Letterpress and photopolymer at Tallinna Paberikoda

Hannah spent yesterday afternoon at Tallinna Paberikoda, finding out how their Russian letterpress works. In the spirit of sharing all things printmaking (and especially juicy process details) – here’s some insight into the visit.

Tallinna Paberikoda is a small workshop situated in The Ukrainian Cultural Centre, on Laboratooriumi street in the old town. The workshop produces handmade paper from various substances and prints postcards, books, calendars and small-run commissioned business cards and invitations. They also teach workshops for adults and children and open their doors for interested visitors.

Downstairs, they have the facilities to create paper as well as a home built exposing unit, souped up with vacuum suction commandeered from a refrigerator compressor (Grafodroom, take heed!). However, I spent most of the afternoon upstairs in the print workshop, which houses two letterpresses (of German and Russian origin), a small intaglio press and a beautiful big old guillotine.

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The afternoon was spent exposing one separation of a postcard onto a photopolymer plate, setting up the letterpress and printing a small run on the workshop’s own paper. This printed postcard will be included in a limited edition book which Tallinna Paberikoda is producing. The book contains postcards and writing from Ukraine and it traces a life from birth to death, giving insights into the Ukrainian way of life along the way. The book will be sent to libraries across the world.

After Nestor showed me the ropes, I ran right to Grafodroom to scrawl down notes in the shape of an instruction manual, so as not to forget the many details of the process. For anyone interested in how photopolymer plates and letterpresses work, here’s what I learned :

Processing a photopolymer plate…
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Setting up the cliché on the press…

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Getting the press inked up and proofing until the pressure is correct…

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Printing a run…

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Hopefully there will be chance for some collaboration between Grafodroom and Tallinna Paberikoda in the future (the way their handmade paper pulls the ink off a linoleum block will make the corners of your mouth wet).