Unusual printing techniques-What’s your favorite?

So, I’m a newbie to letterpress. I have a Kelsey 5x8 and I love it! I’m still in the experimentation stages and I am open to many suggestions. My question is: has anyone ever tried anything unusual with letterpress printing, whether it be to print stationery or an adorable artistic print for a loved one? Has anyone experimented with different types of paper? What’s your favorite technique?

Here’s one crazy idea that I had: printing most of my images in a solid color and then coloring those images in using “potato stamping.” I know it sounds weird, but those are the types of ideas that I want to open the discussion to: weird and crazy, “outside of the box” techniques and thinking.

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Jeepers. Where to start?

You have impression, paper, ink, and packing to start with on the platen side. change anyone of these and you have a different technique.

On the type side of the process you can print from almost any surface that has a relief of some sort. That list is practically endless.

I’m involved with a new book arts program at Michigan State University and we have Harry and Sandra Reese (www.turkeypress.net) visiting and in the first 4 hour class I saw a number of techniques I hadn’t ever considered before. Harry and Sandra have printed from dried ink mounted on MDF, scotch tape pieces mounted on the back of a cut, and they demonstrated Harry’s techniques of printing from a square of vinyl mounted (held in place with static electricity) on plexiglass that has been taped down on 3/4” MDF and inked with oil paints (similar to a monotype), and something he calls a “sandragraph” . The latter is a piece of muslin impregnated with acrylic gel medium. The gel acts as both glue and relief surface and can be textured and drawn on.

Another unusual thing I’ve seen done by Tom Parson of Denver is to print with a solid block and put string and cottonballs behind the tympan to get an image. And there was a recent discussion on Letpress on printing directly from leaves and other found objects.

I’ve been playing with doing spot colors from cut up cereal boxes mounted on wood.

I learned a lot from Frans de Jong, in the Netherlands, who one day asked me to slice red cabbages to type height, he locked the slices carefully up and printed them on has treadle platen press. This was back in the early seventies and Frans used letterpress to create the most beautiful art.

image: cabbage_page.jpg


I once heard that someone was using a platen press to make/fold taco shells down in mexico. Now that just aint right!

Type-high cabbages…now that’s a lockup I want to see…but not after a week…