17 December 2009

Memorial Hall in Letterpress

The new Memorial Hall ornaments I designed earlier this month are getting their first real road test this week, and in letterpress at that. A client asked me to design and print a keepsake of an Emily Dickinson poem, and the ornaments were a good fit for the project. They will be printed in two colours with the text in black.

With photopolymer you execute your design on a computer and then use a high-resolution imagesetter to generate a negative, just as you would for making a plate for offset printing (except wrong-reading, emulsion down).

The text is set Garamont, Jim Rimmer’s digital revival of F.W. Goudy’s Monotype revival of Jean Jannon’s lively, baroque-flavoured, seventeenth-century type (which was mistakenly attributed to Claude Garamond and thus misnamed). When printing letterpress using photopolymer plates, I generally find that typefaces which were actually designed with letterpress printing in mind yield the best results.

This is what the plate looks like before printing. The image area (type) is raised and when mounted on a base and locked into the press it behaves more or less like metal type.

First I have a number of other short printing jobs to complete, like some more jackets for a reprint of Jan Zwicky’s Thirty-seven Small Songs & Thirteen Silences. This cover is printed on one of the great handmade sheets produced by our friends at Saint Armand in Montreal.

Andrew Steeves ¶ Printer & Publisher

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