Letterpress printing is an art form. And like other arts, it has some special qualities that may help you to better appreciate the possibilities the medium has to offer. In this case, letterpress has some unique characteristics that contribute to making beautiful stationery, invitations, business cards, and announcements. The more you understand these special qualities, the happier you’ll be with the end result. To help you achieve that happy result, we’d like to introduce our “Learn About Letterpress” series. This is the first of many posts to help you understand the fine art and unique capabilities of our favorite printing method. Here we go:
Learn About Letterpress #1: Gold vs. Gold
Lots of folks love gold and it’s great to print with too. In the letterpress world, it is important to understand how paper and inks interact so that you know what your gold will look like on the finished product.
The primary question is simple: “Do you want your gold to shine, or not?” Depending on the answer, there are two distinct processes that we use.
If shine is what you seek, then the gold you want is foil. Gold foil is pressed into the paper–just as ink would be–and the result is a traditional shimmer and shine. (In the first photo the piece on the left is produced with gold foil. To really see the shine, see the second photo.) It does also help to know that if you want the shine that gold foil can give you, you will want to allow a couple of extra weeks in production, and know that it costs a wee bit more than ink. Fun fact: foil is available in many different colors, including white, which is the best way to get a nice opacity on black or dark paper.
But let’s say you want the warmth of a golden color, but not the shine. In that case, you’ll want a metallic gold ink. (See the Nickel Images business card on the right.) Why doesn’t the metallic gold ink shine? The explanation is in the paper: uncoated papers, such as the 100% cotton we use for our house stock, absorb the metallic particles in the ink and thus prevent the particles from reflecting light.
May this help you on your search for gold . . .
P.S. While I have your attention, I can’t help but mention that the Nickel Images business card was also printed with a neon ink. Neon is back and we are digging the bright colors.