New logo design

I have enjoyed designing cards over the last year and so, in February, I decided to buy a refurbished Adana 8 x 5 letterpress from Caslon Ltd. Amazingly this company is still in business 300 years after William Caslon cut his first typeface (of that name) in 1720. Whilst waiting for it to be delivered I started to develop my logo, initially sketching out ideas based around the tagline “hand printed by the sea” that I print on the rear of my cards using a simple rubber type printing set. I realised I could have the design made into a photo polymer plate at Lyme Bay Press, just over the Solent on the Isle of Wight. So I set about designing it in Adobe Illustrator, a programme I hadn’t used before but was fairly easy to get to grips with, having used InDesign and Photoshop.

I ordered the thicker 1.52 mm plate on a type high block which made it a little high for setting along side type so it needed a little sanding to get it to the right height. I tried it out initially with my wood engraving of a Koi Carp which I had reworked by clearing away the background to leave just the fish and some bubbles! This made a great greetings card with the addition of a little ditty!

Having had the photo polymer block made it now seemed more appropriate to the “hand printed” ethos to engrave my own logo. So I simplified the design changing the type face from Perpetua to Comic Sans to make it easier to engrave. I also took the opportunity to develop the design, strengthening the circular feature to mimic a ship’s porthole or portlight. I mirrored the image and photocopied the design onto a sheet of OHP inkjet film. The ink isn’t absorbed so if you are very careful you can transfer the wet image to the wood block without it smudging. I have engraved one block of lemonwood with a positive (black on white) image and will do another in reverse (black lines will be engraved away). I’m really pleased with the result though it will take a bit of cleaning with a toothbrush to keep the printed image sharp.

The new logo now adorns the rear of my gift cards with some additional letterpress type describing the printing techniques used.

Some of my greetings cards are available to buy in my Etsy shop and Folksy shop.

Printing a wood engraving with letterpress founts – my ‘LOVE is … Pink Ferry’ card

Following the success of my Pink Ferry linocut I thought that the Pink Ferry would also make a good subject for a wood engraving. I had also been thinking about designing a card for St Valentines Day using my newly acquired letterpress founts and seeing if I could successfully print both these and a wood engraving. I had tried this first with my Sea Fever card but had run out of time before Christmas to get consistently good prints and realised that the combination of printing pressure, make-ready packing and printing ink were not quite right.

I set about designing a simple silhouette of the ferry on tracing paper, transferring the image using red carbon paper onto a lemon wood block that had been dyed black with a light wash of Quink ink. I was a bit undecided how to depict the water so developed this as I proofed the block. I also decided to include a border to support the ink roller when inking up and to try avoid the cleared areas picking up any ink.

I then locked up the block with the typeface in a chase (called a forme) which I had already composed in 14 and 12 pt Perpetua, with spacing furniture and leadings. I then moved the chase to the moveable bed and checked all the typeface is flush with the bed by loosening the chase slightly and ‘planing’ the forme, using a flat block of wood (a planer) and a mallet or similar to gently tamp down the type before the chase is locked up tight. Initially, my proofs showed that the 14 pt ‘LOVE’ was out of line with the 12 pt ‘is …’ and needed a hairs width of spacing to lift the 12 pt up. I found that a small cut piece of Zerkall 215 gsm both above and below the 12 pt worked a treat!

I currently use an old cast iron Waterlow & Sons copying press to print my letterpress and wood engravings as a cheap alternative to a semi-automated press such as an Adana or Albion. I place the block or chase on a moveable bed made from a rigid flat board covered with a thin sheet of clear acrylic (marked up for registration) which I slide under the platen. You apply pressure by screwing down a platen and with a small block like this a hand tight pressure, with only two sheets of newsprint protecting the card to be printed, seems adequate. The platen seems to apply more pressure to the top left of the block and least pressure to the bottom right so the make-ready needs to be adjusted accordingly.

After quite a bit of trial and error I finally got the underlay and overlay of make-ready producing good prints. I used the blocks of wood as bearers to support the card, stuck down with tape.

I used a strip of newsprint over the card to improve the printing of the lower border. I also added a small square of newsprint over ‘share’ for the same reason.

I cut out a registration card for both the front and rear of the card (using my rubber stamp logo on the rear).

I’m very pleased with how this design and its printing has turned out but I suspect that if I had used a traditional letterpress ink instead of the Caligo Safe Wash Etching Inks I would have got better results still. Another lot of inks to purchase!

For more details see here –