Category Archives: letterpress

Letterpress Class – Take Two

After a crummy experience with Paper Source’s letterpress class, I wanted to show my friend Wendy that paper crafting really can be fun. So we had a letterpress class at my house last weekend. I recently received a lot of Studio Calico’s letterpress plates but after looking through my supplies, Wendy decided she really loved the designs from my emboss folders so we used those instead.
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We tried the letterpress on different paper weights. Last year, my friend Eloise brought me to Ink and Paper, a paper store in LA that sells amazing scraps of heavy cotton paper. These scraps are left over from large letterpress orders. Though they may no longer work for the letterpress machines, they’re definitely large enough for paper crafters. You can learn more about the store from this really neat Vimeo video. The owner is so kind and you can tell he really loves paper. He also sold me so many scraps for a pittance. The paper is thicker, plusher, and cheaper than the thickest Lifestyle Crafts paper and I tried to pay him more for the supplies I purchased but he declined. IMG_0070

After our lunch break, we started assembling cards using the Studio Calico kits I got back in February. To avoid fussy cutting, I stamped all the stamps we liked in black versamark ink onto a white sheet of paper, scanned the sheet, and used the scanned images to create a cut file.

It’s probably super obvious to others but just in case, please note that this stamp-scan-cut method works easiest with see-through stamps. For example, it was not easy aligning the Amy Tangerine’s new Plus One woodblock Happy Place stamp on the die cut. Luckily, it still turned out pretty awesome.

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The design below is from my favorite lifestyle crafts emboss folder. I’m always so thrilled about how crisply it embosses – it makes even the simplest cards look amazing.
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Still Waiting for Letterpress

Still using my Lifestyle Crafts emboss folders to experiment while I wait for the Studio Calico letterpress plates to restock. In the meantime, I busted out the letterpress inks again. Even using lots of cooking oil, it’s such a messy pain in the butt and I still haven’t figured out how to distribute the ink properly. But it’s also strangely addicting. Here are two cards I made this week.IMG_5055

IMG_5056I have a few plates on order (the ones that I’ll most likely use for the holidays) that will hopefully come soon, but the others I want are still out of stock. Oh wells. I have an Erin Condren planner, December Daily and letterpress package on the way (fingers crossed!) so hopefully it will soon be Christmas in October!

Below are some detailed pictures that compare the debossed/inked effect when using Delicata Gold ink, the Letterpress gold, and the Letterpress Turquoise (from left to right). I’ve seen some amazing results with both the Delicata and letterpress inks but I don’t have the technique quite right yet–I think I need to get the ink guide strips. Off to find some more tutorials!

Experimenting with Lifestyle Crafts Letterpress

Things I’ve learned so far:

* Lifestyle crafts emboss folders can be used as “letterpress” plates.

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* Taping the sides of the platform and the right amount of ink will create an amazing letterpress effect.IMG_4737

* The debossed and inked image will create a translucent finish and pool in strange ways when you don’t apply enough ink.

IMG_4665IMG_4663* Letterpress scraps are so easy to incorporate into cards. IMG_4670* Letterpress scraps are also great for creating mini vignettes!IMG_4793

Paper Source Class – Lifestyle Crafts L Letterpress

I have never taken a class at Paper Source and following my experience in the Letterpress Class, I’m not sure that I’ll take another anytime soon.

A few years ago, I saw the Lifestyle Crafts Letterpress machine on sale for 50% off and almost purchased the platform. Most of the reviews for the machine and the letterpress platform were pretty awful so I passed.

Fast forward to the end of July. I’m in Paper Source and there’s a huge display for a Letterpress Machine and fliers for a Letterpress workshop. Folks on Studio Calico start posting about the upcoming Letterpress class and new letterpress tools. I’m really trying to avoid collecting stuff as fads fly by so I figured that I’d sign up for the class and try out the machine before I invest in any of SC’s awesome letterpress plates.

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Before the class, I got super excited and read this really awesome post from Boxcar Press about tweaks that would make the Letterpress kit produce beautiful images. Unfortunately, I still have no idea if a true letterpress deboss and inking is possible with this machine because the class was pretty terrible. It should have been called an embossing and stamping class. In two hours, I think we were supposed to complete 8-10 cards. But the instructions were not clear, the card examples were pretty cheesy, and each person only had two chances to Letterpress. On top of that, the paper they provided us was super thin so the deboss was very shallow. Save one, the cards looked like beautifully stamped cards but not at all letterpressed.

The card colors were navy, orange, and gray. They were fun and preppy, especially when I started adding a bright green to everything. However, I really didn’t like the class designs so all the cards below are my attempt to jazz stuff up. These are the “letterpressed” cards.

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The images are very impressive and clear; however, there was basically no debossing effect because we used very little packing and relatively thin cardstock,. The only exception is the leaf on the white strip above.

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It’s even easier to see what I mean when the image is zoomed in. Maybe I’m totally wrong, but I thought that when you run your fingers across letterpressed prints, you’re supposed to marvel at how precisely ink is welled up in a noticeable depression.

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No depression although it does look like a beautiful stamp job. Maybe I don’t understand what letterpress is? I wonder if I could just ink up my emboss folder with the ink?

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This doesn’t mean that the L Letterpress can’t create a deep deboss – it’s just that this class did nothing to help me determine if it can. And until I know that it can create a super special deboss, I don’t know if I’m ready to add letterpress-light to my arsenal of goodness. I asked the instructor about using some thicker paper (something with higher cotton content maybe) and just got mumbles insinuating that the machine might break. On a tangent, the instructor’s language that night was an interesting hybrid of theatre geek and self-help guru and it felt a little bit like crafting with Robin William’s character in the Birdcage. A little entertaining but not very useful.

Each person spent on average 7 minutes with the letterpress platform. The other 113 minutes of the class, we played with stamps and embossing powder. Not to be a total product snob but I was also really disappointed by the supplies on hand for the class. All these awesome and inspiring people on YouTube, blogs, and different forums have raised my expectations of craft tools and I thought Paper Source should have much cooler supplies. When someone asked for a way to line up stamps, instead of producing a thingamajig or something like it, they had some cheesy and expensive stamp set that only let you line up the fuzzy letters that came in the set. They didn’t even give us a ruler. The foam tape curled into itself as soon as I took it off the adhesive sheet. Considering we spent 94.2% of the class embossing, the fact that there was only ONE emboss design out was also ridiculous. I know I’m being a brat calculating the time we spent with the machine but with the money we spent on the class, I should have just bought the darned thing.

On the positive side, I did get a chance to emboss my envelopes and the scraps we had available.

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I really liked this “picante” emboss powder against the grey and blue. I added the washi when I got home. I love washi!

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A close up of the embossing. IMG_4597

All in all:

Paper Source workshop = FAIL

L Letterpress = ??

The L Letterpress seems to make cleaner impressions than the letterpress kit from years ago. However, I still really want to know how well it works with thicker paper. My plan to try it out before taking the plunge didn’t work out but I’m looking forward to see how well it works for everyone else.