Of all the kinds of printing available, split fountain is without a doubt my favourite.
If you’re not familiar with the process… Typically when printing, a single colour only is used in each ink fountain (pictures to follow), and while gradients can be printed using modern process colour printing – the standard mix of cyan, magenta, yellow and black found in your average home/office printer – printing methods like letterpress are typically limited to solid colours as a wooden or metal block stamps a colour into the paper stock, a method which doesn’t allow blending of multiple densities and layers of ink.
By blending inks directly in the fountain, split fountain printing allows for some wonderful effects in letterpress and screen printing which otherwise wouldn’t be achievable, combining blends of colour with the more exotic stocks and debossing effects that aren’t available with standard offset printing.
The best of both worlds. As promised, some pictures of the process…
Two inks being added to the ink fountain. Split fountain printing isn’t limited to two colours either, it can be three, four, or however many you can fit in the fountain.
Ink rollers combining the two colours from the fountain.
The end results. (Plus a second press with black.)
On to some great examples of split fountain:
Rollers and printing plates for two colour split.
Ink preparation on the screen for, you guessed it, screen printing.
Running the squeegee across the screen, blending the ink.
The finished result of screen printing.
A four colour split – green, blue, red and orange inks used.
Split fountain printing can be a little on the expensive side as far as printing costs go, but you can’t argue with the results. It makes for some great looking prints.