Paper Jam

We released our own production designer, Kimi Badger, into the wild woods of Appleton, Wisconsin to attend a workshop on printing and paper production at the headquarters of Appleton Coated. Guests for these workshops are housed in Appleton’s offsite farmhouse, which includes a chef-occupied bed and breakfast for special guests like Ms. Badger.


Kimi arrived at the hybrid paper mill energized to learn more about the process of commercial paper production and printing. “I work with printers and deal with printing issues every day,” Kimi said. “But to have the chance to interact with pressmen onsite, to learn firsthand how ink interacts with paper — that was exciting.” During her tour, she received an insider’s look at the inner workings of Appleton Coated’s large operation, learning valuable details about the actual production of paper: from blocks of dry pulp to a finished, printable sheet. Through a pair of protective headphones, Kimi also experienced the “gentle hum” of the enormous mill. This fascinating opportunity with gracious and welcoming hosts got Kimi pumped about the process.

Appleton Coated, which operates an onsite commercial press used for testing and producing their own promotional materials, offers a unique combination of equipment perfect for production education (all that AND a B&B!). They were able to go into great detail and give live demonstrations about paper performance as it relates to printing equipment, a combination of expertise not found at most paper mills. That gave Kimi insight into the ways different sheets perform during the process of printing, giving her added knowledge when she has to plan or investigate printing, folding or die-cutting issues for clients of McGuffin. On day two, Kimi attended a seminar covering the procedure behind making and coating paper, as well as maintaining quality assurance between production and printer.

Kimi and her fellow participants then took to the front lines and got an on-press printing experience, during which they set up and ran a print job with their own, newly trained hands. Kimi conducted everything from loading inks and attaching plates to calibrating the colors during the run. The end product was a perfect sheet of paper with images adjusted to her exact specifications.

The hands-on experience has improved Kimi’s ability to communicate with printers and designers in a more substantive and accurate way.

“Lots of designers don’t know about this stuff, or deal with it that often…. I feel so much more effective when I can talk with printers and know exactly what they’re talking about when discussing adjustments and setup.”

Kimi’s diploma (you’re damn right she got a diploma) is a reminder that McGuffin bridges the gap between creative ideas and physical production, assuring clients that they are working with a creative agency with experience in any and all aspects of creating quality pieces. As if the knowledge gained wasn’t enough, Kimi also got a chef-prepared meal, all courtesy of Appleton Coated.

Photos are courtesy of Appleton Coated