The physical labor paid off: our engagement announcements came out great! The above picture is a scan, so it's not going to be color accurate, but the ink is an antique gold and the paper is a blush pink. I'm going to slowly be adding photos of it as part of my documentation of the planning process, so keep checking my Flickr account for new uploads. I'm going to try to get some done tonight.
If you're a design-it-yourselfer like I am, and you like this look, here was my supply list:
- polymer plates
- Linotronic film negatives of my art work
- Vandercook SP20 press
- Van Son letterpress inks - the pink was custom mixed by me with Pantone base colors; gold is Unipak Gold Pantone 873
- Paper Source A9 Flat Cards in Luxe Blush and A9 Envelope in Stardream Antique Gold
- Bickham Script and Garamond Small Caps
- Flora & Fauna Engraved Illustrations Disk
Since you need all hands in the studio that are available, I couldn't take step-by-step pictures of the process, but I will be going back soon to press the holiday ornaments for the swap, so if anyone would like to see them, comment here to request them. I will, however, give you a brief overview of what to do to press your own. I can't get too specific, because the process greatly depends on what kind of press and images you're using, but here we go:
- Design your invitation or announcement, then get it ready for prepress. Convert all images to black and white, and outline our text so it becomes a vector image rather than a font. If you don't use SmartSet, the Linotronic film vendor I have linked above, contact your negative producer to see what formats they'll accept. My file was submitted as an Illustrator file. Send off your file, and you'll usually receive it back fairly quickly.
- When you have your negative, prepare and make your plates. This step, and the negative making process, can be consolidated by simply by having your plates made by Boxcar Press. You can choose metal or vinyl backed plates - vinyl are more flexible and transparent, so you can easily register and square off your plates with a Boxcar base (available through them). I recommend vinyl, but it's a personal preference - if you end up washing your plates out by hand, you may prefer metal backs.
- To make your plates, they need to be exposed to UV light. Place the negative so that it is wrong-reading (emulsion side down) on the surface of the plate and expose it - 3 minutes is generally enough if you have strong bulbs. The plate will noticeably be different - exposed areas will have slightly changed color. Wash out your plates gently in a lukewarm bath with a soft brush (Boxcar supplies these brushes as well, I believe) until the gummy surface of the unexposed plate has washed away and water rolls off of the surface like it would on glass. Let the plate dry thoroughly; it's best to do a flash dry with a hair dryer so that water spots are avoided as much as possible. If you have a plate dryer, let it sit in there for 10-15 minutes. Re-expose the plate without the negative for equal to or slightly more time than it took to initially expose it to completely harden the plate. If you're using vinyl plates (instead of metal backed with a magnetic base), you'll need to add plate adhesive to the back of it, which is also available at Boxcar.
- Print them!