The Printing Process

By Kate Fraser on Feb 09, 2014

Purpose

To help students who are blind or visually impaired to understand how to create a print through letterpress printing

Background Information

Many printing processes involve transferring a message or an image from one medium to another, such as paper. There are various processes in creating printed materials.

Less than a century ago, about 40% of all printed materials were printed using letterpress printing presses. In letterpress printing, or relief printing, the printing surface is raised above the rest of the plate. The process is called flexography when the printing plates are made of rubber. The rubber stamps we often use are examples of flexographic printing plate.

Preparation:

Ask for assistance to cut out two pieces of cardboard to be slightly bigger than a letter size paper. Examine the design on some rubber stamps.

Materials

  • corrugated cardboard (cardboard used in packing boxes)
  • letter size paper (Braille paper works well)
  • white glue
  • scissor
  • sand
  • small beads
  • glitter or anything that would create interesting texture

You can add tea leaves, spice powder, etc. for more interesting sensory experience!

Procedure

  1. Create your relief surfaces, like the letters on a rubber stamp, using cardboard. Cut out shapes from cardboard and glue it on a pre-cut letter-sized cardboard. This will be your printing plate. Make sure the glue dries completely before you move on to step 4. Keep in mind that the cardboard printing plate you have created will be flipped horizontally when your final print comes out.
  2. Evenly cover the remaining pre-cut letter sized cardboard with a thin layer of glue. Make sure the layer is not too thick, so that only the relief surface with the cutout images will have glue on it when you press the printing plate over it. However, if the glue layer is too thin, it will dry out before you finish.
  3. Press the printing plate with your cut out image over the glued surface, so that the relief surface is evenly coated with glue.
  4. Press the printing plate, now with glue on it, on a piece of paper. Press on the back of the printing plate so that glue transfers well to the paper. Peel off the paper from the cardboard plate.
  5. The paper now has the image you made in glue. Carefully, sprinkle sand or any material of your choice (spices, tea leaf from a tea bag, tiny beads, glitter, etc.) over the paper so that the powders stick to glue.
  6. Carefully shake off the remaining powders that did not stick to the glue. Let it dry. If it did not work out well, try again.
  7. Admire your work!

Cardboard template

 

This activity was adapted by Yoo Jin Chung and Kate Fraser from Introduction to Technology, 3rd Edition. 2005, Chapter 11, pages 270 - 271.

Collage with text "letterpress printing activity for students who are blind" with images of paper and cardboard stamped with images of a house and trees