Posts tagged letterpress
Handwritten Notes

Do whatever you think would be pretty! I like neutrals. 

That's what this bride of mine told me when it was time to plan her wedding stationery. Now granted, this bride is one of my best friends on the earth. Her and I go way back to first grade, where we did not like each other, but nonetheless our friendship has tested time and won. So here I am, bridesmaid/planner/friend/stationery designer. 

Amber and Shane. Shane and Amber. Shamber? No, let's not. These two though are the sweetest example of God's work in the series of waiting for THE ONE. I have never seen this woman smile as much as I have in these last few years. 

I was honored to host a fun holiday themed bridal shower with an Italian menu, since they were planning an Italian honeymoon. It rained. It POURED actually. I was so upset because I had my outdoor area decorated for the holidays, but we couldn't use the space. In turn though, it forced everyone to the porches and house in a beautiful way. The entire day quickly turned to intimate conversations, good food, and traditional southern hospitality. You can see more of that here. In exchange for helping inspire some planning aspects, maybe living vicariously through her, I got to see her wedding dress before all of the other bridesmaids. ...which was a terrible idea because I'm the WORST secret keeper. I told Amber I needed to see it for stationery inspiration, which was a slight fib on my part. I just wanted to see her dress. When I found out Shane was going to propose, I avoided Amber for months.

PS: sorry if you thought I was mad at you

photo by Collin Richie - Baton Rouge

When it was time to plan the wedding, she pretty much let me hold the reins, at least for her stationery. 

THE little BLUE CHAIR - custom stationery _neutral colors_3.jpg
THE little BLUE CHAIR - custom stationery _neutral colors_2.jpg
THE little BLUE CHAIR - custom stationery _neutral colors_6.jpg
THE little BLUE CHAIR - custom stationery _neutral colors_4.jpg

NEUTRALS + FLORALS + VINTAGE STAMPS
...always a winner. 

One of the things I really regret with my own weddings is not writing my own vows. Maybe it's in hindsight, because I know my husband would be full of giggles displaying his emotions up at the alter, but I still wish we would have written them for each other. However, what I do treasure are all of his handwritten notes over the years. I have a sticky note on my computer, the computer I'm typing from now, that says "hey! you are beautiful." 

I adore the moment before a wedding when a bride is reading a note from her groom. Tradition calls that you are not to see your bride or groom on the wedding day. But that note. It's like they're there, right there in your ear, whispering all the words you'd want to hear on such a day.

Handwritten notes are said to be falling in to the dying art category, but OH I disagree. There's a heightened revival of handwritten notes. I believe that this current generation is craving tradition, hoping for intimacy, and longing for the tactile keepsake to fill that hope chest of theirs. In a world of reproductions, quick response time, and energy spread so thin, it's barely seen, having a moment to stop time and read will pause your heart and mind. In this world and for this next generation, we need more and more of that.
 

photo by Collin Richie - Baton Rouge

photo by Collin Richie - Baton Rouge

Margaret Shepherd published the book "The Art of the Handwritten Note: A Guide to Reclaiming Civilized Communication." In her book, she exclaims that the handwritten note is NOT in fact a dying art, that it's alive more than ever. In her introduction, I love how she writes this simple explanation of the power of the handwritten note:


...it certainly is an art, because it brings out the best in both the person who creates it and the person who looks at it.
— The Art of the Handwritten Note: A Guide to Reclaiming Civilized Communication

Could anything be more true? I am that person that keeps EVERYTHING. I have paintings and drawings from my childhood (that my mom thought I should keep at my house) and have started to create a hefty collection of notes and drawings from my own kids. I have every note I've written my husband ...and every one he's left for me. I have notes my great-grandfather sent my great-grandmother. I have handwritten grocery lists from my grandparents. You just can't throw that away. That's gold. I don't see our children's children scrolling through old text messages of their ancestors, reminiscing about these days. Let's leave them something to hold. 

If my dear husband would have texted me the same message I have written on this sticky note, "hey! You are beautiful," I would have smiled, yes, and continued on my day. It's written down now. I see it every day. It's a constant reminder of his most honest and bare heart from the day he wrote that simple little note.

So maybe you're not the express your own vows at the alter type, but that doesn't stop you from getting your message to your loved ones. Leave a sticky note, leave a message in the front seat of your love's vehicle. Leave a written note of encouragement in your spouse's sock drawer. Leave special notes out for your kids. Write more. ..and write ALL the time. It's a practice and an art.  

I guess that's why I love stationery so much. It's sort of like a handwritten note to all of your loves ones that witnessed your big day. I have a boxes and boxes of notes, a boxes of evolving pictures from my little ones, and yes. I have a box of wedding invitations from friends and family. 

What's going to fill your hope chest?

BUILDING YOUR WEDDING SUITE SERIES: part two

PART TWO: Wedding Invitation Pieces & Parts

The Basics
The invitation is a key piece of the puzzle during your wedding planning. It essentially invites your nearest and dearest to witness the big day, it will let your guests know the expected attire and formality, as well as prepare remaining decisions like menu selections and guest invitees. Perhaps most importantly, the invitation becomes one of the first keepsake heirlooms from your wedding. In a world of digital revolutions, having the tactile keepsake to fill that hope chest is and should be treasured dearly. However it is that you invite your guests, the invitation should collect the following information:

-name of the bride and groom to marry
-date and time of the ceremony
-location of the ceremony
-reception details (unless the reception details are accommodated on a separate card)

What All Should I Include?
Any standard wedding invitation may clearly include the invitation and its corresponding envelope as well as a response card and its corresponding envelope. In addition to these two pieces, you may include a separate card for the reception info, a map, or an accommodations card.

WEDDING INVITATION
The Wedding Invitation will clearly represent the most important information. This is typically the largest and hierarchy of the pieces that will build your suite. The invitation will let the guests know who is hosting the wedding, who is getting married, and the details about the date, time, and venue.

RESPONSE CARD
Also known as RSVP or reply card, the response card gives you an opportunity to request specific information from your guests.

-Accept or Regrets
There is a range of ways you can ask whether or not your guest will be in attendance. A more formal version would be “happily accepts” or “regretfully declines.” You can use an alternative, more playful version like “be there with bells on” or “sending happy thoughts.”

-Specifically WHO is invited
Commonly found on a response card is the indication requesting how many total guests will be in attendance. The phrase “____ number of guests in attendance” may be used. For a more specific list, many couples opt for requesting a written list of each attendee. If you are having an adult-only wedding, requesting the written list may be a great option for you to prevent any misunderstandings. 

-Meal Choice
In the South, the more common buffet style wedding is what you will observe. However, in my experience with couples who are hosting a formal sit-down meal, you may want to include the meal choices on your response card. This means that you will have to have those selections finalized BEFORE sending out your invitations. It’s best to ask your guests on the response card to place initials by each guest’s selection rather than a simple tally mark or number. Meal selections are of course not necessary, but generally coincide with the formality of the wedding. You (or your wedding planner) should have those meal options set and noted before meeting with your stationer.

-Fun Details Requested
A less formal wedding may include some fun options on the response card, like a song request: “I promise to dance if you play _____________” or a “words of wisdom” section. If this becomes an option for you, have fun with it. You can make a keepsake book of all your responses!

RECEPTION CARD
A reception card is a separate card dedicated to the reception details that will follow the ceremony. Reception cards are used for both on and off-site receptions. A reception card may have details that provide the reception time and location: “reception to follow at Il Mercato). For off-site receptions, it’s typically not necessary that you include the city & state on the reception card, as it is never very far from the ceremony venue. For on-site receptions, there is often a cocktail hour in between the two. This is usually the time that the bride and groom are taking photos and will often provide a social activity before they are announced. This information may be included on the reception card: “join us for cocktails in the courtyard immediately following the ceremony dinner & dancing to follow at seven o’clock”

ACCOMMODATIONS & DETAILS CARD
An accommodations or details card may be used to list out any and all details regarding to the wedding festivities. This may include hotel accommodations, wedding website information, wedding weekend details, or post-wedding gatherings.

MAP CARDS
Map cards are used both subjectively and objectively as a general or specific reference to the location of either the ceremony venue or reception venue, or both. Map cards present a great illustrative contrast to wedding suites that generally display lots of text. In a world of digital revolutions, with Google Maps at our fingertips, map cards are a fun way to bring back a nostalgic impression for your guests to enjoy. They make great little art prints as well (pre-wedding wedding favor? ...maybe!).

ASSEMBLY DETAILS
How do I stuff all of this in an envelope? There are a number of things to consider when thinking about assembly. If you have several pieces that build your suite, you may want to house everything in an inner envelope or think about using some pretty ribbon or band to “house” it all together. Here are some common assembly options:

pocket envelopes:
A pocket envelope is a small folder of sorts with sleeves that house each card that build your suite. You may have your invitation mounted on the left side of the open “folder” with the left side housing the add-on pieces. This pocket envelope would then be placed in its outer envelope (the mailing envelope).

inner envelopes:
An inner serves two purposes. The inner envelope may house all of your pieces simply stacked on top of each other in its proper order as well as entail who is invited. The outer & inner envelope is a formal and traditional practice where the outer envelope would state the more formal “Mr. and Mrs. Michael Dean Johnson” guest name and address, with the inner stating “Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, Miss Norah, Henry.” (see more about addressing in part three)

ribbons or bands:
Using ribbons or paper bands is also an excellent way to house all of your pieces together. Ribbons are a great way to add some color, texture, and mood to a more traditional piece. It’s a happy balance between the two and is my personal favorite. Embellish the ribbons with a wax seal and dried greenery and you have yourself a simple, but showcase-worthy piece.

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Stay tuned for part three in this four part “Building Your Wedding Suite Series”
part three | envelope addressing & etiquette

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DID YOU MISS THE FIRST POST? Catch up here.
 

Floral Inspired Wedding Stationery

Meet Ali & Ryan. How cute are they? When Ali reached out for wedding stationery earlier this year and referenced her save the dates she created herself, I knew I already loved her. Ali's stationery style was floral inspired and nothing sang to my heart more than a fellow flowerchild. 

Photo taken my family member, Audra Ruane.

Photo taken my family member, Audra Ruane.

 
left | dresses from  showmeyourmumu    center  | calligraphy by  judith brown   right | cake by  cypress grovers

left | dresses from showmeyourmumu   center  | calligraphy by judith brown  right | cake by cypress grovers

Ali's wedding will take place this fall in a small-town church, followed by an evening barn & farm reception.

Ali and her calligrapher friend/soon-to-be sister-in-law designed her DIY save the dates. They were printed on deckled seed paper & stemmed much of the inspiration for her wedding stationery. The calligraphy was done by Judith Browne. You can find this lovely handmade seed paper from the cutest little etsy shop, White Dragon Paper.

 

it was easy to find inspiration from Ali's inspiration. The combination of textures really compliment her handmade, rustic-meets-whimsical mood! 

IT'S TIME FOR AN ASSEMBLY PARTY

cotton paper
hand deckled edging
letterpress printing
watercolor
jute cord
preserved lavender

I cannot wait to see this remaining touches I know Ali will give to this big day of her and Ryan's. Only a few more months and this Ms. will be a Mrs.!

 

 
 
LETTERPRESS PRINTING | behind the scenes

TODAY'S HISTORY LESSON:
Way back when, any type of writing that was "mass produced" was simply written by hand, over and over. Books, manuscripts, etc. There was no assembly line, no machinery driven printers. Can you imagine? During the mid 15th century, Johannes Gutenberg got his thinking cap on in efforts to solve this issue. ...and boy am I glad he did.

"WHO IS JOHANNES GUTENBERG?" ...the only Jeopardy question I've ever gotten right.

Gutenberg invented the method of letterpress printing. Using metal casted letters, ink, and pressure, text was able to become mass produced! Imagine how you use a simple wooden stamp. An image or word was made in to a stamp by hand carving or laser etched. You tap the stamp on an ink pad, then stamp it on paper. It's a similar conceptual process. Metal letters, carved linoleum, or wood blocks are placed inside a press. Rollers are inked to cover the raised surface of your type or block cuts, paper is pressed on to the inked surface of your text/block leaving an impression in your paper. In opposition to modern day digital and offset printing, letterpress printing holds a timeless appreciate for the one-of-a-kind art is truly is. 

WHAT GOES BEHIND THE SET UP?

There are all different types of letterpress printers. I run a Chandler and Price platen press (below). It's about 100 years old and I can work this one better than my Best Buy Epson printer. 

Many printmakers still use what's called moveable type, cast iron letters that you set in to place to form your word, sentence, paragraph, etc. 

ONE COLOR AT A TIME

You mix your ink just like you'd mix paint. You can patch just about any pantone color or even order a custom pantone match. Each color is run separately. So if you have 100 invitations with two colors, you'll set up the first color and artwork, run 100 of that color. Clean your press. Mix the second color. Set up that run, then print the second color. ...totally 200 runs.

Once your materials are set up in the press, you can test your impressions, color, etc. and then get to work! My particular press runs off of a motor. There's a clam-shell action that happens where the paper reaches the inked type and stamps or impresses it in the paper. There's a quick scene in this video that shows the press running. 

Letterpress is simply appreciated for it's tactile impression it leaves in the paper. You cannot deny its method against digital and offset printing. It truly does stand on its own.

CHANGING TIMES

Over the years, there have been a number of ways to transfer text and imagery to a press bed. Moveable type is still commonly used for many printmakers. However, polymer plates (or other similar materials) are often used for its ease and flexibility. Using laser-casted polymer plates allow any vector, created with fonts or from the sketchbook, to become a printable plate. This is great for handlettering, hand-drawn imagery, and graphically designed pieces to originate the final piece.

The above photo is a letterpress printed piece that began as a sketch. The sketch was digitized and formatted to be made in to a polymer plate. The plate was then set up in the press, similar to the way moveable type is set up, then printed. 

Of course, there are 100 steps in between. There's ink mixing, color matching, press setting, packing backers to set, gauge pins to line up, paper to measure, etc. etc. etc.

For anyone in the market for letterpress printed work, this is a good insight to the setup and labor that happens prior and during printing. It's surely a labor of love that stands as an art in its own.


FOOD FOR THOUGHT
some phrases we can credit to letterpress

Mind your p's and q's: When setting casted, movable type, you set the letters from left to right, upside down in order for the type to mirror and read correctly on the paper. You'd be surprise what your eyes will fix for you as you read backwards printed letters. This is where the phrase originated from. ....same goes for b's and d's. 

Uppercase & Lowercase: Casted, movable type is arranged in type drawers. There's a little spot for each handful of A's, B's, C's and so fourth. The capital letters were found in the upper case drawer slot and the non-capital letters in the lower. 

DIY Bride & Groom Chair Signs

My brides are typically creative individuals. They have a tinge to become involved in the creation of their stationery and wedding day accessories, which makes the sentiments that much sweeter for me. I love a good DIYer and this project is definitely a fun one for that inner creative.

YOU WILL NEED
-two wicker wreathes (these are 8" in diameter)
-preserved florals (artificial florals are fine as well)
-ribbon of your choice
-paper, a pencil, watercolor, & scissors  


STEP ONE
Lightly draw out your "his" and "her" in pencil. Feel free to write mr. and mrs., bride and groom, etc. 

STEP TWO
Lightly erase away most of your word, leaving a faint outline. We don't want pencil marks coming through our watercolor.

STEP THREE
With the color of your choice (or paint medium of your choice), draw over your outlined word your chosen titles.

STEP FOUR
Roughly trace your wreath on top of your paper, then cut out and set aside.

STEP FIVE
It's time to make your wreath! I used preserved seeded eucalyptus and preserved lavender. I love the way it smells and definitely love the way it lasts. Simply cut 4-6" stems and insert to the fullness you desire.

Preserved Greenery: Nettleton Hollow

STEP SIX
This is the step where we will fasten the names to the back of the wreath.

Place the wreath on top of your name titles and center them up how you'd like them to show. Take your pencil and lightly mark the left, right, and top. Think of it as you're marking the 9:00, 12:00, and 3:00 o'clock position.

We will use these markers to fasten the paper to the wreath and for the ribbon hanger.

STEP SEVEN
At your 9:00 & 3:00 o'clock marks, hole punch a single hole. At your 12:00 o'clock mark, hole punch two holes side by side.

Thread your ribbon through as shown below. Your top ribbon can be the length you desire.

STEP EIGHT
After you thread your ribbons through your paper, simply thread them through the wicker wreath to fasten your sides. It may be a good idea to loop your hanger ribbon at the top through the wreath as well to relive some of the weight from the paper and further fasten the paper to the wreath.

...AND THAT'S A WREATH, I MEAN WRAP. 

This project cost me less than $20 and took me about 15 minutes each to complete. This could easily be done for a bridal shower setting chart, a birthday party, or of course the bride and groom's chairs on the big day. It's a super fun project and I hope you enjoy!


 
 
FIVE TASKS & TIPS FOR YOUR WEDDING STATIONERY TO-DO

1) SET A DATE & VENUE
Before you venture over to your stationery to-do-list, you need to have some of the big things checked off first. Your date, venue(s), and ceremony and reception time need to be decided upon. If you are sending out save the dates, you only need to confirm your date. Keep in mind though that your date often depends on certain venue availability. 

2) ALLOCATE A BUDGET
Brides have an endless amount of options for wedding stationery. ...local stationery shops, etsy business owners, the Pinterest-inspired DIY bride. No matter the route, whether it's in hiring a professional designer or opting to invest your own time, stationery is just that - an investment. Brides often budget for $800-1200 for wedding stationery. The best thing you can do is give yourself a comfortable number and let that budget determine the "must haves." It may be that letterpress printed stationery is really important to you or that you KNOW you want to have the envelopes addressed in calligraphy. Establish a budget and work backwards to get the best of what you can get with that number.

3) ESTABLISH YOUR AESTHETIC
The aesthetics involved in your wedding stationery should be intentional. The ink color, the paper choice, the assembly ...it all represents the type of wedding celebration your guests will expect to attend. For example, you may not want a super traditional or over-the-top formal invitation for a backyard soireé. You'd probably want to lean towards the more casual side. These decisions are often inspired by your color schemes, an overall feel or mood you want to create, etc. You're going to want to have a general direction of where you want your stationery to take you.

4) TIMELINE
You typically want to mail your invitations 8-12 weeks before your wedding. If you opt for save the dates, you typically send those roughly 8-12 months prior to the wedding or as soon as your date and venue is set. If you are investing in a professional designer to create your stationery. You'd want to allow at least a few months of planning. You also want to make sure you give yourself or your calligrapher enough time to address your envelopes. The sooner the better is usually key here.

5) COORDINATE YOUR DAY-OFF PIECES
Once the save the dates have been sent and the wedding invitations printed, there are still some lingering after-math pieces to keep in mind. There is nothing better than a series of paper goods intertwined through out your wedding that all compliment each other. Some of the items you may want to think about including for the day off are you programs, menu cards, place cards, thank you notes, or even a special print or card to use as wedding favors or a special gift to a family member.


PERSONAL PREFERENCES AND TIPS 


PURCHASE A CUSTOM ADDRESS STAMP
A custom address stamp is super affordable and has a multitude of uses. If you purchase this stamp early enough, you can begin using this stamp for thank you notes after showers and as your return address on save the dates, shower venues, and celebrations. You can also use this stamp for the return address on your wedding stationery and/or your recipient address for your response card's return back to you. ...then of course all of your snail mail post wedding stationery.

STAMPS & POSTAGE
Try to find a stamp that coordinates with your stationery. The post office usually has some ...ehh "generic" wedding stamps. I would recommend opting for a custom stamp.  ...even better, use a vintage stamp collection if you can. You can find vintage stamps on eBay by seaching "unused uncanceled stamps." 

IMPORTANT: Ask your postman (or woman) to hand meter your envelopes. Otherwise, you'll end up with those ugly black lines at the bottom of your envelope. That's a good way to make your calligrapher cry. 

WEDDING WEBSITES
Wedding websites are a fantastic way to have your guests updated on the latest wedding news, allow for accommodations, and even allowing your guest to rsvp in advance. Opt for your own domain name. Domain names are super affordable, you can usually create one for about $10 for a whole year. As a stationery designer, I know www.TheJohnsonsBigDay.com looks way nicer than www.Name/us/SomeVenue/somethingelse.com ...don't you think?

PACK YOUR STATIONERY TO THE WEDDING
Everyone should have a really great photo of their stationery. Go ahead and pack your stationery suite in your wedding day bag to have the photographer snap a great shot of that pretty paper. 

FRAME YOUR INVITATION
Your invitation, along with your dress and maybe some heirlooms are one of just a few tactile things you'll actually preserve from your wedding day. The first anniversary calls for "paper." Frame your wedding invitation as an anniversary gift to remind yourself and your spouse why you chose one another. Maybe write a hand written note to keep on the back side of the frame. 


 
 
eight questions I asked myself

AN INTERVIEW WITH MYSELF

I had a crazy idea to express my passions and heart behind TLBC through an interview with myself. Although no client will likely ever ask me these questions directly, I still want the answers there. I want my heart open to all of you, I want a real connection between not just my work, but me personally. 

 
 

TELL ME ABOUT WHAT YOU DO. WHAT MAKES YOUR HEART SMILE?
I'm a stationery designer for the creative bride looking for something extra special for her wedding stationery. I love flowers, simplicity, and handmade cotton paper. ...and cookies.

WHAT IS YOUR STRONG POINT?
I have always been creative at heart. The designing and planning comes naturally to me. However, what I love more than anything is connecting the bride to the project. I aim to resonate with each design decision, connecting back to the couple's story, so at the end of the day, the guests open this invitation, that no one has ever seen before, and say "oh this is SO Hope and Michael." 

WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE ABOUT THE WORK YOU DO?
I truly believe that stationery tells a story. One person meets another, they fall in love, the ring is given and the preface to this beautiful marriage begins. No two stories are the same, and if the wedding invitation is the cover to your book, representing the beginning of your marriage, no two covers should be the same.

WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU'D LIKE YOUR BRIDES TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS?
I want my brides to resonate with not just my work, but me personally. I approach each project as an interior designer would approach a blank space. It's a true collaboration. My brides bring as much to the table as I do and by the end of the process, we are going to be great friends. 

IN A WORLD GONE DIGITAL, HOW DO YOU HOLD TRUE TO PRINT?
How can I not? With the world at everyone's fingertips, there are fewer and fewer tactile items filling up your hope chests. From the wedding alone, other than your photographs, the invitation is one of a few things you'll actually preserve. I hope it hangs on your wall as a little reminder as to why you and your spouse chose each other.

WHY SHOULD A BRIDE OPT FOR A CUSTOM DESIGN OVER A PREDESIGNED PIECE?
Custom work simply paints an entirely different picture for you and your guests. For instance, I'm working on a commissioned project for one of my spring brides. She brought me a photo of a marigold painting that hung in her grandmother's home when she was a child. She wanted to incorporate this in the stationery design. Her mother is a florist and will be designing the floral arrangements that will display at her wedding. So of course, florals are a big symbolic element for her design. Another client of mine is an artist and spent her college years making handmade paper using recycled cotton. She is to be wed under the lights of this show-stopper barn in Texas, using her old paper installations as a backdrop to the head table. Her stationery will of course be letterpress printed on handmade, cotton-rag paper with these beautiful deckled edges... You simply cannot manufacturer tailor-made pieces like this.

WHAT DO YOUR CLIENTS FIND IMPORTANT?
My brides are often artists or designers themselves, or formerly one or the other. I frequently work with brides that, back in college, majored in printmaking ...or the interior designer that is overflown with ideas, but needs help putting them together. My brides definitely get it. They get that each element of the design has to have a viable intention. 

WHAT'S YOUR IDEAL DESIGN?
My design style is very organic, very simple actually. I love a single color letterpress print run on cotton paper. It's the pop I look for, that little something extra--a splash of watercolor across the names, incorporating hand lettering or illustrative artwork... I adore the final touches of assembly; wrapping all of your pieces in cotton twine with a sprig of eucalyptus tied in, a hand addressed envelope with vintage stamps ...those are the things that make my heart sing. 


Are we a match? Are you reading all of this saying "YES!, That's what I've been looking for." Well then nice to meet you. See, I adore working with that inner artist in you. That's what I like to bring out in my brides. If your heart melt when you pick up a piece of silk ribbon, if you feel like you need to squeal when your fingertips meet the texture of handmade cotton rag paper ...well I look forward to hearing from you! We're going to be great friends.

 
 
WEDDING STATIONERY | rustic barn wedding for the mississippi bride & louisiana groom

What a pleasure it's been to work with Ashley King (future Caruso), future lawyer and sweetest person alive. Growing up in Mississippi, she was surrounded by cotton fields and southern landscapes that would make anyone's soul feel warm. It's no surprise that she fell in love with Blake, a Louisiana boy, who is as easy going as the cotton field winds she grew up around!

Ashley and Blake wanted a simple save the date and a coordinating wedding invitation. Recycled kraft paper was a must for her, so I knew this would be a breeze for me. Recycled kraft paper and I are best friends. 

Ashley's save the dates were letterpress printed in a dark charcoal ink on recycled kraft!

The wedding invitations were printed on a cotton paper (how appropriate) paired with the same recycled policy envelope as the save the dates. The ink matched the envelopes and all together, these two pieces are the sweetest and simplest duo my eyes have ever seen.

Another great thing I love about these invitations is the way we incorporated Blake and Ashley's wedding website as their rsvp option. Many brides opt out of having a response card simply for the reason that they're not always returned. Wedding websites are becoming more and more popular as a way to have readily accessible information in regards to the wedding, rsvp included. For a non-traditional wedding stationery ensemble, this is the perfect way to include the extra information without the extra pieces. 

I am so happy to be a guest at this wedding this upcoming January. My husband and I are great friends with the groom, and now we get to grow our relationship with Ashley. Their love is as amazing as the rustic barn they will wed at, in the strawberry fields of Louisiana and I just cannot wait to witness the atmosphere and joining of the Mississippi bride and Louisiana groom. 


 
 
my life as a mother and designer - in a three minute video

THE little BLUE CHAIR began as the seat a bunch of kids opened Christmas presents on ...one at a time, in front of the audience of our grandparents. Our grandparents initiated this ritual in hopes that Christmas Eve would last just a little bit longer. I have learned through our family's delightful idiosyncrasies that the anticipation waiting for our turn, the presentation of the package was as important as the package itself. The sheer sentiment of the chair became the foundation for TLBC.

It's easy for me to resonate with TLBC. I truly believe that life's special moments and surprises are best told through the hand-written note, the mailed invitation, and the package it all arrives in ...and when you can see and feel that love behind a product, that tactile sense of affection really sings through.

I can easily title TLBC as a "family run business." My dear husband does the heavy lifting. When we need to take a road trip out of state to pick up the letterpress I bid and won on eBay, he's the one (read that story here). Although his day job consists of civil and architectural jazz, he often inspires much of my product line. My two little ones are also on payroll. In exchange for all the love I have, they offer me an abundant about of inspiration and company in between those moments of hustle and motherhood. There is nothing better than the visual representation of what you will get when working with THE little BLUE CHAIR. Watch the stream of real life TLBC to get a true glimpse.


A huge thanks to Kelly Davis who entered my world with a camera and captured my craziest, most exciting moments as a mother, designer, and business owner.

How I found a 100 year old letterpress.

When I first graduated college, my first to-do on my agenda was to find a tabletop letterpress. These presses were hard to come by. They were made well after the letterpress had been invented for the purpose of teaching. They were small, compact, and could fit nicely on a table. I knew this press was to learn the craft and hobby I began dabbling in, so I searched and searched until I found the one I wanted. 

After a few years, I quickly realized it was time to upgrade. My new search: a Chandler and Price New Style Letterpress ...and when I say new, I mean 1920s instead of 1800s. It's crazy how mad I get at my Epson printer, but I can run this age old printer just fine. So, I searched with all of my resources to find the press right for me. CONGRATULATIONS, YOU'RE THE HIGHEST BIDDER.

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me: "hey, what's your weekend like?"
husband: "fairly free, what's up?"
me: "we should go to Marlin, Texas!"
husband: "go where?"

I don't care what google maps said, it was not a 6.5 hour drive, it was more like 8 hours. Eight hours to Marlin Texas, a mile long town about 30 miles outside of Waco. The press was acquired by an antique store, put on eBay and BAM, in comes Hope. 

We packed up the truck with snacks and hooked up the heaviest duty trailer we had to haul home a near 100 year old, 1500 pound letterpress. Husbands with a know-how are the best and I cannot thank mine enough for putting up with my adventures and eBay bids. A day and another 8 hour drive later, we were home. Unloading this press and getting it in to my shop had to have been one of my most stressful moments ever. 

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We all got our hands dirty, but within a two week period, I went from my tabletop compact press to a much bigger beast. I'm so excited about the doors this leap has opened. ...and rightfully so, I named this letterpress Marlin, after its home town. 

The Colorado Wedding

It's a small world we live in, really. There was this girl named Mackenzie who once lived up north. She later found her way down south to Louisiana falling deeply in love with a man named Trent. After talking a bit about her upcoming stationery design, wedding, and all the lovely things that go along with that, I find out that her husband-to-be was my former childhood neighbor. This boy used to prop sheets of plywood on a single brick to test fate and ride the 2" ramp towards the sky! Now, the two of them are leaping in to the marriage world with a Colorado wedding ceremony to celebrate their nuptials. I enjoyed every bit of the stationery design and cannot wait to see their wedding photos! Stay tuned for that.

These gilceé & letterpress printed menu cards will really make a statement on the guests' dinner plate. The mixed media is eye catching in more ways that one!

What inspires TLBC's brand?

I've been well aware my entire life that I was subjected to end up in the arts. It was a lost cause I could not have deterred from. Over the years, I have found myself attracted to certain aspects of art and design that have inadvertently built my brand. If I could pick a few words to describe my attraction to others' work as well as in my own design, I would say organic, whimsical, & lovely. Those three words create a root system to all my beliefs in design. ...not just with stationery, but in the home, in my wardrobe, etc.

my top two tactile inspirations

July, August, & September 2015 issues

July, August, & September 2015 issues

From HGTV's hit show Fixer Upper

From HGTV's hit show Fixer Upper

Anthropologie | I mean that's a no-brainier. Anthropologie built their entire brand around this one potential, made up client. I'd like to think that Anthro's girl would come to TLBC for an exclusive curated stationery design. I bet we'd get along. Nevertheless, I am nothing short of giddy when I receive a new catalog in the mail. Between the color schemes alone, I immediately begin inspiring new ideas for TLBC.

Pinterest Inpsirations | I honestly cannot thank the group of geniuses that invented Pinterest enough. Pre-pinning days, I would screenshot clips and copy & paste links as their file names, saving everything to different desktop folders. Pre-computer days, it was actual folders filled with magazine clippings. When I glance over my Pinterest boards, there's a common aesthetic found for each category. For instance, my kitchen board is filled with tons of white on white on white kitchens. There are pops of wood and industrial aspects that balance out a feminine meets masculine concept that you will also find in TLBC's items and designs.

Comparing my inspirations to a scattered selection of my own work really lets me see the similarities in style, colors, and overall aesthetic feel. It's Hope. It's TLBC.


I would hope that my work could be viewed and selected from a line up - organic, whimsical, and lovely works of art.

Even if you don't run a branded business or you are not the creative type, you still have a style. Think about when your sister goes to the store and says "oh this is so Kellye, I'll have to get this." That's YOU. That's your brand. Pick three words that describe YOU.

xx,
Hope Johnson
TLBC

TLBC TIP | how to save time addressing your stationery

We all know how fast your wedding to-do-list can lengthen. The tedious tasks are seemingly the ones that all get piled up and saved for the last minute. When a couple receives their wedding stationery, the addressing typically still needs to be tackled.

TLBC TIP

Have an address stamp made. You can use this stamp for the back flap of your outer envelope as well as the front recipient address of your rsvp envelopes. A personalized stamp is the gift that keeps giving. Continue to use this stamp after the wedding for thank you notes and future mail outs!

This is an affordable and easy way to save some time. These stamps run roughly $20-$40 depending on whether you create a wood stamp with an ink pad or a self-inking stamp. Both last for years and are great investments (and gifts).


Customize a stamp to suit and seal your stationery suite. These are a few of our past favorites, but feel free to throw your own ideas at us and we can create something just for you.

WHAT'S YOUR COLOR? | five must-see color schemes for wedding stationery

ALL THE COLORS. Picking a wedding color scheme is not something brides often think of in regard to their stationery. When designing wedding stationery, I often ask questions like "what color are your bridesmaids' dresses?" or "what colors would I find in your floral arrangements?" I like to tie in these colors withing your stationery to really create a cohesive color scheme with your wedding.

Neutral is definitely in, but don't be afraid of a pop of color. Here are some color combination trends happening in the wedding stationery world.

natural, charcoal, white

natural, plum, white, tiffany blue

peach, latte, cream

olive, pale pink, oatmeal grey, light blue

grey, white


What's your wedding's personality color?

FIVE STATIONERY ESSENTIALS (for baby and mama)

OH BABY. There are babies everywhere. It wasn't until I became a mother that I began to become inspired to create products for babies, children, and the mamas and daddies that take care of them all.

Although many of our little ones are not set for algebra and biology yet, a new school year brings in a season of routine for me within the home. In honor of my littlest little turning one in a few days and the school season among us, I'm putting together a collection of items for you and your tiny human. May it be a greeting card, art poster, or jotter, there's something for everyone here!


Little Talks letterpress jotter / to keep track of those mispronounced words and epic toddler conversations you are bound to have. SEE IT IN THE SHOP.

I have a mound of crafts my older little has created at Parents Day Out and at home. I like to remember who did what and when. This stamp is perfect to use for one or your whole bundle of little ones. SEE IT IN THE SHOP.

In honor of my obsession with the alphabet, this print was created for any place in the home. My toddler decided to color in his letters (not so much inside the lines) to create his own version. SEE IT IN THE SHOP.

A greeting card to well ....greet the new baby on the way. SEE IT IN THE SHOP.

Pelican Print, a limited edition print by TLBC. By the way, this is a song and it's much more fun when you sing it rather than read it. ::sings:: Pel-i-can Pel-i-can, mouth holds more than his belly can. SEE IT IN THE SHOP.

HOME INSPIRED STATIONERY

How does your home inspire other aspects of your life? Does your living space reflect your Pinterest boards? Does your five year old's party reflect their own little taste? I'd love to hear your answers.

When I think about my brand, my style, and my vision for anything, it really entails inspirations from all aspects of my life. ...my house, my children, hosted parties. It all overlaps in some area or another. For instance, when my son, Finn turned two years old, we began planning a "woodland themed" birthday party. During the same time, he thought it would be fun to begin climbing out his crib, which turned in to transforming his nursery to a big boy room (insert tears shed).

The two inadvertently coordinated in to a room and party that I am still in love with today.

The wood wall was actually super easy. I helped my husband with my three month old baby strapped to me in the carrier. Finn had a weekend away with his grandparents to keep the big reveal a surprise. (see source below)

So, based on sheer repetition, the woodland themed continued to his second birthday invitations. I wanted to create an interactive scene that Finn's toddler friends could create and in turn, spark their own adventurous imagination. Those who know my Finn knows there will be an adventure, even at the young age of two. The laser cut "pop-ups" all rose to a forest scape that cast an amazing shadow across the "woods."

I finished these invitations off with my favorite, chartreuse, ALWAYS CHARTREUSE. The envelopes were adorned with the most whimsical calligraphy my eyes had ever seen. (see source below) If there's anything better than receiving happy mail, it's happy mail addressed with perfection.

I'll have to follow up soon with the sweet stationery suite for my sweet Isla Grace. Whoa. Say that five times! With her first birthday weeks away, I've been on my game, digging in to my inner female. Going from a little boy to a little girl has been interesting. Stay tuned for that adventure!


letterpress | thelittlebluechair.com
calligraphy | quaintandwhim.com
DIY wood pallet wall | reclaimedlumberproducts.com

A WATER COLOR WEDDING

A friend of mine came to me when it was time to dream up her perfect wedding suite. Her inspirations were all stemmed from her floral arrangements and the colors that bloomed from a May wedding in the midst of a Louisiana spring.

a floral inspired color scheme

a floral inspired color scheme

photo cred | Collin Richie | www.collinrichiephoto.com

Now, when I think spring, I think water. So a watercolor splash over letterpress text was my first thought we leaped from. We took the color scheme of the floral and toned it down to a subtle pallet for the stationery. Keeping the text traditionally worded and the fonts script let the watercolor spread on its on turf. Each splash is one-of-a-kind truly creating a special suite for each guest to open.

coral + mint + yellow

Kristi was a breeze to work with and had such a lovely wedding to show for herself. TLBC wishes her many years of happiness with her newlywed.



TLBC loves to incorporate something special ...something whimsical to each design. That extra little hand touch is what makes this process so extraordinary. Take a look at the cards below to see a few other pieces we've incorporated that hand-painted touch to.

These are two of our favorite combinations of mediums: letterpress (obviously) and watercolor. Each piece is something special, just like you!

WHO MADE THE TOP FIVE?

With all of the new wedding stationery in the works between the collections brewing and custom work curating, I thought I would put together a few of my old favorites. These are all either my own favorites, pinterest's most pinned, or client favorites from the years past.

Take a gander...


THE TATUM WEDDING

An old favorite for a family favorite.... Carrie. She’s my cousin, friend, and reason for switching my life towards the arts in college. Taylor. He must be a tad crazy to willingly enter our family, but he loves Carrie, so he got the package. Taylor and Carrie’s wedding was featured on Style Me Pretty portraying a “DIY Backyard Baton Rouge Garden Wedding.” It was close to perfection, even in spite of the short rain that lead the entire reception to the porches as Carrie’s dad and associating musicians played the guitar, sang, and danced the rest of the evening away.

 

THE KATE AND CORY

When I first met with Kate, I knew immediately that her wedding and inspirations were to die for. She had a very rustic meets Jane Austin style between the lettering, paper, and assembly of her wedding stationery suite. The invitations were hand torn to leave a deckled edge. The rsvp cards are made of real wood, letterpress printed in a postcard style. The inner envelopes were handmade and stitched, all enclosed in an outer cotton envelope. …and of course there was twine.

THE JILLIAN AND EDWARD

After Carrie and Taylor’s Style Me Pretty feature, my inbox was full of inquiries. Jillian and Edward’s stationery suite became one of the by products of that feature. Jillian had a vision of a delicate lace with a hint of a modern touch. The lace with the peach ink complimented the chalk-like ink on black paper. It was a mix of colors, both subtle and bold, that put this suite in this old favorites list.

After Carrie and Taylor’s Style Me Pretty feature, my inbox was full of inquiries. Jillian and Edward’s stationery suite became one of the by products of that feature. Jillian had a vision of a delicate lace with a hint of a modern touch. The lace with the peach ink complimented the chalk-like ink on black paper. It was a mix of colors, both subtle and bold, that put this suite in this old favorites list.

THE JAYNIE AND ALEX

There is never a limit on how much lace is acceptable. Okay, maybe there is, but I love it in the stationery world. The bride, Jaynie, is actually a former colleague and friend of mine. She is also the owner of  Ebb & Flow  and her calligraphy is nothing short of something to die for. Jaynie herself designed this suite. It’s simple, modern, delicate, and beautiful. ...and that’s what we were going for, all of those adjectives in one suite. The front and back printed reply card inserted in to the translucent envelope put the icing on the wedding cake.

There is never a limit on how much lace is acceptable. Okay, maybe there is, but I love it in the stationery world. The bride, Jaynie, is actually a former colleague and friend of mine. She is also the owner of Ebb & Flow and her calligraphy is nothing short of something to die for. Jaynie herself designed this suite. It’s simple, modern, delicate, and beautiful. ...and that’s what we were going for, all of those adjectives in one suite. The front and back printed reply card inserted in to the translucent envelope put the icing on the wedding cake.

Who doesn't love a bicycle themed wedding? This bride commissioned TLBC to create some custom stationery to use as thank you notes following the wedding's whimsical appaloosa. A tandem bike for two as the bride and groom send their thank yous to all of their guests.


Maybe you will end up on the top five. Let's create!