Letterpress, print

Further Adventures in Letterpress

So the first prints weren’t great. I knew that it was unlikely to be dandy on the first strike after ‘who-knows-how-many’ years. I did some more cleaning and oiling and tried again. It felt good to be beyond the will-it/won’t-it work stage and trying to make improvements.

After much fiddling with the adjustment screws on the back of the type bed, I began to get a reasonably decent print. By reasonably decent I mean that all the letters were visible and there was an even covering of ink. Again, I think I need new rollers, but these still are working in that they are rolling out the ink on the plate and transferring it to the face of the type. I’ll come to quality in a little while!

I was getting  a definite unevenness as was setting up, but further adjustments to the screws evened this out after a while.

There was a lot of setting up, and quite a few problems with the rollers putting ink where it didn’t want to be, and fouling on the gripper finger. There is an issue with the gripper arm – I don’t know if I have re-assembled this right, the spring is past it’s best or whether I have overlooked something else, but I can’t get the arm to return with the platen.

Removing the gripper finger temporarily solved the problem and using a delicately positioned human finger I continued and began to get some consistency in my results.

The large Franklin type has not printed solidly at any point but I think this is down to the ink I’m using, which is water-based. The finer type held onto the ink much better, although I did end up inking up with a brayer at times and over-inking . I’ll try some proper ink soon…

I was using a lot of pressure to get these and thought I was being a bit too heavy with it at times. I have no reference to how much pressure should be used, so may have to get on to those excellent folk on the Briar Press discussion board to see how others fare.

I printed about 40 or so quite good prints (and about the same amount of poor ones in setting up!) and gave my students one each when we visited the British Museum on Tuesday:

After a coach breakdown on the way, we had a great day exploring all the collections and getting excited about hieroglyphs, cuneiform, roman inscriptions and the like, and even got  a peek at the Rosetta Stone. From the ridiculous to the sublime in one day! Thanks team – you made it worthwhile!

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