Printing, Engraving

June 15, 2015
2015 The newCO2 laser cutting

Engraving-Printing-Process-Step9While I’m away on vacation I’m running a series of guest posts on the various printing processes, from digital printing to engraving. I’ve asked some designers and printers to share their expertise and lots of photos to fill you in on what you need to know about different stationery printing methods. Today we’re joined by Chelsea and Jamie from, telling us all about the elegant printing process known as engraving!

Hi OSBP! We’re Chelsea and Jamie from in Los Angeles, California! At Sugar Paper our first love is (and will always be) letterpress printing. That said, lately we’ve been intrigued by engraving. Anyone who has ever printed on a letterpress knows that printing using white ink is a challenge. If you work and work you can get a subtle image, but there is nothing like engraving for a crisp white image on brightly colored paper.


Luckily, a world renowned engraver is right in our backyard. The oldest engraver in the United States, , is just down the road from us. They recently allowed Jamie and I the opportunity to learn the process, and we’ll show you how it’s done in the images below. We had fun! It was like our own personal Sesame Street field trip. We both loved those Sesame Street segments when we were kids…

What is Engraving?

Like letterpress, the process of engraving imposes ink onto paper under intense pressure, creating images with a unique look and feel unavailable through flat printing. Unlike letterpress, however, type and graphics are raised on each piece of paper. To achieve this result, metal plates are etched with a recessed image. Metal plates are then hand-aligned on the press.Engraving-Printing-Process-Step6 Once aligned, the plate is coated with ink and then blotted using kraft paper to clean the plate, leaving only the image with ink remaining. The paper is then hand-fed and each piece is applied under two tons of pressure, creating an embossed image with startling clarity, color purity and depth.

The Printing Process

Like with any labor-intensive printing process, you really have to see the process in action. The images below will help walk you through the engraving process step by step.

The plate is etched with the image and aligned in the press.

White ink is added to the press.

Blotter paper is added to the press to blot the plate between each impression. The entire plate is inked and then blotted with kraft paper to leave only the etched image white.

Engraving-Printing-Process-Step5 Engraving-Printing-Process-Step7 Engraving-Printing-Process-Step2 Engraving-Printing-Process-Step8
What Chemists Do-US Bureau of Engraving and Printing-Part 1
What Chemists Do-US Bureau of Engraving and Printing-Part 1
Engraved Printing: "Heights and Depths" 1938 Chevrolet
Engraved Printing: "Heights and Depths" 1938 Chevrolet ...
Inside the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing, 1991
Inside the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing, 1991
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