Letterpress hot foil type holder.

Recently I came across an online auction for “Hot letterpress foil” which was riding at the seemingly low price of a couple of dollars, after doing a little bit of research I decided that this might be something interesting to have a play with and worked out how I could at least do straight lines in book covers etc. So with this (limited) knowledge in hand I confidently put in a bid for three dollars and forgot all about it.

Well I won, obviously, or I wouldn’t be telling the story (well I might, but I digress), and the seller asked five dollars for postage, which seemed a little bit steep for a roll or two of the stuff, but i paid and promptly forgot all about it again. A few days or a week later I had a package arrive, it contained about 10kg (20lb+) of letterpress foil in all different widths and colours. Now I really have to find a use for it, like urgently, as I don’t like having big boxes of stuff I don’t understand clogging up my studio.

Soon enough I had a brilliant idea which was on topic (I have an average of 11.75 brilliant ideas per week, but most involve utterly impractical things, again I digress). This idea was to build a holder for some lead type and use a food warmer I acquired for $5 to heat the text up to the correct temperature (reportedly 98 degrees Celsius).  So I sat down and started drawing, planning, and generally making like a pretend engineer until I had something that I thought would at least illustrate my concept. (I’m an art school student, thus generally using the schools workshop and tools a fair bit)

Well, I threw the idea out and made something different as I realised that I could clamp things into place with bolts rather than making accurate measurements and that this way it’d actually be a little more extensible too. I wound up making this using almost no measurements what so ever, just judging by eye and file finishing where stuff didn’t fit proper like.

My Brazing is a bit dodge, I’m well out of practice, but it’s still massive overkill in terms of sturdyness, I bent the top bits to make handles as I’ll have to wrap it in cloth or something when I use it (‘Hot’ foil stamping – yeah). I finished the metal with a beeswax/turpentine finish (painted on and then heated to near red so that it carbonises).

And the working end looks like this;

The small screw clamps a metal plate down on the text and the big one holds the type in place, Pretty simple but as far as I can tell it seems to work just fine.

Oh yeah – I did a sneaky flip on the image so the text is more readable, the long screw is actually on the other side (any printmakers will prolly have realised this straight away).

[Note to self] – In future dust the photography background before photoing stuff.

Photographed with one flash and a bounce, I trod on my other units connector a few days ago and need to get the soldering iron out.

[Update] Well, a few weeks later it turns out that my understanding of the physics involved in hot letter press stamping is somewhat sub par.

The letterpress foil in fact applies at a temperature between 140 and 160 degrees Celsius, I could have found this out at any time just by searching for tech sheets, but doing it my way seemed much more viable. Therefore the holder didn’t work whatsoever, not even slightly at 100 degrees, and I have no reliable way of heating lead type to 150 degrees without risking melting it, so the holder concept is temporarily somewhat useless.

I had a show which needed the lettering, I had to find another way (commented in my next post), for now the holder is an ornament, however i have had an idea involving a clothes iron, aluminium sheet, and an etchant which I think may well be viable, it’ll have to wait till my next holidays however as I’m now deeply involved in typesetting a book which I’m not sure I’ll get finished in time for my final hand in for my batchelors.

[Edit] A year and a half later I swapped what was left of the hot foil rolls with a bookbinder in exchange for half the cost of binding my masters thesis – nice little savings there 😀


Camera post – Concord Flash 803.

This camera was one of my many Internet auction purchases, It came up the first time for $10 plus post by memory and I just couldn’t justify it, the whole reason that I was interested was because it looks like the bastard child of an instamatic and a holga. I have since seen the holga 135bc, which looks strangely like it shares some sort of ancestry with this wee beasty, though the specs are quite different.

Anyhow, it came back at $5 and I snaffled it up. When it turned up it had had a bad repair attempt done on the flash and hadn’t been put back together right, that was easy enough to fix and get the flash working, though I stuffed up something in the frame counter in the process so it sits on zero permanently – no biggie, it’s not like I actually look at it on cameras like this, it also had a couple of rusty screws, they’re still rusty – who cares?.

The specs are essentially as follows;

Body; Black plastic, with black plastic bits, a sliding flash, and white screen printing here and there. It feels fairly solid and is kinda chunky with the battery compartment at the side. Dunno the weight, fairly light I guess – Normal point n’ shoot weight? (guess who doesn’t have scales?)

Lens; 38mm plastic fixed focus.

It actually looks about 38mm too compared to my ricoh. Being a plastic lens it’s a bit soft on the contrast and isn’t corrected for anything, it doesn’t have much distortion and very little viginetting generally.

Shutter speeds; One, no bulb mode, seems to be about 1/100 or so with three apertures which I’d guess are maybe 5.6, 8, and 11 – this is a total guess from the sunny symbols.

Flash; Manually switched (switched off above, on below), probably pathetically weak, no indications given whatsoever as to distance Vs aperture. Runs off 2xAA batteries – nimh are too fat to fit in comfortably, needs to be disposable (hence the fact I haven’t experimented much with flash on this camera).

Advance/Rewind; It’s a plastic camera – thumb wheel advance and normal rewind crank.

And are we impressed by this marvel of camera technology?

Well, it’s cheesy as hell, but in a terribly serious sort of a way, I have serious reservations about the claim that the lens is ‘Coated’ – Unless it’s a plastic lens which is coated in more plastic I’d go so far as to quietly suggest that this might be an ever so slight exaggeration in terms (or even a falsehood perhaps). It looks like it might be coated in the shot above, but in truth that’s just a reflection of me in the lens.

It came with a Chinon lens cap (shown above) which may very well imply that it shares some ancestry with the holga 135bc (or conversely that it’s cross dressing), though I’m completely unsure on this point as I haven’t found any net data on this camera. The lens does take filters, which is a bit odd and slightly pointless, I’ll try it with a yellow filter when I get an adapter for my Ricoh.

The viewfinder strangely enough ‘is’ coated to reduce flare and even has bright lines – Classy! – though it’s slightly awkwardly placed a frazz to the right of center, which feels odd to a left eyed person like myself. The Flash as above and below slides out from the body to switch on. It has a swiveling ring on the flash side for a wrist strap I guess.

You can see the flash switch and the aperture symbols for 100 and 400 speed films, No focus and it seems to be telling you to only use the widest aperture for flash, no idea on the distance. The flash ready light works, as does the shutter release. The frame counter does not. In use the thumb wheel is light, comfortable, and pretty quiet, as is the shutter, though the “ping-ChucK-ping” noise is a little off putting to begin with. The rewind knob is better than many of my more expensive cameras.

To open the back you lift the rewind knob and scrabble frantically at the back – fingernails are quite handy for this task. Other than that – no light leaks, and nothing special, it has a tripod socket and rewind button on the bottom, not exciting enough to warrant a photo.

All in all I actually kinda like this camera, it’s a slight step up from the regular plastic cameras, having a selectable flash is kinda fun, though I’d prefer a hotshoe. The three apertures is a nice touch for daytime photos, and it takes an okay photo so long as you can accept the limitations of plastic lenses, at that level it’s better than most plastic cameras, it’s also somewhat solid feeling (relatively speaking).

But the real reason that I like this camera is because it tries so hard to look like a serious camera and fails utterly – from the molded black plastic ‘leathergrain’ to the “COATED LENS MADE IN JAPAN” (made in Hong Kong) it’s just trying so hard to look like something a serious photographer might pick up to take ‘good photos’ that I can’t help but giggle just a little bit (and pick it up and attempt to take ‘good photos’ with it).

Photos to follow;