Ink Coverage Disclaimer
We try everything we can to try to get as solid a coverage and consistent density as possible on your prints. However, while this can be accomplished, there are some noteworthy variations inherent to letterpress printing. Please review the following and discuss any concerns with us.
1. SOLID AREAS OF COLOR ARE NOT IDEAL FOR LETTERPRESS
Due to the nature of the way ink is manually added, rolled onto the the plate, then pressed, solid color is difficult to control. Some pieces may have more ink density, as ink is manually added throughout the run. We keep an eye on the ink density, but there will be some color variation throughout the run.
2. SOLID AREAS MAY APPEAR SPECKLED
In letterpress printing, large solid areas may appear speckled or salty, literally like someone poured some salt onto the areas of solid coverage. This look is more apparent in darker colors vs lighter colors, and more on textured cotton stock vs smooth cotton stock. The combination of the ink color and paper (e.g. dark ink on textured cotton) will affect the saltiness of the print as well. In designs with sizable area of ink coverage, it may be necessary to print with less ink density in order to keep the fine details crisp leaving more saltiness to the final print. Think of it as trying to put a thin layer of ink onto glass; the ink can lay thicker in certain areas versus others, and sometimes beads just a little which gives solid areas the speckles.
3. LARGE SOLID AREAS OF IMPRESSION MAY CAUSE DISTORTION OF THE PAPER
Letterpress involves a printing method where the paper is pressed and debossed, which physically alters the thickness of the paper. While most designs do not distort the paper in a negative way, requests with very deep impression or designs with large areas of impression may cause paper to become wavy, curl or bend like a potato chip. The larger the artwork on a sheet or the deeper the impression, the less likely that the final print will lay flat. We tend to press black cardstock more than white as it is more difficult to see the deep impression because you cannot see the shadows giving white cardstock a deeper look. Thus, there may be slightly more distortion when printed on black cardstock. Let us know if you would like the black cardstock pressed less to prevent distortion.
4. LARGE SOLID AREAS MAY NOT OFFER DEEP IMPRESSION
It wasn’t until the last decade that deep impressions because the preferred and sought after feature of letterpress printing. Letterpress printing was meant to “kiss” the paper without leaving an impression on the paper. It takes a great amount of pressure to press the paper and the press may not have enough pressure to leave a deep impression on large solid designs. Thus, solid areas of color do not generally make use of the impression possible with letterpress printing. Ideally, text, pattern and lines offer excellent impression while solid shapes (e.g. square) or text reversing out of solid areas (e.g. raised text inside of a solid colored square) may leave little or any noticeable impression into the paper.
5. LINE RESOLUTION AND FONTS
There are limitations on the line resolution in letterpress printing using photopolymer lates that we use. This means that the thinnest line that we can resolve, aka letterpress, is 0.35 points wide. Anything thinner may not print well as the plate cannot hold the shape when pressed into the paper. Thus, we will be designing to make sure the thinnest line is at least 0.35 points or wider. And because of the line resolution limitation, certain fonts may not print as well especially less than 10 points.
The above are the inherent nature of letterpress printing as it is a century old printing method and our youngest press is 50+ years young and our oldest is 110+ years young. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at any time.