HB Blogside

Getting Creative with Letterpress Printing

2013 ended at HB with some good old-fashioned printing on our Vandercook press! Because of some creative planning and thinking, we successfully printed our holiday cards while juggling fairly heavy end-of-the-year workloads.

Last year’s printing experience was very educational but also very time consuming, with lots of trial and error. We learned a lot, mostly from the problems we encountered from our first real run on the press. So this year we concepted and designed our HB client holiday card to run more smoothly and efficiently than our poster did last year.

First, we printed a smaller card. We have a holiday mailing list of 275-300, and printing that number of cards takes time, considering each piece is hand inserted and aligned in the press. To minimize printing time, we printed a smaller card that ran two up. That cut our printing time in half.

Next, I suggested that we only print one color, not because I dislike color (you may not believe that considering my wardrobe is made up of mostly black), but again, to manage time. Each color printed requires the press to be inked, the paper to run through the press, and the press to be cleaned. That whole process happens again for a second color. The cleaning is labor intensive… not to mention stinky and messy. So printing one color made the project more manageable for us.

But one color can be a bit boring, or at least not festive. So…

We got a little creative here, and decided to run a split fountain. A split fountain is a term that you may have heard while talking screen printing back in the day. But if you are not a printing geek, here’s an explanation—instead of inking up the press rollers with one color, you ink the press with multiple colors. We used two colors: a green at one end of the rollers and a blue at the other, and they printed at the same time. It not only created a multiple color card, it produced a beautiful subtle variation of color on the final printed pieces. Each card is unique—as the press runs, the colors blend together and create different effects.

We also printed on multiple colors of paper—green, white, blue and gray. That added some additional color and variation to the cards.

The design team did a great job concepting, designing and printing our holiday card this year. And few others stepped in to help with the process. We set up, printed, trimmed, and finished the cards in two days. Our creative design and pre-planning really helped us manage the production time to create a unique holiday card in a timely fashion.

Finally, I must say the content of the card is as thoughtful and inspiring as the whole design process was. You can check it out here….

2013 holiday card

Go farther. Learn more. Live prouder.

We’re as passionate about giving back as we are about telling stories with design. Our philanthropic focus this year turns to three causes for which we care deeply:

  1. Empowerment, two wheels at a time, World Bicycle Relief.
  2. Education for girls worldwide, 10×10 Girl Rising.
  3. Simple, decent, affordable housing, Habitat for Humanity.

Their stories inspire us and move us to act.

Happy holidays from HB Design!

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