Sunday, January 14, 2007

My First Project on the Kelsey...

Well, it seems this post has taken a lot longer than I had originally planned! Though I finished my first ever project on my Kelsey back in the beginning of January, I have had a busy month so far with my design business and renovating our rental property, so unfortunately, I've been unable to blog much.

My real first project on my Kelsey was my yearly holiday greeting card for my design studio. In the past, I've had another printer do my holiday cards - but now that I have my press, I can do this myself. This year, I decided to try something new, and do a New Year's card, rather than a Christmas (or generic "Happy Holidays" card). This way, clients will be taking their other cards down at this time of year, and putting mine up :) - or at least that's my theory.

Originally, I had designed my card to use two inks - a light blue, and a dark. But, because I am lacking an opaque white to mix with (I bought mixing white instead, which is transparent, oops!), I ended up having to choose two unmixed colors - and the best I had was a black and a bright red.

The front of the card features a bird, some berries, and the text "Welcome 2007". The inside contains a message to clients and friends thanking them for their business and support in 2006.

Originally, I had planned to just do two runs per side (black and red, front and back). However, as I learned (and you can read about in a previous post), my design was a bit blocky and complicated to do that way. The design had too much surface area to get a deep (or any) impression with just one run per colour. So, I ended up having to cut out various parts of my photopolymer plate, and pressing them each separately. This made for a very inefficient process - with about 4 runs per side (yikes!).

Here is my first run through with the red ink and "welcome" text.

Here is the second run through for the berries.

Drying the cards (I found that using the hanging ladder in the basement was a convenient drying area - with separated slots!).

The text impression up close.

Printing the inside (outside is sticking out the top).

I also created matching envelopes with the red bird. I used my laser printer to print the addresses on afterwards.

The finished product: outside.

The finished product: inside.

When I have a chance, I will post my original design, so you can see how the final card ended up differing from the original idea.

Unfortunately, because I don't have the best camera, the impression is hard to see. I was able to get a good impression with mostly the text components of the design - the berries and bird were harder to do. The paper used was Neenah Eames Furniture (120 lb cover).

I must say that though this took quite a bit of time to complete, I learned SO MUCH! Most importantly, I learned that letterpress is much more of an art than a science (i.e. compared to modern printing methods) and creative problem solving and tinkering are major components in printing with a little press. As a born perfectionist, I tend to want things to turn out just right the first time - but with letterpress printing on a Kelsey, one has to be more patient!

And so, right now I am thinking forward to my next "self-promotion" card project for clients...we'll see what I can come up with.

Happy letterpressing!


  1. Wow! Very interesting post! Congrats on a lovely outcome! I'm starting my project today; hoping to get one color printed. I'll be taking photos along the way.

  2. Great first piece, you should definately pat yourself on the back for that one!

  3. Very, very nice work!
    I look forward to seeing your future projects!

    The Hand Work Press

  4. Great work and texture!
    Coming from a graphic designer also, it's a double compliment! :)
    Keep it up, I love your blog! :)

  5. Inspirational posting! I discovered your blog over xmas, finding myself restless visiting my parents. In Nov I bought a letterpress font set and had been collecting odd illustrations ovet the past years. I quickly made a liberty press and was able to so some gift labels and other small items. Reading your blog about the Kelsey is making me think about taking it up a notch! I will keep checking back. Looking forward to more posts.

  6. Gorgeous! Thanks for continuing to share your explorations and learning curve—it's really fascinating to watch.

    —JJ (XSpex)

  7. It turned out great; congrats.

  8. i know these beginning posts were published years ago, but i am now starting to get into graphic design and hopefully letterpress! i am reading your blog from the very start to present, and i just wanted to tell you how much i appreciate your openness and honesty. looks like your business is doing well now - i hope i'm there some day soon!!

    emily :)


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