Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Respondez S'il Vous Plait - Pretty Please?

Next Tuesday is a big day for us - the RSVP deadline.  Although there's technically a week left until our RSVP deadline, I'm starting to panic because we only have 65 percent of the responses!  After the initial burst of beautifully letterpressed and stamped envelopes by yours truly, there came a lull.  I know there are a few of you that can't make it, and I know there are many of you who will definitely be there.  Please friends and family, regardless of your answer, I'd still like to see that RSVP card I worked so hard on to find its way into my mailbox!

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Making of the Wedding Invitations: Part II

Once the design was finalized and plates created, I made an appointment at LaLa Press in Silverlake to rent studio space and print my invitations.  I blocked out an entire Sunday from 10-6 to do the actual pressing.  Mabel runs LaLa Press, and let me just tell you, she's amazing!  She has such a wonderful spirit, truly loves the art of letterpress, and is a former-law-school-candidate-turned-stationary-business-owner.  She is pretty much my idol.  Not only was she incredibly helpful, she was such a pleasure to spend the day with.

Lucky for me, the ink color I chose came ready out of the ink can, which saved me the time and trouble of mixing inks!

Letterpress plate with Pantone color guide

So the first thing we did was cut up all our paper into roughly the size of the invitations.  When I was at the Irvine Fine Arts Center, all we had was a regular cutting board, but LaLa Press has this incredible  guillotine cutter which cuts several sheets at the same time!  I wish I had a picture of the cutter because it was so old, but so incredibly efficient with safety levers and everything!  Basically, it took two hands at once to get the machine to cut so that your fingers would never be under the blade!

Polymer plate mounted onto bunting base.

Once the paper was cut, we mounted the polymer plate onto the bunting base on the letterpress machine.  In my case, I used a Vandercook Universal I.  Her name is Maddie.  She was my dancing partner and we did the side-step hundreds of time that day.

Me feeding envelopes into the Vandercook

Me and Maddie
As I wrote in a prior blog entry, every color is it's own run on the letterpress machine.  For my invitations, we had to do two runs - one for the inked portion, and one for the blind impression.  I made approximately 120 invitations so that means for the invitations (2 runs x 120), rsvp card, directions card, return address on the envelopes, return address on the RSVP address, I had to press (do the side step twirl with Maddie) at least seven hundred and twenty (720+) times!!!  At the next day, I was so exhausted.  I had a blister on my hand and my shoulders were super sore! 

First complete invitation! I almost cried.
Pre-trimmed, but already still so pretty.  Just look at that texture.
Once everything was printed, we did final cuts on all the prints, and shrunk wrapped everything for me to take home!

And here's a little video on the whole process that I found on YouTube:

Next, I'll talk about assembling the finished product!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Making of the Wedding Invitations: Part I

I'm not a really an artsy-craftsy, person - I don't scrapbook, decoupage, or really do anything that involves a lot of cutting and pasting.  But, the one part of our wedding that I knew I wanted to do myself was design and print our invitations.  That being said, I still wanted them to look elegant, polished, and knew they had to be letterpressed.  There's just something about the soft, buttery thick paper and the crisp, sharp impression of letterpress that just made my heart go aflutter.  I had already taken a few letterpress workshops at the Irvine Fine Arts Center so I had an idea of what kind of commitment I was making.

My first step was designing the invitations (only after weeks of looking at hundreds of invitations for inspiration).  This part took me probably 3 months to come up with something that I loved.  I knew that I wanted to incorporate blind impression (letterpress with no ink) onto the invitation for a subtle added texture, and that I wanted to use both a script and non-script font (both were purchased at www.myfonts.com).  I'm not a designer, but I was lucky and got my grubby little hands on a copy of AI from a friend who was awesome enough to install it onto my computer.  After another several weeks of clicking around on the screen, watching how-to youtube videos, but mostly help from my AI-savvy friends (thank you Megan and Mary!), I finally had the design done. 

Once finalized, I sent my design to Boxcar Press who specializes in making polymer plates for the letterpress machine.  They have incredible customer service, and very quick turnaround times.  They were such a pleasure to work with and I would use them again in a heartbeat!

Metal-backed Polymer Plate

I was also very picky about the type of paper used for the invitations. I wanted paper that was ultra plush and thick.  I ultimately picked the Savoy 620gsm (2-ply) weight paper in Natural White.  Although Crane lettra is probably considered to be a "superior" paper by some, I found the Savoy to be a much cleaner cut and I really loved the smooth matte finish.  I ordered all my paper and envelopes (I used Crane lettra envelopes in Pearl White) from Keldon Paper, who were so amazing to work with!  They are also conveniently located in Commerce so I was able to pick up all my paper/envelopes myself, rather than pay the astronomical shipping costs (the paper is very heavy!) 

Next step:  Pressing the invitations! 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

What is Letterpress?

metal type
I’m a little bit of a stationary nerd so when it came to printing our invitations, I knew early on that letterpress was a must-have for our wedding.  What was most surprising was that when I told people about our invitations, the most common question was “what is letterpress?”

Vandercook Press

Letterpress was invented by Johannes Gutenberg in the 1400s and is the oldest form of printing in existence. It was the preferred method of printing until the late 19th Century when it was replaced with offset printing.  For the past 500+ years the process has remained relatively unchanged:  a type and artwork (or in modern times, a polymer plate) are placed on the press, a single raised surface is covered with ink and the art work is then pressed into the paper by the pressure of the printing press.  In my case, I had to hand feed each piece of paper, and repeat the process for each separate color that I used.  

It’s certainly not the easiest or cheapest way to print, and is a very time consuming process, but nothing compares to the unmistakable impression pressed into a soft cotton card. I love letterpress because of its tactile qualities.  You can run your finger over the writing and feel where the ink has been pressed into the paper.  Even a simple line of tiny type says "Touch me!" with its vivid, three-dimensional appearance. 

For the invitees that have never seen or felt letterpress printing on paper, they are all in for a real treat!