Tuesday, April 1, 2008


It's funny how different certain ink colors are from others. I can say for a fact that my favorite colors to work with are metallics, and not just because they are shiny and glittery (though those are primary reasons I love them), but because they are so opaque.

For the last couple days, inks I've been putting on the press have gone on pretty clear. As in, if I didn't know there was ink on the press, I wouldn't know that there was ink on the press. I don't know how other letterpress printers do it, but there are some things about printing that make it less of a science and more of an art for me.

One is how much ink to put on.

Certainly there are test prints to be pulled before you ever start to make sure you have the right amount of ink on. I hate putting too much ink on because that means that I have to clean off ink off the press before I ever start printing. It's a common letterpress error to print with one's press overloaded with ink, and I really hate printing with too much ink because it makes the prints come out not as crisp and beautiful as they could be.

Our letterpress instructor at the Armory once described it as a sound, and I certainly recognize that now. There's a certain "right" sound that the ink makes when there's just enough, as opposed to the little too gummy sound when there's too much or the kind of slick sound when there's too little. But I also gauge if I've put enough ink on by how it looks on the press. I can't describe it exactly but if I'm printing something small, I know what sound to listen for and what the ink looks like on the rollers and ink disc, and if I'm printing something that I know will suck up ink, I know what my press should look and sound like.

But with these inks that I'm working with currently, they are so transparent on my press that I feel like I'm flying blind, working only with the sound and test prints. It also means that I'm working slower, checking prints against each other to make sure everything looks like the same color. I'll need to show you when I'm done with the project, but right now, to the very least, my efforts are being rewarded.

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