View Full Version : Hi all, I'm new, and I have a question

07-15-2005, 02:52 PM
Hi Everybody,

Nice forum, I've spent some time reading through some of the stuff on here and it seems like a great resource.

I'm a printmaker who gave up for a few years after college due to lack of press, and have recently been trying to get back into printing. I've been doing some embroidery hoop screenprinting and some gocco stuff as well as a very little hand lino printing and a very odd method of monoprinting I'm not totally happy with. I mainly like relief printing and collagraphs (intaglio collagraphs, not relief printed) and am really wanting a press. I was wondering if anyone had experience with the following presses:

Whelan press

The Polymetaal relief press (or using any similar screw press for relief printing)

The bottle jack press:
http://www.angelfire.com/yt/modot/printmaking.html (scroll down)

Any of the Vandercook presses:

a small table top letterpress, a la the Kelsey or C&P

The homemade press (1)

And lastly a Speedball model b press (scroll down, it's not the first one)

I'm not looking for ranking so much as looking to hear what people have to say. I've used the little junky italian "intaglio" press that Jerry's Artarama has but the noise to signal ratio on it is much much too high on it. Of course I'd love to hear if anyone can get consistent results on it.

Lastly I'm interested in learning anything I can about this ebay item. I'm trying to find the citation information for a website I hope to eventually make, so any help would be greatly appreciated:

Many thanks. If you want to see some art I did for an abstract comics collection check out here:



Ari Sutton
07-15-2005, 06:01 PM

My college uses Whelan presses. They are awesome. I wish I could afford one. I have only the speedball wringer type of press and it is good enough for small relief prints, even my woodcuts, which are on 3/4 inch pine, and intaglio prints. It cost me about $400. I'm hoping to upgrade someday so I can work larger. I do recommend the Whelan presses quite a lot. Hope this helps.

Welcome to the forum


07-16-2005, 01:53 AM
welcome to the forum . I can't help much on advice about presses but I'm sure there is someone here that will be able to help.

07-16-2005, 02:50 PM

I hope you don't mind, I have a few specific questions you may be able to answer about the Whelan:

Do you know if the Whelan press users are using traditional felts or rubber blankets? If rubber, are they happy with it?

Are they using it for both intaglio and relief prints? if they have standard pressure adjustments, are they easily set?

Actually that's about it. The appealing thing about the Whelan (as opposed to the Takach, which is the best press I've ever used) is that it doesn't need nearly as much space, nice for me since I like to work huge. I don't have much room for a studio at this time...


07-16-2005, 02:50 PM
I have a small 13x24" Griffin press that I love. It is quite spendy though, $3,000 with shipping. There are much more reasonable presses on the market that do a good job.

07-16-2005, 08:25 PM
First of all, welcome to the forum- It is a GREAT source of information!

I went through the process of choosing a press a while back, and did a LOT of research. Lets See if I Can help.

First of all- How much $$ are you willing to part with? There are a LOT of nice presses out there, but the vast majority are going to set you back a few grand... The Whelans are nice, but costly. The same goes for other presses of this 'caliber'... Faust, Polymetal, conrad, etc, all are well made, and you will probably be happy with them. They just cost a lot. Keep in mind, they will last longer than you- and hold their value well.

The 'bottle jack' press was one that I looked in to, but decided that it was a bit too limiting, as I wanted to eventually get in to inaglio. hey do have potential, and are inexpensive.

The letterpress option is viable, I know a number of artists that use them for linocuts, but I scratched that after trying it out- It was a bit of a pain. Big letter presses are also HEAVY buggers, and not exactly cheap, even when you come across them on E-Bay (they are there all the time). I was worried that my house might sink!

The 'homeade' press that you posted is also an option, IF you are experienced in metalworking and have access to the tools. Be forewarned, there is machining involved, and if you can't do it yourself, you'll have to pay to have it done. It isn't excessivly expensive, but not cheap. The fine art center near me built a press like this, it is nice and big, 36" wide bed, and cost a fraction of what a ready made one would have. If you have the skills, go for it.

As for the plans posted on E_Bay, They might work, too- Looks like a pretty simple setup, though. I think that I have seen similar plans posted on this site before.

And, the speedball press- I have one of those, it is OK, but VERY limited in size- You will be limited to about 4 x 6 for the image if you want a border at all. It DOES come in handy for cards, though. I think I might be selling mine, if I do, I will be putting it on E-Bay. I don't use it now that I have my own press.

I have heard mixed reviews about the 'italian' presses that jerrys sells. LilKitten, a memeber that has kind of gone AWOL in the past few months, has one, and seems to get good results out of it, but I know that it was frustrating for her at first.

My opinion, after doing a LOT of research on the subject, is that the BEST deals going are Dick Blick presses (http://www.dickblick.com/categories/etchingpresses/). I have a 906 model II, and have been VERY happy with it. There are a number of others in here that have blick presses as well. My advice is to get the LARGEST that you can afford- I almost went with the smaller econo-etch, but was GLAD that I didn't, I am already 'outgrowing' this one!

Keep in mind, however, that when you spend less on a press, you have trade offs... The biggest one is going to be in the gearing of the press. The Econo-Etch, and many of the other less expensive presses, are direct drive, which takes more effort than a geared press. Not a huge issue on small work, but it becomes more important on larger prints, especially intaglio. The 906 is geared, but the reduction ratio isn't that great- Cranking a print through can be a chore. I have enough physical strength that this is not a problem for me, but some may need a better gearing ratio to be comfortable and sucsessful!

Phew. I am well on my way to writing a book here! I hope this helps out with some of your questions...


Diane Cutter
07-16-2005, 09:51 PM
Hi and welcome, Benfish...

I've got two Dick Blick presses (big and little) and like them a lot. They do what I need for relief, etchings, monotypes...

You might want to do a search for 'printing presses' as we have had a couple of threads over the last year or so on the pros and cons of various presses. They all seem to have their fans. The only one I don't think anyone has mentioned in any threads are the letterpress presses...


Ari Sutton
07-16-2005, 11:30 PM

I hope you don't mind, I have a few specific questions you may be able to answer about the Whelan:

Do you know if the Whelan press users are using traditional felts or rubber blankets? If rubber, are they happy with it?

Are they using it for both intaglio and relief prints? if they have standard pressure adjustments, are they easily set


I don't mind at all. At school we used a combination of felt blankets and rubber blankets. They work very well with very little slipping. There are two pressure gauges, on at each end of the press so that you will alway have even pressure, if that is what you desire. I suppose one could create some interesting effects by adjust each one to a different setting. We use them for both intaglio and relief prints quite successfully. For the woodblock prints and lino prints, my professor made some different thickness templates so that the press isn't damaged by uneven pressure when printing smaller pieces. It has a wide, scaled bed for easy registration. It can print fairly large images easily.

I hope this helps.