After pricing out a bunch of letterpress options I decided having our invitations printed elsewhere wouldn’t fit in the budget. I’ve done letterpress and various forms of printmaking in the past – as has Mal – so we decided to order a cheap “letterpress” and give it a shot.
The tool I wanted – the Lifestyle Crafts Epic 6 was sold out everywhere I looked except for Dick Blick, where I got the last one in stock for $50 less than through Lifestyle Crafts even after shipping! Yay Dick Blick!
Now I’m going to be honest and say that I was a bit nervous, because I actually hate inking plates and cleaning them up. In college I would team up with someone and appoint them the inker while I just registered everything and ran it through the press. Aligning things with meticulous precision? Yes please! Anything messy? NOPE. I had also read some reviews of this product and how messy it was. I decided to unpack the kit this morning and see what I’ve gotten us into.
In about 40 minutes I had set everything up, made some ugly prints, cleaned every trace of ink off of the tools easily, and had it all boxed back up. I’m not sure if the reviews I read were blowing the inking and clean up process way out of proportion, or if my prior printmaking experience just came back to me a la riding a bike.
Now, going in I knew that I was not going to get nice prints off this tool straight away, and I am still waiting for the better tools I ordered to arrive (like a nice soft wide brayer, which Mal remembered he already had as soon as I finished cleaning the ink – d’oh), therefore I didn’t really try too hard. Based on this post by Boxcar, all the issues I had are related to the shitty tools that come with this product, and they have some handy solutions. I think once I get the proper brayer, and some higher quality plates things will go smoothly. I also didn’t bother trying to ink consistently, but my results look similar to Boxcars with some poor ink coverage. I was also pretty sloppy so I have ink lines around the plates. I did throw some extra packing in to try for a deeper impression on my second pull, which I clearly over-inked.
Anyway, I am pretty excited to design our invitations and order our plates. If I could get these prints quickly with all the crap tools and plates I can see how there’s potential for something much better. Not to mention we only need 33 invitations.
For clean up I just used a little grapeseed oil and everything came right off. The plates were not stained, and there were no issues. Clean up was maybe 8 minutes of effort.