I started stalking Karrie on Instagram over a year ago, and recently had the pleasure of printing some business cards for her. Karrie works primarily out of Blackbird Electric Tattoo in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Among our most popular items are our Philly-centric postcards. For some reason, I’ve always had a bit of trouble maintaining tight register on the “From Philly” cards. Well, as more of our fantastic Philadelphia-based customers demand these cards, I decided to try something new. Our good friend Alan has a Heidelberg Windmill (among 9,000 other presses), and this served as a great excuse to get out to Frenchtown, NJ to see him.
Alan gave me a great detailed tour of the crazy German press, walking me through its myriad of adjustments and moving parts as we prepared for, and worked through the printing of the postcards. It’s an impressive machine to say the very least. Those engineers really thought of just about everything a platen press could need. With any luck, I’ll find a way to get one of these suckers in my garage one day.
We finally got to do a music package! Check out this recently completed CD package for a hard rock band called Behind The Ghost. It’s two-color on a simple chip board sleeve. Here is a video and some photos.
Aside from mixing ink on it’s ink plate, our Showcard press doesn’t get a whole lot of use these days. We do have a fair collection of Showcard type which we use for craft show signage and occasional short-run and one-off prints. If you’re not familiar with Showcard type, have a close look.
Recently, I saw a tweet from my partner Kate, wishing for some sort of print or poster with the phrase “Work hard. Be nice.” I immediately thought to put that Showcard press to work. So I did.
We recently finished a run of 500 custom gift certificates for Jen Harrison of Six Fishes Healing Arts in Philadelphia. The illustration on the front was done by Michelle Gandy, and we handled the printing on the 10×15.
The fine lines of the illustration required extremely tight registration, which helped make this our most challenging project to date.
These were printed on beautiful 100% cotton, 118# Savoy paper and the corners were rounded manually after printing.
Our primary use for chipboard is to put it in the old paper cutter to protect the stock that we’re cutting. It gets chopped to pieces and when the bits get small enough, they get trashed. When the plate for our newest business card came in, I noticed that much of the chipboard laying around was big enough to be cut down into business cards. They turned out great!
We’ve recently turned to the chipboard for a few recent business card clients. It really gives the cards a rugged, handmade, crafty vibe. Very cool.
Anthony Orsino even put together a little video of his cards being created. Dig it.
For months now, we’ve been on the lookout for a larger press. Our search had been narrowed down almost exclusively to 10×15 presses. Our good friend Alan Runfeldt has more presses than he can even remember, including one that we thought would be absolutely perfect. After many weeks and discussions, we struck a deal and planned to move the press from his barn in Frenchtown, NJ to my garage just south of Philadelphia, PA.
To start, I borrowed a friends truck and rented a U-Haul trailer (5×9 Utility Trailer with ramp). Once that was hooked up, we made our way to Frenchtown.
This was the view of the press when we started that day. It was buried behind a wall of type cases! Luckily, Alan was able to clear them away pretty quickly with a pallet jack.
Once the press was out in the open, we began the hunt for the motor, which was buried in a different part of the barn. Eventually we mounted the motor, and fired up the press. It was a great relief seeing it run for the first time.
After that we all spent quite a while cleaning and oiling the press. It hadn’t moved for several years, so there was a little surface rust, and plenty of dust and grime built up on it. WD-40, Scotch-Brite pads, and some elbow grease went a long way toward fixing all that.
The press had been bolted down to a shipping pallet. So the next step was to get the press up on some wooden rails, and then into our trailer. Alan used a hydraulic car jack and some wood to lift each side of the press and slide the rail under. The press was then locked onto those rails with lag bolts.
Once it was all bolted down, we connected the press to the trailer using a Come-Along Cable Puller and put metal pipes under the rails. As we pulled the press up with the Come-Along, it rolled easily on the pipes. When it would roll off of the rear pipe, we simply tipped the press back and put the pipe back at the front of the rails. We just did that over a few times until the press was all the way up in the trailer. Then we wrapped it tight with some ratchet straps and started the slow, careful journey home.
Once home, the hardest part may have been actually backing the big truck and trailer into my driveway! But once we did that, it was pretty much reversing the process with the Come-Along and pipes to lower the press down and into position in the garage.
The next morning I took my son out to meet the new machine, which he was obviously very happy about! Then I got to work on testing the press on a run of decorative Winter coasters. Perfect!
We’re thrilled with this new press, and we couldn’t be more grateful to Alan for all of his help. He’s been an invaluable resource for us. Be sure to visit him at Excelsior Press!
100 Letterpress printers were surveyed. Here are the results.
1. How long have you been actively printing with a letterpress?
Less than a year • 18% 1-5 years • 42%
5-10 years • 12%
over 10 years • 28 %
2. Your opinion of “deep impression”?
It is poor technique, and displays a misuse of equipment. • 35% It is really cool and separates letterpress from other forms of printing. • 61%
I don’t know what “deep impression” means. • 4%
3. A reasonable price to pay for a working C&P 10×15 is:
$100 • 6% $500 • 52%
$1,000 • 31%
more than $1,000 • 11%
4. The majority of my income comes from letterpress printing.
TRUE • 19% FALSE • 81%
5. Which do you do most often? Set type to create my design/layout. • 35%
Create custom plates using polymer, copper, or some other material. • 35%
Usually a combination of both. • 30%
6. The best tabletop platen press is: C&P Pilot was by far the most popular answer.
7. What is your main (most often used) press?
read the list of answers HERE
8. What type of materials do you print most of? (business cards, stationery, posters, etc.)
read the list of answers HERE