You may be wondering how all this letterpress goodness works. And more importantly what makes this 15th century practice so much more awesome than more modernized digital printing. Well, let me explain.
To start I design on a computer and then get photopolymer plates (a type of plastic printing plate) made from my digital design to create the template. When I’m ready to use the press, I mix the colors by hand and then ink the press by spreading the color on the rollers. Next I ink my plates by rolling it through the printer. Then I feed each sheet each sheet into the printer. For projects with multiple colors I repeat the process over again. The result is beautifully embossed rich and textural stationery that are a visual treat and a delight to touch!
Now that you know how it’s done, let’s move on to the technical details.
Because all presses are designed differently, I use two; a Chandler & Price Pilot and Vandercook Universal 1. Think of it as the difference between a small skillet and a wok. The Chandler is ideal for small projects like business cards, coasters, and mini prints. The Vandercook, a workhorse, is a 1200 pounds of metal and grinding gears and rollers from the mid 20th century. The Vandercook is like the rock god of letterpresses. Though it has a small motor that powers the ink cylinders, both presses require me to manually crank the handle. Good thing I’ve been working out.
The greeting cards are printed on luscious cotton paper as well as post-consumer recycled thick kraft paper. For custom work, I utilize a variety of paper thicknesses and colors depending on the needs of each project and the individual client’s preferences.
As to inspiration, my mind is like a coffeemaker on speed; it’s brewing nonstop. I’m constantly coming up with ideas requiring me to instantly jot them down lest I forget. Darn ideas, always so fleeting. For me the artistic process is less about creating a specific type of greeting card like a birthday or thank you card. I just want to create interesting patterns, designs, and textures. The message comes afterwards like the frosting on a cupcake. Or the bow on a present.
Ultimately the cards are an extension of myself. I love nature and the outdoors are a huge part of my life so elements of it continuously pop up in my work whether I like it or not. But I live in New York, so urban elements often creep into my work as well. While letterpress is serious business, it’s also a labor of love. I often feel like a kid in a candy shop. Being able to create something with my hands makes my heart burst. It’s a feeling I believe shines through in my work. If you have a soft spot for bursting hearts, old-school methodology, and tactile creations give me a call or email me. I look forward to working with you!