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Re: [BKARTS] Gold stamping with letterpress type
Dear Richard, Dave and the list,
Sorry for not responding sooner. But, Okay here is a method I invented for
printing Gold Leaf with heat.
First, the gold leaf to use is Patent Gold. It is 23K and is attached to a
thin, carrier paper. It comes in the usual size and books.
Secondly, the press should be a flatbed such as a Washington or some other
style handpress, or a flatbed cylinder proofing press such as a Vandercook.
Since I have both presses I use my Vandercook as it has precise registration
which is required for the success of this process.
Using a high tack ink of a dark, warm red color pull an impression of
moderate depth. A kiss impression will not be sufficient while a heavy debossing
will distort the later gold image.
After the impression and before returning the carriage raise the form
rollers so as not to reink.
Patent Gold, unlike other leaf, can be cut with a scissor. I do recommend
cleaning the blades with alcohol to remove any possible oil residue before
cutting the leaf. Clean hands (and maybe a pure heart) are also good ideas when
handling gold leaf of any sort.
But do not, in the attempt to be too conservative of the precious stuff, cut
the leaf too close to size.
Now lay the leaf, paper side down, on the type form. It is important to have
it lay flat so as not to catch the form rollers on the next pass.
Re-feed the imprinted paper. Here you will note that consistent feed is of
the utmost importance. With a slow crank pull a second impression. When you
attempt this a second time, note that consistency in the speed of the crank
can also help to serve good registration.
You will find that the leaf will pull off the carrier paper in a larger
swatch than the form printed. Let it be for an hour or so, but not much more, and
then brush off the excess leaf with a soft bristle but moderately firm
brush. Depending upon the ink you use the time between applying the leaf and
removing the excess leaf may vary. Test it yourself. I use offset inks without
driers. Hanco (Handschy) Sun Red has worked well.
Of recent I have taken to the process of inking the form for the primary
impression with the form rollers raised for the impression pass. This is because
high tack inks can very slightly pull the carriage to one side or the other
which may ruin the chance of a perfect secondary impression with the gold.
With this process you can utilize your irreplaceable foundry type without
fear of damage from heat. Also you may use a face that coordinates or is in
fact the titling of the book. And I don’t need another expensive tool in my
shop. Besides, I have always disliked the faces available that are cast of the
harder (greater tin content, I believe) metal for heat stamping.
You may also use polymer and other plates, monotype, etc. There is the
unfortunate size restriction dependent upon the size of the leaf. AS I have used
my method for printing edition work I usually do not design beyond the size
restrictions of the leaf, but you can build up the amount of leaf but slightly
overlapping more than on sheet of leaf to a larger dimension. But this can
become a bit too fussy a procedure for editioning
I developed this procedure almost 30 years ago while printing for the
calligrapher Abigail Chapman. In the process of experimenting I practically ruined
a set of form rollers when attempting to use slacked plaster. I do admire the
opportunities a student has today as they do not have to depend upon
teaching themselves as I did. But problem solving previously untackled processes has
its advantages as well. So try this process, and, as mentioned above it may
now sound simplistic or even obvious, but still, if you use it I am not
adverse to it being referred to as the Seastone Method. It would give meaning to
absurd attempts (here meaning the use of slacked plaster as a printable medium)
in problem solving.
The Tideline Press
68 Brook Street
West Sayville, New York
Adjunct Assistant Professor
Purchase College, SUNY
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