Class of 2016: Jostens Takes Yearbooks to a New Level

by Brittany Willes, editor, PostPress
The Francis Parker Upper School, San Diego, California, 2016 yearbook.

Every year, high schools across the country collaborate with Jostens’ art departments as they set out to create a yearbook cover. For Francis Parker Upper School, San Diego, California, this was achieved with a deceptively simple design that leaves a big impression. “This particular cover was the culmination of the yearbook staff at Francis Parker and Jostens’ art department in California,” stated Tim Beymer, cover plant manager for Jostens, Inc. Combining old and new application styles, the 2016 yearbook boasts burnishing and metalay to create a truly unique design that practically jumps off of the cover.

For this hardback cover, Eska .145 board was used for the front and back lid as it would allow the deep embossing needed to make the burnished design pop out from the cover. The cover was casemade on a Kolbus 270 and wrapped in a special material from Ecological Fibers called mirage pescera. “Every hardbound cover goes through our casemaking department,” remarked Beymer. “The front and back lid covers and the cover materials are married together, meaning the material wraps around the board to form what physically looks like a book cover.” At the same time the cover was being wrapped around the board and hot glue applied, a liner was placed into the cover to support the middle of the book block.

The most difficult part in creating the cover was applying the golden metalay used to depict the image of a knight charging across the front and back lids. “There’s a process in metalay called pick-out,” Beymer explained. “When you have a lot of sharp edges and corners to a die, it has to be peeled off by hand, and that was the case with this cover. While there weren’t a lot of sharp edges in the design itself, we still had to be careful in pulling off the metalay so that it didn’t pull the cover material up with it or leave any gaps.”

Naturally, the care and attention required in peeling the die means applying metalay is a fairly time consuming processes. While not necessarily a difficult production, it was certainly one which required a slower process than normal. Furthermore, the cover is fairly unique in that it makes use of two passes of metalay as the school’s lancer mascot is seen jumping from the back lid to the front. “It’s not uncommon to see a single pass on the front lid, but rarely do you see it on the back as well,” said Beymer. “It’s a very unique feature to have the metalay break across the backbone like it does. From a looks perspective, it gives the cover a whole other dimension.” The metalay was supplied by General Roll Leaf, and the dies were supplied by Western Engraving, Jostens’ embossing die provider. The metalay was applied using a Sheriden Emboss Press.

In addition to the metalay, the entire cover also was burnished using a burnished die from Owosso. “Burnished dies,” stated Beymer, “are foil dies that are Teflon coated.” Instead of the die being copper in color, it is copper with a black coating on the top. Increased heat on the press enables the branded look on the cover, and the Teflon coating ensures the dies won’t stick to the material. This also is why the cover material itself is so important. “You can’t do the burnish on just any kind of material,” he said. “Something in the material receives the dies in a way that will burn into the cover. If you do it with another cover, you’ll just scorch it or it won’t look like a brand.” The Francis Parker cover features a prominent brand on the front lid as a beautiful contrast to the metalay knight, as well as further burnishing along the spine and the back cover.

“The burnish is pretty new to us,” Beymer stated. “We’ve completed almost two full seasons offering it. We really got into it for the first time because of a book cover that we did for a well-known country singer. He was going on tour and wanted to use leather from his tour bus as the cover material and a likeness of a brand from his ranch.” To achieve the desired look, Jostens partnered with its material and die vendors to come up with a cover material that had both the look of leather and could hold up to the branding process. “That’s really what got us thinking about how we could offer burnish as an actual application on a cover,” said Beymer.

While burnishing hasn’t been around as long as applications such as metalay, many schools are taking advantage of the opportunity it provides. From one year to the next, burnishing has grown by nearly 80 percent, according to Beymer. “We’ve had schools use foil stamp and burnish, emboss and burnish, silkscreen and burnish and more. They’re mixing the older styles of applications with the new and coming up with some very creative, very cool covers.”