Friday, October 8, 2010

The Black Keys as seen through our eyes

Well friends – We are very excited to be presenting the latest Black Keys poster this weekend in Tulsa.  In a rare bit of foresight, I had our shop historian take a few pictures of the process as we hurtled towards completion.  Thanks be to the documentarian!  If you are interested we put a large pic of the poster at the end of the post.

While making this print it occurred to me that the process we use to make prints is a reflection of our values at IOP or maybe it is the other way around.   I always tell people that we are an environmentally conscious company because we try not to make useless crap.  Let’s face it -  there are faster ways to make an image appear on a piece of paper than carving 4 blocks, setting 500 individual pieces of lead type and running them all through a press one color at a time.  Knowing how much effort it takes to make it happen keeps us honest and it sure keeps us from tossing off a half-baked idea just for the hell of it.  You will have to be the judge yourself I suppose.

I hope you enjoy our little show and tell of the process of turning an idea into a genuine letterpress show poster

These prints will be on sale at the show on Sunday and here on our site Monday morning. Signed Limited edition of less than 180, 4 color hand carved letterpress posters size 26”x16” – don’t be slow or you might have to cry yourself to sleep this week.  


The historian didn’t take any pictures of me dreaming this print up so I will describe the gist of it.  Basically we draw and draw and draw – while you are asleep – we are drawing – while you are at the bar we are drawing – then we have a great idea and all is right with the world.
After that…….

We generally sketch out the ideas in pencil – from there the image is sized up to the actual dimensions and transferred to tracing paper.  Here we are transferring the drawing to the linoleum from which we will cut the plates out of later– one plate per color.

Here is what linoleum carving looks like – if you have any ideas of what we can do with all the lino shavings IOP creates send us a note on a twenty dollar bill.  Dogs love to eat them for some reason – but I do not approve.

On to printing - after we carve all the blocks (in this case 4) we glue them onto wood and print each color one poster at a time on our Vandercook proofpress.  Generally we start with the lightest colors first.  

Mixing colors

pink is next

Our print with 2 colors

The press helps us register the prints – that is - it keeps the image printing in the same place on every poster so that we can be assured that each color will line up with the next one.

Then we did two more colors but the historian had gone home by then so there are no pictures of that. 

After the lino blocks are printed I set the type.  We are using both wood type and lead type on this print.  Some of the type is at least 100 years old.  Crazy! 

 As you can see everything is reversed on the press – a necessary function of the process – we all can read backwards very well – as you would expect the Da vinci code proved no challenge for us (save the Italian aspect) 

There is no spell check on the press but I wish there was….

After the last color we set the posters aside to dry and then sign and number them.  After that we go out for cocktails and milkshakes.

Thanks Mr Gutenberg

Hooray for Printing!

Hope you enjoy the prints – give us a shout if you have any questions and we will see you on Monday!

A few more detail shots of the final product


Anonymous said...

Missed the show but hopefully not this beautiful print. I spotted it on this morning.

Hiram Kneesch said...

we still have some prints left - check our for sale page on the website Thanks for the compliment!

Laura said...

wowee zowee. this is incredible. and fun. and one of those things you can do when you're not worried about how many colors you're using. :)