Letterpress Wallpaper

Is there any way to print letterpress onto a long roll of paper? I am try to figure out how to make letterpress wallpaper without having to just make small tiles of paper to paste onto the wall individually.

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I have a Golding Map press (8x12) that would be able to print long rolls, depending how wide. It sounds like a fun project!

There are web (roll) set-ups for Kluge presses if I remember correctly.

Modernman is right, kluge made a web press, i’ve seen single presses and also saw a kluge that the web ran thru 5 kluges that were hitched together. Dick G.

Wow, I would love to see a picture of that 5 Kluge Centipede!

That press was owned by a tag company, they could print the tag on one press then number on the next one perf on one and maybe a second color on one, never saw it run but saw it sitting there, it was one long press, one motor ran the whole thing. They also had a check press that would print the same form 3 times on a sheet then advance the paper, can’t remember the name but it looked different from any letterpress press i’ve ever seen. Dick G.

I think New Era was the name of one multiple color web letterpress which printed, advanced the web, printed again, etc. I think they were used for tickets, food tub lids, etc. There were also, of course, true rotary web letterpresses which printed a web continuously from a curved plate mounted on a cylinder. For many years, newspaper presses were rotary letterpresses.

I think most wallpaper today is probably printed by flexo or gravure. Flexo and gravure ink dries very fast, so that it is essentially dry after the wallpaper is run through an oven on the press. This allows the wallpaper to be rolled up immediately after printing, which would be a problem with rubber or oil base letterpress ink.

If you print wallpaper, unless you have a very loose or random pattern, it has to be perfectly registered from image to image along the web, and from side to side. If not, the images will not line up when you put strips next to each other on the wall. And then there is the necessity to print on a waterproof material, or varnish or seal the paper, so that it won’t stain, and can be cleaned.

Also, the ink pigment has to be extremely fade resistant, which makes it expensive.

Actually, with regard to wallpaper, a lot of it is web style cylinder screenprinted from repeat patterns.
This is the flatbed style:
Here’s a machine that does industrial rotary style (the screens are those rotating cylinders- note lack of inline dryers, which results in offsetting of the first “Blue” run onto the second “red” cylinder, and so on and so forth.


If you can bear to watch it, here’s a chinese vid of a web letterpress:


If you wanted to “repeat print” via hand inked letterpress, probably the best way to do it would be to get ahold of a linoscribe or some other type of flatbed press (not a vandercook), make a ceiling hanger arrangement and hang your reel from the ceiling above the press, run the strip through and wind it around another cardboard tube- ink/print, advance, lift the reel out of the way, ink/print, advance, so on so forth.

The registration would be kinda spotty, and I wouldn’t wanna do more than one color, but if you’re decent at hand inking/using larger type, it shouldn’t be too much trouble to get it done.

Registration could be accomplished with pinholes at leading and trailing edges of the repeat pattern. After the first impression, advance the trailing holes to the leading pins, push the paper over the trailing pins, and repeat process.
I think you could do this with a rolling pin style of galley press (Challenge, Hoe, Miles Nervine) of which home-made versions have been shown here on BriarPress. While the quality of impression would not be as good as other mechanisms, you could remove the cylinder to lift the web and ink the form. And the bed is clear at both ends so nothing gets in the way of the paper roll as it advances.
On the other hand, silkscreen does seem an easier method of doing this. A simple silkscreen frame has the same freedom of paper-roll travel, the same possibility of registration, and no need to lift paper (or cylinder) for inking.

^Parallel, good point about the pin registration. That could work nicely if it were correctly and symmetrically applied.

Back in the early ‘80 I used to go to Arcata Graphics in Buffalo NY for business. They had a web letterpress that used to do a 2 color form for the magazine I worked for.
The press was made by Hoe. Extremely large press.

A Cossar newspaper press might do the trick too - a web-fed, flat-bed machine which was used by small publications - it would leave a gap though between impressions on the resulting paper which might not be wanted in wallpaper. There is, I believe, one in storage at one of New Zealand’s universities - but I don’t know if anyone has one still running anywhere. 4000-odd impressions per hour!