Wednesday, July 2, 2008

How temperature affects printing

When the Collies Paragon first arrived, it was the middle of summer and stinking hot. Although I tried to print mainly in the evenings, sometimes it was 35C while I was in the studio. I was worried that the high temperatures would make printing difficult, but the press seemed to love it. The ink was almost fluid at times, and I didn't have to use much at all to get a good even coverage.

It's now winter, and I'm printing in temperatures of down to 3C or so. The ink takes a long time to warm up on the press, but still covers the ink disc evenly. However, I think some of my plate inking issues may be due to the cold temperatures (as well as other problems I'm addressing). It's quite thick and not very tacky at all, which makes it a little harder to spread and take to the plate.

Of course, humidity plays a big part too. In summer, if there's a storm hanging around, I won't even try to print. The plates curl up off the base, which present a danger of them being wrapped into the rollers. Now I'm avoiding printing during winter rain. Humidty causes grief for both plates and paper - letterforms can peel off the photopolymer, serifs can break off, and paper can swell, causing registration nightmares. If you have a job with tight registration, try to print it all in the one day, or on days with similar conditions.

So my preference is definitely summer printing. It may be stinking hot and you'll be sweating away, but the ink will distribute nicely. Another things I've noticed, in winter my hands get so cold that it's hard to grab paper as I feed it in and out of the press. At least in summer my hands are grippy.
In an ideal world, I'd be setting up a more permanent home for Poppy, with ample space, lots of natural lighting, shelves upon shelves for storage, and a dehumidifier and heater. I can dream, can't I?


Ampersand Duck said...

Yes, dreams of nice accommodation are nice but ultimately frustrating...

Since you can't have solid walls and controlled temps, here's a little tip with the ink:

Buy a little bottle of clove oil and if your ink is too stiff, mix in the oil drop by drop -- you'll only need a couple of drops, usually -- until the ink softens. And your printing will smell amazing for a few days.

Shop Boy said...

We print menus year-round for one Baltimore restaurant using environmentally correct but tough-to-grip paper. Even in summer, I find myself occasionally blowing hot, moist breath into my hands as I wait to place the next menu into the press.

This is crazy, of course. But misfeeds make me even nuttier.

(One day, I caught myself licking my fingers -- nasty! -- like an American football quarterback seeking a better grip on the ball. I immediately stopped the press. The restaurant would thank me for doing so, I think.)

By the way, my wife Mary swears Nivea cream is better than hot breath OR spit for improving grip.

Keep hanging on ...

Shop Boy

Bespoke Press said...

Great Post Louise!

Maybe you should move up to warmer queensland for winter and back down to canberra for the not as hot summer :)

Poppy Letterpress said...

Ducky - Love the sound of the clove oil, will have to try. I knew a fellow frozen 'Berran would now a trick or two!

Shop Boy - I've almost licked my fingers, but stopped just in time :)

Bespoke - I like your thinking, but how about I just move there and stay forever? I wish.