Tag Archives: letterpress

The story of letterpress

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!


Business Cards – Thomas Landin Furniture

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!


Doe, a deer, a female deer

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!
IMG_2632We 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!

Letterpress Instructional Video

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

Archie’s Letterpress Invitations

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Archie is a huge dog lover, so we decided to incorporate them into his invites. Darren drew the dog on paper, scanned it in and I vectorized it in Illustrator. A true team effort! I did the rest of the design and then Darren printed them. We just used one color so they were pretty inexpensive and turned out pretty cute! We had a really fun little party with his friends and our family for his second birthday! Pics of that special day coming soon!

Why Letterpress?

I thought I’d give a brief background as to how we decided to get into this whole letterpress business, but first off you might be asking yourself, what is letterpress? Letterpress is an antiquated form of printing. Before the digital age, all print media was printed on printing presses. Fonts were made up of individual letters and characters cast in lead or carved from wood. Each letter had to be set one at a time to form words, sentences, and paragraphs, which would then make up an entire book, newspaper–  you name it. Though printing this way has now become obsolete for mass production, letterpress has had a resurgence over the past few years in the stationery market due to its tactile appeal and aesthetic.

I became aware of letterpress through Rachel. She would point out cards and various other media printed via letterpress and point out the unique characteristics. Throughout our relationship Rachel has taught me a lot about art, design, beauty, and aesthetic. She’s helped me fall in love with a world I was never aware of before and like many other things I fell in love with letterpress. However, at the time neither of us knew much about the letterpress process. That all changed on a trip to Half Moon Bay, California where we stumbled upon a stationery store who’s owner dabbled in letterpress. We got to talking to the owner and he demonstrated the process and even let us try out his table top Chandler and Price platen press. The letterpress seeds were planted!


DSC_0595The trip to Half Moon Bay was almost three years ago and in the first couple of years since we causally threw around the idea of starting a letterpress business. Rachel had here own graphic design business called Birdy Blue for a couple of years and we thought maybe we could do something similar, but with letterpress, but it wasn’t until our son Archie was born two years ago that we really started talking about it seriously. I was starting to get sick of my line of work and corporate life and we desired to spend more time together as a family. Rachel coming from the design back ground and me coming from an engineering background and being pretty handy mechanically, letterpress just made sense.

In the past year and a half I’ve taken a letterpress class at Minnesota Center for Books Arts where they have a great letterpress program and studio. I’ve also been spending my Tuesday nights there at their open studio getting my hands on the presses as much as possible. I’m taking another letterpress class this summer and about a month ago we bought our own press, a little table top Kelsey platen press. We’re pretty much covered in the design department with Rachel at the helm, and I’m becoming increasingly competent as a press operator. Our main push lately has been figuring out the business side of things, which is definitely a challenge, but the big picture keeps us motivated. We hope to have Paravel Press officially launched as early as this fall, so stayed tuned for more to come!

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