Friday, December 8, 2006

Technical Difficulties...

I recently ordered photopolymer plates and a base from Boxcar Press, as I have heard so many great things about the base and set up. When I received them, I had the base and plates set up within 10 minutes, so I was impressed with how easy it was.

After trying a run with no ink, I discovered that unfortunately I am not getting much of an impression at all. I know that that is common with the Kelsey's, but I've seen others get more that I am, so that is a bit strange. I tried a few different papers (Arches, Somerset) and no change. I tried packing behind the tympan, and no change.

So last night I tried a run with ink, just to see how things would go. I am using a Van Sons red rubber ink. The results were not so good, and I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong. Sigh...

The artwork turned out much better on the lined school paper than on the art paper. The only problems I can think of would be:
  1. not enough ink - but I doubt this, as I was told you don't need much, and on the heavier spots, it was bleeding almost totally through the paper
  2. not enough packing?
  3. the impression screws aren't tight enough?


  1. I had a similar problem when I used my first plate...and it was HUGELY frustrating. Try this: it looks like you are getting more pressure on the bottom of your press so take your chase out of your press and flip it upside down, see if that helps. It helped on my press. I got pretty even inking after that.

  2. I get the same results with my Kelsey on textured paper on pretty much anyplace where there is a largeish solid area.

    Kathleen's suggestion that the pressure is unevenly distributed sounds right. I've had to do some fancy makeready at times, and there are actually some plates that I've just given up on and am going to just try again with on a different press (when I get one, someday).

  3. I came across this artice on the Kelsey some time ago.

    It mentions double or triple rolling to get more ink on the rollers. You can also try dampening the paper. It also recommends tacky ink which might help for larger areas like the bird. You could try lithographic ink if the rubber-based Van Sons is too thin.

  4. anonymous, that article is fantastic. Thanks so much for the link.

    I had sort of discovered by trial and error that holding the handle at "press point" for a few seconds gives me a cleaner impression, so it's validating to see someone actually recommend this. I'm goint to try some of the other tips, too.

  5. Hi Erin! I'm a newbie in letterpress & so happy that I found this site! Currently encountering the same issue as this post... problem with the solid blocks.
    Could you please explain how you overcome the situation? What sort of paper do you work with? I couldn't get hold of Lettra from where I am, and it is quite expensive.. :(
    Thanks for a great blog!

  6. I have a lot of terminology to learn. I"m scared! lol


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