We've been working on a new print for some time now and this month (July 2020) we've finally started production.
Brass Printing Plate
This is a brass printing plate which is unusual, they're normally made from magnesium, zinc or polymer (plastic). We chose brass because it gives a superior print finish and of course because it looks beautiful!
Brass plates are most commonly used in bookbinding for gold foil work on covers etc because of its heat conductive properties.
Close up of detail on the brass plate
One of the reasons that brass gives a superior print is because of the variations of depth and fine lines which can be created within its surface. Polymer and zinc plates are created using a photo etching process. Brass plates are made on a CNC machine.
An inconvenience of brass plates is that they are not made type high as standard.
"Type high" is a term used in printmaking where the plate is mounted as high as the loose lead or wood letter blocks (or type!) used to create words in posters and book pages etc. These are something you'd commonly see in a print shop.
Standard plates can be specified as being supplied type high because a zinc or polymer plate are made to a standard guage thickness - brass isn't. This meant that we had to have a block made at our local wood shop from sapele, an African species.
Inking up the plate
One of my favourite moments is applying the ink the plate for the first time. Here you can see Nick doing just that. It's a clear indication of what the end result will look like albeit in reverse.
We have two large rollers large enough to apply ink across the width of larger plates; a soft blue and a hard black one. Nick uses the hard roller on high detail prints because it won't squish the ink into the fine detail lines and compromise the quality of the print. Being a fastidious character he also works out how much ink is applied to each print, approximately 1.2 grams. Yes, approximately...
I chose to use a 300gsm 140lb handmade vintage sheet for the first editions. It was made in 1979 by J Barcham Green.
Close up sneak peek of the first print.
We're not ready to show you the entire print as yet but here's a little snippet of it. Once this is dry we'll begin the hand colourisation process.
More to follow...