For the center spread we did for Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” I needed access to a bigger press. A friends shop has an old Kelly 2 press in Charlevoix, MI about 40 minutes away. The sheet is 35.5 x 12″, a little too big for any current letterpress at DWP.
I hand inked four 16 gauge copper plates and arranged them on a template on my BAG intaglio press to get the background tones you can see already printed on the sheet. This process has a few benefits – it crushed the fibers of the Hahnemühle Biblio paper stock leaving a smoother surface for the artwork press run, the subtle color adds compositional frames around the artwork on the large page spread, and this process leaves a nice plate mark from the incredible force exerted by the intaglio press.
Today I was shooting for a similar effect but via all letterpress instead of intaglio for the background tone. I tried several ink combinations but in the end I used my own formula of a medium weight linseed oil, just the smallest dab of raw sienna and some other ink body modifiers. Once again I used copper plates but this time mounted them to type height (.918″) and ran them on my Vandercook OS 219.
That’s Dale from Seely’s running the beast and me at the delivery end checking sheets.