What is letterpress?
Letterpress is a 500 year old relief printing technique in which a raised, inked image (or text) meets paper with enough pressure to produce a print. With soft, handmade papers, an indentation can also be created, adding a remarkably tactile dimension that other printing processes cannot duplicate.
Made of cast iron and weighing in at a whopping 1200 and 1600 pounds, our platen presses date from about 1906, and still print beautifully. First ink is spread evenly onto the ink disk, then the platen opens and a fresh card is fed in by hand. The platen closes, pressing the raised plate into the paper’s surface, resulting in a print. This is repeated for each and every card that is printed, one color and piece at a time.
The plates are made from either polymer (a plastic) or magnesium metal. The choice of plate material really just depends upon the job at hand.
What is recycled paper?
Basically any paper can be called recycled if it has a trace amount of recycled fiber or paper. The key to recycled paper is the Post Consumer Waste amount. Post consumer paper pulp is derived from paper that has already been used. It is diverted from the waste stream into a special mill for recycling where it is made into new paper. The higher the Post Consumer Waste, the better. Today, the definition of recycled paper usually means a PCW of 10 -30%.
My paper is a little different in that while it is 100% Post Consumer, it is from post consumer garments, not paper. All those old bluejeans and t-shirts make for some really fabulous paper, and it is pretty exciting that this product is not reliant upon something that is ultimately derived from cutting down trees. I would love to believe that one day the PCW recycling centers will all go out of business because there will be no more tree paper waste to recycle! The garments are beaten in a wind powered beater filled with water until they become a watery pulp. The pulp is pulled through large screens forming sheets. The sheets are dried outdoors on a line for several days until they are ready for use.
Why are soy-based inks better than petroleum-based inks?
Soy-based inks come from soybean oils. It is a renewable resource. However, the most important difference is the amount of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) released into the atmosphere. Soy-based inks release 82% fewer VOC’s than petroleum-based inks. Also, the cleaning of the printers is much less toxic. My presses can be cleaned with simple vegetable oil as opposed to mineral spirits and other highly dangerous chemicals. Designs made with soy-based inks are also easier to biodegrade and recycle.
What is acid free/chlorine free paper?
Chlorine is the bleach we all know, and probably use, that makes everything bright white. But bleach, when used, turns into dioxins which are highly toxic, even at very low levels. Dioxins do not break down in the environment and they accumulate in the human tissue. Dioxins are highly dangerous and have been linked to reproductive problems and genetic damage. The best paper to find is Processed Chlorine Free (PCF) which uses hydrogen peroxide to bleach the paper. Hydrogen peroxide evaporates naturally into the air. I make sure that our paper only comes from manufacturers who use hydrogen peroxide instead of bleach.
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