Letterpress, silver and uncoated stock

I plan to letterpress-print a Xmas card and have a difficulty deciding on the colour. I thought about using Pantone 877U or Black 7U.

The card will be printed on a 100% cotton stock and printer claims silver (PMS 877) doesn't look silver but greyish due to the paper high absorbability factor. However, I've found an example online that looks quite good...

I haven't seen any sample myself and don't have time to organise one so I have to trust someone... Anyone have an opinion on how silvery the uncoated silver is? Anyone used 877 or Black 7 on 100% cotton paper? Does it look different form normal grey/black? Would you recommend using it?

Thanks in advance!

Joshua Langman's picture

Generally, metallic letterpress inks lose most of their sheen on uncoated stock. A "silver" will simply look grey unless it's on glossy/coated stock (I've made this mistake). Have you considered foil stamping? Otherwise, I would go with the black.


Nick Shinn's picture

IMO silver ink does indeed look like crap on uncoated stock.
It doesn't shine and looks kind of green and dirty and granular.
This is my unfortunate experience.
Only the exaggerated letterpress impression redeems the sample you link to.
A smooth grey ink would have been better.

I would recommend a matte coated stock for silver ink.
That would be a lot safer.
I mean, why bother with a metallic if you don't let it shine?

fallenartist's picture

"Only the exaggerated letterpress impression redeems the sample you link to."
Nick, can you elaborate?

I mean, is it at all possible to have some kind of shiny effect on uncoated? Maybe by throwing some glitter material in the mix?

Nick Shinn's picture

Without the sharp edge provided by the letterpress imprint (or an embossing), metallic on uncoated, especially rag, looks blurry. I believe this is because the fibre disperses what little light is reflected off the ink in different directions, breaking down the sharpness of the edge.

For your design, I would recommend foil stamping, possibly with a separate hit of embossing (either down or up) to sharpen up the edge.
But the design doesn't have fine detail (e.g. as in type), so even a little bit of roughness at the foil edge wouldn't be too bad.

However, don't go on my recommendation alone, the best thing to do is to look at printed samples that you are holding and shifting to see the effect.

oprion's picture

I've had a limited amount of success with metallic inks on dark uncoated paper.
It wasn't all that shiny, but you could tell it wasn't just a muddy gray.

Hmm..what if you print an undercoarting of varnish? It's be pretty hard to align the two exactly, but it might work.

fallenartist's picture

Thanks. I went with Cool Gray 11. I need to familiarise with letterpress much more, that's for sure.

Grrrben's picture

I kind of bumped into a similar issue, with printing black and silver ink on uncoated paper. My advice: go for a paper stock with its structure as closed as possible — so the paper absorbs the least. And, always best, do a test run: throw a dozen or so different papers through the letterpress to see which one works out best.

apankrat's picture

what if you print an undercoarting of varnish?

I'm pretty sure I saw a sample of silver printed over silver on dark stock over at the Studio on Fire blog. Also elsewhere I remember seeing an advice of going with white for the first layer and then do the silver. This clearly costs more, but at least it gives an option to consider.

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