Embossing on Proof Press

I would like to know if anyone has any experience trying to emboss on a Proof Press- if it’s actually possible and if so, what the recommended process & materials would be. I’ve seen some samples of the ‘reverse emboss” with letterpress which seems to resemble emboss but I can quite understand how this is done. I am interested in trying new techniques and any suggestions and advise would be much appreciated!

p.s. I am working on an Asbern ADR-1 Proof Press which is similar to a Vandercook.

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You mean embossing using a die and counter-die? I think you’d have a hard time putting either on the cylinder of an Asbern.

As for getting an impression into the paper, that can be done.

The question is not that daft, as I just finished an embossing job where the die was a magnesium one and the counter-die a nylon one. Although I did the job on a platen press, I reckon that the counter die could easily be fixed to the cylinder. Fix the die on the bed, with the counter die fixed positioned on it and a drop of glue or double-sided tape facing towards the cylinder, roll the cylinder over it and the counter die will be correctly positioned… Worth trying I think.

double entry, sorry…

Thomas, wouldn’t stretching a nylon die onto a cylinder to some degree distort the resulting embossing? Though, I haven’t tried it myself so for all I know it might work nicely, weirder things have happened, surely.

If it was me and I was new to printing, looking to try some new techniques, I think I’d try to find someone with a platen press who would let me try embossing on their press.

Thomas -

A flat counter die on a curved surface????


Hmm, not very familiar with Vandercooks, but wouldn’t some form of makeshift frisket, with a counter-die taped on work for this? Granted, you’ll have to lay your sheet by hand (and cover it with your counter frisket) rather then feeding from the cylinder.

image: vander.png


Granted, the circumference of a Heidelberg cylinder is greater by far than a proof press, but I have embossed many a thousand sheets. Brass dies are more forgiving and the depth should not be more than .020”. As to counter dies most engravers nowadays provide .015” counters (plus the image depth) which are flexible enough to wrap around the cylinder using double faced tape. You should reduce the packing accordingly.You may also hand cut counters using thick soft board stuck directly to the cylinder. Pull a few impressions directly on to the slightly dampened board then trim right to the image. Again this is all based on Heidelberg cylinder and may not translate.

One flat die, in magnesium or aluminium, mounted on a base on the bed of the press; the counter-die in nylon around the cylinder.
I will try this on my own press, take some photos and post them, as this intrigues me too!

Its do able , the results are fair to middling whereas a flat platen is better . I used to use chewing gum to hold it in place roll the bed into the cylinder with the detectors knocked down and after the initial roll clean the chewing gum off ,messy but it positions brilliantly because the gum holds the counter off the die surface so it centralises itself as you need.
Having said that i have also spent two hours looking for one that decided not to stick !!

Many thanks for all of the suggestions and ideas everyone. It does sound like a bit of a stretch to emboss on a proof press! I might try to find someone with a platen for trying it out first.

Thomas Gravemaker, if you do experiment on your press, would be really curious to know how you make out!

Thanks again!