Frequently asked Questions and answers when buying an Etching Press.

Printmaker with Etching press

We thought that it would be useful to list many questions that we are asked from new customers looking to purchase a printing press. This way you can have a good read and if you still have questions please do not hesitate to get in touch with us. On the right is a picture with Printmaker Lesley Treloar with her No 2 Etching Press.

Question – Your etching press comes with one blanket, and at uni I have been using only one blanket quite well, however we tend to only use the etching press for etchings and we use another etching press for relief printing.  Is it possible to use this etching press for relief printing?  And if so how is this possible?  I do have a book press I have been using for relief printing at home and had good results but it is very hard work!

Answer – Our presses are multi-printing presses which mean they print everything you can get between the rollers. Our presses include the PVC printing matt and the runners so that you can change from printing intaglio to relief, it is quick and easy to change the press and reset the pressure to accommodate the different plates. The printing instruction manual that comes with the press explains exactly what to use with what plate from 2mm float glass to very thick woodblocks. Our presses are easy and our moto is – least amount of pressure for the best print as you will want to preserve your plate and get as many prints from them as you can. Too much pressure can ruin your plate! 

Question – What is the benefit of having three blankets?  I have used multiple blankets before in an etching press but it was a long time ago and I cannot remember why we used three.

Answer – It is reported that Piccasso used his direct drive press with many blankets when he was printing his abstract collagraphs. You can use as many or as little as you like but here is a link to our guide which tells you what to use for what plate, and explains what each blanket is used for and the meaning of swanskin blankets.

Question – What is the dimensions of the top roller?

Answer – Our top stainless steel roller is 4 inches diameter which is a lovely size. 

Question – Will your presses print as good as the heavy immovable cast etching presses?

Answer – Our presses are portable and built using stainless and mild fabricated steel, unlike the immovable cast presses which were built to print using weight, our presses are built to put pressure on a plate using engineering instead of weight. Our presses not only print as well as the heavy machines but they also are portable and multi printers, printing everything you can put between the rollers which includes Dry-points, etchings, solar plates, collagraphs, monoprints, monotypes any thickness of woodblocks, linos, reductions, Japanese ply, carborundum, photopolymer, mezzotint, letterpress and anything in between.

Question – If I want to emboss objects such as natural materials does this ruin the etching press?  I am working with feathers and leaves?

Answer – The top roller is stainless steel so the only way you will ruin the roller is by forcing another piece of metal through the roller to try and dent it. Stainless steel is one of the strongest metals in the world so no you will not ruin the press by printing any material that is softer than steel.

Your bed is made of lacquered mild steel and again will not mark or dent easily, you would have to intentionally put another metal object into the press and forcefully put it through the rollers in order to ruin the press.

Question – Is it possible to collect an etching press and materials from your store?  My husband had a landrover, but how heavy is the etching press and is it likely we would be able to carry etching the press 40m to our home from the road?

Answer – Yes you can collect from us, we will take your press apart, wrap it and pack it into your car for you This way when you get back to your own studio you will be able to put it back together again quickly and easily. The press can be taken apart very quickly and easily and each part can be moved quickly and easily. The weight of the total press is on the bottom of each press page but you tell us which press you are interested in we can send you the weights of each individual piece.

Question – How easy is it to put the etching press together?

Answer – Our Gunning etching press comes in parts, so it is quick and easy to take it apart and put it back together again. The printing bed, the stand, the star or round wheel, the blanket and the runners. Most customers purchase a registration bed with the press as well as this makes your life as a printmaker much easier as it helps you register paper and plates.

Question – Before “ virus times” I had planned to visit you in Ironbridge to look at a No 1 Etching Press can I visit you now?

Answer – Following government guidelines we can open mid June as long as we are abiding by the law of social distancing and keeping you our customers and our staff safe, so yes we will be doing demos again, making sure the social distancing is kept at al times. Our studio and gallery is a large beautiful space so this will not be a problem.

Question – I have some questions ref this to help me take it forward . I would be grateful for your help and advice, can I call you?

Answer – Yes please, call when ever you like the number is 01952 434033 and the etching presses and workshops are option 2 You will come through to either Dave Mason-Gunning, Jenny Mason-Gunning or Nathan Griffith. Dave and Jenny are specialist printmakers and Nathan is our printmaking assistant. If we do not answer please leave a message and we will call you back as soon as we are free. If you would like to arrange a WhatsApp, FaceTime or Zoom meeting or demo this will need to be organised and put into the diary.

Question – Do you have a No 1 Etching Press available or what would be your lead time?

Answer – Our lead time varies depending on how many presses we have to make at the time – usually we have between 3 and 6 presses a week to make, and we normally have a 6 week waiting list. If you have a specific deadline that you need to meet please get in touch with us as quick as you can and we will do our best to work with your deadline.

Question – What are the current delivery options, and costs

Answer – Here is a link to our page on our website that explains the delivery options for you and if you have any questions please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.

Question – Is a set up demo still available (socially distant?)

Answer – Yes we are still doing the delivery and set ups with a demo but we have to abide by the social distancing rules.

Question – How much does the star wheel protrude (measurements)

Answer – The star Wheel is 48 inches in total but we can make you a star wheel to fit in your room or to any size you like larger or smaller.

Question – Relative merits of star wheel versus large or small round wheel please?

Answer – They are both great to use however you have to reach for every spoke on the star wheel, which is fine but the round wheel just slides through your hands. Plus there are no spokes to bump into on the round wheel and it looks brilliant and feels lovely to use.

Question – Dimensions of the stand on the etching press, I would be looking for shelf and locking wheel option please?

Answer – All of our standard size presses and our bespoke presses have their own stands and we can make them for you with locking wheels so you can move the press around easily or you can have a static stand. We can make you a stand to any size as we cut and weld the stands. The size of each model is with the press information.

Question – Merits of extra blankets ( would be looking for extra 2)

Answer – Here is our Etching press blankets and runners guide — it explains the answer in full here

Question – Is the roller able to adjust for wood engraving block …. most of my work is of varying thicknesses, from 2mm through to 50mm

Answer – Yes your press will print any plate that you can get through the rollers up to around 50mm

Question –  I’ve hand a lot of use with the press and very much enjoy it. I hope u don’t mind me asking a quick question? When ever I use any other colour other than black to print my Lino I get a strange texture on certain areas. I’ve tired different papers and Lino’s it’s baffling me. Pic below. The ink is the calico safe wash. Sorry to bother you but any suggestion would be greatly appreciated.  

Answer – Are you using the soft cut lino? It looks as though the plate is moving when you are printing it. Softcut lino squashes and becomes a different shape when you put pressure onto it. With less dence colours you will see the shift.If I am right and you want to stop this from happening,  then you just cover the entire back of the plate with superglue and stick it down to wood or plastic, this will ensure it will not change shape when printing it. (The customer answered and said yes he washing soft cut and he took my suggestions and he got the results he wanted)