Developing your Palate for Letterpress

Letterpress printing tends to lure people in with its luxurious papers and textures. Once hooked, it’s much like learning to savor wines, cheeses, or excellent food. Like foods, letterpress appeals to multiplesenses and connoisseurs may enjoy beautiful nuances.

Would you like to be a letterpress connoisseur? There is alot to learn, but here are some of the qualities you might watch for:

Kiss Printing vs. French Kiss Printing

Not so very long ago, it was considered highly unprofessional to stamp the type so firmly into the paper that it made an impression. Instead, careful and meticulously printed works were made on smooth papers with the ink just barely kissing the surface of the paper. Even afterprinting, the page was smooth, yet very crisp, and this crispness was created by a great deal of skill and press work.

Now, many printers and designers enjoy using letterpress to stamp type or image deeply into soft, thick, textured or handmade papers. While printers raised on kiss printing have been horrified by the practice at times,this method has been affectionately coined “French kissing” by those who have accepted its place in contemporary letterpress. Many are drawn to this practice because of the rich, sensual qualities it gives to design and artwork.

Some printers, those in this studio included, enjoy French kissing ;o) but find it unprofessional to have the printing pop through the back of the page. We pack the press to minimize push-through and help clients select papers that will best achieve the effect they’d like.

Bon Appetit!

– Kim Vanderheiden

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