Uneven impression (with pictures!)

Hi everyone,

On my Kelsey 5x8 I’m having trouble with this background texture polymer plate impression. The first image is the texture printed by inkjet onto the paper. The second is what I was getting on the press. The ink looks like its following the contours of the paper and I can’t figure out why I can’t get an even impression. I’ve tried adding pressure, packing, adjusting the rollers, more ink, less ink, etc. The answer might just be that I can’t achieve this goal with this press. If anyone has any helpful tips let me know.


image: inkjet


image: kelsey


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You might have maxed out your press. How big is the platen? How big is the sheet?

Daniel Morris
The Arm Letterpress
Brooklyn, NY

You don’t say what size the image is, but I’d bet it occupies most of the 5x8 chase. The Kelsey isn’t capable of exerting enough force to put that large of an image onto paper cleanly. If this is the problem, the only cure is a much larger press.

On top of that the Kelsey press’ platens tend to be very difficult to keep parallel to the bed. I was constantly having to fiddle with the impression screws as they wouldn’t hold the platen in place long. Sometimes every 5 to 10 impressions.

Not that you can’t do very good work on a Kelsey; it just takes a lot more effort and an understanding of the limitations of the press.

These presses were advertised in the tiny ads of magazines like Popular Mechanics aimed at teen-aged boys; they were never meant to do serious production style work.

I got rid of my Kelsey 5x8 a lot of years ago after I got a C&P 8x12 to replace it. I just got tired of the hassles. The C&P also has plenty of limitations, but a wandering platen is not one of them. I learned a lot from my Kelsey, but I’m glad it’s gone.

I knew this was going to be the case!
The plate size is 4.5in by about 6in.
When I’ve pressed just typography, it’s been ok. I can fix the impression with adding packing behind low areas. But to try and have a solid background spanning that much area of the press probably wasn’t a good idea in the first place.
I just wanted to make sure it couldn’t be anything else other than the limitations of the press.
Thank you!

The only tip I have to offer is the damp paper technique. I had a Craftsman Superior and this wonderful printer was over helping me with a larger image that wasn’t printing well.

Run the paper under water just get it damp. Then let it dry a bit til it really isnt wet to the touch. Then press. Somehow the dampening opens the pores of the paper or something - anyway I got a perfect impression on the damp paper. The paper might curl a bit so you will need to put it under something heavy until it dries.

Anyway, this may not work for you but might as well give it a try since there is nothing to loose but a piece of paper!

Great texture by the way! Best of Luck!

Cut the plate in half and print each half separately, maybe. Registration might be a problem, but it looks like you could cut between two lines.