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Jessica Hische’s work, you should really go check it out. Her remarkable talent and wit permeates everything she does, a prime example being this poster she designed last year asking the age old question “should i work for free?” Every designer has asked themselves this at some point and Jessica has taken the time to break it down for you in this FIVE color poster she had us letterpress. Printed on Crane Lettra Flo White 110c (one of our house stocks), each 15″ x 25″ print is signed and editioned. Available for purchase in Jessica’s store. Another side project Jessica produced is inkerlinker, a site dedicated to finding an awesome printer to fit your needs. We’re pretty pumped about the love people have shown us on the site and always enjoy reading the comments people leave. Go ahead and “like” us… you know you want to.
Designed by Priest + Grace for Howler magazine, these oversize business cards are an amazing example of what a good design and a little tonal ink can do. Howler magazine is a quarterly publication for soccer enthusiasts in North America, so it only made sense for these cards to reference the size and color of actual penalty cards used in soccer.
There are several production techniques we used to successfully produce these cards. First, instead of printing all of the information blind we used a tonal ink color (a red ink on the red, yellow on the yellow). When something is printed blind it relies solely on good lighting conditions to be legible. Our solution is to print using a tonal ink, which creates just enough contrast between the artwork and the paper to make your contact information visible. Secondly, these cards were printed with fronts and backs up on the same sheet, duplexing the sheet after printing. This allowed us to run a heavy impression on press but then conceal the impression show through by duplexing the sheet back to itself.
The red cards are printed on Mohawk Via Scarlet Vellum 80C (duplexed to make 160C) and the yellow cards are on French Poptone Lemon Drop 100C (duplexed to make 200C).
This is a post not for admirers of letterpress products, but for the folks actually doing letterpress printing. Crafting high quality work is all about the details. Sometimes the littlest things make a really big difference. The black arts ain’t always easy. In order to letterpress print professionally you need the right tools for the job. These are some of the things that we use daily in our shop. Individual items range in cost from $5 to $60. Granted, they are not items found in letterpress shops a hundred years ago, but that is a bonus you get for being a letterpress printer in the age of the glowing screen.
1. Schaedler Combo Ruler
This ruler is used across every step of production in our shop. It has really tiny increments. So small that you can measure the lines on your typical ruler. They have it all on this one ruler: points, picas, metric, standard and decimal inches.
2. Depth Ruler
This is the perfect tool to quickly square up your artwork to the press sheet. We don’t use them for increments. We use them as a tool to slide the gauge and compare side to side on a press sheet.
3. Digital Thickness Gauge
To adjust impression and do proper makeready you have to KNOW exactly what thickness you are putting in the press and adjust your packing accordingly. This is the tool to do just that. Find the overall thickness of materials in metric and decimal inches.
4. #99 Heidelberg GTO Suckers
These will change your life if you run Heidelberg letterpresses. They are specifically useful if you have ever struggled with warping, wavy cover stock or heavy board stock. The accordion body on these offer a little additional reach beyond the disc type suckers, without double sheeting. We use them on both Heidelberg Original Cylinders and Heidelberg Windmills.
5. Dogwood Coffee
Drinking on the job is almost a requirement in our shop. For consistently great coffee we love the micro-roasted batches from Dogwood Coffee. It’s a daily ritual from folks that embrace craft like we do. They have sweet little holiday brewing bundles available on their site.
6. Linen Tester Magnifier
See what is going on on your press sheet close up. You can then more quickly diagnose your print issues. Overinking, plate problem, impression, etc. We like the open body style of the folding linen tester magnifiers.
7. LED Magnetic Flex Light
Have a hard time seeing an enclosed part? Ever drop something inside a press. We have. This bright little light is perfectly small and has a magnetic base to keep your hands free.
8. Precision Oiler
We use a heavy weight press oil in this little guy to get a precision drop of oil right where it needs to go. Perfect for oiling the small parts around feeding and delivery, especially on Heidelberg Windmills.
9. Rosin Bag
Originally a product used to add gripping precision in many sports, this little bag works well to add some stick to the rails your roller trucks ride on. Gets rid of that pesky little ghosting start mark by slapping this sack on your rails a few time. This is an especially good tip for Heidelberg Windmills.
10. Super Soap
Sometimes is feels so good to be dirty. But to handle cotton paper you better get clean. This soap is easy on the hands and has a little sawdust grit for scrubbing action.
11. Teamster Shop Apron
This is one mother of an apron. This is an extra long apron that We love the split leg design that allows you to get up and down to worship your iron beast.
12. Pressroom Creed Poster
If you want your studio visitors to better understand your letterpress neurosis, hang this in your shop. (yes, this is a shameless promotion of our own product) It is a 13 x 20 sheet size, heavy 220lb cotton stock. “This is my printing press. There are many like it, but this one is mine…”
After a brief blogging hiatus we’re back with a project we’ve been bursting to share with you.
Nearly a year ago we worked with Gestalten publishers on this great video piece about our shop and we’ve been featured in some of their past publications–but now they are releasing a title all about Studio On Fire! Needless to say, we’re giddy.
The book features work designed by us, as well as work designed by clients, all of which was produced here in our Minneapolis location. Pictures of our ever expanding workspace also made it in alongside a forward written by our Principal.
Since we couldn’t, in good conscience, let a book about us not include any actual letterpress, all of the covers were letterpress printed at Studio On Fire and shipped off to meet the gutt of the book in the final stages of production. Due to the heavy 100 point thickness of the recycled cover boards, all of the covers were hand fed into our Gietz platen press. They are printed with a day glo ink using deep etch copper plates. We love the contrast of raw and refined created by the bright color next to the gray board.
It’s already shipping in Europe and will be released here in the states in late October. We got our hands on an advance copy, so we thought we’d share a bit of a sneak peek with you.
An essential reason French Paper Company stands out in a world of large paper conglomerates is their unique design affair. They’ve had a longstanding relationship with Charles Spencer Anderson Design here in Minneapolis that has fueled and produced arguably some of the most visual ephemera to promote paper in the last decade. And trust us, here at Studio On Fire we see A LOT of promotional materials from paper companies. We were excited to be a part of that legacy with the latest French Paper promotion – a paper “Air Kraft” designed by the crew at CSA Design.
We worked closely with CSA to finalize the production. The sheets are letterpress printed in two colors on French Speckletone Kraft 140lbC. These Air Kraft are actually flight worthy, but you have to be sure to follow the instructions and tape a dime into the nose of the plane for a good glide.
Speckletone Kraft is one of those papers great for designers who fall in love with chipboard, only to realize that actual raw chip does not have color specifications. (In a batch of chipboard stock you may get some gray sheets or some dark brown sheets, it just depends on what went into the pulper) We like to use it especially when matching envelopes are needed.
This coffee label packaging was designed locally by Holmberg Design. Dogwood Coffee Company is a small coffee roaster based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota (and generously present at our last studio party.) They source, roast and serve some truly amazing coffees. And what is especially unique to the experience of Dogwood Coffee is the single cup brewing. Visit them and always expect a well crafted, fully realized flavor. And be sure to take beans home in one of these delicious bags. This is the good stuff, these guys love crafting coffee as much as we love letterpress.
We printed these with two colors – a red and a very light gray /nearly blind ink for the diamond texture. They are printed on our house label stock which is Strathmore Writing, Ultimate White Wove. This label takes a stiff impression and has a bit of tooth and texture that adds to the artisanal quality of letterpress. They are kisscut two up on an 8.5 x 11 sheet. They are cleverly designed to be end user friendly with use of simple rubber stamp imprints specific to the roasted microlots. Overprinting the stamp on the letterpress imprint gives the surface another layer of texture.
Also see the “Reserve” coffee labels we printed previously (when Dogwood was still a part of Bull Run Roasting) also created by Holmberg Design.
Final reminder for our Love Machine Open House Party tonight. Hope to see you soon.
Leaving you with a beautiful thought about machines from Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin:
“Machines challenge certainty so well. They should not be able to move. But they do. They turn, and move, and never cease — there is always an engine going, somewhere — like generations of silver hearts they keep the faith of the world and stoke imagination in its continued and splendid rebellion.” Quote from “Winter’s Tale” by Mark Helprin ©1983
You are invited to a party! We are loving our machines with plenty of oil and our guests with plenty of other social lubrications. Join us as we celebrate our new office and press room with an open house on Friday, February 11th begining at 4pm. Come and see some letterpress action and talk shop. We’ll have a limited edition project on press as free gift to party guests. Hope to see you here soon.
Gestalten TV was in our studio and put together a great video.
You can get the podcast on itunes here.
For their visit, we had a little project on press called “The Pressroom Creed” – printing on 220lb Lettra and will be available soon for sale on our site. It is an adaptation of the better known Rifleman’s Creed, but for letterpress printers. Seriously, everyone in our pressroom must memorize this and we say it together each morning.