Letterpress Printed Snake Greeting Cards
I designed the snake design a while ago, with the intent of getting photo-polymer letterpress plates made for my Vandercook #1 proof press to print greeting cards. The design was saved on my computer and I almost forgot about it.
I had gone to an antique store and there was an Art Nouveau book cover made of brass with this beautiful pattern stamped into it. I bought it and came home and recreated it in Illustrator. I knew at some point I would also use this design in printing some greeting cards.
Finally it all came together in my mind when I happen to be looking through my files on my Macbook, and found the snake.
I made each element 100% black. For space sake here, I have both the flowers and the snake in the same image. They layers were sent off as individual pdfs with the same registration marks, as plate 1 and plate 2. The background was much bigger, as it was slightly larger than my 5X7 card, to account for a bleed, so there would not be any white edge on the card.
I sent the designs to Concord Engraving in New Hampshire, where they did their magic and sent me photo-polymer letterpress plates of my designs. Here is the snake and flowers, as I explained earlier, on their separate layer. These are two of the proofs sent back with the plates, so I could see what my work looked like printed.
A Vandercook #1 proof press is an old style press with manual inking using a brayer, and a hand crank to roll the cylinder over the paper. The photo-polymer plate has a sticky back that must stick on a base of precise height for printing. Paper of various thickness is used as "packing" to fill the minute space between the cylinder and the plate to make sure that they meet when the crank is turned.
When everything works the way you want it to, and the tiny circles on the snake and flower plates are stuck exactly in the same position on the base for each print job, you get a perfectly registered print.
Finally, a card is printed. Not shown, but on the back of the card, I used metal type to say, Raver Press & Graphic Design, which is my business name. These cards are going to a local artisan store in Delmar, NY to be sold. I sent Concord Engraving an image of my prints and they are using it in their own gallery.