Pressing Matters


letterpress 2 color job

The Letterpress Process

Yesterday we letterpressed a couple of invitation jobs and since people are always asking us what’s the difference between letterpress and flat printing, we thought it would be cool to give a little snapshot of what the letterpress process looks like.

  1. A polymer plate is made with client artwork and affixed to the press bed while gold ink is applied to the rollers.
  2. Each piece of paper is hand fed onto the top of the roller and held in place. The roller is then hand cranked so that the paper is “pressed” onto the top of the polymer plate. The ink is transferred to the paper. The pressure of the roller on the raised type of the plate creates the pillow embossed distinctive letterpress look.
  3. Here’s the tricky part. For a two color job the rollers are cleaned of all gold ink after the first run of impressions are made. Chocolate brown ink is now applied to the rollers for the second color run while a new plate is affixed to the press bed. Now everything has to be positioned perfectly so that the artwork and type from the first and second plate line up perfectly. This can take quite a bit of fine tuning to get it just right!
  4. After a hard day’s work the beautiful invitations are all pressed, cut and ready to be mounted and embellished!
  5. The Beast! The Vandercook SP 15 from 1950!

Carciofi Design produces all letterpress jobs at De Milo Letterpress Studio in South Pasadena using soy based ink on 100% cotton machine made papers, natural handmade papers, post consumer recycled papers and fair trade artisan papers.

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Caroline Britton ~ Owner and Creative Director at Carciofi Design {Paper Boutique & Studio} a custom graphic design studio and boutique.