Printing Without Ink

You don’t actually need ink to be able to “print” with a letterpress: thick paper, large, bold type and sufficient pressure will do. I’ve wanted to make a new sign for the office door here at the Reinventorium for a while; wanting to print this afternoon, but also wanting to avoid the hassle of cleaning up the press afterwards, I decided to see what I could create without ink.

Printing Without Ink: Sign for the Reinventorium

Printing Without Ink: Sign for the Reinventorium

The paper is Crane Lettra 220 lb. in “ecru white.” The type is an unnamed 36 point all-caps face I purchased this spring from Atelier Domino in Montreal.

I actually created a little too much of an impression: if you look carefully you can see some “rupturing” around certain of the letters. Perhaps I should have used a little less packing, or moistened the stock a little before taking the impression. Nonetheless, I’m happy with the result, and it’s on the door to the office now.


Pedro's picture
Pedro on October 13, 2012 - 07:09

Peter, it looks so great that I’m really not sure if ink would add any extra value. It looks stylish, yet simple, clean, yet rich. Very discrete and yet a bold design statement. I really like it, but I might be biased, I love embossed paper ;)

Oliver's picture
Oliver on October 24, 2012 - 21:45

So cool. You know they’re an optical illusion that makes an impression or carving look like it’s embossed or in relief—or makes your perception of the thing flip back and forth. Do you get any of that when you see it on angle?

Oliver's picture
Oliver on October 24, 2012 - 21:46

there’s” not “they’re” I mean

jason li's picture
jason li on November 1, 2012 - 09:25

I love nwell embossed paper too

Ian Scott's picture
Ian Scott on March 4, 2013 - 15:46

Looks great — the same technique will also work on any vegetable-tanned leather by wetting the leather first with water, and allowing the embossed leather to dry flat. Using dye on a dry sponge will produce an effect where the letters say lighter and the main surface is dyed darker. I really like the white-on-white effect you achieved on this paper, it gives a very classic look.

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