You would think that after, say, the first two or three hundred, the process of printing coffee bags on the Golding Jobber № 8 would get, well, a little repetitive. Especially because printing two-colour coffee bags means printing one colour, cleaning up, and printing the second colour.
But repetition is kind of the point: letterpresses are machines meant for mass production, and so becoming proficient at the printing trade means becoming proficient at repetition.
Today I took a big leap in that regard.
The coffee bags themselves are ornery things to print on: foil bits hanging out, folds in annoying places, and about 5 times thicker than a regular sheet of paper. My lack of proficiency, combined with this orneriness, has meant that, for the first four or five hundred bags, I’ve been printing a bag, throwing off the press, taking the printed bag out, putting a bag in, and throwing the press back on, wasting 3 or sometimes 4 or 5 cycles of the press in the process.
Try as I might I could never coordinate all the movements to do this all in one smooth motion.
Today, by dint of repetition, favourable humidity (meaning less stickiness), and disposition of the printing gods, I cracked the code.
I was on fire. It’s amazing how quickly you can print when you’re actually printing at the press intended, with one impression per cycle.
So in short order I was able to crank out 301 coffee bags. Or at least the black impression thereof.
Tomorrow I’ll go back in to print the red; I hope the gods continue to favour me.