How Letterpress Works
Letterpress is a relief printing process where the image to be printed is raised above the base of the plate. Pressure is applied to push the image into the paper, on either a cylinder or a platen press. Many clients – including artists and designers, as well as brides and event planners – favor a deep impression. Cotton papers have long, strong fibers and are well-suited to a “hard hit.” Letterpress is also a great choice when selected stocks are too thick or too ridged for a litho press.
We use special full-bodied inks that are generally more opaque than offset inks. On dark stock, silver or fluorescent ink can be great. And papers with good surface sizing always help improve the printed image. We are able to print on unsized stocks, but it’s usually at a cost to image quality. And letterpress without ink – called a “blind hit” – is terrifically tactile.
Why We Love Letterpress
Letterpressed patterns are a favorite of ours – they can emulate the textures of tile or upholstery and make an engaging background for typography and litho illustrations. Letterpress is also great for hand-lettering and sketches. Our customers usually specify a “deep impression,” and our pressmen can adjust the depth/relief as requested. During the planning/proofing stage, we may suggest fine revisions to the artwork (especially type) to allow for a more tactile result.
Photos 1-2: Nicole Hill Gerulat
Photos 3-6: Glenn Schuster