Sunday, November 24, 2013

Experiments with “Bee and Citrus”.

I spent an interesting afternoon with my Adana, a Boxcar Press polymer plate from a couple of years ago, some type and a lot of paper.

While I was in the USA I had a couple of designs made into polymer “letterpress” plates and this one I thought I could adapt for a card. 
The original design was done using scraperboard. It shows a honey bee visiting the Buddha’s Hand Citrus flower in Leu Gardens in Orlando. It was a plant I was fond of and honey bees just love it.


To get the image ready for plate making I scanned it, then fiddled about with it and cleaned it up in Illustrator to produce this digital image :


The file was then emailed to the very excellent people at Boxcar Press who turned the design (quite magically) into the printing block. It’s a great development for letterpress because the polymer plates are more affordable than the old zinc plates.  It’s been waiting for me to do something with it for over two years now. These plates are supposed to have a limited life but this one seems to be just fine.


Polymer plate and “Greetings” set in 12pt Canterbury

The polymer plate has to be set on a block to achieve type high and then locked up in the chase with the type.  I don’t really intend to do much printing with the Adana because to make it viable you need lots and lots of type, spacers, furniture and patience. I have so little type that I can only do one word at a time.. two if they are short!  So the output will be limited. I had in mind a few  “Greetings” cards with Christmas in mind too, so I did manage the word “Greetings” set in 12pt Canterbury caps. Thank god there were two capital Es.


It is so many years since I used an Adana but it does all come back to you, Setting up the chase is not difficult, inking up is not difficult, but the make ready and packing is not so easy.

The results are mixed, and depend so much on which paper, how much ink, pressure, packing etc etc. I may get a dozen or so reasonable cards.


Some prints and the chase.

Using the Adana is fun and very absorbing because you think the next print will be the best.. then it isn’t, then you try again and on and on. In my hands the results are far from perfect but do have that pleasing printy look. The economics definitely don’t add up but these will be unique and hand printed cards. ( I fully intend to let the recipients know so they treasure them! )



I printed this one on some heavier weight paper which has given a rather nice snow effect. You may think that bees, citrus flowers and snow don’t go well together but it does snow in citrus growing areas, the citrus were in flower in December in Leu Gardens and of course in Florida the honey bees never stop.

The resulting hard won prints are an odd mixture, being hand printed from a machine made plate, made from a digital image, made from a hand drawn scraperboard. But I can definitely say “Hand Printed”.

Would it be quicker, easier and cheaper to print direct from the computer with an inkjet printer? Yes indeed..but where is the fun, blood, sweat and tears in that?

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