Sunday, October 11, 2009

Happy Hour

So here you are standing at the bar, or else, chatting somebody up at a party and you—letterpress printer/book artist, aka social butterfly—are handing out your three-color on a handmade, LetterPress’t card, when OMG the target of opportunity says, “These are nice. Can you run off a few for me? Like maybe a hundred. I’m thinking of starting a business. But I don’t know what and I don’t want to spend a lot of money right away.”

Well, pictured above is my solution to the short-run, multi-color business card printed on a fine arts paper.

Take one sheet of 22x30-inch cold pressed 140 or 300 gsm watercolor paper.

1. Cut the sheet in half (15x22-inch); trim excess deckles;
2. Cut 3.5-inch strips along the 22-inch side, yielding six strips 3.5x15-inches;
3. Repeat with other half sheet;
4. Print 3-up* on a work and turn (see photo), yielding six cards from each strip;
5. Yield: 72 cards per 22x30-inch sheet;
6. Add sheets as necessary.

This “recipe” works exceedingly well on the smaller Vandercooks. Note how the strip is just wide enough to fit under two grippers. Also, if the strips are cut accurately, you will be able to center the copy precisely on the sheet and have one less cut to worry about.

I have found that it is helpful to add extra space between cards, rather than make cuts between cards common cuts. That way, if there is inaccuracy in the chopping out of the cards, you can easily compensate by back-cutting on the remaining cards.

As there’s nothing worse than spoiling a job in the cutter—and that's one of the benefits of this method—keep the lifts small (ten or twelve strips) and the cards will have less tendency to creep. Of course, if you have a Polar or Wohlenberg programmable cutter, none of this may pertain in the first place.

*The assumption here is that we are printing 3-up from a polymer plate.