Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Boxcar Base or Honeycomb Base?

I've been using the standard custom magnesium on wood, but now that I'm getting into larger patterns with my designs, I've been noticing unevenness in print that can only be due to the wood underneath. Problematic, though one of my letterpress friends in going through my recent work commented that the unevenness made the pattern look cooler. But that was only after I concocted some insane makeready to make it print the way it did.

So eventually I will need to make a decision on whether I want to go towards photopolymer and grab myself a photopolymer base or stick with metal plates and go for a honeycomb base.

What's fun about photopolymer is that with a Boxcar base, you're pretty much just using stickers on the base. Magnetic bases are probably the better option as they're so much more heavy-duty but they are so outrageously out of my price range. What's not so fun about photopolymer, besides the fact that those little sticky pieces of plastic are more expensive than my metal on wood setup right now, is that you're basically using stickers on the base. Magnesium to me is already flimsy enough as is, and I can't imagine hard plastic to be as strong as metal. There are those that say that magnesium makes a better print -- especially with text, and after seeing some photopolymer printing out there, I have to tend to agree.

Now with the honeycomb base, I get to keep using magnesium or even copper plates, but the difference is that I would be buying the plates unmounted and mount them onto the honeycomb base, which is metal and consistent and good. The downside is I'd need a thicker metal plate to mount onto a honeycomb base, so that the cost is higher than the old metal on wood method as wood is cheap and metal is not.

Either way, both options cost more, and I'm really uncertain of what it will do to my overall print quality.

I really really wish the letterpress classes that I took and the thousands of dollars I put into the classes would have let me experience these different methods of printing. I mean, sure, I can set type pretty well, I know how to set the chase properly (though I almost never do unless I'm using hand-set type), and I can mix my own colors, but these are the days when it's frustrating to me because I feel like I'm making a blind choice based on what I've read and other people's experiences when, really, I would have liked to experience ALL these different methods and choose for myself what I like best.

Hmm, if only there were an equipment rental program where I could try out all these bases before making a final decision...

3 comments:

Mike said...

I totally agree! If Boxcar and others had a "try it before you buy it" option, I'd be much more willing to switch from Owosso with confidence. I don't want to invest in a base without ever having tried it.

Anonymous said...

The honeycomb is far superior for print quality and consistency. Nice and level and sturdy. Wood mounts are my last resort. Polymer plates are good, I have the magnetic version, but the impressional strength without distortion is not there. Keep watching e-bay, searching the net or watch for people closing down their shop.... like me....:)!

who is this gal? said...

which one did you end up getting/using?

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