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Geist is printed here in Vancouver at Hemlock Printers.
I got to take a tour. It was very cool.
This cool old letterpress is called "Old Number One" because it's the first one Mr. Dick Kouwenhoven used when he started the company back in 1968. It was built in 1905.
I kept falling behind the group because I couldn't believe I was allowed to walk up on the machines. This little video shows the big lithographic printing press. It can print up to 10 colours and prints on both sides of a sheet at once. Most colours are made up of cyan, magenta, yellow, black (CMYK, yay!), but then other rollers could have specially mixed colours a client has ordered.
Here is a folding machine. This pamphlet comes along the conveyor belt, is punched down between two plates and comes out below folded and gets put in a pile at the end. Tada! There were similar machines to do stapling and cutting.
I really liked this computer the size of a fridge. It's where all the client files are stored. Of course, they have backups on an offsite server.
A cool thing about Hemlock is that it has won the Most Progressive Printer in Canada Award (+50 employees) every year for the past four years. I'm not surprised after this tour. They even have an area for staff to bring in old electronics and cds and phones and Hemlock will take them down to the recycling depot.
It's not easy being green. Apparently, soy-based inks are less stable and spread more than their petroleum-based cousins. Printing well on recycled paper is tricky, too. (Geist has been printing on ecofriendly paper with vegetable-based inks since issue 72.)
According to Keith, one of our tour guides, recycled stock is more sensitive to atmospheric conditions and the results can be unpredictable. So, if it's raining, for instance, your colours may come out wrong because the inks absorbed into the paper a different amount than they did on that bright, sunny day last week.
The more I learn about this industry, the more I'm impressed by the folk who make it all happen. It's especially great to see a company like Hemlock offering high-quality, environmentally friendlier alternatives.
I liked this sign. I may get one for myself.
Photography by Becky McEachern.