Letterpress Invites White Ink on Black

Hi there,

Beginner to letterpress here! I’ve done a number of projects, but I’m still very much a newb.

I’m currently helping a friend with her wedding invitations. They really want to do white ink on black paper. The inks I currently have are Rubber Based Vanson inks. I have the Opaque White and it’s not coming out as vibrant as I’d like these to be. So I really have two questions:

1) What’s the best white ink to get for use on black/very dark papers? Would you recommend an oil based ink vs. rubber based?

2) What’s your favorite black paper to print on? I’d need at least 110# or so.

I’ve attached a proof so you can get an idea of what it’ll look like. Any help would be greatly appreciated!


image: BenMichInvitation_black_0329B.jpg


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White ink on black paper just does not work when letterpress printing. Try silver instead, particularly PMS 877. I like the oil base better than the rubber base.

I’ve seen it done well once. I believe it took 7 layers of inks to get it right. 2 Varnish, 2 silver and 3 opaque white. All in perfect register.

White foil is easier. So is printing reversed black on white paper.

The best thing you can do is find someone to foil stamp it with white foil. One pass and you’re done! I’ve done it many times on dark stocks.


This topic has been covered before on Briarpress. Check out the link above for a previous discussion.

I might add that even in your proof the type face chosen is difficult to read.
I think you are asking more from letterpress than it can give.

I haven’t had any luck with white letterpress inks. We foil stamp white or laser print in white.

We have had good results foil stamping similar designs at Rise and Shine Letterpress.

The combination of border, thin line type and heavy type might need two dies for the very best results. It’s possible to do it in one pass, but you would have to makeready very carefully, and sort of go after a midrange quality of line definition in the fine type, and solidness of the bold type. I would definitely use a copper die instead of magnesium.

It can be very helpful to have an open dialog with a printer in the design process, and we’re always excited to get phone calls like that. It’s fun to talk about printing!