loosen all the gauge pins and pull them away a bit, rotate the sheet a tiny amount while holding the middle with the knife, then pull the gauge pins back in to meet the paper.

That said, there are still a few things I’m working on solutions for and would love advice if anyone has any:

1. Although hard packing helps, I still routinely struggle with edge of the plate impression into the paper if I’m not printing something with crop marks and the plate is smaller than the sheet. I could print everything with crop marks and avoid this issue, but sometimes that’s really wasteful in terms of plates and paper. Sure I can cut some of the packing away where the plate edge hits or build up underneath the artwork, but that takes a lot of time. I’m wondering if there’s some way to avoid this while still getting a deep impression of the artwork itself.

2. The aforementioned issue with gauge pins – I’ve been using the Kort quads and while I like how they lock into place, they’re a bit of a pain to get in and are expensive. You know what someone needs to invent? Squishy rubber pins that stay in place, bounce back, and don’t dent your base. With squishy tongues. Heehee. Squishy tongues. Anyone have any suggestions?

I’m sure there are more, but that’s what I’ve got at the moment. Cheerio!

Pulp & Press Soundtrack: “Fader” by The Temper Trap.

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The lengths I go to for my craft…

Not even a mountain of snow can stop me from purchasing my perforator! Why, do you ask, must I brave Hoth to acquire such a device? Only one of the coolest projects I’ve worked on…maybe ever. Curious? More soon…

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Paper Geekery Part Deux

Just a quick paper spaz out: I received the handmade papers from Porridge, and they’re every bit as delicious as I had hoped. They sent samples in white and eco-tan, but the paper can be made to pretty much any color. I’m particularly excited about the double thick paper – it looks even heavier than the Crane 220 (which I don’t use because of my eco standards) and I’m sure it will take deep impression on both sides like a dream. I can’t wait to test it out!

They also sent samples of their plantable seed papers, which actually work! A lot of the mass produced seed papers out there go through a drying process that literally kills any chance of the seeds germinating, but because these papers are hand made and air dried the little buggers stay intact. Again, these can be made into virtually any color and you can even choose what seeds you want in there! This is a totally cool option for couples getting married who want their invitations to live on…

I’m so excited to put together paper sample books with these included!

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Corner Punch & Paper Geekery

I had kind of a crap day yesterday. Not awful, but I was just feeling irritated and stressed. I stopped into Paper Source to pick up some envelopes for holiday card samples (pics soon!), and I was sucked into the wall of gadgets. Earlier in the week I had a meeting with someone who mentioned a paper punch that would round corners, which I had never thought of (those scrapbookers sure are clever). I decided to pick one up, and when I tried it out at home last night it filled me with an unnatural level of glee. How could something so simple make things look so cool?

I’ve always loved rounded corners, but thought the only way to achieve them was with a die cutter. I’ve got a hand rolled die cutter that I can use for just such occasions, but the dies are expensive and the process somewhat laborious. Someday I’d like to get Leonard outfitted for die cutting or get some sort of digital die cutter, but for now this little punch is making me pretty happy.

I’ve also been on a massive paper hunt recently, trying to add some new options for invitations and letterpress printing. Amanda from Spilled Ink Press and I have been zeroing in on options for our new hybrid line of invitations, and we’ll hopefully start putting together sample books for our clients in the next couple of weeks. One of the types of paper I’m definitely adding is made from elephant poo!

There isn’t actually any poo in the paper – rather, they wash all the poo off and what’s left is nicely pulped fibers ready to be mixed in with post-consumer waste and made into new paper. Basically they’re using the elephants’ stomachs as fiber pulpers, and the resulting paper is thick, takes a letterpress impression really well, and comes in a lovely array of colors.

The poo paper definitely provides an “earthier” look, with visible fibers and a handmade quality. If a client is looking for a smoother, more consistent color, I’m excited to now be able to offer the handmade papers from Twinrocker:

These come in so many shades, thicknesses, and surface textures! I’m particularly excited about the double thick papers, because they are rigid yet soft, and will work great with edge painting. They are all made with post-industrial waste cotton and not bleached at all, hand pulled in Indiana so they’re even local! Sweet. I’m still working on verifying that this next paper made from jute fits within my eco standards, but it sure is pretty:

It’s so thick and pillowy, and obviously looks amazing with letterpress printing. I’m really hoping that I’ll be able to use it! The last new papers I’ll be adding are from Porridge Papers, a letterpress and paper making studio in Nebraska. I’m anxiously awaiting samples from them, but I already know they’re going to be amazing. OK – enough paper geekery for now. Time for grilled cheeses!

Pulp & Press Soundtrack:  No Better Than This (John Mellencamp). Totally obsessed with anything T-Bone Burnett related.

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My Design Background…A Little History

OK…Ian has now written 2 posts in a row, so I figured I had better get my act together and get something up here too. I’ve been waiting to take some shots of these awesome Save The Dates I’ve been working on…but I haven’t had the time yet! So, I thought I’d do a little post about my design background. Although I’ve been working in graphic and web design for over 10 years now (yikes!), I actually didn’t go to school for it. No, the original plan was to be a rockstar. My chosen major of Music Technology was really just a way to support this dream – I thought I could make a living recording other people’s music, but mostly it was just an excuse to record my own. After I graduated (or somewhat before), I realized that I didn’t really have a passion for it. Add in the fact that home recording equipment was just starting to become affordable for regular people and the music industry was in major flux due to file sharing and the internet, and there weren’t a lot of jobs as an engineer anyway. Soo…back to the rockstar plan.

Ian and I were in a band together for about 5 years when we lived in New York. Since I was always the visually creative sort (amongst other ventures, my family did insane Halloween displays every year when I was growing up), I started producing the flyers for our shows and figured out how to build websites. At the time it was all in the name of promotion for my future life as a rockstar – I didn’t know it would end up being my career. Although early incarnations of our website were cringe-worthy and posters full of font mishaps (yes, that is Jokerman AND Chiller):

I eventually got better at it.

I started working at an independent record label in Manhattan creating album artwork, newspaper and magazine advertisements, and other promotional flyers. The job was a nightmare for many reasons, but it did get me started earning money for designing. Although it eventually became clear that our band wasn’t going to “make it,” the flyer below was actually what caught the attention of the owner of a packaging company in Chicago and landed me the position of Creative Director when we moved here 7 years ago.

So even though my dreams of rockstardom didn’t pan out, all that time I spent futzing around with Photoshop and Dreamweaver certainly gave me some marketable skills. I like to think that because I’m completely self taught, my designs definitely have their own personality. When I started learning how to letterpress print about 4 years ago, I brought some of that Halloween display / band poster / slightly offbeat look to the press. While I certainly can do more traditional and conservative wedding invitations, it’s not what I like best. I spent many years fretting about the fact that I didn’t have a degree in design or printmaking, and even took some online courses to make myself feel more “up to snuff.” What I found was that I already knew most of the stuff they were teaching, and I’ve actually grown to appreciate that I have a different approach. I think that more than anything, people seek me out because I really love what I do, and I bring a non-cookie cutter aesthetic to every project I work on. So when Monica came to me for her wedding invitations and said she was interested in a Hatch Show Print style movie poster theme, I was ecstatic. Projects like these really are the culmination of all my experience.

More photos and a whole post about these coming soon.

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Tweedle Biz-Dev

Biz-Dev? Call me when you're done.

Biz-Dev, or business development, as the picture of Thurston above demonstrates, can be yawn inducing. Just the fact that people abbreviated it to Biz-Dev makes me want to point my finger and label someone a tool. As boring as it can be it is a necessary thing, and can lead to meeting cool people and working with interesting businesses. As I mentioned in my last blog posting I have been attending networking events with Nina to start meeting other small/indie businesses and liked minded people. For most of my working life I have been working for larger businesses, so the world of the independently run business is a new and exciting experience for me. I look forward to when I can spend all my time working on Tweedle as opposed to being a worker drone for a larger company.

I have also begun to contact blog sites that focus on green businesses, green living, being crafty, weddings, bar mitvahs, and anything else that seems likely to take an interest in Tweedle Press and maybe help spread the word. This has also been a great way for me to see what is out there and get more acclimated into the crafty, green, letterpress world. So far I have just been emailing other bloggers inviting them to check us out. So far only one response, but I just started doing this. If you are blogger reading this entry and want to write a review or post about Tweedle Press please feel free to contact us.  I will happily return the favor and write something up about your blog/site/business/etc.

That’s it for this post. I’m off to tool away at the Biz-Dev some more!

Pulp & Press Soundtrack: “Bricks And Mortar” (Editors).

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Chicago Green Wedding Alliance Meeting

Ian here with my first Tweedle blog post. Last night I attended my first Chicago Green Wedding Alliance meeting. This is the second networking event I’ve attended with Nina and I really enjoyed how organized and professional everyone was. This Alliance, for those of you not familiar with them, is a group of green minded wedding vendors working together to help each other promote their businesses and maintain high eco-standard business practices.

The meeting was hosted by Lynn from Pollen at her lovely workspace on Ravenswood (her flowers are featured in the pic above).  We had a nice opportunity to check out the space and see some of Lynn’s awesome work.  Plus she has a giant refrigerator for keeping flowers fresh!  Also in attendance besides Nina and myself were Amber from Urban Worm Girl, Amanda and Tony from Spilled Ink Press, and Kristi from Light On Life Images.

Their were two main points covered in the meeting. The first was a discussion about rules and criteria for new members interested in joining the Alliance. The second was a review of the new website being designed and members discussing changes and upgrades. Finally there was some discussion about the Indie Wed event coming up in January.  It was really great to meet with such a hard working and focused group and I look forward to what they can do.

Well, that’s what is going on in Tweedle world for me.  Check back for more exciting posts!

Pulp & Press Soundtrack: “Here Comes The Singularity” (Killing Joke).

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