Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Rubber Press Blanket

One of the tips that I learned from Heather at Whiteaker Printmakers in a private lesson with her is that I can get fantastic embossing on woodblock prints by using discarded press blankets from the local newspaper. I went down to The Daily Courier to see if they had any to spare. They looked at me like I had three eyes, but they did go into the corner and give me what I was looking for - an old rubber sheet from their press. It's so sturdy that I'll probably be able to use it for years before I need to replace it.

[Offset press blanket, disassembled]

I had to cut it up to make it the right size for my press, but it was easy to cut with just an old pair of tailor's shears. First I removed the metal strips that held it in place on the roller of the high-speed offset press they use. I saved the little end piece to use on my tiny press and trimmed down the larger piece for the big press.

[Low embossing]

[High embossing]

To test embossing, it's easiest to just pull a print on good paper with a clean plate and no ink. Here are the results of two different pressure settings with just the heavy rubber sheet for a press blanket. They are perfect - even, adjustable, repeatable results. I could not have asked for anything better.


Unknown said...

Hi I know you posted this a while back but I just got some scrap rubber blankets for my etching press and I was wondering if it mattered which way the grain goes through your press or if there is an ideal direction to cut it? The lines on the back of mine are going the other way and I'm wondering if that will be a problem. Thanks --Ally

Blossom Merz said...

Direction doesn't matter. The important part is that you have the firm but compressible surface of the rubber against the back of the paper. Good luck with your printing!

Allyson Feuerstein said...

Thanks so much, I got some scrap of 4ply offset compressible blankets and was planning on using it with a piece of masonite or some wood runners on the sides of the press. From what I can tell the firmness will hopefully work better than my felts. Love your posts about all your printing adventures. Cool to see you're into letterpress too, I printed stationary on a CandP for 3 years but am getting back into relief and etching.
Happy Printing!!