How to letterpress – Adana 8×5

how_to_letterpressI have already shown the finished product on my blog and will provide a link to it at the end of this post but I have not really answered the question how to letterpress. This is just an example of how letterpress works using a small table top press, in this case an adana 8×5 or as it is also often written, adana eight five. Although there are many other printing methods this is my favourite hands-on method and although I also like to do lino-cuts and wood cuts etc. i find that with letterpress I  can get top quality results. This small press can be fantastic for achieving professional results but take s a bit of tinkering to reach them. Business card size is idea as you can really get a nice even impression and also as deep an impression as anyone would need. These particular letterpress cards were for a luxury clothing brand based in luxembourg and the nature of the business it was very important to have a luxury label to suit the product itself. We used a 100% cotton paper for the labels which was designed to maximize letterpress imprinting but they also have a really smooth feel to them. The Client had suggested a further element to the cards and so when the letterpress printing was completed the cards were then given a red wax stamp which really completed them. Here are some pictures of the press and the process of printing the cards using a photopolymer plate for my type in this case.

Letterpress printing is not easy in the beginning and everyone needs to get to know their machine and papers and of course which ink suits them best. In this case the job was quite urgent I had to use oil based inks rather than my usual rubber based inks which take longer to dry. In the end the client and myself were very happy with the results  

the rollers are just laying a thin layer of ink onto the polymer plate as they roll down and then up again. to many passes can overink the polymer/type and this causes a mess and it is a pain to remove the ink from the plate or type as it is easy to knock your registration off while doing this. Lessons already learnt… the hard way 🙁

the polymer plate with a thin covering of ink ready to be pressed against the paper.

Here you can see the ink has made contact with the paper and I have achieved just the right/desired impression with my print. Deep enough to feel the indentation with a finger tip, but not so deep that the edges of the paper bulge around the type, although often used in letterpress today I find very deep impressions a little ugly. Unfortunately, there is always the desires of the client to take into account and so sometimes, we have to make more impression than we would like to get the right effect for the paying customer.

previous post featuring the finished cards can be viewed here and another post showing a great letterpress video A collection of inspiring Simple Letterpress Business cards can be found here, enjoy!

If you have any questions about Printing with an ADANA 5×8 then just drop me a line in the comments box. I would be glad to share my experiences and findings.


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