For all you DIY sorts and print-curious out there, I’ll be teaching a Beginning Letterpress class through PNCA Continuing Education this term. We’ll be learning (or perfecting) typesetting and printing skills, focused on creating your very own business cards or other identity materials using the school’s Vandercook proof presses and well stocked print shop. I promise to provide as much technical info as you are interested in! The 8 week class is a great opportunity to learn at a reasonable price. The first session is this coming Thursday, October 2nd from 6:30-9:30pm, and there is still room for a couple more students. Read more about the class and sign up here.
New Keepsake Prints
We’ve been having a lot fun developing a new printed keepsake line, and just launched the first few prints of two series.
Each keepsake print is produced using a combination of Letterpress and traditional Offset Lithography, and printed in small batch editions. The Continental-sized (4” x 6”) prints feature a blank area for note writing, and come with a custom-made side-flap envelope which includes decorative linotype-composed printing, and a die-cut information tag that describes the production process and equipment used to produce the print.
The first of the series of keepsake prints feature images of our favorite little city, Portland. Taken from the vantage point of sidewalks or bike lanes around town, these images are printed using a tri-color process which was inspired by the three-color postcard printing methods that reigned in the 1930s and earlier. A nod to the grandfather of modern process color printing, our tri-color process utilizes meaty 85 LPI screens (good for multiple pass, single-color registration), and manual color separation (as close as we can get to photomechanical color seps).
The second series features some of our favorite printing equipment and tools. These images are printed as halftones with our favorite house spot colors, and letterpress printed with a description block on back.
Drop by the shop to check them out, or visit Buy Olympia to see more.
Keepsake info tags
These tags are included with our printed keepsakes and describe the print methods used to create each specific keepsake. A photo of a member of the Stumptown Printers production crew is featured on the tag, stylized in a manner inspired by photos of workers in the 1923 American Type Founders Catalog. Rebecca had the idea to use a “check box” list which would allow us to use a common form for a variety of printing techniques. I was excited to cast these boxes as I previously hadn’t had the opportunity to do so. I quickly discovered that all Linotype 6^330 check boxes were not created equal. Or at least did not all behave as they should. We ended up with rough alignment - the boxes shifted very slightly as you can see from above photo of an early proof. It was a minor fix, but a good lesson learned and a future project added to sort through those mats.
As in the production of our custom keepsake envelopes, these tags were created in part using a form cast from linotype which was letterpress printed in a small edition. A clean impression was taken and used for a repro-proof which was then used for the production run. Offset Litho production run used a variety of our house spot colors. Final step was to die cut with perf.
Custom Keepsake Open End Envelopes
Inspired in part by the utilitarian qualities of old parts envelopes we have filed away throughout the shop (for example, see Linoytpe parts envelope pictured above) we made a custom side flap envelope for our keepsake print series.
Printed in a variety of house spot colors on mixed paper stock, the borders and types adorning the envelopes were cast on the Linotype and letterpress printed in a small edition. A clean print from this run was used to generate film which was then used to make a hand developed metal litho printing plate for the production run. Once this print run was completed, we die cut the envelopes on the 13 x 18 windmill. Folding and gluing was then completed by a local envelope converter.
Stumptown Printers is now offering “overruns and offcuts” blank packaging for local pick up in our store. This week we have some two panel CD jackets, flat & unglued. One style is a double thick cover stock, die cut with a hole in the front. The other is a bundle of standard 2 Panel CD Jackets cut from various colors standard cover stock. Many of these papers have been discontinued. Sold in packs of 10 for $5. Portland pick up only, no shipping or online orders. Once they are gone, they are GONE. Stop by Tues-Fri from 9am-6pm.
Email is back up… you don’t have to call us after all. But you can if you wanna. We like to talk.
(Photo above was lifted from the The Columbus Dispatch website)
Our email is down! If you’ve sent an email in the last day or so, we haven’t had access to it. If you need to reach us, please give us a call. Go ahead! It’s fun. five-zero-three-two-three-three-seven-four-seven-eight.
Found over the weekend was this fantastic late 1940s print specimen. It’s a souvenir card set containing 10 cards of beautiful Arizona landscapes printed in “Natural Color.” “Natural Color” was a term used to describe early process color printing, particularly in post card printing, in which photo mechanical separations were employed rather than colors chosen and applied by a color retoucher at the pre-press stage. Many of the first Natural Color printed pieces used tricolor builds, a great grandfather to the modern CMYK process, and often used varying spot colors to enhance the colors naturally present in the photo composition.
Each of the cards contained within this set features a combination of hand-set and linotype composed and letterpress printed text blocks on back, describing the scenes.
Perhaps the most charming feature of this set is that many of the cards were incorrectly backed up, so the wrong descriptions were used to describe the image. Instead of reprinting, the printer decided to use border material to strike through the incorrect descriptions, and printed the corrected text blocks beneath.
Makes one wonder if the publisher got a big discount from the job printer for this mistake, or maybe the publisher was the printer, and just decided to go for it and sell the card sets as is, mistakes and all. Regardless, this definitely tells the story of a real “oh, shit!” moment in job printing history.
Images from Frank Romano’s library. While most conference attendees found some delicious rare type specimen books to study, I found myself with a cluster of fellow commercial printers excitedly looking through all 20 editions of the Pocket Pal. It was a very nerdy moment, with some of us taking “selfies” as we displayed older editions of the Pocket Pal. Yup. Had to be done. This little book lives along side Pantone swatch books in most press rooms, and has served print shops for generations. The 14th edition was shoved into my hands in the early nineties after a press operator become frustrated with my newbie questions. Press Operator: “Okay, we’re going to run this job sheet wise…” Me: “huh?” Anyhow, this book was (and still is) as ubiquitous as the ink knife in the print shop, and Mr. Frank Romano has been the man behind it for the last 30 years.
Other pics are of pages from The Linotype Bulletin, an 1886 edition of the New York Tribune from the time the Lintoype was first successfully used in that print office, a 6pt Linotype Matrix containing a complete uppercase alphabet, and a presentation by Frank Romano and Rich Hopkins during which they discussed their recent books: Romano’s “History of the Linotype Company” and Hopkins’ “Tolbert Lanston and the Monotype.”
Conference attendees are invited to contribute their own printing created for the conference, and in turn each attendee receives a “keepsake bundle” of some fantastic work. It’s always gorgeous stuff, beautifully composed and inked. Printers spend many hours on these pieces, the time and effort that goes into their work is inspiring. David M. MacMillan of Circuitous Root has documented the contents of this Conference’s bundle here.