Our printing plant is in the final stages of work on “Carving the Acanthus Leaf” by Mary May. And, as always, our books are a creative struggle to the end.
This week we’ve been working on the “diestamp,” the debossed image on the inside of the dust jacket. We take great pains with our diestamps because they will live on longer than our dustjackets. (If you want to see my favorite diestamp, check out the one for “Calvin Cobb – Radio Woodworker!” and see if you can figure out the Easter egg.)
Diestamps are old technology. And though many printing plants can produce amazing covers with holograms, laser cutouts and unusual leather finishes, getting a diestamp with fine detail is a struggle. Almost every time I send our diestamp to the nice people at our prepress service, I am sure they smack their collective foreheads.
Their response is usually: I don’t think we can hold that level of detail without the image blurring.
To their credit, they are willing to try different approaches. Lately, we’ve been using a stamp made from magnesium and some different foils to see if we can achieve the fine lines shown in the samples above. In this case, we found the correct combination of a magnesium die and a cream foil that gave us the effect we’re looking for.
With the diestamp complete, our job is over. It’s up to the printing plant to bring all the different parts – the book block, boards, endsheets, cover cloth and dustjacket – together to complete the book. We haven’t been told when the book will ship, but history suggests it will be in within the next three weeks.
— Christopher Schwarz