Shower Invitations Part Three: Printing (2 color)

In the first two posts about printing these lovely shower invitations, I showed the design process for creating plates for letterpress, as well as how ink is mixed. This post will show the nitty gritty of the actual printing.

First thing's first: You have to ink up the press. You take the ink you oh-so-carefully mixed. I ended up lightening my ink up with some opaque white to match Paper Source's "Pool."

I simply dab it across the rollers evenly. Then when I turn the press on, the distribution rollers (so appropriately named) distribute the ink very evenly onto all the rollers. I usually let that run for about a minute or so until the ink is nicely coated on the rollers. You can also see if you need to put a little more ink here or there to make it even.

Below is a little video so you can see how it's done. You'll notice that there was ink already on the rollers. I was re-inking. You have to do that from time to time as you print. That's why with letterpress, some prints end up a little lighter or darker than the next.

After the ink is distributed evenly along all rollers and before pulling that first print, you must ink the form (which, in this case, is the photopolymer plate with our image). You put the press in "trip" mode and run it once down the bed of the press and back and it coats the plate with a very thin layer of ink. You'll notice that the base onto which the plate is adhered is gridded--that makes it a lot easier to line everything up. This is especially important in this case, since I'm printing two colors.

After adjusting the height on the form rollers (more on that later), I'm ready to print my first color! You can see in the video below....

After I'm done printing all the prints I need of the first color, I have to clean off all the ink from the rollers. This can take quite a bit of time and is why printing a 2 color job is a lot more expensive than a one color job. You really have to make sure all the ink is cleaned off so as to not accidentally mix it in with your next color.

After the ink is completely cleaned off, you're ready for the second color, which means using the second plate. This is where the gridded base comes in really handy. Depending on what I'm printing, I have crop marks on my plates to help me with registration as I line up the plate for the second color.

Below is a video of how the second color is printed. After each piece is printed, all that's left is cutting. Oh and lining the envelopes, gluing, addressing......

As you'll see in the photos below, I also printed the return address on the outer envelope flap as well as a little box on the front of the envelope where I wrote the destination addresses. Those were all done in red. After I finished with the second color of the invitations themselves, I set the press up for the printing the envelopes.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this little tutorial. There are many little details involved in the actual printing process, but this gives a pretty general overview. Please feel free to comment or send me an email {} if you have any questions!