When we print, we turn up the base

Posted 14 December 2011 by Willy
Categories: Studio

For years, we've been using the same bases here at Swayspace. We’ve always preferred the Bunting bases for the amount of truly specific control they allow us to correct and highlight certain areas of what are essentially photographic images. We have, however, also been limited by these bases. We have been using 2 bases that are 11 ¼” x 12 ½”, and 1 base that is 6 1/8” x 9 1/8” and on the one hand have played a tessellation game to create larger pieces than we would normally do for SP-20 and on the other have struggling to find a place for our guide pins on our C & P.

And though we put out many cool works, we still felt limited by the size. Well, no more! We figured it was time to hit the extremes and get the biggest base our Vandercook could handle and the smallest base we could get for the C & P.

Pretty good, for a block of wood

We had already experimented with printing from larger than normal surface areas when we collaborated with Lite-Brite Neon We used a wood base that had the text carved into it. We then knew how big we could get, but we wanted to print big and perfectly. So we saved our nickels and dimes, turned in all our soda cans, and sold lemonade on the street to allow us to purchase a beautiful papa of a magnet, coming in at 18 ¼” x 24”

All magnets great and small

Practically filling the bed of the Vandercook, we can now put a plate anywhere we want! And more than that, we can finally print the posters and other large forms we’ve been dreaming of in our spare time. We felt that with our involvement with NYWI, now was the perfect time to explore just how far we could go with large form letterpress. Just having a base that size to play with opened up a whole new world of ideas for our designers, and we can’t wait to show you what we’ve come up with in the next few months.

I'm using my hand to show the scale: it's big
Our big base with a giant plate for New York Writes Itself

We don’t want to belittle our little base, it is just as fantastic and ferocious despite it’s 2” x 4” stature. We often print envelopes or projects where the paper is cut to size on the C & P, and you can have a devil of a time trying to make sure your pins don’t hit your base. Remember the bunting bases are precise and delicate and can be smashed and mashed much like lead type. But now we’re going to retire our battle scarred base and replace it with our new Tiny Ajax! We’re finally going to have the flexibility to print almost anything we want almost anywhere. And it’s just so cute too.

Don't leave home without it

Don’t think our old bases are going to waste though. We’ve put them on our recently refurbished SP-15 which we can’t wait to try out on some full wedding suites. The dream of having all the machines here running simultaneously is finally upon us. We’ve expanded our shop, we’ve hired more designers, we’ve found some great printers, and now our only limits are the limits of our imagination and the imaginations of our next generation of printers.

Choosing paper for their first printing project