Posts tagged letterpress stationery
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. 

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.

KEEPING THE FIRST BIRTHDAY SIMPLE
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Me oh my. Somehow, a year has gone by. A whole three hundred and sixty-five days has cycled through.  The earth has made an entire trip around the sun. A WHOLE YEAR has gone by since my sweet little girl entered my arms. After two, for lack of better words, obnoxious birthday parties for my son, Finn. I vowed to keep things simple for Isla.

Finn and Isla don't care about Pinterest inspired birthdays, I know that much. It's hard though - as a creative and stationery designer, it's hard to keep things simple when its your own project and the ball is in your court. Here's how I do it:

I'd like all moms and dads alike to pick ONE thing that they really care about. It may be the cake, the location, the gift... there's something you want to splurge on.

For me, it's the stationery (clearly). Whether it's the wedding day or an event as simple as a first birthday party, the stationery sets the preface to the story you will tell.  My remaining details were kept as simplistic as possible. This really allowed me to focus in on what was important to me. ..and what was not.

These invitations were inspired by Finn's first birthday invitations. The disc spins to tell the story of each month's milestones. There was no way to create something equally sentimental for Isla, so the work was done. All I had to do was watch her grow and document this amazing first year with her in our lives. ...one I cannot image living without.

My mother always made our cakes. ...a three layer yellow cake with chocolate icing that still to this day, I can't get right. Testing my skills, I spent the morning of Isla's party making a mini, three-layer red velvet cake with pink cream cheese icing. Finn got to lick the bowl and Isla taste tested her soon-to-be mess of a cake. We learned something new that day. Isla really loves cake.

photo cred | louisiana lifestyle photography |  Quaint and Whim

photo cred | louisiana lifestyle photography | Quaint and Whim

I opted for minimal decorations. The stationery was letterpress printed with a hand-drawn floral, so decorating my home with local fresh flowers seemed like decor that keeps giving. I am actually drying some of the flowers from that day. I'm in the middle of a whole minimalist attraction, so less is more. Just picking up the scattered toys and putting out a few fresh flowers was all the decorating we needed. In a random bout of internet browsing, I came across these beautiful fans - perfect for a Louisiana Saturday in August. Hip Hip Hooray read the floral banner kit by Rifle Paper Co. What's great about this banner is that I can reuse time and time again. I wanted to keep the home design simple and sophisticated, but feminine ...something that didn't scream baby. And that's it. That's all we needed. It was enough to announce that this gathering wasn't a random Tuesday. It was most definitely a party, but the focus was on sweet Isla and the celebration of her first year in everyone's lives.

Just picking up the scattered toys and putting out a few fresh flowers was all the decorating we needed.
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I've planned many baby showers, wedding showers, birthdays, and gatherings at our home. It's hard not to just want ALL THE PRETTIES. Choosing what is important to you and letting the other details fall in to the simple category has by far made this birthday memorable. I remember going to get the balloons and flowers. I remember the mess of sprinkles we made baking Isla's birthday cake. I remember the kids getting tangled in bakers twine as we wrapped treat bags. I remember making Isla's birthday hat from some scrap paper and Finn asking if he could paint it. I remember Isla smiling out the window as familiar faces walked up the sidewalk.

I ACTUALLY remember the party and being able to speak to our guests. I remember the things that were important to me - the simple things. Let's make a vow to simplicity, because more often than not, simple is better.


credits & sources

invitations | THElittleBLUECHAIR
banner | Paper-Source
cake topper | BHLDN
cake stand | Anthropologie
paper crinkle fans | BHLDN
 

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!