Letterpress Prints | Overprinting the Love Me Tender Print

Since this journal post, we have stopped selling letterpress prints. We continue to print packaging for our range of industrial lighting products using letterpress and personalise notebooks – Moleskine and Leuchtturm – using mechanical typesetting and letterpress.


Original post:

Our beautiful debossed ‘Love Me Tender’ letterpress greeting card was released for sale late last year and has quickly become one of our best loved designs.

Buoyed by its success we decided to include it in our recent foray into letterpress prints or posters. These are soon to be available on our website. The artwork for this poster is designed by the artist Ministry of Love. It features a halftone snail design in black and yellow, complemented with the words ‘Love me tender’ produced by blind or inkless printing with an extra deep impression.

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The design poses a few issues when translated to a poster format. The subtlety of the blind printed words relies on a couple of factors to be really effective. Firstly the relief text catches the light to reveal itself as the card is titled in the light. As you might imagine, it is troublesome to do this with a wall mounted poster. Secondly the debossed text has a tactile nature, made to be touched and appreciated, Again, the effect is perfect for greetings cards but problematic for artwork, especially when framed under glass.

We were left with a dilemma – how to reproduce the design so that it can be viewed from any angle under a variety of lighting  without losing the subtle design detail of the transparent and understated text? The answer we’ve come up with is overprinting with a gloss transparent white ink and then varnish. We think it’s a rather stylish solution.

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Our first attempts were with high gloss print varnish. The Heidelberg platen used still had a tiny residue of black ink on its rollers leading to some darkening of the varnish. We cleaned and re-cleaned the press and the resulting prints become lighter, producing a subtle but contrasting effect.

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The next technique we tried was to print using transparent white ink. We expected this would give a higher gloss in the impressed areas. The process worked extremely well, but the ink was  more transparent than expected resulting in a little loss of contrast. We felt that the result would be a little too subtle.

The final approach used was to combine both processes. The first pass is the transparent white ink to flatten the text area and add a gloss surface. After some drying time, the second pass is with varnish to add a tiny amount of pigment and produce some subtle contrast with the paper.

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The result has the words ‘Love me tender’ in  glossy letters which contrast beautifully with our organic uncoated cotton-based cardstock. Each technique worked well with slight variations in finish which are only visible when the posters are compared side by side. We’ve dispatched a batch of potential letterpress prints to to the artist for the final decision.

If the artist is happy with the quality of the work, and we think he will be, we’ll do a production run and the poster will be available to buy. The print run will be strictly limited and we will stamp each poster with a number and mark of authenticity. If you think you might be keen on this poster, try out the greeting card for size first?

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