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.
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
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 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
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
(Items available at The Paper Place: Cotton Paper, Black A7 Envelopes, Kraft Moleskine Journals, Fortune Teller Fish)