Whenever you make something by hand a story is told. The story may be simple or it may have many layers. The same is true for letterpress. A few weeks ago I was working on a small letterpress project Rachel came up with and I invited Rachel’s brother Andy to join me. He ended up filming the whole process and edited the footage into the short video below, which I think turned out great! On the surface the video tells the story of hand setting type, cutting paper, and ultimately printing on a small platen press. However, there is also a more involved story behind what I was printing (perhaps we will share more on that at some point). Additionally, there is the store of the video itself, which is Andy’s first video. I enjoy hearing stories, telling stories, and being a part of them. In it’s simplicity and in it’s complexity, this was a cool story to be involved in along with Rachel and Andy. I hope you enjoy it!
We recently had the opportunity to do business cards for Thom Adair, who is the proprietor and craftsman behind Thomas Landin Furniture (definitely check out Thom’s website, his work is really incredible). We only met Thom recently, but are longtime friends with his wife Leah, and so the connection was made.
The project itself was, in part fairly simple, but also very challenging. Thom already had a logo for his business, so Rachel simply had to layout the business cards to Thom’s liking. On the other hand, the printing was much more involved. For one, I’d never printed business cards before. Additionally, I was printing on really thick paper (Crane’s 220lb Lettra), the registration was very tight, and the cards were to be printed on both sides, which I’d also never done before.
In the end, despite my lack of confidence and a fair amount of anxiety, the cards turned out great. Although, I can’t take full credit. The cards wouldn’t have turned out as well as they did without the help of Jason Yoh. Jason works as a press operator at Studio On Fire and is currently the letterpress studio monitor at MCBA, where I do our printing. He has considerable letterpress expertise and has been graciously sharing that expertise with me, particularly on this project. I also want to point out that Jason and his wife recently started their own letterpress studio, Yeoman Press. Their website is still a work in progress, but definitely worth checking out!
It’s been just over three months since our last post. I’ve been meaning to post an update, but just haven’t had the time. It’s a slow day at work today, so I figured I might as well get something down, even though it’s not on my time… shhhhh… don’t tell. Here’s what’s been going on with us the past few months, in list form, because who doesn’t like lists, right?
-Rachel is pregnant! 🙂
-It’s been a tough pregnancy, especially August and September 😦
-Our Volvo started to die, so we bought a minivan.
-At the end of August our renters moved out of our house after one year.
-With the help of Rachel’s family and our friends we spent nearly 10 days getting our house ready to sell.
-We put our house up for sale.
-We found an apartment in St. Louis Park and signed a one year lease!
-We found out we’re having another boy!
-At the end of September we drove out to Montana.
-In Montana we visited my Grandma and Aunts and Uncles out at the The Farm.
-Archie drove a tractor and pretty much loved everything about the farm.
-Once in western Montana we stayed in a really nice, but cheap condo on Big Montana in Whitefish.
-Spent a lot of time with my sister Stephanie and her new baby boy, Wyatt. Archie was very cute with Wyatt… he’s going to be a great big brother! Sadly, cousin Mark was away in California.
-Spent time with my parents.
-Spent time with our good friends Tom and Sharon.
-Went to many of our favorite spots: Tupelo (a great restaurant), Apgar, and Polebridge.
-We drank a lot of coffee and drove a lot.
-Once back in Minnesota we started moving into our apartment after nearly a year living with Rachel’s parents.
-Living with Rachel’s parents ended up working out really well, but it’s sure been nice having our own space again. It’s been a good transition for all of us, including Archie!
-Being pregnant has still been tough for Rachel, but she’s doing a lot better than she was at the end of the summer. Praise God!
-Our house didn’t sell, but we found some great renters!
-Letterpress… well, we haven’t done much letterpress lately and probably won’t be doing much for awhile with the new baby coming. However, that doesn’t mean the dream is dead. We’re just taking a step back for the time being until we have more time to commit to it. In the mean time we plan to do some projects here a there when time allows. In fact we are currently working some business cards! More to come on that.
We had the pleasure of creating these wedding invitations a few months back, and I thought I would share them on the blog today. The couple wanted a “doe and buck” theme for their wedding in the country. I had a lot of fun designing them and Darren did an awesome job as usual printing them!
We printed them on Crane Lettra which is 100% cotton paper and so luxurious! It’s pretty much the industry standard for letterpress. They advertise the paper as tree-free!
Over the years Rachel has come up with some pretty ambitious designs that always end up causing me a fair amount of stress. The payoff though, is that they always turn out really great! The same goes for her most recent wedding invite design. The design consisted of three very labor intensive elements; hand drawn flowers and leaves, watercolor, and of course letterpress printing.
Normally, the thought of watercolor painting 150 invites would be daunting, but fortunately the bride and groom were excited to get involved in the creative process and get their hands dirty. So Rachel and I, along with the bride and groom, and our close friends Liz and Eric (the groom is Eric’s brother) spent roughly three and a half hours painting the watercolor portion of the invites.
In order to get the water color portion to ultimately line up correctly we used stencils made from test prints of the invites. The night before we painted, Rachel cut out the stencils and I painted them with clear nail polish to keep the paper from deteriorating when wet.
At first it was a litter nerve-wracking having five amateurs doing so much of the painting, plus having the bride and groom there. But we quickly learned that the bride and groom were very go-with-the-flow and the painting turned out wonderfully.
The final step was to do the letterpress printing of the design on the top of the watercolor. I had a small margin of error since we only painted 160 invites and needed 150. I had a few hiccups along the way, but in the end they turned out better than I could have expected. Once again, one of Rachel’s ambitious designs paid off!
As some of you may know, I work for a here in Minneapolis and one of the motivations for us starting a letterpress business, is for me to be able to quite my job. For one, I don’t really enjoy my field of work and am not a big fan of the corporate environment. Also, I want to be able to spend more time with my family. The more and more we’ve talked about doing letterpress the more I’ve started to drag my feet at my job and be annoyed by it. Both Rachel and I keep hoping I can quite my job sooner than later. However, my attitude about my job has recently changed after listening to the audio book version of Quitter by Jon Acuff.
The book explores transitioning from you day job to your dream job, but in way I wasn’t expecting. The core message was actually hard for me to hear, but exactly what I needed. Acuff talks about the pitfalls of quitting your day job when your not ready for your dream job. He discusses how keeping you day job while pursuing your dream job can give you a lot of flexibility, especially financially. The book also made me look at how I approach my job. I’m constantly complaining about it and not doing it to the best of my ability, but in reality I’m incredibly blessed by my job. It allows me to support my family, so much so that Rachel doesn’t have to work. It gives us the financial flexibility to test the waters with our business. I like the people I work with, and honestly, it has a lot of great perks. Here are a few other things I learned from Quitter:
-Your day job can provide opportunities to learn, that will be valuable to you in your dream job.
-Performing poorly and having a bad attitude at your day job will carry through to your dream job. Likewise, performing well and having a positive attitude will have positive effects on your dream job.
-Learn to fall in like with a job you don’t love.
-In terms of time management while working a full time job, pursuing a dream and having a family: do less of the things you like and do more of the things you love.
-Once you’ve put in the work, have prepared financially, are organized, and have made peace with your day job, then you’re ready to quit your day job.
If you’re in a similar situation of trying to get out of your day job in order to pursue your dream job, I would highly recommend this book! As for me, I’m going to take what I’ve learned and put it into action.
For those of you who’ve never seen the letterpress printing process, I thought this video would give you a good glimpse into how it’s done. The press in the video is a Vandercook proofing press which is very similar to the presses I’ve been using at MCBA for the past year. The main difference is that I’ve primarily printed using photo polymer plates rather than type. Enjoy!
The video was made by Naomie Ross