Dip Dye + Letterpress

Hello! Looking for some advice…

I have never done dip dye before but a client would like to dip dye their invitations after I letterpress print. Anyone out there have any experience with this? I was thinking I would probably need to press after the paper had been dip dyed but unsure. Also, can you dip dye Crane’s Lettra?

Any advice or hints would be much appreciated!

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I am not familiar with the term “dip dye” but I assume that it means dipping the sheet into a liquid solution to dye the color of the sheet. That being said, I also assume that this process is going to dampen the fibers in the sheet, which will almost always cause a degree of rippling and curling of the sheet. The sheets will then have to be pressed flat (while still damp) and allowed to dry over time to keep the sheets flat.

In my experience with dampened stock, this is a slow and laborious process (but well worth it in some cases to get great results prior to printing on heavy uncoated stock).

I also slip-sheet (wet-dry-wet-dry-etc.) when I make my piles of stock to be pressed. I usually leave everything in the binding presses for at least a day or two to dry because it will take quite a while for the moisture to migrate out of the stack. This too is dependent on the temperature and humidity in the shop. I have several binding presses because there is only so much height to each stack that I can put into them.

If you don’t have binding presses and decide to build a stack with weights on top, keep in mind that you will need a tremendous amount of weight/pressure on top of your stack to ensure that your stock will come out flat when dry. Also make sure you have a flat surface on the top and bottom of your pile(s).

Hope this helps, but it is all conjecture on my part because I am only guessing at what is involved in the “dip dye” process.


Thank you Rick! What you are talking about is exactly what I was needing an answer for. Would you dye the paper before printing?

I’ve never used Crane’s Lettra. If you are trying to get a deep impression into the stock, then the ideal time to print would be while the stock is still damp (cool to the touch - not wet). The impression would be wonderful.

Then follow the steps of slip sheeting (dry, wet, dry, wet, dry, wet, dry, etc). You have to make sure that there is A LOT of pressure on your stack to ensure it will be absolutely flat after it has dried under all of the pressure.

It probably wouldn’t hurt if you just tried this on something first to get a feel for it and make sure it works for you.


Anna Brown OJP, if you search on the internet for
orizomagami or itajime you’ll find some good info.
best james

i’ve dyed lettra with tea before and it works well. i dyed before printing and printed while the paper was still damp. it sounds like dip dying would just be a portion of the paper dyed though right? you may have to allow to drip dry and then attempt to flatten so the liquid doesn’t run or pool where you don’t want it to…

A thought — I just helped by wife dye some rice with food colouring for her kindergarten class. Because rice + enough water to distribute the colour = a sticky soggy mess, we used 99% isopropyl alcohol + food colouring (the final product is sealed inside plastic bottles). The alcohol helps distribute the colour, but because it is most certainly not water, the rice technically doesn’t get “wet”.

Maybe I’m venturing into gummy-bear roller territory…