About the Project:
Born from a love for fantasy characters, tattoos and letterpress printing, this project puts a contemporary spin on The High Priestess from the Rider-Waite tarot deck.
Tarot cards are used throughout much of Europe to play card games. In English-speaking countries, where these games are largely unplayed, tarot cards are now used primarily for divinatory purposes. A tarot deck is distinguished by a 21-card trump suit and a single card known as the Fool. Collectively these 22 cards are known as “The Major Arcana.”
The over-sized card I'm creating will feature one of the major arcana—The High Priestess—drawn with a modern interpretation. The card will be printed on heavy, luxurious cotton cardstock before being die-cut to give it rounded corners.
I’ve already commissioned the illustration from world-class tattoo artist Matt Kolling (you can find him working at Uptown Tattoo in Minneapolis). Matt blends a traditional tattoo aesthetic with his own unique vision.
Here is Matt’s original sketch:
After scanning Matt’s drawing, I adjusted levels and shading to suit the letterpress process. I also added the colors (light blue, dark blue, and gold) to the black outline. At this point the artwork is ready to print!
Final 4-color Artwork:
These prints are going to be way bigger than a standard tarot card. They’ll measure 11.5 inches tall by 7 inches wide (about the size of a sheet of letter-size paper). A standard tarot card is 4.75 inches tall by 2.75 inches wide.
The cards will be printed on super heavy 100% cotton cardstock (220# Crane’s Lettra cover for fellow paper geeks like me). Letterpress printing actually crushes the image into the paper, giving depth to the impression that you can feel.
Here’s where I need your help.
The next step (after funding is complete) is to order a couple of supplies for my press. I’ll need a larger printing base for these big cards, and I also need another ink roller. The other costs include paper, ink, plates, die-cutting and shipping costs and materials.
The goal amount for this project will enable me to order the supplies I need, print and die-cut these cards, and cover shipping costs.
Winter Is Coming...
...But so are the holidays. These prints will be done and delivered by the beginning of December, making them a perfect one-of-a-kind gift!
VOTE FOR THE NEXT CARD Pledge a dollar to make this project a reality. Your contribution earns you a vote to help decide which card from the Major Arcana to print next.
DIGITAL WALLPAPER Your pledge gets you a vote for the next card as well as a digital wallpaper for your phone, tablet or computer. Features the High Priestess art.
BLACK & WHITE PRINT You'll receive the black and white print on super heavy cotton cardstock with die-cut corners. Frame it or color it yourself! You'll also get the digital wallpaper and an opportunity to cast your vote for the next card.
4-COLOR DELUXE PRINT You'll receive the four-color deluxe print on super heavy cotton cardstock with die-cut corners. You'll also get the digital wallpaper and an opportunity to cast your vote for the next card.
4-COLOR DELUXE PRINT and BLACK & WHITE PRINT You'll receive one of each print. You'll also get the digital wallpaper and an opportunity to cast your vote for the next card.
STUDIO TOUR and 4-COLOR DELUXE PRINT You'll receive one 4-color deluxe print, the digital wallpaper and an opportunity to cast your vote for the next card. In addition, I'll give you a tour of my studio in Northeast Minneapolis, let you see the press in action and answer any questions you have. (You are responsible for all travel and lodging arrangements.)
A Little about Letterpress Printing
Letterpress printing is an old printing method that crushes the image into the paper. My letterpress is a Chandler & Price 10 x 15 platen press. It was built in 1925 and still runs like a dream. A small electric motor was added later, which keeps the press running while I hand-feed the paper. To get it into my studio we needed to tear the frame off our front door and hack a hole in the drywall to fit it through. And the press isn’t the most mobile of equipment—mine weighs close to 2,000 pounds.
Originally printers would create layouts by using lead type to place each letter and punctuation mark by hand (quite a tedious process). Today the technology is available to print anything you want, by first printing a negative on film. This film is used to expose a photopolymer plate material, which hardens wherever the UV light hits it. After exposure, the plate is washed and the unexposed polymer rinses away. What’s left is the plate material that the printer uses on the press.
The plate material is mounted on a cast aluminum base, which brings the surface of the plate to the perfect height, called “type high.” The base is then secured inside a frame, or chase, using wooden blocks and spacers. (The blocks are called “furniture.”) When the base and furniture are set, adjustable locking mechanisms called keys are used to keep everything tight. Then the chase gets loaded into the press.
Ink is applied to a revolving wheel at the top of the press. As the press cycles, the wheel turns, and the ink rollers travel across the disk, distributing the ink evenly before traveling down the press and across the chase, inking the plate. As the press closes, the paper gets sandwiched between the plate and the bed, transferring the ink to the page and applying a huge amount of pressure. The press then opens back up and I grab the printed sheet (quickly) and reset a new sheet in the guide pins.
The guide pins are positioned on the sheet bed. They are pointed and poke into a sheet of tympan. The pins enable precise registration of the paper to the plate. (Registration refers to the exact placement of the image in relation to the edge of the paper. Each color must be placed in exactly the right place for a good print.) Once the pins are placed and registration is confirmed, I use melted wax to secure the pin in the correct position. Now I’m ready to print!
Risks and challenges
This is the second attempt at funding this project. I've learned a lot from the first one, which finished just short of the goal. I adjusted the quantity of cards I plan to print, in order to line up with demand. That enabled me to lower the budget. I also plan on marketing this project through Facebook to help boost the number of people who see it.
Upon funding, the supplies will be ordered, and I'll begin printing immediately. I've been letterpress printing for the past five years and am very comfortable with the process, so I don't anticipate any delays. After printing, the cards will be sent to the die-cutter, and after that they're coming to you!
If any delays occur, the Kickstarter group will be informed right away.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (24 days)