Saturday, May 2, 2015

DIY Letterpress

Hot Letterpress Action!

Finished invite!

Last spring I was uber busy getting ready for our wedding, and because of that my little blog here was put on the back-burner. In all the excitement, I completely forgot to post about my handmade letterpress wedding invitations. So here goes!

I've always loved the look of letterpress invitations, but they were totally out of my budget. As a designer/crafter - I decided it would be fun to try making my own. Because making things is fun! I searched the web for info about letterpressin', and I found instructions on how to make your own press! The instructions were written by Charles G. Morgan, here's a link to his PDF. My Dad helped me with building the press (aka he built the whole thing - thanks Papa-Georgio!) We had to buy a few things, but luckily we had most of the ingredients on hand.

Rolling the ink

I bought paper, a roller, and ink from Dick Blick. I drew some sketches of the invitation and then I designed it in Adobe Illustrator and InDesign. I sent my design in to BoxCar Press, and they printed it onto a polymer plate. It was super easy and I was really happy with the quality of my plate.

The inked plate

Once I had the press and the plate, the process was pretty simple. I would roll a small (very small) amount of the dark blue ink onto my roller and then I would carefully roll it onto my plate (which I taped onto cardboard, so I could move it around more easily). Then even more carefully I lightly placed my pre-cut paper centered over the inked plate, and put another cardboard piece on top (to protect my paper and plate from the weight of the press. In the very first photo you can see that the two thin cardboard pieces (I think I cut them from a shoebox) were taped together at the top, so I just had to flip the top one over to make the sandwich. So the layers were... 1-cardboard, 2-plate, 3-ink, 4-paper, 5-cardboard. 

Finally, I carefully slid the sandwich into the press and cranked it closed several times (more info in the PDF instructions) to press the ink into the paper. It took some practice versions, but I was really happy with the end results! I think I made around 150 invites, so that was several hours of just inking and pressing (not counting the designing stage). It was totally worth the time though - they turned out beautiful, and now I have our invitation sitting out in our apartment - cause it's pretty!

Some of the invites drying

By the way, Happy Me-Made-May!!!