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Tools of the trade

Posted by on 09/07/2018

Tool: Letterpress printer

Name: Sam Fray

Job: Designer

Where: Woodduck Press

Why is it important?

My printing press is an old machine that was made by hand, before we had the luxury of lathes and machinery to make it. I use it mainly for short runs like gift vouchers, business vouchers, swing tags, or high-end wedding stationery.

It’s a work of art in itself and I couldn’t do my job without it.

I started using it about 10  years ago when I tried to find my own wedding stationery, and decided that was what I wanted. I purchased the machine and nearly had a heart attack about how heavy it was.

I create a raised printing plate, which is locked up in a chase [the outer steel frame] and put into up the machine. I then treadle the press by foot which makes the press open and the rollers ink the plate. After that, I hand feed a sheet of paper into the press, while my foot is still on the treadle. It takes great co-ordination. The ink is transferred to the paper, leaving a tactile printed impression which can’t be achieved using modern laser printing; this produces a different quality and [level of] indentation into the paper.

What do your colleagues think?

They adore it. Everything these days has gone electronic, so we don’t get to touch and feel much; putting a quality paper in it, with texture, is a real art.

Unusual moment?

If I put in two sheets of paper instead of one the machine can lock up.

It decides that’s it. I’ve done that a few times; you have to force it open with big crowbars.

How much does it cost?

My first machine was $250 but that was about 10 years ago. Now, they’re worth about $5000 on eBay. It’s become fashionable again to do it.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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