|Hot Stamping: Die, Gold Foil, and Finished Product|
Happy Monday, everyone! First, a very special thanks to the lovely Faith Hale for covering the blogs from last week. They were fantastic and I hope everyone enjoyed the sneak-peeks into some of the wonderful art we were auctioning off for our 2012 Benefit. This week, we’ll be back with the usual schedule, starting with another Monday Methods: Hot Stamping!
For me, one of the finest touches on a finished hardback book is the use of hot stamping: the imprint of a title, author, symbol, and/or image, often inlaid with a color (often gold or silver) foil. These embossments are probably most associated with the old leather-bound books your grandparents had are their bookshelves—including dictionaries and encyclopedias—but are still used in most hardback books today. Once the dust jacket comes off, many hard cover books have at the very least the title of the book stamped along its spine.
|Catching Fire, the second book in The Hunger Games Trilogy (2009)|
In order to hot stamp a book, a few items are required: a die (which has the text or image you will imprint, backwards and in relief) and heat and pressure. Many hot-stamped books will use a color foil, such as gold on the book above and black at right, but others are printed without the addition of foil at all, leaving the image or text subtly pressed into the book’s cover or spine. Just as different color foil is chosen, the artist can also choose to use no foil at all.
|Hot Stamping Dies|
At the Center for Book Arts, hot stamping machines are used. These machines have a base that the book rests on (the “anvil”), slots in which to place your die (including text), and a lever to press the image into the book. When sufficiently heated, the book casing—which can be leather or cloth-covered binder’s board, among others—is placed in the machine. The lever is then pulled down, pressing the image into the casing and leaving an imprint. To make the stamp a different color, a piece of thin foil is placed on top of the book before pressing down. Instead of pressing the hot die onto just the book alone, it hits the foil as well, the heat from the machine softening it and allowing the color to melt into the imprint the die makes.
The accuracy and beautiful of a hot-stamped image depends on the quality of the die, the heat of the die, the amount of pressure applied during stamping, and—to me, the most difficult part—keeping the pressure direct and straight during pressing. Wobbling a little to the left or the right can create a sloppy or blurry image that can appeared stretched or difficult to see. Indirect pressure can also have the image or text appear deeper in one area than another, leading to an inconsistent color or style.
Despite the learning curve, hot stamping is really fun and creates a beautiful touch to both hand-made and mass-produced books. The CBA occasional gives a short workshop on using the press, so be sure to check out our website (www.centerforbookarts.org/classes) to see if one is being given!
Have any stories about hot stamping? Want to give us suggestions or comments? Comment on this post, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, visit us on Facebook (/centerforbookarts) or follow us on Twitter (@center4bookarts). Can’t wait to see you there!