Ampersand Coasters, Part I

After having been slowed down in my work by two weeks of being snowed in, I’m finally busting through it and into production mode. Today I worked on a project that I started in Eugene in December. This series of coasters will consist of six positive and six negative ampersands printed in various colors onto drink coasters.

Thanks go to my best friend, Carl Crossgrove, for choosing these ampersands for me. He’s a well-known type designer who works at Monotype and has access to more fonts than I can even comprehend.

Six ampersand drink coasters and the polymer plates that printed them
[First 6 coasters and their plates]

Being the first production project on my new press, there were a number of things that were brand new. First, I had to use a new registration system. The old one requires beautiful metal pins that sit outside of the boundary of the piece to be printed. They are, however, too thick to go in front of the aluminum base. Since the base is HUGE, I had to either shift my work down into the corner or create a new registration system. Putting the work in the corner would cause me to bend over and reach deep into the press for every impression. It is also well known that these presses are at their best in the center of the platen. The further we get toward the corners, the more potential there is for printing problems. In the image below, you can see how I have pieces of matte board lightly adhered to the base with masking tape on the back. This will ensure that it gets placed into the correct location on the tympan paper, allowing me to use it to place two coasters in exactly the right place every time.

View inside the press with aluminum base, polymer plates and matte board registration jig
[Boxcar base and registration boards]

[Registration boards on the tympan]

For the next step, which probably should have been first, I printed my web address in tiny type onto the back of each coaster. Eventually, this will be replaced by a more eye-catching logo, but for now it’s good enough just to make sure that folks who receive my work as gifts know where it came from.

It feels a little silly to use so much metal and wood to hold that one tiny line of type into place, but that’s how it works!

The chase on the composing table with a single line of 10 point type surrounded by lots of hardware to hold it in place
[Giant setup for tiny type]

The final result. Crisp, clean, tiny.

My website name is printed in tiny letters on the back of each coaster
[Tiny type on the back]

In a few days, I’ll get back to the press and print the other six designs, then they’ll get listed in my store. Exciting!