In the stationery world, letterpress printing seems to be the hottest trend. Yes it looks sophisticated, yes it gives the card more texture, but we never bought the hype…until now. For us it was like that cool kid in school that everyone wanted to be friends with…yeah he’s good looking, but is he the kind of person who would make a good friend? Well, the answer is yes.
This past Friday, we had our first cards letterpressed. They are invitations we’ve been working on for a great couple who is getting married in May. They wanted their invitations to be formal, but fun. We worked together to create a sophisticated design using playful colors. We knew letter pressing was what we needed to take entire invitation up a notch, so we put our feeling aside and went for it.
The whole process has been a learning experience. Where we though we’d have maybe 5 yellows to choice from, there were actually 100. Where we thought we’d go in once to do a press check, they actually required us to do this three times. Where we thought a machine would just spit out our invites, there was actually a person cranking each sheet of paper by hand.
When it came time for the press checks we packed our bag and headed into the city for the day. When we arrived at the print shop the owner gave us directions to the letterpress machine on the lower level. As we came down the stairs we were surrounded by millions of boxes filled with envelopes and paper. The room had an aroma of ink and metal. It reminded us of the hallway in middle school that had the Industrial Arts classroom right next to the Art classroom. All the way in the corner of this production room was a friendly employee waving us back. We passed machines for engraving & employees precisely cutting. Brian, our new friend, was standing in front of a large metal machine with rollers and a crank. We were amazed. There was no keyboard. There were no wires. It was raw steel. Across from the letterpress was a table with cups of ink and a slab of the exact yellow ink we had selected the week before. The machine was ancient and well broken in. We imagined all the other beautiful paper invitations, letters, and books created using this exact machine. We thought about all the people who had a better day or a wonderful experience because of this piece of equipment.
To produce our invitations, Brian dabbed just the right amount of ink on the rollers. He started them spinning and then turned the lever to feed the paper through. The photopolymer plate with our design on it got inked and then stamp the paper. Brian was able change the pressure of the indention by adding newspaper, packing tape, or in his words “whatever works” to the rollers. It was very Macgyver…which is one of our favorite ways to create art. He did a couple different tests varying the amount of ink he used so we could choice the perfect brightness. It was incredible. After the first color was decided upon, we grabbed some breakfast (where we sat next to one of the Jonas brothers), came back to approve color number 2, made it to Georgia’s gym class just in time, then back to the city for color number 3. It was a whole day affair, but it felt like we were in a new relationship and couldn’t wait for that second and third date! Luckily for us, the invites still need to be mounted and the envelopes printed so there is a fourth date in sight.
At Love Jac we believe a handmade card is so much more meaningful than something mass-produced. We can’t believe we didn’t know the amount of human effort letterpressing required. We have fallen in love and you can be sure to see letterpressed cards coming your way soon.