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.

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