Luke & Kate – Amazing DIY Letterpress Invitations!

Our guest post today is by customer and friend Luke Pauw.  Follow his journey to create one of a kind wedding stationery & favors for his wedding to long time love Kate…..

Being a graphic designer I knew I wanted to design our invites myself; my love and interest in letterpress is what drove me to try printing them myself.

After a lot of research on different options and ways to create letterpress prints at home I decided that the low fuss way would be to use the Quickcutz L Letterpress. I also found an article from boxcarpress.com on how to get the best results with a bit of tinkering.

After a lot of experimentation, ink trials and paper tests I finally arrived at a result that I felt was print worthy.

Invite

Things You’ll Need:

Quickcutz L Letterpress (alternatively you could build your own)
Photo-polymer printing plates – KF152 material, adhesive backed (Can be ordered through boxcarpress.com or KDS Graphics Ltd in Scarborough)
Paper – 100% cotton based cut to size (mine were 5.5” x 4.25”)
Speedball Rubber Brayer
Ink – I used Caligo Safe Wash Relief Ink as it had the best results and easy clean up
Small sheet of Plexiglas
Masking and double sided tape
Exacto knife
Drying Rack
(optional)

1/ Setting up registration

To ensure consistent prints—especially when doing 2 colors—you need to have good registration. To achieve this use 2 pieces of the printing paper and 2 pieces of double sided tape to make “gauge pins.” These are what hold the paper in place when printing. Using a piece of your printing paper, place the gauge pins around the edges at 1-2” intervals. I also used small tabs of paper in between the pins for added support but that might be overkill.

Close up of gauge pins and gauge pins in placeClose-up of paper gauge                                    Gauge pins in place

2/ Plate placement

With the gauge pins in place use a printout of your design—cut to size—to ensure proper plate placement. To do this, remove the sticky back from your plate and place it  face down on the design. Next, run it through the letterpress sticking the plate to your platen. Once the plate is in place do a dry print test to ensure you have proper alignment. You may need to do this step a few times to get it perfect. Also note you may want to tape down your base as it can have a bit of wiggle and can throw off alignment too.

Print out of design

Plate lined up on design

3/ Inking

Use the masking tape to tape the Plexiglas to your work table. This will prevent it from moving when you are inking your brayer. Put a few dabs of ink on the Plexiglas and begin rolling it around until you have a nice even coat. You will also need roller guides on the side of your plates. These prevent the ink from getting on anything other than your plate surface. I found Plexiglas that was the same thickness as my plates and made my own rig. However, you can also ask your plate supplier to include scrap strips to use as roller guides. Roll the brayer a few times across your plates until you have a nice even coat.

Inking the plate—note the roller guides

4/ Printing

With the letterpress setup and inked we can move on to the fun part, printing. Place your paper into the gauge pins and run it through the letterpress. Check to ensure you have nice crisp lines and good color transfer. You may need to experiment a bit on ink amount and coverage, but if everything looks good you can begin production. Make sure to give each print a quick inspection; I needed to clean the plates a couple times due to muddy prints. I also made a drying rack out of a piece of 1” x 2” wood and pins.

Running the letter press through

The end result:



I was so pleased with the results and had such a good time printing them that I went on to also design and print our guestbook and items for our favor bags this way.



If you have any questions or would like to contact Luke regarding his services as a graphic designer, he can be reached at lukepauw@gmail.com

(Items available at The Paper Place: Cotton Paper, Black A7 Envelopes, Kraft Moleskine Journals, Fortune Teller Fish)

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19 Responses to “Luke & Kate – Amazing DIY Letterpress Invitations!”

  1. kristine says:

    hi, how did you make the customized letterpress plate? i am thinking of doing my invite but dunno where to order for the plate or how to diy it. thanks!

  2. heather says:

    Hi Leah. Luke wrote this guest post for us last November so I don’t think he is still checking it to answer questions. He did provide an email address at the end of the post so you can try and contact him directly with your questions. Thanks!

  3. Leah says:

    I also have the l letterpress and will begin my test trial tomorrow. What did you use to clean your plates? After many prints did you noticed they were gettinig muddy?

  4. heather says:

    Hi Kristina,

    Luke answered the Moleskine cover question below. Here is his answer again:
    The Moleskines were indeed done with the L Letterpress. The book was opened and the front and back printed in separate runs. I did not run the book all the way through the machine however—just enough to make the impression and then in reverse to remove the book. They are indeed too thick to run all the way through. This also prevents the impression from going into the internal pages.

  5. Kristina says:

    Gorgeous! Like TJ, I’m wondering how you did the Moleskin cover…

  6. [...] in a Photo-polymer printing plate – KF152 material, … … Read the original here: Luke & Kate – Amazing DIY Letterpress Invitations! | The Paper … ← For Brides on a Budget, OvernightPrints.com Is an Easy “I Do [...]

  7. judith says:

    Hi Lyn,
    You can have any computer generated image made in a Photo-polymer printing plate – KF152 material, adhesive backed (Can be ordered through boxcarpress.com or KDS Graphics Ltd in Scarborough)
    Have fun!
    Judith

  8. lyn says:

    I am new to this whole letterpress printing. So I was wondering, you can print out your own personal design then create it onto a printing plate? If so, how do I go about doing so? I am the type of person to make my work pesonal, and I can’t find any pre-made printing plates that I’d like to use. However, my PC has fonts I would want to replicate.

    thanks,
    lyn

  9. judith says:

    Hi K,
    Often, art supply stores will carry inks for relief printmaking. Otherwise, I might suggest trying online.
    As for paper, the beauty of letterpress is that you can print on so many different types of paper. If you have an opportunity to visit us on Queen Street, we can show you a wide variety of papers to experiment with. We also carry some beautiful cotton papers that work very well with letterpress.
    Thanks for enjoying our blog,
    Judith

  10. KT says:

    Hi,

    I was wondering where you bought the ink and paper in Toronto?
    and what other papers work well if I can’t get a hold of 100% cotton.

    Thanks
    K :)

  11. Melinh says:

    Hi,

    thank you so much for this post, it is very useful and it convinced me to get a L letterpress machine. May I ask you where did you buy your ink and paper (in Toronto?)

    Thanks

  12. TJ says:

    Ah… Opened up and turned sideways. Eureka! Thanks. Great stuff!

  13. Luke says:

    The Moleskines were indeed done with the L Letterpress. The book was opened and the front and back printed in separate runs. I did not run the book all the way through the machine however—just enough to make the impression and then in reverse to remove the book. They are indeed too thick to run all the way through. This also prevents the impression from going into the internal pages.

  14. TJ says:

    Of course. I should have been more specific…

    What I was wondering was how the Moleskine was done with the L Letterpress. As far as I know, the machine won’t handle that sort of bulk. (Perhaps it wasn’t done with the L?)

  15. judith says:

    They are wonderful! A lot of artists and designers are printing their moleskine notebooks. Whether you are using letterpress or screenprint methods or simply stamping the covers, it is easy to do. You do not need to take the book apart at all!

  16. TJ says:

    Beautiful! How did you print the Moleskine? Did you have to take them apart?

  17. Justin says:

    Not being able to afford a professional letterpress I’ve been thinking on getting the L Letterpress kit to get my feet wet on some business card ideas I have. I first saw Boxcar’s post and now yours. Amazing results so I think I might just have to drop a little dough!

  18. Jennifer Evanik says:

    As an engaged designer to another, fabulous job! I just love it!

  19. Tina Story says:

    Thank you very much for this post! It was fantastic, I enjoyed reading it and learned a lot about a possible way to letterpress print at home.

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