Letterpress doing good! It’s happening everywhere, especially in the acclaimed shop of Spark Letterpress. James Watne, the printing buff behind Spark, shares with us how he’s growing his business and eco-friendly custom wedding line. We talked shop with James about Heidelbergs (his favorite subject), bringing letterpress to a wider audience, and of course, the alluring “green” nature of the press itself.
TWIN CITIES CHAMP I was born and raised in the Twin Cities and pursued a BFA in Design at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.
SWEET BEGINNINGS My wife and I wanted to pursue our own stationery line back in 2004 and decided it would be prudent to be able to produce our own work. After a lot of research into what print options would be a possibility for our business, we chose letterpress for all of the reasons people love it. The tactile quality of the impression, the vintage nature of the presses, the eco-friendly aspects of letterpress and more.
PRESS SHOP GOODIES Three Heidelberg 10×15 windmill platens, Heidelberg KS and KSBA cylinders, C&P10x15 New Series, C&P 12×18 Craftsman with Rice feeder, C&P Pilot new style, Challenge 305 cutter, and a bunch of other miscellaneous equipment and tools that help us to get the job done.
DESIGNED FOR SUCESS My background is in design; however, with the growth of our business, I am finding less and less time to design. I primarily print on a daily basis on all of our presses, along with all of the maintenance and repair that is needed.
THE CREATIVE PROCESS Since I do print full time, I have to admit that I can picture a time in the future where I am not printing full time. I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself since growing the business is the stage we are in now. I think long-term I would like to get back to designing more along with helping others set up their presses and repairing/restoring them.
PRINTING FEATS Teaching myself what I needed to know to consistently deliver high-quality work and to keep our machines in top condition for the future.
PRESS HISTORY A Chandler & Price 10×15 new series which we are hoping to dust off and bring back from temporary retirement.
BOXCAR’S ROLE We use Boxcar bases on all of our presses and feel that they make modern letterpress printing a lot more attainable for more people.
SHOP TIPS Those around me will confirm that I can go on forever about Heidelbergs, but one core thing is to master the ink fountain. In addition to adding ink as needed for heavier coverage, it can also take ink away. If the fountain roller has less ink at a given point than the ductor roller, it will pull ink back to the fountain side. Set correctly, this can regulate the ink flow for long runs so it stays consistent end to end.
WHAT’S NEXT We released our new line of custom wedding designs on June 1, and we will be working on our next release right after we get the new line out there.
Huge round of applause out to James of Spark Letterpress for letting us get the full scoop!