Swallowtail perfects handiwork for festive calendar

By Max Goldbart, Monday 12 December 2016

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Renowned illustrator Angela Harding is famed for her decorative prints, which have been used on tea towels, satchels, and, come Christmas time, are perfect for those all-important advent calendars.

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Having printed her 2015 advent calendar with aplomb, it seemed obvious to Harding’s publisher Art Angels that Norwich-based Swallowtail Print should be the one to repeat the job in 2016, and the end result was even more impressive.

What did the job entail? 

The 395x305mm winter woodland- themed advent calendar had its first 5,000-job print run in an approximate eight-week period between July and August, before high demand from resellers anticipating strong sales in the run-up to Christmas meant a second run of 5,000 was commissioned almost immediately after. The calendar retails for £9.95.

“Normally we print them once and that’s it for a couple of years so this one must have sold incredibly well,” said Swallowtail business development director Bruce Carpenter.

How was it produced?

The calendar was printed on 450gsm Ensocoat SBS board as a flat sheet on Swallowtail’s B1 Heidelberg Speedmaster XL 105 with coater. It was then cut and creased using a Heidelberg KSD Cylinder. A cutting forme was made of the shape of the calendar and folded in half so the back of the side ‘wings’ matched the front before each one was hand-glued and packed. 

Carpenter said that while printing took around 15 minutes and the cutting and creasing took about a day, hand-glueing required four weeks for each run of 5,000. 

55-staff Swallowtail runs a second B2 Heidelberg machine along with offering inline laminating, folding and perfect binding services.

What challenges were overcome?

Carpenter said the team initially struggled to make the calendar stand up. In order to get this right, Carpenter mocked up a prototype, selecting a board to see if it was strong enough and completing a finished dummy to show to Art Angels before the print run.

What was the feedback?

Art Angels managing director Chris Cordingly said: “We have been using Swallowtail for 25 years and we are still with them. They are probably the best in the area and are very good printers; we use them for pretty much everything.”

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