What is Letterpress?

What is Letterpress

In one word : Awesome. In a few more words : In 1440 letterpress printing was invented with the then modern technology of movable type, in which a reversed, raised surface is inked and then pressed into a sheet of paper to obtain a positive right-reading image.

Our Machinery Line-Up

[ AKA : The Work Horse ]

This big mama is our original beast. I brought her home, cleaned her up, greased her down and she's been purring ever since. She's always gotten the most use, and, up until recently, nearly 100% of our printing was done on her. With the addition of our Heidelberg, she will mainly run coasters, seeded paper and packaging.

Plate Size : 10"x15"

[ AKA : The Hustler ]

Who says you can't teach old dogs new tricks? This beauty is still old and even clunkier than her sisters, but she has a trick up her sleeve - autofeed. The addition of this press has saved us countless hours hand feeding the press and has become the go to for cards, art prints and wedding stationery. Our fingers thank us for their safety.

Plate Size : 10"x15"

[ AKA : The Jigsaw ]

Big Papa was our second born and he sat dormant for a brief period while we assessed his inner strengths. Ultimately, we retired him from ink and deemed him master of all things cut, scored and perforated. With variable speeds and the biggest plate size of all our machines, he can slice 'em and dice 'em with the best of them!

Plate Size : 12"x18"

[ AKA : The Brat ]

This little girl is a princess. She prefers to sit on the shelf and rake in the "Oohs" "Ahhs" and "Look How Cool" comments, while doing none of the actual labor. Yes, we bring her out occassionally at traveling shows to give demos on how her bigger siblings get the real job done. Let's face it, she has to earn her keep some way or another.

Plate Size : 5"x8"

Understanding the Process

[ Hand inked. Hand fed. Hand cleaned. ]

Here is the quick 1-2 on the process of printing on a letterpress machine. Each piece of paper is hand-fed in and out of the press. The process requires constant attention to ensure there is proper ink coverage, alignment and impression.

Any product that has more than one color will get run through the press multiple times. Once the first color is applied and all pieces are pressed, the letterpress must be fully washed. This entails removing the three large rollers for cleaning, removing and cleaning the design plate and cleaning the inking plate. Once clean, it must be reassembled and the second design plate aligned and mounted and the press re-inked with color number two. Then every piece has to run in and out of the letterpress a second time.

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