Tell It All, Brothers and Sisters
STARTING A PRINTING WORKSHOP
Leaflets, posters, newsletters, pamphlets and other printed matter are important to any revolution. A printing workshop is a definite need in all communities, regardless of size. It can vary from a garage with a mimeograph machine to a mammoth operation complete with printing presses and fancy photo equipment. With less than a hundred dollars and some space, you can begin this vital service. It’ll take a while before you get into printing greenbacks, phony identification papers and credit cards like the big boys, but to walk a mile you must start with one step as Gutenberg once said.
The standard size for paper is 8½” x 11″. It comes 500 sheets to a “ream” and 10 reams to a case. You want a 16-20 bond weight sheet. The higher weights are better if you are printing on both sides. You can purchase what are termed “odd lots” from most paper companies. This means that the colors will be assorted and some sheets will be frayed at the edges or wrinkled. Odd lots can be purchased at great discounts. Some places sell paper this way for 10% of the original price and for leaflets, different colors help. Check this out with paper suppliers in your area.
Inks come in pastes and liquids and are available in stationary stores and office supply houses. Each machine requires its own type ink, so learn what works best with the one you have. Colored ink is slightly more expensive but available for most machines.
Each machine uses a particular size and style stencil. If you get stuck with the wrong kind and can’t get out to correct the mistake, you can punch extra holes in the top, trim them with a scissors if they are too big or add strips of tape to the sides if too narrow.
Be sure and use only the area that will fit on the paper you are using. Most stencils can be used for paper larger than standard size. Stencils will “cut” a lot neater if an electric typewriter is used. If you only have access to e manual machine, remove the ribbon so the keys will strike the stencil directly. A plastic sheet, provided by the supplier, can be inserted between the stencil and its backing to provide sharper cuts by the keys. If you hold the stencil up to a light, you should be able to clearly see the typing. If you can’t, you’ll have to apply more pressure.
Sketches can be done with a ball point pen or special stylus directly on the stencil. If you’re really rushed, or there isn’t that much info to get on the leaflet, you can hand-print the text using these instruments. Take care not to tear the stencil.
The price of a new mimeograph runs from $200 to $1200, depending on how sophisticated a machine you need and can afford. A.B. Dick and Gestetner are the most popular brands. Many supply houses have used machines for sale. Check the classified section for bargains. See if any large corporations are moving, going out of business or have just had a fire. Chances are they’ll be unloading printing equipment at cheap prices. Campaign offices of losing candidates often have mimeos to unload in November. Many supply houses have renting and leasing terms that you might be interested in considering. Have an idea of the work load and type of printing you’ll be handling before you go hunting. Talk to someone who knows what they’re doing before you lay down a lot of cash on a machine.
We prefer duplicators to mimeos even though the price is a little higher. They work faster, are easier to operate and print clearer leaflets. The Gestener Silk Screen Duplicator is the best bet. It turns out stuff almost as good as offset printing. You can do 10 thousand sheets an hour in an assortment of colors.
If you use electronic stencils you can do solid lettering, line drawings, cartoons and black and white pictures with good contrast. To make an electronic stencil, you map out on a sheet of paper everything you want printed. This is a photo process, so make sure only what you want printed shows up on the sheet. You can use a light blue pencil for guide lines as it won’t photograph, but be neat anyway. Printing shops will cut a stencil on a special machine for about $3.00.
The Gestefax Electronic Stencil Cutter can be leased or rented in the same way as the duplicator. If you are doing a lot of printing for a number of different groups, this machine will eliminate plenty of hassle. The stencils cost about 20¢ each and take about fifteen minutes to make.
If you have an electronic stencil cutter, duplicator, electric typewriter and a cheap source of paper, you can do almost any printing job imaginable. Have a dual rate system: one for community groups and another for regular business orders. You can use the profits to go towards the purchasing of more equipment and to build toward the day when you can get your own offset press.
Posters banners and shirts that are unbelievable can be printed by this exciting method. The process is easy to learn and teach. You’ll need a fairly large area to work in since the posters have to be hung up to dry. Pick up any inexpensive paperback book on silk screening. The equipment costs less than $50.00 to begin. Once you get good at it, you can print complicated designs in a number of different colors, including portraits.