Salty Floods

Letterpress does so many things well - crisp type, printing on thick stocks, transparent overprinting, delicate blind impressions…I could go on. The one thing that it struggles with is creating a solid flood of color. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The floods that we create are considered very beautiful by most - the intricate textures are reminiscent of a salted watercolor painting, and have that specific touch of a handcrafted piece. There is, indeed, no digital way to get that truly unique texture on each and every piece in your run. 

But we live in a digital age, don’t we? The vast majority of the projects we create start their lives on a computer screen, and when you do want a block or area of color, the paint tool fills the whole area in. That’s what we expect to see roll out of the press, right? Therein lies the problem. Or does it?

 

Floods look great in a wide range of color, and the salty texture changes based on the paper. A flood can be deepened with a second run for an additional cost.

Floods look great in a wide range of color, and the salty texture changes based on the paper. A flood can be deepened with a second run for an additional cost.

Color

Although it can be a bit unpredictable, ink color choice can affect the intensity of the flood, and the consistency of the color run. Sticking with one of our house colors will allow us to use ink from the can and maintain the color, and coming in for a press check can prepare you for what coverage you can expect on your chosen paper.

 

 


Both of these cards are printed on 236# Reich Savoy in brilliant white. The top card uses a metallic silver ink logo pattern over an orange flood with a knock-out of a large version of the logo, enhancing the layers of visual interest. (Designed by Jeremy Slagle for Iannarino.) The bottom card also uses a knock-out, revealing the faux-emobssing of the white logo, with the topo lines impressed into the saltiness of the flood. (Designed by and for The Shipyard.)

Both of these cards are printed on 236# Reich Savoy in brilliant white. The top card uses a metallic silver ink logo pattern over an orange flood with a knock-out of a large version of the logo, enhancing the layers of visual interest. (Designed by Jeremy Slagle for Iannarino.) The bottom card also uses a knock-out, revealing the faux-emobssing of the white logo, with the topo lines impressed into the saltiness of the flood. (Designed by and for The Shipyard.)

Pattern

Overlaying the flood with a strong pattern is a great way to work with the salty texture. By adding a repeating pattern, or a series of lines or type, the salty flood is seamlessly incorporated into the design as a contrasting element.

 

 

 


These cards are all created using woodpulp stocks from French Paper Company, which allows for a beautiful consistent flood on the smooth surface. Cards by Basis Accounting, The Whitney House (design by Imaginary Beast), Pamlico, and Next.

These cards are all created using woodpulp stocks from French Paper Company, which allows for a beautiful consistent flood on the smooth surface. Cards by Basis Accounting, The Whitney House (design by Imaginary Beast), Pamlico, and Next.

Paper

The type of paper can affect the coverage as well. Woodpulp content papers are smoother and more compressed, and can accept more ink overall, so you usually get a nice coverage. Cotton or bamboo stocks are more fibrous and add to the salty texture.

 

 

 

 

 

 


This shows not only the range of coverage that is possible in a flood-run, but also how much deeper an impression can be when the design is reversed. Design by Notre Monde.

This shows not only the range of coverage that is possible in a flood-run, but also how much deeper an impression can be when the design is reversed. Design by Notre Monde.

Impression

If impression is at the top of the list of what a client wants in their letterpress project, a flood may not be the best choice. It allows for very little relief between the inked areas and the uninked areas of a design. Sometimes reversing the design fixes the issue, and allows us to get a beautiful deep impression.

Also - if you plan on printing on the reverse side of a flood, you may want to choose a thicker paper so we are still able to get an impression even if the paper is compressed by the ink flood.


Take care when using small type and fine lines, if you're wanting a less-salty coverage. Cards by Howard Brooks Interiors, Tenfold and UUSi Collaborative.

Take care when using small type and fine lines, if you're wanting a less-salty coverage. Cards by Howard Brooks Interiors, Tenfold and UUSi Collaborative.

Type

As much as we try and prevent it, ink can creep into un-inked areas. Knocked out type should be at least 8pt, and maybe even a bit larger if working with a serif font (in order to preserve those tiny serifs). Counters of small type can fill in when set to much smaller. Fine lines should be at least .5pt. 

 

 

 

 

 


This shows the range of coverage that we can get in a single card run, from lighter to more solid. The client can specify the tolerance for range during the press check. Cards by Rocketcode and Storyforge.

This shows the range of coverage that we can get in a single card run, from lighter to more solid. The client can specify the tolerance for range during the press check. Cards by Rocketcode and Storyforge.

Range

Our printers are quite good at managing and maintaining a consistent ink color throughout a long run of prints. However, they are human, and as talented as they are, color shift happens. We quality control each individual card by hand for each project, and we try and pull out any that are obviously too dark or too light, but it is good to have a healthy acceptance of the hand-made nature of the color range.