Thursday, August 22, 2013

Letterpress Experiments

I apologize for the lateness of this post.  I honestly thought I had already posted this information.  Yes, dear readers, at night while I lie in bed trying to fall asleep I compose blog posts just for you.

Now that I have gotten being creepy checked off my blog checklist, time for the real reason I am posting, the results of my Letterpress experiments.  So after my first pressing, I wasn't too impressed (har, har) with the plates that came in my starter bundle.  They kinda suck and are not my style (not that I really know what that is).  So I started thinking about ways to make my own plates.  Please excuse the poor photos, I was inspired and didn't worry about lighting.  Be glad I captured the process on film in the first place.  :)

Now there a lot of ways to make an impression in paper with enough force.  You can even use another sheet of die cut paper.  You ask how I know this?  Because I am lazy.  I used to die cut several sheets at a time with my Big Shot in preparation for my CTMH workshops and sometimes the paper would slip and impress on the other pages.  The problem with paper is that it is pretty much a one shot deal and adding ink is a messy and it doesn't transfer from paper to paper well.  

My first experiment was to try letterpressing with a stamp.  Totally didn't work.  Even though I chose a stamp that was pretty solid and it did leave an impression, it was squished and malformed.  That apparently wasn't going to work.  I have letterpressed with embossing envelopes/Spellbinder Impossibilities dies so I wasn't about to give up.

I took some time to examine the plates that came in the starter bundle.  They are just pieces of plastic about 1/16 of an inch thick in the shape that impresses with a thin backing.  After my many adventures with shrink film, I realized that it is almost the same exact thickness as a shrinked dink. 

Now I have horrible drawing and lettering skills, I always say that I am not a creative person I just copy really, really well.  I decided to use my Silhouette and the sketch pens to line out the letters on Rough and Ready shrinky dink film.   I chose Rough and Ready film as opposed to regular film because you can draw on the film with regular pens, markers and crayons.  Based on previous experience, I know that Rough and Ready film shrinks to about 1/3 the size of the original cut.  I used my Silhouette and the metallic sketch pens to draw out a quick word. 
Preparing for a hand ache!

I am glad I chose a font that is not very elaborate because I had to fussy cut these babies.  After cutting each of the letters out, I popped them into the toaster oven that I have in my craft room just for shrinking some dinks.   I put them on a piece of cardboard rough side up and placed them in the oven at about 275 degrees.  This could all be in my head but I think they shrink more uniformly when the smooth side is down.  Always watch closely as they shrink as it doesn't take long.  They will first curl up and then lie back down flat.  Once they are flat, I usually grab the cardboard out of the oven and place it on my table and smoosh them even flatter with a book.  

Shrinky Dinks smothered in Liquid Glass

I then glued them to some transparency film using Liquid Glass (the CTMH version of Glossy Accents) and waited about 15 minutes for it to dry.  I could have used the Letterpress double sided adhesive to temporarily adhere the letters directly to the pressing platform but I didn't want to start sticking stuff to my platform and getting it all gooey right off the bat.  It is also easier for me to line up letters if I line them up on grid paper.  So I just used the closest washi tape to stick the plate to the top of the platform.   I also washi-taped the paper to be impressed on the other side of the platform after lining it up using the grid.
Post Impression pic (I am cracking myself up)

I inked the newly created plate using Tsukineko's Dew Drop Brilliance pigment ink in Starlite Silver just like a stamp.  I then ran that bad boy though my Big Shot twice.  As you can see in the picture, I got a nice impression and pretty even ink coverage.  I didn't do a very good job of inking up the plate so make sure you have even coverage.
The final product.. Wheew!
Now I just need to figure out how to cut shrinky dink film with my cameo and I would really be in business. I attempted to do so but even cutting 4 times with a blade depth of 10, I didn't get all the way through the film.  Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Letterpress here I come!

Studio Calico announced a Letterpress class and of course I jumped right on it.  I have been dying to try out letterpress techniques for quite a while.   I managed to pick up a Lifestyle Crafts L Letterpress Starter bundle at my FAVE local scrapbooking store, Scrap N' Book, for a very good price. 

Last week I was able to play around with it.  I have had a Sizzix BigShot for years and I just used the letterpress platform with no modifications to the sandwich.  Here is my first letterpressed project life card.
Things I learned:
  • A little ink goes a very long way
  • To get a nice deep impression, I need to add another sheet of cardstock behind the bottom grid plate.
  • I need to buy the Lifestyle Crafts wipes because baby wipes weren't cutting it for ink cleanup.
The next night, I experimented some more and I will be sharing that adventure with you in the next post.