I have been pretty busy with finishing & mailing our save the dates (woohoo), starting and almost completing our wedding website (more on that later) and designing fun bridal shower and bachelorette invitations. Now that the save the dates are in the mail, I can finally blog about the wonderful letterpress class I took in late December. I have developed a serious love for letterpress printing and wanted to learn the skill myself. I took a full day class with Brian Allen of Officina Briani at his letterpress printing studio in Raleigh. I happen to be the only student signed up for that weekend’s class so I was able to print our save the dates!
I designed our save the dates using Adobe Illustrator as I typically do for stationery designs. This time however I converted the design into a black and white palette with each color in a separate artboard. I sent the PDF file to Boxcar to be made into a photopolymer plate. I brought the plates with me to the letterpress class with Brian Allen and together we aligned them on the aluminum base as seen below. This is just one plate for one color of the two-color letterpress save the dates.
After the plate was attached to the base and the base secured within the chase, the chase was then locked into the Gietz 12×18 platen press. Then it was time to mix inks! I brought a sample of the paper and envelopes I planned to use for our save the dates and we matched each to a Pantone color. It is hard to see in the picture but each Pantone color has a formula guide below it, so for the Pantone 170U we used 18.7% Warm Red, 6.3% Yellow and 75% Transparent White ink to create the coral ink for the save the date.
Once the ink was mixed it was added to the large rollers on the press and then came the tedious task of ensure proper placement of our 100% cotton, 110lb Crane Lettra paper. (Have I mentioned that I tend to be a paper snob? ;) ) 110lb refers to the extra weight and thickness of the paper which makes it great for a nice ink impression. It is so important to spend the time up front getting the perfect placement of the paper and paper guides so that when you are ready for the second ink color everything aligns properly. You also don’t want the design to be crooked on the paper. Once perfect, we printed the first ink color as you can see below and then cleaned all the rollers.
Next we removed the chase and the previous plate before adhering the second plate which had the design of the second color on it. Since we spent so much time getting the alignment perfect we were able to just lock the chase into place and do a few test prints. Brian is a skilled rockstar artisan and therefore made the whole process seem effortless, although I can attest to its difficulty and the patience required. The printing of the second color went quicker and we were able to print all 90 two-color save the dates in one day. Below is a sneak peak of what the save the dates looked like with both colors as I trimmed off the excess paper to create a full bleed (meaning the design goes to the edge of the paper).
I cannot speak highly enough of taking Brian Allen’s letterpress classes and recommend them to anyone interested. I learned so much and was able to actually letterpress print our save the dates myself! I know this level of involvement is not for everyone but I thoroughly enjoyed it and hope to print our wedding invitations as well as to one day own a press. Yay, I finally shared a sneak peak of our save the dates and next Friday I will be back with the completed design!