Letterpress printing is considered the oldest form of printing. It’s a labor-intensive process that produces a stunning tactile result. Letterpress is like debossing but with ink. When you are looking at letterpress you should be able to see a definite indentation in the paper stock.
All of our letterpress printing is done on a Kluge platen press. A platen press is made up of two flat surfaces called the bed and the platen. The platen provides a smooth backing for the paper stock. The die is locked into the bed. The plate is inked, the paper stock is then placed on another flat surface called the platen and presses against the inked plate producing the impression.
Letterpress printing requires a die for each color. Dies are made from either magnesium or copper. We prefer to use copper dies because we feel the quality is superior. Keep in mind that the cost of dies can add up so if budget is a concern, it’s best to keep the design between 1-2 colors.
Copper Letterpress Die
The die gets locked into place on a chase by using furniture. The chase is made by hand – using wood or metal furniture pieces of various sizes that are used as spacers and placed around the die.
Die locked into place on the chase
Letterpress ink is mixed by hand and the plate is inked with an inking roller that transfers ink from an inking plate to the image carrier. The rollers move across the plate until the plate is saturated with sufficient color.
For a shorter run with light coverage the ink is tapped directly onto the rollers.
The selection of paper stock is very important for letterpress. Cranes Lettra is a solid choice for letterpress. It’s a 100% cotton stock that has the look and feel of home made paper. More affordable options are Mohawk Superfine Eggshell or Strathmore Writing Bristol Wove.
When designing for letterpress use solid colors only – no shadows or gradients.
For a double-sided design we would recommend a double thick cover stock to minimize impression show-through. Or we can letterpress the front and back on 2 separate sheets and then mount them together.
We don’t recommend using solid areas of color because it will look splotchy and uneven.
Pick your type fonts accordingly. Type fonts should be no thinner than .25pt and no smaller than 4 pt. in order to hold up through out the process.
As always, please contact us with any questions.