Much to our pleasure, we’re been letterpress printing a lot of business cards lately in our print shop…designs have been lovely, and when was the last time we experienced the joy of a 6 color print run? Fun, fun, fun.
The snow is falling fast and furious this morning…once I actually navigated the snow/slush/slippery roadways and got into work, it was much more joyful and peaceful to watch the snow fall into the parking lot and parked cars. Everything is muted today — well, actually, everything has been muted here for months now. But I felt better after trying to match the gray sky here to a color in our Pantone book — it’s totally impossible! The sky isn’t just gray–it’s way more complex. Some blue, a little purple in it, this nice mottled effect…anyhow, gray is supposed to be the big color this year, so at least our winter cloud cover is fashionable here in Syracuse.
mp3 kool the gang sweat
Oh we love it when our platemaking customers send us really lovely letterpress samples! These come from Todd Thybert from Angel Bomb Design in Minneapolis–Todd uses our platemaking services and our Boxcar Base for his printing. He also wrote us a sweet letter: “I’ve been using your photopolymer plates for a year and a half and have thoroughly enjoyed the quality and service I get from Boxcar Press.” Angel Bomb Design has been around for 10 years, and started offering letterpress to clients in the last year and half, after receiving some letterpress tutoring from the good people at Minnesota Center for Book Arts. Angel Bomb Design now uses their 8×12 C&P and their 12 x 18 C&P to produce colorful works of beauty (with really nice letterpress solids, we might add!). We’re in love with all the samples, but in particular, we don’t want to let the “Minnesota” fine art print out of our site. Thanks so much for sharing your work with us, Todd!
I was cleaning out my office recently and found my MFA diploma, so of course the first thing I do is run my hands across the surface to see if it (hopefully) is letterpressed, or at least engraved….but no luck! Three years of work, and turns out I received a lot of digital printing with a token engraved university logo (sigh…). That’s why we fell in love with these totally letterpress certificates we recently printed in our commercial letterpress shop – what lavish sophistication! These babies belong on the wall in full spotlight.
Speaking of the wonders of children’s artwork — some of you know that Boxcar Press has a Boxcar Baby, and we’re pretty laid back about parental things. We are totally okay to have the Boxcar Baby grow up to be whatever person he wants to be — though ideally, that person would be a creative, artistic, kind, adventurous artist who loves travel and hiking and letterpress printing too. It’s true, we bought crayons for our little one when he was 3 months old and then wondered – why isn’t he coloring? So we’re thrilled that, at 25 months old, he is drawing everywhere — on magazines, sometimes in books (ugh!), on paper, on chalk boards, in coloring books, on sidewalks. He even is enrolled in his very first art class! We’re totally unbiased, but we do think everything he makes is brilliant. I mean, look at those lines! Those color choices! There are few things as joyful as 2 year olds making Art.
Several times a year, Boxcar Press donates some of our letterpress paper to the local public schools & local art teachers. It’s one of our favorite days ever, where we get to help out cool local teachers dedicated to art & children….so when we received this email message and photos about our paper donation — well, it just made our year.
“Thank you so very much for all of the supplies your company donated to MOYA, The Museum of Young Art and also to Chestnut Hill Elementary School. Attached are photos of the museum space and the artwork created on your papers and cardstock. The photo of the young girl working on the McCaw is a fourth grader from Chestnut Hilll. The oil pastel rendering of the chair was created at MOYA from Boxcar’s cover stock and is hanging as a permanent piece, the first in our collection. One man’s trash is another artists’ treasure! We appreciate all of your generosity, more than you could know. Happy Holidays to all at Boxcar and a heart felt thanks.” — Susan M. Fix, Executive Director, MOYA and Art Teacher at Chestnut Hill.
One of the joys of the new year for us is letterpress calendars â€“ 12 pages of pure letterpress pleasure! So we were thrilled this year to receive a beautiful calendar from one of our platemaking customers, Rick Ziesing, the owner of Red Oak Press in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. Turns out, in addition to being a letterpress printer, Rick is also a photographer and has taken amazing photographs of his shop, his Windmill, and his printing. His pictures remind us of why we love letterpress printing so darn much â€“ because everything about this printing process is beautiful! Can you imagine an offset shop looking so gorgeous? (see more photos of more letterpress printing at Red Oak Press here)
Rick shared with us some thoughts about letterpress (see below), and all photographs are taken by Rick. The calendar was printed using the Boxcar Base and KF95 plates.
“We bought a beautiful ‘red ball’ Heidelberg Tiegel (windmill) in August of 2007, in order to make products designed in-house without those pesky clients telling us what to do.”
“Of course, I was not a printer, had never run a press nor even seen a Windmill in the flesh until it arrived. Armed with the Heidelberg manual, Platen Press Operation, by George J. Mills, and Kelsey’s little green book, I commenced my self education. The paper companies loved me as I burned through reams of cotton paper while learning to get the press to feed, then to print, then to print properly. Many trials and errors later, I am able to produce something of reasonably good quality.”
“This calendar was designed by Lori Gray, my wife’s partner in Kedash Design, a graphic design firm in Kennett Square, PA.”
“The printing of the calendar itself was not particularly difficult, registration was not critical but getting good ink coverage on both the text and the graphic for the month was trying. I resorted to running most colors twice through the press, which is supposedly a sacrilege but certainly gets the job done without having to resort to smashing one run and deforming the letters to get the graphic to print. I did some makeready by glueing some tissue thin press packing to the platen in certain areas. Of course, the Heidelberg is so beautifully designed that you can run pieces through multiple times and get dead on registration every pass.”
“The gray wash graphics were simple, once I got the color right. There’s just a hint of color anyway and lots of trusty transparent white was consumed. We bought a hand operated wiro binding machine for finishing as the cost of outsourcing 100 calendars to some drone in a copy shop was more expensive (and frightening) than just doing our own.”
“I use standard Boxcar Bases and the KF95 photopolymer. If you’ve dealt with them, you know that this is a top-flight operation.”
“Here are a few hard learned tips. If you’re running a Windmill, get it to feed perfectly before trying to print. If your final print looks bad, it can be a million things, but I always go to the packing first and use fresh tympan and packing for every run. Roller height is critical and may even need to be changed according to what kind of job you are doing. Don’t overink….as in most things, less is best.”
In addition to having a whole lot of letterpresses in our print shop, we do have a few offset presses that we use for doing cool things like….flat printing custom envelope liners! We tried letterpress printing them at first, but the solids strained our presses, and with such a large form, we got such a light impression that it looked identical to flat printing anyway….so now we use our letterpresses for things that letterpress is good at (almost everything), and we use our offset presses for things like huge envelope liner solids! After printing the large liners, we send them through a die-cut run on our Heidelberg Cylinder and then hand-insert the finished liners into the envelopes. We fell in love with these bright red liners….
We were talking with a friend recently about all the letterpress printing going on in California, and we’ll admit it got us dreaming about warm weather, blue skies, oceans, the color green….until we realized, what are we thinking!?!??! Why move our 50 tons of letterpress printing equipment away from the snowiest city in the U.S.!!! What would we have to brag about then in the winter months? And if we didn’t have to snowblow, scrape, dust off, shovel, balance, drive 10 miles an hour on the expressway in a snowstorm — what would we do with our time? And besides, if it’s not snowing and snowing and snowing — what do people talk about all winter along? It’s definitely winter here in Syracuse, but the good news is — we are winning the golden snowball competition (a contest between five CNY cities in the snow belt)! Snow to date: 95.9 inches of snow here in our city. We’re on track to have this be one of the snowiest winters on record. What’s good about the snow? It’s pretty. It distracts you from not seeing the sun for the entire winter. It slows you down and makes things very, very quiet. And then there’s spring….that first time you hear birds again and slosh through the snowmelt and see the tree buds, the entire city is giddy with joy.
Letterpress printing is so darn pretty that we wanted to share it with the world – so Harold spend the afternoon filming our printer Jake interacting with one of our favorite Heidelberg Windmills as he printed some letterpress invitations — then Harold spent days and nights and days and nights editing the footage down into three really tight seat-gripping minutes of total printing beauty. Enjoy (and make sure to turn the volume up loud so you can dance along to the press sounds)!