Sunday, December 16, 2012

Our Radical, Letterpress Printed, Christmas Card

"The Pecan Corner Press" is operational at last. The first big project is our Christmas card. When I asked Paul what he wanted, he said "I will never send a non-religious card again" and asked for something different than the usual Christmas tree or Santa Claus. What better than John 3:16?

This card goes to all we send cards to (some years we manage to send cards, other years we have good intentions!), without regard to faith or lack thereof. Christmas is not about a generic baby, or some vague non-religious "peace", but about the Son of Man that baby Jesus became.  We owe people the Truth, and the Truth is that:

"God so loves the world that He gave His only begotten Son Jesus, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but will have eternal life."

 The paper is Strathmore Deckle Edge card, in Ivory, and the type is Goudy's Franciscan from Dale Guild via NA Graphics. The ink is copper metallic and black, both oil-based.

 As I learn to print again after a long haitus, I have:
* set type backwards (this means setting it left-right reading in my type stick causing it to print in reverse, instead of correctly setting it upside down and right to left)
* pied formes (this means spilling the tiny pieces of type and having to sort them back out)
* smashed type with the press grippers (this means letting the grippers that hold the paper get too close to the type, causing them to mash into it and ruin it)
* printed 5 out of 10 with some kind of error - mostly register errors where print is crooked compared to other elements (due mainly to that deckle edge!), but also a few scorches in melting the thermographic powder.

But I also learned some good things and am happy with the way they came out. I used dampened paper, and also used thermographic power to raise the print on the front. Between the damping and the heating, I had finally to steam the cards and put them all under the book press to straighten out again. I managed to get about 70 good cards out of 140 blanks that I started with.

Each card required 4 passes through the press, two sprinkles with thermo powder, one pass into the toaster oven, brushing to remove excess thermo powder, and a final steaming and pressing.

I also printed 200 on smaller, panel cards, without thermography, for the American Amateur Press Association December bundle. Because of their smooth surface (no dampening needed), straight edges (no register issues), and leaving off the thermography, I only ruined 4 of those cards. Good to remember for reducing waste in future projects! :-)

Oh! I am happy to be printing again! :-)

(By the way, if you like the idea of a letterpress printed Christmas card, check out G. Johanson's blog - linked from my sidebar. This pro-life printer has a lovely card based on a 15th Century woodcut of the three kings, and some cool Dala Horse designs.)


  1. Letterpress! That is soooo neat!

    I toyed with the idea of setting up to do letterpress. In the past I dabbled with silk-screen, & lino block.

    I owned an old office-type offset press for a while doing church stuff, and I used to have a little sideline biz doing calligraphy.

    I am envious, but only in the best of ways!


  2. Heh. What, no wood engraving yet? (There you go - that may be "the one").

    Aren't we all just artists elbowing for space in the pragmatic air around us. It is "a pleasant diversion" (aka a consuming obsession). I got my press a few years ago as an excuse to use some of those gorgeous papers. I use metal type, so the methods are soothing: pick, arrange, print, then sort. I do a little linoleum block cutting too. Have never tried silk screen but I am sure that will happen at some point!

    The desire to get stuff out of our heads and into the world makes the search for the medium the best part of the hobby. :-)


  3. Impressive stuff, Tina! I didn't realize there was so much to it. I hope you both have a very blessed Christmas!

  4. So good to see you Leslie! Hope all is good with you and yours. Merry Christmas and God bless you too :-)



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