Monday, September 24, 2007

First Run on the C&P...

Despite the small press reassembly problems mentioned in my previous post, I did manage to print a run of notecards yesterday on the Chandler & Price. The photos don't really do the printing justice, as my camera doesn't really capture the texture that well. All in all, I am very satisfied with the results.

Strangely enough, I had just started cycling the press though with the flywheel, and the throw-off lever just started jiggling on its own - as if it were saying "pull me now!", and so I obeyed. The lever moved just as it should have been all along, and the throw-off mechanism started working. Well, I'll be damned, but it just fixed itself. A person with some sense would probably try to figure out how/why it ever got stuck to begin with - but, I'm just grateful it worked itself out. My theory is that maybe during moving the parts were knocked out of alignment and running the press through a few times might have put things back the way they should have been.

Thank you very much to Rich (and Megan) who posted some suggestions regarding the flywheel. Rich - we are going to take off the wheel again this week and file down the hole as you suggested. It never crossed my mind that the wheel could be the problem, and not the shaft. Let's cross our fingers! The pin in the flywheel was taken out when we moved the press, so luckily I didn't have to deal with that - I think Dave (the seller) used a gear-puller to get the wheel off and pin out (not in that order). Once I get the wheel back on properly, I will put back the pin.

As for those who asked about the stack cutter - it is a QCM stack cutter that I bought on EBay (thank you to Megan for the recommendation). It is so much better to cut with - I was killing myself using my rotary and guillotine cutters - and they were not strong enough to cut Lettra over and over. The QCM has been great so far and has cut nice straight lines (can't say the same for my other tools!).

I've been very bad for answering some of your questions so here are a few from fourtwentyone:

If I may, have a couple of questions... You make it look so easy to match the ink color with the color of the envelopes! is it difficult with mixing the ink colors? I remember reading in a previous post that you only have red, blue, yellow, black and white. is that the same now and you just mix with those colors? Are you still cleaning your press just using crisco oil? How long would you say it takes you to clean the press? Is there a waiting period between cleaning and using the press again (like if you had to do the second color)?

I have Van Son rubber base inks in blue, red, yellow, black and white. When I bought my C&P, the seller gave me many more cans of ink in various colors - but I have not used them yet. I like to use the basic colors to mix because a) I have more control over the results and b) it's a lot (LOT) cheaper than ordering Pantone match inks. I had one Pantone match mixed for me and it was $45 buckeroos. A 1-lb can of ink is about $21, so it's cheaper in the long-run to buy the basics and mix.

Mixing the ink isn't easy - in fact it can take a long time to get the match just right. I try to do it in natural light because indoor lighting can throw your perception off. I've learned that certain colours (i.e. blue) have way more pigment than others, and need to be mixed more sparingly. I've also learned to add slowly - i.e. if you are making an orange and start with yellow as a base, just add red in little bits. If you rush and add a big gob of red all at once, you risk ending up with...well...a bunch of red. Slowly but surely is better.

Yes, I am just using Crisco to clean the press - though I may invest in some California wash to do a final wipe of the rollers etc. I would say it takes me a good 30 mins to do a thorough cleaning of the rollers, ink disc, etc. I've seen other people clean their presses with a splash of kerosene and no real wipe-down...everyone has their own ritual.

No, there is no waiting period between cleaning and running a second colour. After a proper cleaning, the press should be ready to go right away. Depending on the project, I've seen some people not clean up at all, and just print with a light color first, and the dark colour second. Usually it's a project where the ink color does not have to be exact. The second color often ends up muddy and not as intended.

For those of you in the Vancouver area, I will be participating in the Creative Finds Art and Fine Craft show on December 1, 2007, at Sullivan Hall. Mark your calendars :)

Happy letterpressing!


  1. The new cards look beautiful! Good luck with the wheel, but wheel or not, seems like you've got the press working well!

  2. The cards look lovely! Good post. Very informative! And thanks for letting us know about the stack cutter. I must invest in one, soon.

  3. Erin,
    A while back you mentioned cutting your plate to print the images separately. What do you use to cut polymer plates? Thanks for all your has been TREMENDOUSLY helpful to this wanna-be printer. :)


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