When I was a kid, I had more than a dozen pen-pals from all over the world: Taiwan, Germany, Algeria, the Maldives, and many other places I’d never heard of as a 12-year-old. Speaking of letters, and pen-pals, and places I’ve never heard of, we recently designed some custom stationery for a birthday present. The recipient is a decedent of Oakes Ames, whom the Ames Monument, shown in the note card, commemorates. Just off the current I-80, the monument marked the highest point of the transcontinental railroad; when Union Pacific moved the tracks further south, the nearby down of Sherman went bust and turned into a ghost town. On this Cyber Monday, when everyone is buying as hard as they can buy, why not sit down with a pen and card and write a note to someone? It’s as good an occasion as any, and might even be the start of a new tradition.
I recently had the opportunity to work with local photographer Ryan Smith: I printed parts of a promo for him and he took some fabulous photos of our little letterpress shop. We’ve packed a lot of printing production power into just over 400 square feet (the work-triangle could have been invented for print shops, really), and Ryan really made the controlled chaos look beautiful. I did not tidy up much (or even sweep, by the looks of it) before he arrived, so this is a printer in her natural habitat.
Besides our precious machines, the best thing about the shop is the sunshine. We’re located on the edge of a shoe factory, built around 1910. Industrial designers did not mess around with darkness in those days: these windows are more than seven feet tall, and let abundant natural light in, even in the dark of winter. (Printer PSA: speaking of winter, have you ordered your holiday cards or invitations yet? The press schedule is filling rapidly!)a beautiful day to be on press
Intricate jobs like this don’t come around every day, but we love it when they do. Designed by the folks at Design on Crown outside Philadelphia, this invitation celebrates the wedding of wood and textiles, represented by squares of real cherry veneer and stock blind-printed with the pattern of a debut textile from Teknion. Working on a tight deadline, we cut the cherry veneer–ordered direct from Michigan–die-cut the wrap, and printed the invitation in three colors, including a bright yellow to match the Factory Yellow wrap and envelope from Colorplan. Then the handwork began: using a jig to guide placement, we affixed the squares on the back of the invitation, the wrap around the front and back, and the veneer to the front of the envelope. We can indeed letterpress-print on wood, and the result is pretty excellent:
A beautiful business card from Merrill Lyons, designer behind this fabulous suite. One doesn’t often see a logo with no color, but this blind-printed logo is eye-catching even without bright colors. Bright color was saved for the cards’ edge, which is painted in a rich teal to match the Pantone color name on the front. While technically any weight of stock can have its edges painted, the thicker the stock, the more color you’ll see when you–or someone you’ve just handed your card to–are holding an individual card. Makes sense, right? We printed two sets of cards for the two principals at Studio DB; did you know that we offer a discount for multiple business card sets from the same company?
We printed this deco deliciousness on super-thick 220# Lettra in four runs: silver (ink, not foil) on front and back, cobalt, and a blind hit. Designed by our friends at Anticipate Invitations, this deco design is more modernistic than most one sees; the trylon and perisphere–those shapes in the blind deboss that also conveniently look like the couple’s wedding date–first appeared at the New York World’s Fair in 1939.
We’re so happy with the response and results of our first postcard mailing! Not only was it fun sending out so many real letters to people all across the globe, but we also got several thank-you notes in return, which was a nice and unforeseen bonus. This postcard mailing was the first in our four-part save the United States Postal Service campaign, and we’re already planning (if not yet quite printing) and preparing for the second mailing. Though the free ones are all spoken for, we’re making a few extras available over on Etsy. The next beautiful set will go out the end of this year.
We were so thrilled to discover Gmund’s wood grain embossed paper, Savannah, a while back. It’s nice to have a stock that comes pre-embossed with a deep, tactile wood grain, rather than dampening the stock and hitting it pretty hard in order to achieve a deep wood grain effect on press. For this invitation, designed by the groom, we used the bright white option (it’s also available in chocolate brown, light brown, and a golden tan), and a warm lavender ink. A cool side-effect of this paper was that the grain showed through in the type, enhancing the vintage wood-type typography. Check out the great icons used for the menu choices, too.
This business suite for the folks at Blueberry Creative incorporates letterpress printing as well as digital; sometimes, when letterpress just can’t produce what a computer can, digital is the way to go. The business card was printed digitally front and back to produce a saturated solid as well as the watercolor-look of their logo, then was hit with a burst of foil for “creative.” The warmth of the foil is echoed in the brown of the heavy chipboard used for their tags, which were die-cut with a punch for ribbon. We are encouraged by the regular flow of note cards ordered for businesses through the shop, which means that people are still writing notes, and sending them through the mail. Remember how we all need to write more notes to help save the USPS?
We live in an enlightened age, my friends: an age where anything is possible, at least when it comes to the art and craft of the business card. Ryan at the Infantree in Lancaster, Pennyslvania, wanted the new business cards for their team to be heavy, subtle, and gorgeous. They took care of gorgeous; we took care of the rest. We used 130# French paper in steel gray bonded to 110# Lettra in fluorescent white, which makes a hefty 240#-cover card, two colors of ink, and one foil. Printing the logo on the back without ink, ie blind, would have been a great option, but to make it subtly shiny we used black foil instead. Two color letterpress on the white side is crisp, legible, and clean. We love the view from the side of the cards; the white next to steel gray is like two-tone edge painting.
We printed these unusually sized business cards a while back for the fine folk at Good Food Jobs, a resource for people looking for meaningful, mindful work in the food industry. They’re smaller than usual cards–2.75×2 rather than 3.5×2–and are printed on super-thick Lettra 220# cover. The milk jug, wine bottle, and canning jar on the back are printed in three bottle-like greens; we added just enough transparent white to the ink mixture so that they looked like translucent glass and the overprinting is easily visible.