Letterpress Bookplate

Saturday I had the opportunity to spend a few hours in a workshop learning how to use a letterpress with polymer plates. The class was offered through Irvine Fine Arts Center. I had taken an introductory workshop about a month before with a great instructor, Madeleine Zygarewicz of Panorama Press, and she was back to show us more! We worked on a Vandercook SP15 Proofing Press.

Below is the two-color bookplate I produced.


To get this image we had to prepare three separate plates. The first polymer plate held everything you see in black. The ink roller was loaded with black ink and the impression was made on the paper.

The second plate, also a polymer plate, held the image of the butterfly. For the second step, the entire machine had to be cleaned to remove the black ink, and a custom red ink had to be created. The previous black impression and the new plate with the butterfly had to be aligned so that it would print in the correct place, involving a lot of measuring and securing the plate in the correct position.

Finally, the type is added, a very involved process that included selecting and setting a typeface and setting the name. No cleaning was necessary this time as the name was the same color as the butterfly. The third impression was made and the paper was cut.