Summer of Letterpress

Ofrenda #1: Darwin's Last WordIt has been a long time, and of course it is hard to know where to start, so I will just start.

I had hoped to be able to say that cards #1 and #2 have been editioned. But I cannot. However #1 is in process.

Thinking about editioning started me thinking about letterpress, because for the editions of the first 8 images, I chose to set the 6.5×10.25 card faces on 18×24 sheets of paper. I thought I would handwrite the text that would have appeared on the reverse of each image had they been produced simply as cards. 8×25=200. Earl Kallemeyn of New York Letterpress will produce plates from my handwriting and put the ink on paper for me. Problem solved. Arthritis and CTS crises averted.

Meanwhile there is more beautiful white space available. So parts of the card reverses are now finding their places as letterpress in that white space. We all know that paper is not really 2D, that it has depth. Besides carrying visual information, the letterpress process adds texture that can be seen with or without ink. And a letterpress registers.

Although Earl will be doing the letterpress for the editions, I have been playing with it myself. It is a little unsettling to use a press, completely unlike pulling the screens: less physical and mental exertion, primarily because once you register that first sheet of paper to the plate, every piece of paper is registered. Atmospheric conditions in the NYC studio are so variable and water-based inks misbehave in such interesting and frustrating ways that achieving consistency in CMYK prints takes great physical and mental stamina. A polite way of saying that humidity makes the paper buckle, heat makes the inks dry out more quickly in the screens, and at a certain point you have to register each sheet of paper individually with an acetate sheet. In CMYK printing consistent registration equals consistent color.(I never intended to do so much CMYK work, but it just felt right for the Loteria project.)

Because it is summer, I have been working again at Pickwick Independent Press in Portland ME. Pilar’s Vandercook 4 is in fine fettle and I was finally able get good prints from the plate I had prepared for my beginners’ letterpress class in April. And here it is…

August 13, 2016