Friday, 27 February 2015

What a Relief!

The National Institute of Design organised a one day Relief Printing and Letterpress workshop today - 27 February 2015 in the PrintLab. It was conducted by Prof. Tarun Deep Girdher- a faculty of Graphic Design and also the head of Printing Lab and the Publications department.

Relief Printing is one of the oldest techniques of printing and letterpress is a method of relief printing. Techniques like Linocut and Rubber Stamping were explained. After this, we got around to make things and got our hands dirty. We hand composed a short phrase using the available lead type, took galley proofs and printed the compositions on the proofing press. Here is the process.


A wooden tray containing types and furniture. The standard height of types/blocks or any other letterpress printing material is 0.918inches and it is still being followed. Types are made of lead. Furniture are usually 'I' shaped spacing material used to make margins or to fill up the space left after the type has been arranged. 


 
Type being arranged on a composing stick which as the name suggests is used for holding moveable type matter as it is set. It is adjustable and handheld. Alphabets are arranged as their mirror images so that when the paper is put and a print is taken, a normal, readable text is obtained.




Type being arranged on a galley.
A galley is a metal tray on which type is made up or stored. 



Arrangement is finished.


Setting the type. The red objects that can be seen are very strong magnets which have been imported from Germany. They prevent the type from moving from its position. They are so strong that it is hard to even detach them from the bed. 



Finally the galley is set. A galley proof is taken from the type matter when it is still in the galley to check if the spacing and alignment is correct. The galley print is taken with a carbon paper and a roller.



The arranged types. These were printed on an A3 size sheet. The length and width could not exceed 210 mm and 80 mm respectively to maintain uniformity. The composed type was cleaned with petrol and a cloth to remove all the pre-existing traces of ink from it.



Preparation of the ink used for printing. It is being prepared with a palette knife. The ink is very thick, thicker than the one used for printing on screens and is oil based. Buying the box of ink might seem like an investment initially but it lasts for 20 years without spoiling.




The ink was rolled on to the rollers of the press. The composition was transferred to the bed of the letter press and proofs were pulled out.The pressure with which the arranged letters touch the paper and leave an imprint can be controlled in the letter press.



The cumulative result of the workshop:

  1) The world doesn't read upside down.
2) Bed and Blanket. Mount and Kiss.
3) Gimme some relief baby!



The prints were left to dry. Depending on the weather conditions, inks might take up to 12 hours to dry.

The end.
Excerpts have been taken from the printed handout that was given in the beginning of the workshop.

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