I’ve had a lot of printing in my life lately.
My friend Fiver, who has always been an artist, has specialized in fine art printing over the last few years. I’ve spent a lot of time watching her make prints. Then last year I blogged about three different Joburg printers (see here and here and here).
I guess it makes sense that I started off 2018 by printing my own business cards.
It all started when Fiver offered to make some customized linocut prints to turn into a new header for my blog. The linocuts are finished and the header is still in progress. In the meantime Fiver and I decided to turn the linocuts into business cards and print them using the old-fashioned letterpress printers at ImPRESSed Studios.
2Summers business cards in the making. (Photo: Fiver Löcker)
Here’s a quick step-by-step of how we did it.
Making 2Summers Linocuts
Fiver started by sketching various modes of transport I’ve used in my travels through Joburg and the rest of South Africa. She turned each sketch into a separate lino plate, including edges inspired by South African Shweshwe fabric. After the lino plates were cut, they were ready to be printed.
Fiver rolls ink onto the double-decker bus lino plate. Lino is short for linoleum — the plates are made of linoleum off-cuts.
Once the ink was on the lino plates Fiver lined them up on her printer and laid thick paper on top. She ran her big roller over the paper and voila, we’ve got prints.
Lovely lino prints. By the way, you can see more of Fiver’s work on her @rabbit_productions Instagram feed.
Hot off the press — planes, trains, and automobiles. And a tuk-tuk and a helicopter and a balloon.
These big sheets of paper would eventually become my business cards. We let the prints dry for a couple of days, then took them to ImPRESSed.
Printing Cards with Letterpress
I first visited ImPRESSed back in August and have been wanting to print business cards there ever since. Martin and Ania, ImPRESSed’s owners, are amazing; they’re so passionate about what they do and they love teaching people how to use their printers, some of which are more than 150 years old.
Fiver created a design for the front of my business card and sent it to Martin. Martin turned the design into a letterpress plate, using a laser-cutter machine.
Smoke rises from my newly made 2Summers letterpress plate.
Martin finished the plate by cooking it in the oven for 30 minutes. Then it was ready to print on. We went back to the studio and prepared the paper.
The paper, which Fiver cut into smaller pieces to print on.
We decided to print the front of the cards with dark orange ink.
Martin spreads ink at the bottom of the printer.
Time to print. Fiver and I took turns cranking.
Ready to print: The paper is lined up, the plate is lined up, the rollers are inked. (Photo: Fiver Löcker)
Turning the crank. (Photo: Fiver Löcker)
The letterpress process gives the type this really pretty embossed look.
Pulling the card off the press. (Photo: Fiver Löcker)
In a couple of hours we printed a couple of hundred cards. Martin cut them to size on a scary paper-cutting machine called a guillotine. Then they were done.
The back of each card is different. Love.
This whole process made me so happy, as did the result. I can’t stop admiring my cards. If you’d like to make some of your own, learn more at Impressed.co.za and Rabbit Productions.
They are great cards.
Fab cards and I love seeing the process!
Love your T-shirt dude!
Thanks! I haven’t seen it around in the shops lately actually – it might be a collectors item now.
Not just a blog. “This is how it’s made!”. Very smart cards indeed!
Thank you 🙂
Facinating look at a little local printshop. My career was with an ink manufacturer, in my case R&D, and tech service/sales in newspaper pressrooms around the country (US.) (Retired) Unless ill advised, I’m curious as to the ink manufacturer. M 🙂
The ink is Continental ‘hand-me-down’ from some long gone letterpress shop.
Very cool. Was the printing machine hard to turn? Or just a minor workout?
Pretty minor workout. But a little exercise maybe.
Is it crazy that I love the backs of the cards as much as the front?
That’s the point! 😊
Absolutely love these Heather. So gorgeous 🙂