Magnesium plates from Owosso

As I have mentioned before, digital images can be rendered to magnesium, copper and photopolymer plates for letterpress purposes. For the Graven Images project, I went with magnesium plates from Owosso Graphics.

mag plates mounted type-high on wood

As soon as I got my hands on these, I inked up the press and proofed all of them on a number of different types of stock. Overall, the cost for these blocks was not a lot, but I had my doubts if they would be up to the job. Far more accomplished printers than I have tried and rejected digitally rendered metal plates (sometimes referred to as ‘zincs’), so I wondered how Owosso would fare with a wood engraving with fine lines, and halftones.

‘The Reader’ is a block that broke on the press. Here is an original proof  of ‘The Reader’, and below it, a proof of the mag plate:

The Reader, print from original block

Print from mag plate

The new mag plate of 'The Reader', inked up on the press

Sorry about the difference in scale. the lower one is actual size, but you can still see how well the image came out. I tip my hat to Owosso.

I had good results with the halftones as well.

Here’s the reverse of the Lincoln block, with the Geo. W. Weagant reference and repeated dates ‘1881’. For this plate, Owosso neglected to trim the block, so all that crap in the bottom left is the ‘low’ part of the plate picking up noise from the rollers. I’ll have to ground it down myself.

Here’s a halftone proof of the uncut block with the illustration of a schooner in rough seas. It worked out very well.

The largest block was this halftone of the collection of wood engraved blocks as discovered. Because of its size, I will run into challenges printing it on the stock for the job.

I used the press inked up to proof the last plate, the one for the title page and the text I’ve just finished setting, really just the first paragraph of the Preface or Forword, this time on the Canson paper:

Once again, the drop cap ‘W’ is a placeholder. I’m expecting a larger one from Swamp Press within a couple of weeks.

Now, order paper and start cranking!

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