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How are we so lucky to work with so many talented clients? Once again, these beautiful wedding invitations were designed by the client and they did an amazing job. They wanted them printed on a brown chipboard to go with the old-world feel of the design. The results—as you can see—were marvelous. Chipboard is a much denser paper than the Crane Lettra that is our standard, so the impression was not as deep as usual, although we added as much packing as we could whilst being careful to preserve the fidelity of the photopolymer plate. These invites are often favorites of people who come in looking for wedding invitations because of the unique paper, character-filled typeface (really, no pun intended), and strong imagery.
The groom, Arthur, has done everything from farming in Ireland to fixing up a hundred-year-old wooden sailboat named the Atlantis to sail the worlds’ oceans—a true modern day adventurer. We are glad that he was able to find us in his travels so we were able to print these beautiful wedding invitations! You can see more about our clients adventures and how he met his wife on his blog, the CAPTAIN’S LOG.
“Thou shalt not fail to kern display type. Limited-edition signed letterpress posters expounding the 34 most horrific Typographic Sins known to humankind. Perhaps you need to go see a typographic priest. By Jim Godfrey.”
When I printed this poster, traffic to my site more than doubled. I know that typography is a controversial subject, but who knew it would drive traffic like it did? The poster made it to the FPO: For Print Only website where it was exposed to the full scrutiny of a bunch of typographic nerds. The ensuing conversation was quite opinionated, as would be expected. Anytime someone comes out with a definitive stance on a much debated topic discussed by people who take the topic very seriously, you had better hunker down and prepare for the barrage of flack coming from every side. That’s the fun of it, and if anyone can stand his own with these typographic geeks, I would say that Jim Godfrey surely can.
Jim designed the 34 Typographic Sins Letterpress Posters as a means of educating his students on some of the more common mistakes made when designing with type. If you are curious as to the exact content of the poster, you can download a PDF of the poster on Jims’s colleague, Ray Elder’s website. Think of this as typographic missionary work.
These posters presented quite a challenge due to the size mainly. The photopolymer plate extended outside of my print area and took up every last millimeter of vertical printing space that the old Vandercook Sp-15 had in her. The first problem encountered was running our of ink by the end of the impression. There were mixed areas of heavy inking and small text, so you can’t just add more ink to fix the problem because you will lose a crisp edge on your small text. So, we ended up flipping the plate around and double inking the heavy inking areas only.
The next problem came when we were registering the second color. With such a large printing area, the paper actually stretches by the time it gets to the end of the impression. Because one of the plates had lots of printing area and the other had only a few small printing areas, the paper stretched different amounts for each color. This meant that the registration was almost impossible. In the end we ended up modifying the plate to make it work and we ended up with a beautiful product. I am provided with abundant reminders of my saying that letterpress printing is just problem solving.
Any opinions on just how naughty these sins are?
One of the limitations of letterpress is that you can only print one color at a time. This means that for each new color, the press must be cleaned, another plate made, the plate for the additional color registered, and all of the sheets of paper hand-pressed all over again. This process must be repeated for each new color. So, for a 3-color wedding invitation with 300 pieces, you actually end up hand-pressing 900 times plus all the additional makeready. This is why you rarely find an invitation with more than 3-colors. Giclée printing is the beautiful answer to this problem.
Giclée printing has traditionally been used for fine art reproductions, so it lends itself well to high-end wedding invitations. Unlike most printing methods where you are using only four colors, giclée printing has at least six inks. The inks are pigment inks which means that they can be stable for up to 25 years on the printed piece. The colors are amazingly rich because of the pigments in the ink. Giclée printing also allows for the use of varied paper including handmade papers and Crane’s Lettra. All of these things combine to make a perfect fit for letterpress.
The hardest part of this job was making sure that everything would register between the two printing methods. If the giclée printer scaled the image down or up at all, then the registration could be totally off when we tried to print with the letterpress. Luckily, due to some forethought and careful printing, our fears of nightmarish registration problems were totally unrealized. Phew.
Unlike most of our invitations, the talented Artist/Designer was the bride herself. She came to us with a great design and the idea of having the invitations 4-color offset printed before being letterpressed. At first, we were having a hard time finding an offset printer who could work well with letterpress and meet our high standards. Then we remembered hearing something about giclée printing while working with a local non-profit art gallery. After a bit of research, we found the best giclée printer around and got to work. The art reproduced marvelously and the colors were rich and vibrant, showing off the beautiful artwork.
We received a copy of the invitation in the mail and were amazed by the beautiful envelope treatment. A brown craft paper envelope was used and then addressed with beautiful hand lettering in white paint. We will certainly be adding her to our list of preferred designers!
The Artist/Designer’s blog can be found here:
Recently we got to do some special letterpress business cards for the marvelous Portland General Store. We have been fans of PGS for quite some time and have been using their products for all of our manly grooming needs, so doing work for them was like eating a delicious pie or something… They have gentlemanly scents with names like Whiskey and Tobacco, and you can get these rugged scents in old-fashioned shaving soap, cologne, aftershave splash, and more. PGS is known for their simple and well designed labels and packaging that have an old Victorian medicine cabinet flair and they were looking to continue this feel in their business cards. Most of their labels have an aged look that we were trying to achieve on the business cards as well. This aged patina ended up being the hardest, yet most fun, part of the project.
We knew right off that Cranes Lettra 110lb in Ecru would be our starting point, but how to get the variegated staining that we were looking for? We tried all sorts of dyes to achieve the effect that we were looking for: cocoa, coffee, tea, coca cola, etc. We made swatches with the various dying mediums and then tried applying them in different manners to see how that changed the effect. The tea ended up working best with the paper, and went on nicest when sprayed. The only problem was that the tea tended to leave a pattern that was to muted and undefined, so we needed something to make the paper look like it had been locked in a leather seaman’s chest for 100 years in the attic of a leaky old house on the Maine coast.
So we turned to Nature for a bit of help. After much experimenting we realized that if handfuls of pine needles, leaves, stones, and dried grass were thrown on the tea covered paper then the tea would puddle up around these bits to form marvelous and unpredictable patterns. So we setup an assembly line to spray the paper, scatter Nature over it, and then blow dry. The final result looked just like we were hoping for with a nicely variegated pattern that was not predictable and almost oozed old-world manliness.
The letterpress printing was a simple one-color job, which was a nice break after the rigorous work of dying the paper. The only trick in printing was to watch out for small twigs left over on the paper…
Spring is upon us and we can’t get enough of gardening right now! While searching out fun garden ideas, we found Brooke Budner & Caitlyn Galloway who have transformed a small corner of San Francisco urban life into a garden of natural delights. And I love their wonderful drawings. Pretty sure we should letterpress something for them!
Check them out at: Little City Gardens
Artist, Julianna Swaney, portrays nature in her artwork with a fairytale aesthetic.
Purchase these beautiful prints and more on her website
I want one of these quite badly. Not sure what I would do with it, but surely I should own one. Search her site for the photo of the crocheted bear lurking in the shadows of a parking garage. Not to be missed!
We will be having another letterpress class this month, so if you are interested, please call or come in to reserve your spot! The class is limited to six so that everyone can get enough hands-on time with the beautiful letterpresses. These classes are really a great deal because not only do you learn the basic skills of letterpress, but you will also go home with 50 beautiful cards that you personally printed and scored. Considering that letterpress cards cost anywhere from $2-5 on etsy, you will come out of this class having made money! Plus, breakfast is provided along with a marvelous custom apron crafted by Lady Danburry! Here are the details:
Introduction to Letterpress Class
When: March 27, 2010 at 10am
Cost: $100 ($75 w/student i.d.)
Where: Rowley Press @ 39 W 200 N, Provo, UT 84601
Amount of Fun: Tons