How is This Done?

I want to have some photography mounts made that are in this general vein -

Is this done with letterpress? What would be the most economical way to have something like this done.



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Print it with a clear varnish or a color matching the mount.

Would that have the texture in it?

There are shops that specialize in these photo mounts, i have imprinted on them but my customers supply them. There are black mounts out there that are on recycled stock and there is something in the stock that puts dents in the dies, i foil stamp them with mag. dies, some repeat jobs the dies are pretty dented up.

That style of mount was routinely made with letterpress equipment. However, any press smaller than 12x18 would be severely stressed. A Colt’s Armory is ideal. (I still recall the thump/crack as my Colt bit through .90 Davey board while producing small jigsaw puzzles.) Light mounts are possible using a tabletop press, but there again would be limited to very light tag stock. As to the dies, well, depending upon the run, simple cardboard dies are easily constructed. Using varnish, or glue, such material holds sufficient for runs upwards of 200 or more. Again, that depends upon stock being formed. The cut-out of course is achieved via cutting rule. Even there, depending on your abilities, simple metal banding, mounted type-high, can be utilized. Matching a tight purse with an active imagination can really yield pleasing results. And, please, ignore those telling you “it can’t be done!”:o)

If you were using something like 220 lb. Lettra stock, would dampening help get a deeper impression for something like this?

Thanks for your answers. I’ll see if I can find one the shops dickg mentioned.


The originals were embossed cards that the photos were glued onto later. The originals did not have cutouts. They were backers.

The simplest method (And the most expensive, I’d say) would be to work up art for the photo card and have embossing dies made for it by someone like Owosso. The male and female dies would then be used to emboss the card. This is the same way the originals would have been made.

You might also be able to get away with doing deep impression on soft card with a photopolymer plate from someone like Boxcar or Crown Flexo. This won’t give you quite the definition you’d get from doing proper two-die embossing, but might well be good enough and will certainly be cheaper.

Either method would give you a photo card shell you could glue photos to just like the old-fashioned ones. If you’re wanting to print the photo in the middle as well, that makes things a bit more complicated but still not that bad. You’d need separate cuts or plates for the printed art apart from the embossing die or plate.

Thanks very much. I appreciate the information.