October 03, 2022.

I started in cartography after doing the kind of basic graphic design work where I talked a lot with people who ran printing presses. Learned among other things what make life easier for them so I would get closer the results I wanted. It became habit. in my 22 years with Hedberg Maps, I did a LOT of press checks, where you visit the printer, see the piece on press, and talk with the press operators about what can change and how. These days, digital controls on presses are so good, and so little of my work is direct printed product, I seldom have need or cause to go to a press check. And I miss it. Even with all those new fancy automatic controls, getting the colors right on press is a craft, and it was fun to be part of that craft.

So it was a pleasure to get to spend a day and a half September 7 and 8 at Shapco Printing in Golden Valley, MN, looking at the press sheets for the Atlas of Design v.6 come off the press and matching colors both to proofs and across multiple prints of the same map on multiple pages. It’s always great to work with seriously competent professionals who know their work, and the crew at Shapco is all that. Doug, the lead press operator, knows his stuff.

The map was printing on a perfecting press, which means the sheet is printed in all four ink colors (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) on one side, and then it’s flipped in the middle of the press and prints the other side. So there are eight plates and eight ink levels to keep consistent across the plate as it prints.

By the time I left on September 8, they were folding the first sheets into signatures. The signatures will be sent to Midwest Editions, the bindery, to be stitched in to the book case. Stitching, as opposed the “perfect binding” you see in most paperbacks and some hardcovers, besides being more durable, allows the book to lay relatively flat. We’re looking forward to seeing the finished products in October!

Mike (our sales rep), Doug and Troy (press operators) and me Mike (our sales rep), Doug and Troy (press operators) and me.

Doug checking ink density with the color bars at the bottom of the sheet Doug checking ink density with the color bars at the bottom of the sheet.

The perfecting press The perfecting press.

Ready to fold into signatures Ready to fold into signatures.