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From Blueprints to Banners: Del Mar Blue
April 2009 | Virginia Lawrence, Caminito del Rocio


1. The Jimmy Durante Bridge where it crosses the San Dieguito River; 2. The Public Works department; 3. Del Mar Blue; 4. The fire station. 5. The start of the Boardwalk; 6. The Boardwalk.
Map: © Google.



The Fairgrounds in 1953 showing the plot of land next to Jimmy Durante and the San Dieguito River where Del Mar Blue is situated today.  Courtesy Del Mar Historical Society.



The smell of ink fills the back rooms ... pervasive, unmistakable.  “Still,” Dave Preston assures me, “not one of Del Mar Blue’s 18 employees ever thinks about it. In fact, until we stopped reproducing blueprints by the traditional method, the dominant odor was of ammonia. And even that was forgettable.”  

Del Mar Blue’s back space is broken up according to what is printed in each room: the one on the left is for large color posters and banners; the central area is for blueprints; off to the right we find the machine that prints the Sandpiper.

Located just off Jimmy Durante beside the San Dieguito River, today’s building was originally occupied by a chemical plant. In 1978 Lee Brothers opened Del Mar Blue on the premises with just 2 employees. Unfortunately, over the next 3 years the business suffered major fire and water damage: the blueprint machine burned in 1979, and 2 years later the business had to close temporarily after the 1981 Flood. Since then, though blueprints remain its core business, the company has regularly upgraded its equipment and expanded its operations. The current owner is Mike Kraus, who hired on in 1990 and then, with his wife Kelli, bought the business in 2005.

The Sandpiper in your hands was printed at Del Mar Blue. On about the 25th of each month the layout, done in Adobe InDesign, is delivered to Dave Preston (Offset Print Manager) who makes sure the file is complete. It then lands on Cephus Epling’s desk (Graphic Design and Prepress) for “pre-flighting.” If everything is in order, he shoots it off to a state-of-the-art machine that creates a negative, which is then masked and burned onto a flexible metal plate. At this point the Sandpiper is ready for Vince DiBernardo (Pressman) who prints the paper in offset, a technique where the ink on the plate is transferred onto a rubber blanket and then onto the paper. The next step is to fold the six pages.

Finally, Lucie Walther, working for the Sandpiper, takes over, collating the pages, inserting the inserts, and delivering the 2,500+ papers to the post office. Your copy should appear in your mailbox on or about the first.

In 2008 Del Mar Blue celebrated its 30th anniversary. According to Mike Kraus, the company’s main focus today is on improving its image, keeping up with today’s cutting-edge technology, and maintaining its characteristic sense of family.


Located on the banks of the San Dieguito River.


Del Mar Blue today


Click here for more photos.



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