The Big Picture - April 2013 - (Page 10)

upfront upfront Life, Liberty, and The Pursuit of Print Ryan Thelen had suffered enough. A history teacher in Cincinnati, he was on a quest to be free of the tyranny of having to resort to the common 12 x 18-inch souvenir copies of the US Declaration of Independence to show his students. He wanted a full-size, calfskin reproduction to exhibit in his classroom, to better reflect reality. “Unfortunately, most people’s perception of the Declaration and other ‘founding documents,’ including the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights, is that of the small paper reproductions,” says Thelen. “Many aren’t even aware that the actual documents consisted of six very large parchment skins.” Thelen’s quest to produce correctly sized copies of these historical documents onto parchment has taken years. But he’s finally been able to turn his aspirations into wide-format output. He began with 35mm transparencies of the original documents secured from the National Archives and Records Administration. After having these images printed out full-size with increased contrast, he brought in calligrapher Holly Monroe to hand-trace the lettering. Monroe put in more than 200 hours of calligraphy to bring the historical scripts up to snuff. Thelen then turned to ARC Document Solutions in Cincinnati to have Monroe’s work scanned in at 600dpi. Once passed back to Monroe, the files were loaded into Photoshop; with the aid of a Wacom Cintiq HD pen display, she “proofed and adjusted every letter to correct for calligraphic mistakes and for accuracy,” says Thelen. 10 THE BIG PICTURE APRIL 2013 Meanwhile, his search for a print provider who could accommodate the output portion of his project had led to a lot of dead ends. “I became frustrated calling around and trying to explain the project to print shops, only to find out that they couldn’t do it. Size was a factor but so was resolution.” Eventually, he found a print provider in his own back yard: Cincinnati-based Harlan Graphics, which was able to accommodate his requirements, utilizing its Fujifi lm Acuity Advance HS-X2 printer. The output process began with small printouts, says Thelen, because the parchment is so expensive (he uses only manuscript-grade calfskin vellum). After several proofs and adjustments, they were ready for full-sized prints, which average about 26 x 29-inches each. “However, we ran into problems trying to keep the large sheet flat – the calfskin parchment reacts to moisture and heat, and is very stubborn,” he says. Harlan had to resort to a strong adhesive to attach the parchment to a backing sheet to keep it from ‘bubbling up’ and causing head strikes. The adhesive, however, has its consequences: When the backing’s removed, a residue remains; so Thelen powders the back of the skin with plaster of Paris, then uses an orbit sander to remove the adhesive and smooth it. Along the way, Thelen has decided to also have reproductions made of the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights. He now sells all three documents through his company, Patrigraphica (

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Big Picture - April 2013

The Big Picture - April 2013
Wide Angle
Inside Output
Business + Management
Becoming a Pace Setter
RIP Tide
Success with Dynamic Signage

The Big Picture - April 2013