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Girard on Press

I spent the last 2 weeks huffing ink, second guessing color choices and stroking my chin during the marathon House Industries & Alexander Girard Fonts & Objects catalog press check. I know we all get our late-breaking design information online these days, but there’s something about the tactile experience of leafing through textured pages of a book and the unmistakable aroma of ink (soy or petroleum based) that a jpg just can’t deliver.

We decided to go with a pronounced linen offset sheet. It had a slight touchy-feely vibe with a decent calendared finish that helped keep our process photos from turning to mud. After wrestling with the paper fanning that resulted in poor registration, we realized that we had a bad lot of paper and had to pull the job while new stock was sourced.

The dance that takes place once you’re on press is one of alchemy and physics, not pixels and pdfs. Highlights from this run include finding color “sweet spots” by squeezing blankets to get the ink to jam into the textured paper just right so you get good ink hold-out but no dot gain (kinda like putting butter on toast). Most folks use a densitometer to check ink coverage. I prefer slapping my hand on the sheet and making sure it sticks…especially when we’re running a metallic and varnish.


The pressmen call me the garbage picker. Make-ready sheets that are turned and recycled to assist in fitting images and getting things up to color end up being the testing grounds for future House colorways and overprint tricks. It’s to the point where they save me sheets and most of our make-ready waste I bring back to the studio for R & D as well as packing paper. I love when they pull a really bad sheet from the press and say, “Andy, you want this one to hang behind your couch?”

The whole time I was sweating John and Marilyn Neuhart calling me out. During the golden era, the Neuharts helped Girard with graphic production and often printed pieces for him in their letterpress studio. I’ll let you know if they think it sucks. In the meantime, get your free catalog here.

Posted by on February 16, 2009