Letterpress heaven

So we got bored of trying to get great quality prints from different digital printers… Whether we sent digital files to professional third-party printers or tried using eight-colour printers at home, the results all felt so soulless, all our designs being left with that peculiarly plastic feel that leaves you one step removed from the print in your hands.

Though we thought we’d never get lucky, Rose managed to find someone willing to sell their Adana Letterpress for a sub-lottery-win sum and things have never been quite the same.  Our model is an Eighty-Five, first produced in 1953 (though I’m willing to be corrected because who cares? We finally got one).

The first few attempts were beyond frustrating but once you get used to working with the correct ink (made by Caslon) and learn that only by going s-l-o-w-l-y and c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y, you will actually work more quickly, you’ll be left wondering why anyone ever made the move to print text digitally.  Really.  The exasperation and ink-stained everything will be worth it because with patience, you get to produce results like this:

Our first range of greetings cards, printed using the letterpress, make use of an the Cheltenham typeface which is absolutely superb.  It’s strange but with the smell of the ink, the clank of the press and the tactile qualities of printing everything by hand rather than sending a digital file to be printed by inkjet or laser, we’ve both become even more rigid about what is acceptable in a typeface and what is not.  A peculiar side-effect of this is that the steps we take in designing a simple card have been changed so that we will only proceed to the later stages of how the finished design will look once we’ve experimented as broadly as possible with a particular fount.  It’s printing as play.

Thank you Donald Aspinall and Frederick Ayers.