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My name is Lisa and I'm a crafty girl with wanderlust working as an engineer by day. My blog chronicles projects in my home as well as pictures and stories from my travels.

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Entries in Cards (3)

Saturday
Dec242016

DIY Letterpress Holiday Cards

I love to make our annual holiday cards and this year I decided to do a simple letterpress card. I previously had made our letterpress wedding invitations a few years ago so I had the benefit of some lessons learned this time around. I already had plenty of navy ink that I had previously custom ordered for the wedding invitations and my Lifestyle Crafts Letterpress Combo Kit so all I needed was to order some more paper and create a design. I'm just going to share some basics in this post so for a thorough rundown about the process, check out my wedding invitation post as well as the information from Boxcar Press..

I started by creating my design using Adobe Illustrator with a simple greeting and a few snowflakes. I then ordered my plate through Boxcar Press. They have a minimum size so I like to add on a bunch of other fun things that I may use later, like small designs, greetings or initials. Also, when ordering they will send you extra plate strips for free that you can use as bearings when inking so definitely ask for it in the comments of your order. After receiving the plate I cut out the design using a scissors and removed the blue backing so that I could stick it to the top board of my letterpress bed. 

The big thing that I learned from last time was to start with a very, very small amount of ink and use a large acrylic piece to work with as your base. Instead of using the small piece that came with the kit, I ordered a nice large 12"x12" acrylic piece. I used my ink knife to only spread out a pea sized amount of ink and then worked it with my knife back and forth until it was smooth.

I then transferred only a small amount from my blade onto a second large piece of acrylic and used my rubber brayer to roll it back and forth until I had a very, very light coat of ink on the brayer.

I used some of the polymer plate strips that came with my plate for roller bearers. I didn't do this when I did my wedding invitations (it didn't work well for me then) but this time it resulted in a much better impression. With my brayer loaded with ink, I very lightly rolled it over my letterpress plate. It is very important to only roll once otherwise you will have way too much ink on the plate and you will get a messy impression.

After the plate was inked removed the polymer plate strips and put my paper on the bottom board of the letterpress bed.  I splurged and used the Crane's Lettra Pearl White 220lb Cover again. It is hard to show in pictures but it is amazingly thick and beautiful and I felt it was definitely worth it. Instead of using gage pins to align my paper on the letterpress bed I just aligned it with the markings on the letterpress and then trimmed down the card afterward. 

With the paper in place I carefully flipped the top of the letterpress over the bed. I then put the letterpress bed into the Epic Six and turned the crank which pushed the letterpress bed through the machine. After trimming it down to size my card was complete.

To make sure that I got good impressions, after each print I wiped the sentiment part of the plate clean with a dry cotton rag before reinking. I found that not wiping the snowflakes worked best to make sure that they filled in well. I also found that after trimming the cards down, if it was a little rough on the edges using a very fine sandpaper (600 grit) made it nice and smooth for a professional look.

I am very happy with how the cards came out and hope that our friends and family have enjoyed receiving them this year. It was definitely worth some blue ink stained fingers.

If you are interested you can check out some more of my handmade holiday cards here and here.

Thursday
Jul112013

DIY Letterpress Wedding Invitations 

I love how letterpress looks so I really wanted to try making my own letterpress wedding invitations. I looked at my local paper/bookbinding shop to try to do a traditional class where you set your own type, but nothing was available in the time frame I needed. I did a little searching around on the internet and came across an at home option with the Lifestyle Crafts Letterpress Combo Kit. At first I was a little discouraged since the reviews weren't so great, but I found that some people had success using modifications with a tutorial from Boxcar Press.

With renewed enthusiasm, I decided to go for it and ordered a custom letterpress plate from Boxcar Press. My first step was to create a design for my invitation and reply card on Adobe Illustrator. For fonts I used Bickham Script Pro for our names, Times New Roman in italic for "and" and "reception to follow" and Copperplate for the rest of the wording. 

Since you pay for the total area of the design and there is a minimum size I decided to fill up the blank spaces with other words like "Happy Birthday" and "Thank you" as well as some cute icons for later use in card making. Honestly, I realized after getting my plate I could have packed things together a little more tightly than I did. Ordering the plate was super easy. I simply created a log-in and uploaded my Adobe Illustrator file. They also take PDF and EPS files as well. Below is a portion of the plate that I received with my invitation on the top right and the reply card on the bottom right.

I used a regular scissors to cut apart the elements from each other. The reply card is on the left and my invite is on the right.

Next, I pulled the blue film off the plate to expose the sticky backing on my invitation plate. I saved the blue film to reapply after I was done. The letterpress kit is basically two hinged acrylic boards that you crank through a die cut machine. I aligned my plate on the top board using the grid lines.

Next I inked my plate. This was a bit tricky. I choose to order deep navy blue rubber ink from Boxcar Press.  Honestly, it was expensive but now I have a lifetime of navy ink since it comes in a two pound can. I also liked the fact that rubber ink was slow drying to make clean up and printing easier.

When printing you need to use a very, very small amount of ink so you should have two acrylic pieces, one to work some ink until it is soft with an ink knife and the other to roll out with your brayer. I had the one that came with my kit and then I used the back of one of my quilting templates for the other one. Honestly, the piece of acrylic that came with my kit was ridiculously small and I would have saved myself some headaches if I had used something larger since I barely had any room to hold it. The brayer that comes with the kit is also so small that is it absurd. I got a 6in soft rubber brayer and was very glad that I did. 

I took a small amount of ink from my can, mixed it until it was smooth on my first acrylic piece with my ink knife and then transferred a very small amount onto the second acrylic piece. I then rolled it out with my brayer until I had a very, very light coating of ink on the brayer.

With my brayer loaded with ink, I very lightly rolled it over my letterpress plate. I used some of the polymer plate strips that came with my plate for roller bearers as the Boxcar Press tutorial suggested, but honestly I found that I got better results by hand inking it.

It definitely took some time to get the hang of exactly how much ink I needed to get a nice impression. The picture below is with my plate inked with a bit too much ink, but unfortunately I didn't take a picture with it inked the right amount. To make sure that I got good impressions, after each print I wiped the plate clean with a dry cotton rag before reinking.

After the plate was inked I put my paper on the bottom board of the letterpress bed.  I splurged and bought Crane's Lettra Pearl White 220lb Cover. It is hard to show in pictures but it is amazingly thick and beautiful and I felt it was definitely worth it. Instead of using gage pins to align my paper on the letterpress bed I just aligned it with the sides (since the paper was the full width of the bed) and the trimmed down the top and bottom afterward. I was only making ten invitations so that method seemed easier for me, but if you were making a large quantity you may want to do something different.

With the paper in place I carefully flipped the top of the letterpress over the bed.

I then put the letterpress bed into the Epic Six and turned the crank which pushed the letterpress bed through the machine.

After trimming it down to size my invitation was complete. I then used the same process to print my reply cards.

To finish things up I bought 6" x 6" Navy Square Invitation Envelopes for the invitations and 3-5/8" x 5-1/8" Navy Invitation Envelopes for the reply cards. I kept things simple and used a white gel pen to address the envelopes before popping them in the mail.

I really love how my invitations turned out and to me it was worth the time and effort. Honestly speaking, figuring out how much ink gave a good print was a bit fussy and time consuming but once I had that down it was fairly quick to crank them out. It is definitely something that I would try again for a special occasion.

Sunday
Jun172012

How to Wrap Gifts Like A Japanese Department Store

One of the things that I always thought was cool while living in Japan was the method that the department stores would use to wrap gifts. They wrap the gift with the paper on an angle, tucking the excess paper in as they go and the final result requires only a single piece of tape at the end. It always looks quite elegant and I would watch amazed as the department store clerks would beautifully wrap up something I bought so quickly and efficiently.

With one of my friends moving to Chicago I bought her a little book about the town as a going away gift and thought it would be fun to wrap in a Chicago map. I've been meaning to try to wrap something Japanese Department Store style and this seemed like a good opportunity.

I had seen it done a ton of times so I thought it wouldn't be hard but it is definitely a little more difficult than it looks. I tried it out with a scrap piece of paper before I wrapped it for real with the map and I am glad that I did. Getting the right angle and making sure the paper is big enough to cover your gift, but not so big that you have too much excess paper to tuck in is a little tricky. I think with a little practice it would be fairly simple to get the hang of though.

To wrap the gift place it in the bottom right corner of your paper at an angle so that you can fold a small amount of the corner of the paper over the bottom of the gift. Next, fold the paper over the right side of the gift, tucking in the excess paper at the corner so the paper lays flat.

Once you have the bottom and right side folded over, you flip the gift over itself on the table, tucking in excess paper on the right as you go. Now the gift is mostly covered with paper flaps still remaining on the left and top. Fold the left side over the gift, tucking in the excess paper and the finish by folding down the top over the gift. The wrapping paper can now be secured with a single piece of tape on the top flap. I finished my gift off by adding a handmade Bon Voyage card and some baker's twine with a bow.

I am happy at how my first try at Japanese Department Store gift wrapping came out and I'll have to try it again. If you are curious how the experts do it, here is a video of a lady slowly explaining how to wrap a gift (it's in Japanese but you can see how it is done) and here is a video of an Isetan Department Store Clerk in action wrapping a gift. Pretty neat, don't you think?