Inktacular!

A common downfall of new printers using light colored inks is thinking the print will be the same color as how the ink looks in the can. Here is a can of nice deep rust orange ink but it is actually meant to be a light apricot color. When applying an unfamiliar ink to your press, use a small amount and work your way up to color. That is much easier than having to wipe ink off and possibly put lintballs from a rag on the ink drum or disc. If you do have way too much ink on, it’s less trouble to simply wash up and start over. There is never an end to learning more press tricks!

apricot letterpress ink canapricot ink letterpress printed at Boxcar Press

Workspace Spotlight: That Sky Blue Press

In the neighboring north of Canada sits a letterpress shop with a self-proclaimed international flavor and big expectations. Litsa Babalis, of That Sky Blue, is the owner and main designer for the company and you can find her work across the North American continent. But it all starts here and she is happy to take a break from designing and printing her environmentally responsible cards to take us on a shop tour.



THE PRESSES We have four presses: three 10×15 windmills and one 12×18 Chandler and Price.

SIZE OF PRINT SHOP 1200 square foot studio.

TYPE OF SHOP We occupy the space completely for our own production, however we often offer classes to students and letterpress enthusiasts after work hours.

THE LOCATION We are based in Montreal, Canada. Our studio is located on the banks of the historic Lachine Canal and minutes away from great coffee shops, markets, and the most adorable & friendly boutiques.

FAVORITE THING ABOUT THE SHOP How can you not feel creative being surrounded by these beautiful machines? Seeing them in action everyday is sure to inspire anyone.

NUMBER OF PRINTERS IN SPACE two pressman, one presswoman (me, whenever I get a chance to get on press… I take it) and one intern.

MOST VALUABLE SHOP TOOL The great people that work here.

FAVORITE INK We use soy based inks. We love the coverage they can handle and the drying time is very quick. My current favorite color has to be 871 gold…I love the way it looks on dark paper as well as the standard white cotton papers we use.

SOLVENT OF CHOICE We use California Wash for our everyday clean ups. It’s great because it’s water miscible, it has a mild odor, and is not harmful for your rollers.

PLATE AND BASE OF CHOICE We use the standard base and the KF95 regular relief plates.

OIL OF CHOICE We prefer to use a heavy weight, non-detergent press oil for our presses.

WHAT TYPE OF RAG DO YOUR CLEAN UP YOUR PRESSES WITH  We use a linen service who comes and picks up our soiled rags once a month and replenishes our stock with clean 100% cotton industrial shop rags.

FLOORING MATERIAL Concrete.

FLOOR PLAN TIPS We have a very small space, so getting the right floor plan is quite important to our work flow. Adding new equipment to our space is always a challenge, so we end up moving everything around once or twice a year. We try to use every square inch as best as possible and that includes wall space. Hanging tools and chases and putting up shelving for inks and other press room supplies saves us on floor space so we can move around a little easier.

PIED TYPE As incredible as it is to have that little bit of printing history in the form of lead type scattered around in drawers and boxes, it just wasn’t getting any use from us so we gave it away a long time ago to a deserving letterpress & typography master.

ORGANIZATION ADVICE I am a neat freak. I like my press shop to be in order, otherwise I feel distracted. The best advice I can give on keeping an organized space is when you use something, put it back in it’s place and clean as you go.

PRINTING ADVICE Get to know your machines really well, take care of them, and most of all be patient with them as they get older and more stubborn…Be good to them and they’ll be good to you!


Boxcar Talk With Chris Torres

In a delightful conversation with Boxcar Press, Chris Torres of Farmwood Press saunters us through the moment of letterpress love (it involved four letterpress beauties), reveals the new plans for his family’s twin passion of photography & printing, and explains why getting dirty while printing is still oh-so-satisfying.

UP CLOSE WITH CHRIS TORRES We are a husband and wife photography team in the Atlanta area. We wanted to diversify our services, our craft, and have always loved letterpress. We thought this would be the perfect way to explore a new medium while meeting the needs of our clients.

INSPIRED BY FRIENDS  Some of our close friends were letterpress printers and we adored the craft. We would go to their studio to see the process. They decided to sell their company for personal reasons and we decided to buy it from them. They taught us how to print using the machines they sold us. However, the process was perfected through help from veterans in the letterpress industry. It also helps that I come from a large-scale commercial printing background. So much of the logical aspects to printing and managing client expectations came natural to me. I have loved having a medium where I can “get dirty” again.

PRINTING IN THE PEACH STATE Our studio is currently in our garage that is a simple, small two-car garage. We have used every inch of available space to safely print. Of course, it will soon be in our new home and have a space of it’s own. We now have a New Style Chandler & Price (Omer), Vandercook Universal III (Norma), two Heidelberg Windmills (Helga and one unnamed) and a Champion 305 cutter. We love to incorporate vintage furniture from factories that is functional yet beautiful.

We have old sewing tables from a zipper factory in Pennsylvania and two old heart of pine tables that we use. We cannot wait to settle into our new space and truly make it an experience to print in. We will update you all once we are settled in!

PRINTING MENTORS Greg Carpenter, a letterpress printer in Chickmauga, Georgia who has seen it all! He has grown from a letterpress apprentice when he was a teenager and has been printing ever since. Whenever I travel up to see him for a day, I leave with so many questions answered and yet feel like a new world has been opened up before me. Also, Bob Schmidt, a local Atlanta printing repair man that has seen about everything from within the presses and the people who work them.

DAILY GRIND When we design, we do so with the clients in mind. Our desire is the create a piece that they will carry with them for a lifetime telling their future generations through these pieces. Our joy is that this may be part of their legacy. We don’t print full time, yet. We’d love to very soon, but right now, our work load is more part time. So far it’s been the perfect balance for us with our photography company that requires travel.

FOCUSED ON PRINTING We personally do some basic designing, but mostly we are just printers. We do have one designer on staff that does wonderful custom work and represents Farmwood Press when we design in-house.

BOXCAR’S ROLE We started out using exclusively copper plates. We love their history and crisp feel to the printing. However, it was cost prohibitive and we could not keep using them as it left our profit margins razor thin. We turned to Boxcar Press for their photopolymer plates and were extremely impressed. Their quality and crispness met the standards we had with copper plates. Also to add that the durability has been a surprise as well. Their turn around time and customer services has been crucial to some tight turn times we’ve had with our jobs. They have aided in ensuring that we prepare the perfect files for plating so that we can take care of foreseeable problems. We have loved working with them!

PRESS HISTORY Well, we happened on our first presses as a collection from our friends that were selling due to family changes in their life. We acquired two Chandler and Prices, one New Style one Old Style, affectionately named Omer and Maude. Also a Heidelberg Windmill, Helga and a Poco Proof Press who now lives creating pieces at an Australian print school. We have since sold Maude, our Old Style and our Poco and last year adopted a Vandercook Universal III which we named Norma, which means “pattern” or “rule”. She was cared for by another letterpress shop who loved every turn of her cylinder. Our presses are more than just tools for us to use but rather our family members.

SHOP TIPS Build your reputation organically. We thrive on personal relationships with our clients to find out their needs and working with them to provide that. Whether they are a business, designer, or a bride we take steps to meet them on a personal level. We do not do advertising but rather network with those that can bring us the work. Once they experience our quality craftsmanship and connection with Farmwood Press, we find that they come back for the experience.

WHAT’S NEXT We are especially excited about 2012! We are building a new home that will be finished in a few months. We will have a finished basement that will house both of our companies. We are extremely excited about this. We need space for our employees as we kept bumping into each other! This new space will allow us a few extra hundred square feet from the garage we were printing in, and we’ll have two dedicated areas each. It will be nice to have the additional elbow room. Commercial space has not been the wisest option for us as we work from home and have a family. This is a great way for us to keep the businesses separate yet still being at home.

A huge round of thanks to Chris for letting us get the full scoop on Farmwood Press!

Workspace Spotlight: Slow Print

Nestled next to the hearty Mississippi River, Iowa’s own Slow Print hangs back in the thriving old Warehouse District in Dubuque and houses extraordinary letterpress work, a neatly arranged showcase of letterpresses spanning from a 1900s Chandler & Price to a 1960s 10×15 Heidelberg Windmill, and as many letterpress stories as there are ink cans. Peter Fraterdeus of Slow Print let’s us take a look at what’s inside.

Workspace Spotlight at the Slow Print letterpress shop in Dubuque

THE PRESSES: 1960s Original Heidelberg “Windmill” 10×15 – Red Ball, main workhorse production press; 1950s Original Heidelberg “Windmill” 10×15 – Black Ball, mostly die-cutting and fail-over; 1940s Vandercook 219 Proofer 19×26; 1930sMiehle Vertical V36 Cylinder 13×19.5, and a 1900s Chandler & Price Gordon Old-Style 10×15.

THE LOCATION: My shop is in Dubuque’s Historic Millwork district, a few blocks from the Mississippi River, and in fact, I’ve been one of the “flagship” tenants. In the past two years, a public-private partnership has upgraded the District, including all the streets & sidewalks and a full-block quadrangle building to the tune of well over $20 million. I just hope I don’t get gentrified out – but the arts are a primary core function of the newly active district.

I’m a block from the Voices Warehouse Gallery and a block from the new Dubuque Community Food Co-op, so it’s an exciting time to be in the area. The building is an early 20th century brick warehouse. The space I’m in was converted to offices many years ago, but it’s surrounded on the 1st floor by raw warehouse, currently inhabited by an ‘architectural salvage’ and antiques dealer.

FAVORITE THING ABOUT THE SHOP: My large blue oriental rug in the coffee/lounge area (about 100 years old, it’s nearly worn out) with the futon couch and 1960s LaPavoni espresso maker.

NUMBER OF PRINTERS IN THE SPACE: One, just me and my new apprentice for the summer, Rachel.

MOST VALUABLE SHOP TOOL: Other than the Heidelberg Red Ball, and my MacBook Pro (without which there would be no business!), the most valuable tool is my loupe.

PLATE AND BASE OF CHOICE: I use KF95 on a locally machined aluminum base. I bought a 24×48 slab of .875 aluminum and had it machined down and cut into numerous smaller sections from 18″x24″ (used on the Vandercook) down to 2″x3″. It’s been in use since about 2007.

FAVORITE INK:  Oil-based – either VanSon or others as needed.

SOLVENT OF CHOICE: WM Wash from LithCo. I use Putz Pomade on the rollers after wash-up, which keeps any remaining medium from drying into the surface. The slightly pumice gritty stuff also helps keep the rollers from glazing. I’ve been using rollers from Advance in Los Angeles with very, very good results.

OIL OF CHOICE: 30W non-detergent

FLOORING MATERIAL: Hardwood floors.

PIED TYPE: Plenty. Much of it is wood type, as I purchased a barrel full on ebay some years ago. Couldn’t stand to see it auctioned off a handful at a time. I have one galley full of 24 point Legend, the beautiful Ernst Schneidler calligraphic type, purchased from an eminent printer who was closing up his shop a few years ago.

He shipped the type in the cases, with nothing but a sheet of single-corrugated cardboard on top. When the shipment arrived, the UPS driver set it on its side (although it was marked “keep flat”) and all the type was pied in a mound under the wrapping. I was not at all happy. Took hours just to get it into the galley, and I still haven’t figured out how to read Legend backwards. Major headache.

ORGANIZATION ADVICE: High tables and work surfaces with plenty of storage underneath.

PRINTING ADVICE: These are hardly secrets, but for the auto-didacts who haven’t yet figured it out, these will help a lot.

  • Don’t add white to color. Add color to white.
  • There’s nothing worse than slimy long ink for sharp printing. But don’t add too much mag, or the ink won’t want to come off the roller!
  • There’s no point to adjusting the rollers if there’s too much ink on them.
  • How much is “Too Much” ink or “Too Long” ink is entirely dependent on the form being printed.

Deep impression only makes sense with deep paper, otherwise it’s just gauche. (Note to clients: you can’t have deep impression on both sides of the same sheet – unless there’s no overlap from back to front)

Slow Print Workspace spotlight

Letterpressing the Issue On Immigration

The visual collaboration groups CultureStrike and Justseeds Artist Cooperative are utilizing the striking beauty of letterpress to display compelling views on the immigration issue. Favianna Rodriguez has been working with Patrick Cruzan – a California-based letterpress printer – to shed light on the issue through an art print portfolio series. This ongoing project is an effort to raise social awareness of immigration laws and their immediate effects. Click here to get the full story.

Photography courtesy of Patrick Cruzan

Rob LoMascolo Featured on Fortnight Journal

Letterpress artist Rob LoMascolo of Upstate New York talks about the traditional craft of letterpress printing in a recent collaborative effort known as Fortnight. Fortnight is an online multi-media and documentary project that’s been put together by a group of 20-somethings to recognize different disciplines that honor the past while defining the path of the future.

LoMascolo is one of Fortnight’s fourteen contributors, and he talks about the traditional craft of printing that has exploded again in the digital age.  He is featured with his Challenge Proof Press in this instructional video as he provides a lesson in Letterpress 101.

Fortnight Journal traveled to the Finger Lakes in New York to interview and film Rob in his studio.  We are pleased that not only is Rob showcased for his printing prowess but he’s a neighbor of ours and prints right down the highway from Syracuse.

To find out more about this project, visit fortnightjournal.com/about.

Essential Q&A – Rebecca Miller

It’s been a while since we’ve done an Essential Q&A on the Boxcar blog, so we’re bringing it back! Today we’ve got some questions for Rebecca Miller, prepress extraordinaire — read on to find out more about her!

Boxcar Press Rebecca Miller

Job title: Pre-Press

Describe what you do at Boxcar Press in 10 words: Prepare press-friendly layouts and illuminate design, technical, and printing solutions.

My super power is: Making people feel at ease.

Hometown: Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan (pronounced “SOO”)

My favorite printing equipment: Heidelbergs!

What three places do you want out-of-towners to visit in Central New York?
1. Boxcar Press of course!
2. The Oncenter Arena to catch a Syracuse Crunch game
3. Fillmore Glen in Moravia, NY

Music that inspires me: MIDI music from old video games

The greenest thing I do: Recycle old clothes into nifty pillows and throws

Besides letterpress, I am passionate about: Typography, illustration, and hockey!

PM 368 U swatch

My favorite Pantone: 368: A green you can count on.

Most memorable meal: Bear jerky and deep fried smelt. Delicious!

What book do you think everyone should read? The Jungle by Upton Sinclair

What’s on your nightstand right now? The Prince by Machiavelli, ink pens, and a digital clock in 24-hour time.

Something about the Boxcar Press crew our customers don’t know: How extraordinary and cheerful we are… even under pressure or the weather. Such gifted talent in this group!

 

Boxcar Talk With Nancy Hill

Boxcar Press goes one-on-one with colorful Nancy Hill, one-half of the dynamic letterpress duo of Hazel & Violet Press, (the other printing power is Beverly Wolfe) to talk shop, slip in a few amazing printing stories, and show how letterpress has shaped quite an adventure the two will never forget. Read on to get the full interview.

PERFECT PRINTING PARTNERS We are two long time friends who share a love of typography, paper, and letterpress printing. Although we both have full time jobs, we love printing every chance we get.

LETTERPRESS LUCK We had been watching, looking, hoping… for just a table top hobby press – when an opportunity came along to buy a complete letterpress shop. We learned to print by taking classes, personal instruction, and good old fashioned trial and error.

AWESOME ARIZONA Our shop is in a completely renovated garage – complete with cabinets, sink, insulation and flooring. Not sure if you can call it ‘decor’ – but, we definitely have a turn of the century industrial feel. Since there are no curtains on the windows,  we would have to call it a shop, not a studio. We have a new style Chandler & Price 10×15 named Beauty and a Windmill named Baby. We also have a Potter #2 named Beatrix at our gallery in downtown Phoenix. Our favorite thing about our shop is that we get to print there.

PRINTING LEGACIES Ladies of Letterpress has been a great mentor for us. The team at our first NSS was just great and has led to many new friends. Many of our mentors we haven’t even met. They are the guys on Letpress.

PRINTER’S PARADISE We do not print full time – but that is really our goal!

PRINTING FEATS That our first job was a 3 color wedding invitation and we didn’t kill each other. Also being selected Best Letterpress of Phoenix 2011 by New Times.

BOXCAR’S ROLE Great patience and so much help from Cathy when we first started ordering plates. Even now Boxcar is so helpful when we call with stupid questions.

PRESS HISTORY Well…we saw an ad on Craig’s List for an entire shop for sale and we just jumped in. It took every friend we have and a horse trailer to get it to our shop.

SHOP TIPS  Our favorite business advice – don’t break out the wine until you finished cutting the job.

WHAT’S NEXT While we are still printing our retail stationery, we are well on our way to growing our commercial letterpress business. We are really enjoying working with designers on their projects, and we are starting letterpress classes later this summer.

Big round of thanks to Nancy Hill for letting us get the full story on Hazel & Violet Press!

Type Lice Bait

A Type Lice bait that is effective on pests but safe for printers!

Print shops have long battled the ubiquitous type lice that settles deep into their metal and wood type drawers.   The parasite is not life threatening but can leave dander that causes sneezing and rashes when the type is handled.

There are many different suggested treatments for luring, trapping, and eliminating these lice.  We offer a natural bait that is irresistible to the lice and will clean up any infestation in less than one week.  The bait is dabbed in small amounts onto a quarter size piece of paper and placed in the trap.

This works with all trap, but we have found the best type lice trap is this model created by Ivan Gulkov of Pillowface Press.  It is simple in design, uses recycled materials, and works well with the type lice bait. We welcome the submissions of other trap designs and models.

The bait comes in a 3 ounce squeeze bottle where you can dispense small amounts at a time.  The lice will flock to the bait, be trapped in the lice trap and can be disposed of quickly.  The bottle will last for approximately 50 applications, leaves no residue and has no odor.  It is
from natural organic compounds and hypoallergenic.

Contact local printer supply shops for this eco- friendly product for all print studios.  This product offer may expire April 1, 2012