Printing Handmade Business Cards in Joburg

by | Jan 16, 2018 | Arts and Culture, Johannesburg | 15 comments

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.

Heather printing business cards2Summers 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.

A lino plate ready for printingFiver 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.

Lino printsLovely lino prints. By the way, you can see more of Fiver’s work on her @rabbit_productions Instagram feed.

Fiver looks at the prints.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.

Laser cutter at ImPRESSedSmoke 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.

Paper for business cardsThe paper, which Fiver cut into smaller pieces to print on.

We decided to print the front of the cards with dark orange ink.

Ink for the printerMartin spreads ink at the bottom of the printer.

Time to print. Fiver and I took turns cranking.

Cards ready to print on printerReady to print: The paper is lined up, the plate is lined up, the rollers are inked. (Photo: Fiver Löcker)

Printing at ImPRESSedTurning the crank. (Photo: Fiver Löcker)

Card pops out of printerThe card pops out.

Printed cards on the printerThe letterpress process gives the type this really pretty embossed look.

Pulling the card off the press at ImPRESSedPulling the card off the press. (Photo: Fiver Löcker)

Printed cards in progressHalfway done.

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.

Finished 2Summers business cardsLook at the nice boxes!

Finished cards
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.

15 Comments

    • 2summers

      Thanks Gail!

      Reply
  1. eremophila

    Fab cards and I love seeing the process!

    Reply
    • 2summers

      Thanks!

      Reply
    • 2summers

      Thanks! I haven’t seen it around in the shops lately actually – it might be a collectors item now.

      Reply
  2. Sa'ad

    Not just a blog. “This is how it’s made!”. Very smart cards indeed!

    Reply
    • 2summers

      Thank you 🙂

      Reply
  3. mvschulze

    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 🙂

    Reply
    • Martin

      The ink is Continental ‘hand-me-down’ from some long gone letterpress shop.

      Reply
  4. autumnashbough

    Very cool. Was the printing machine hard to turn? Or just a minor workout?

    Reply
    • 2summers

      Pretty minor workout. But a little exercise maybe.

      Reply
  5. Jaina

    Is it crazy that I love the backs of the cards as much as the front?

    Reply
    • 2summers

      That’s the point! 😊

      Reply
  6. foxtrotindigo

    Absolutely love these Heather. So gorgeous 🙂

    Reply

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