Thursday, November 02, 2006

Printing Bookplates

One of the reasons that I post infrequently is that most of my work is commissioned and so is either for publication or - very often - a suprise. I have spent much of the day printing a bookplate and I asked permission to share the process with my readers. Thank you Katy for giving me the go ahead.

For most of the images, you can see an enlarged view by clicking on them.

Here is the block when it was almost finished; before the first proof was taken:

The next photograph shows a view of the studio. The block is fixed in the bed of the smaller Albion Press. You can see the orange sheets of packing and makeready taped to the tympan. To the right is the inking table and, in the background, my engraving desk. This configuration works well as I hardly need to take any steps during the printing.

Here is a closer view of the block on the bed of the press. It is held in place by "furniture" which is tightened by "quoins".

In the next photograph, I am using a brayer to roll a thin film of ink on the block. For engravings, it is generally better to print with a thin layer of ink under high pressure.

Next, I am placing a small piece of Zerkall paper into position on the tympan. I have developed a method of holding small sheets without the need for gauge pins. I will reveal all on this blog in a few days.

The pressure is achieved by pulling the bar towards one, as can be seen in the next photo below. The beauty of this method is that the printer "feels" the pressure through the bar and so can control the printing pressure. The date 1865 is stamped into the bar; This Albion was built in the year that Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.

The next step is to wind the bed out from under the platen and carefully lift the tympan. This pulls the paper off the block and I can inspect the work.

Finally, I place the printed sheet up on the drying rack. Adter drying, the plates are carefully inspected and then they are trimmed, reeady for dispatch.

And that, as they say, is that.


Ellen Shipley said...


Diane Cutter said...

Wonderful little bookplate and thanks for showing us your setup!

Annie B said...

Beautiful, Andy! I just tried a press for the first time a couple of weeks ago. Not like your lovely Albion, though. I'd like one more like that, I think, so that I could "feel" the pressure.