Friday, July 10, 2009

Printing--A Kiss

I leave you some very warm printing thoughts this weekend--the below was posted by Fritz of NA Graphics on his excellent photostream. No matter where you come down on the kiss vs. punch debate, reading the way printers used to be (and still are) transported by their work is really refreshing. Check it out, and have a nice weekend!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Lettra in small quantities

Via the Letpress Listserv, Legion Paper is now offering Lettra in 25 (rather than 50 or 100) sheet increments, with no minimum order--envelopes too!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Art by Lauren DiCioccio

20x200 offers art at affordable prices, in limited quantities. Twice each week, new editions of photos, prints, or drawings are introduced, starting at $20 for the edition of 200. As it says on the site:

(limited editions x low prices) + the internet = art for everyone

There is a serious lack of letterpress on the site, so if you're up for it (you can also make digital prints of letterpress-printed work, and save the actual letterpress for the more expensive editions), you can read submission guidelines here.

The Recession's Hidden Victims

Picture via The New York Times

The New York Times had an interesting article in its Sunday Magazine last week called "The Self-Employed Depression"--needless to say, I thought, "That's me!" (Self-employed, though not depressed). It's a great article about those self-employed people who, because of how unemployment numbers are tallied, are often left out of poverty and unemployment calculations even as they struggle to make ends meet and how this "downturn" is affecting them. The article focuses on Lisa Feuer (shown above), a freelance yoga teacher in NYC who has seen her gigs steadily decline over the last year, to the point where she's had to apply for food stamps. We're not exactly in the same boat as letterpress printers, but our product, like yoga classes, could be considered something to buy chiefly when times are good. I haven't seen a big decline in orders from last year, but I do feel a little on edge, in case the bottom really hasn't fallen out of the economy yet.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Cool Blog Alert: FPO

FPO is For Print only, a blog by Bryony Gomez-Palacio and Armin Vit "dedicated to both the visual stimulus and the detailing of the development and production of printed matter: Annual reports, books, business cards, stationery suites, collateral materials, posters, packaging and anything else where ink meets substrate (source)." They are also friends and featurers of letterpress--cf today's example, printed by the Cranky Pressman for Jennifer Blanco:

They accept submissions of recent work, and each posting contains useful info about stock used, production time, and cost (curious about how you all would have priced out the Blanco job!). Essentially, the stuff I used to buy How for.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Recovery Act Wants YOU

If the economy is stressing both you and your business out, the Small Business Administration may want to give you free money. From the SBA's site:

SBA’s America’s Recovery Capital Loan Program can provide up to $35,000 in short-term relief for viable small businesses facing immediate financial hardship to help ride out the current uncertain economic times and return to profitability.

Some loans are interest free--this program runs till 2010. Get more details here.

Love your Machinist

I finally took the new press for a trial run this afternoon--it's new, of course, only in that it's new to me, though it's been sitting in its spot for a year while I got all the parts together. Here is the as-yet-unnamed press (sorry in advance for the low-res photos!):

It runs great, as it turns out, and had only ever had one owner. The hardest parts to find were not new rollers or other letterpress-era bits, but the modern stuff I needed to make it run. I found a motor on eBay, a belt on eBay, but the pulley eluded me. Then I thought: if you can't beat 'em, call the machinist and have one made. As we know, usually when something on the c+p breaks, heaven forfend, it's curtains for that press. The chase hook on my 12x18 broke at some point in the past, and my dad's machinist friend made me an aluminum beauty:

(needless to say, it doesn't look near that blindingly shiny anymore.)

So, I took the old, steel and leather pulley I had

to the local machine shop, and they measured it in and out, and made the perfect thing out of aluminum:

They even made a crown in the middle so that the belt gravitates toward the center. It cost about $115, but was just what I needed. I'm about to put some tape on it to make it a little more grippy, so I wanted to show it to you all before it became another hard-working shop part. If you want to see more pictures of the motor setup or hookup, just let me know.

Share your problem-solving stories in the comments below!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Wacky Weddings? Promo Opportunity!

This came through the grapevine yesterday:

Newsweek is looking for a few fun brides who are loosening up the reins of tradition…wearing gowns that are sexier, hosting epic, just-like-the-boys bachelorette parties and booking boudoir shoots as gifts for their hubbies. If you know of any, the editor would love to chat with you!

If you're working with any clients who you suspect would be a good fit, send me an email or message and I'll forward along the editor's contact info.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Fleuron Sale at P22

Time to clean out the stock art file and make room for some fresh fleurons! P22 is having an excellent sale on Lanston fleurons, to commemorate the birth of typographer Bruce Rogers. Get yours from the P22 website here.

Ah, weddings

I'm sorry for the lag in new stuff to read from me--we are still wading through Wedding River, sometimes upstream! Speaking of which, did you hear about this?

The Berkshire Eagle reports that Martha Stewart has partnered with Crane's for a new line of social stationery products, starting with wedding stationery.

Megan Kuntze, Crane's brand director, said last week's layoffs and wage cuts were done to keep the company profitable through 2009. Although the new line of wedding stationery will be released this spring, Crane isn't expected to experience the benefits of the partnership until the first quarter of 2010.

"A particular launch like this is going to be a very slow build to a successful business," Kuntze said. "It's not going to be overnight. There's a lot of moving parts and pieces to make this successful. It will only really begin to see the light of day in the first quarter of next year. In order to save 2009, it was imperative to make the difficult decision that we made.

"Could this turn things around?" she said. "It could be positive in making things go the other way."

The new stationery line will be available through Crane stationers that are equipped with the company's new "personalized design studio," which is a new ordering system, Kuntze said.

The article says Martha Stewart was once featured in a Crane stationery advertising campaign during her modeling days in the 1960s and 1970s. There are some Martha Stewart wedding invitations that show up in's database already. You can see Martha Stewart's Pearlized Striae Letterpressed Invitations (pictured above) here on Crane's website.

Via shoppingblog

What do you all think of this development in letterpress mass-production?

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Pretty things made from paper by Papermode

Maybe you inherited your love of paper from your mother? Maybe your mother is from France? If so, and regardless, maybe you'll like these

from Papermode in Paris, via Etsy.

On Soy Inks

The debate over soy vs. oil. vs. rubber (and vs. acrylic, don't forget) rages on: last week the discussion about the pros and cons of each variety was being hotly debated on the Photopolymer Listserv, where an astute member referred us to this great post from the Spark Stationery blog. You can read the full post here, but here are the highlights, quoted directly from their post:

* When we looked into the actual composition of various inks, it turns out that soy inks are not vastly different. If not soy oil, most oil-based inks use linseed oil, which has been used for centuries in oil paint, etc. It also is plant based, and time proven. The breakdown of the ink is something like 20-30% oils (of either kind), 10-20% pigments, around 40% resins, and some other things such as drier or varnish.
* In the very small quantities we use, there is no significant difference in VOCs emitted, or other environmental standards. Soy ink shows these advantages in large print runs such as newspapers, national mailings, and so forth.
* The soy ink that is readily available to us is sort of “soupy,” and requires adding modifiers to reach the desired stiffness. Thinner inks make the printing appear sloppy as they “squeeze out” under impression.
* The drive for soy inks came from a marketing council of soybean growers. When a printer of our size proclaims their use of soy ink, we wonder if it is more of a marketing tool than a concrete environmental difference. If the soy oil replaced volatile solvents like toluene or benzene it would be a clear advantage, but linseed has worked well for ages and has no ill effects that we know of.
* We mix all of our inks by hand so even though we are a commercial letterpress shop we only have a can or maybe two of just the pantone mixing inks instead of buying a new can of a single PMS each time someone orders a new color. Common print jobs typically use a small amount of ink – about the size of a quarter. This helps us to be better to the environment instead of having a bunch of ink that might not ever get used sitting around.
* We've also decided to start making the switch to rubber-based inks because of their anti-skimming properties. This keeps more of the ink more usable over time.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Pantone equivalents for Waste-Not/Paper-Source

This from Cynthia over at Waste-Not Paper, regarding their suggested PMS equivalents for their stocks:

Chartreuse - PMS 610U
Chocolate - PMS 476U
Grape - PMS 273U
Lake - PMS 7459U
Moss - PMS 582U
Papaya - PMS 171U
Plum - PMS 523U
Pool - PMS 7464U
Poppy - PMS 150U
Red - PMS 200U
Strawberry - PMS 191U

Monday, April 20, 2009

The 3/50 Project

The 3/50 Project
is an initiative to help save small businesses. Like yours! Like mine! Not unlike the popular Buy Handmade pledge, 3/50 asks those who sign up--both businesses and individuals--to pick three local, independent retailers, and try to spend $50 there each month. $150 is not chump change, exactly, but the point is to be conscious of where you money goes and try to frequent your local businesses over chains--even over the Internet.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

EM space - a new letterpress/book arts center in Portland, Oregon

EM Space Book Arts Center is a new printing and book arts resource in Portland, Oregon, and we're getting ready to move into a new, 2400 sq ft space! Come celebrate with us. We are hosting an open house and membership show for all. We welcome book and print lovers to tour the new space, talk to current members, ask questions and see their work. There will be food provided by Salt, Fire and Time, as well as amazing raffle prizes from local restaurants, wineries, artists and more! And, of course, there will be drinks.

NOTE: EM Space is now accepting applications for new Studio Members (read below for more details). The deadline for applications is April 18th (the night of the party!) To receive an application, please email Applications will be reviewed and notice of acceptance will be given no later than May 1st. We look forward to getting new applications and meeting members at the party!

There are many different ways to get involved, even if you live outside of Portland - please contact us for future teaching and gallery opportunities.

Please share this with anyone who may want to get involved. Thanks!!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I would like to talk to you about tape

Tape is maybe the most important office supply in my printing office. I'm sure I don't have to count the reasons. Because I have some on just about every surface, as well as in the crevices of my presses and stuck to my shoes, I think about it a lot. I buy the industrial strength clear packing tape, and was happy in the knowledge that it probably stayed stuck until the package arrived at its destination. Until I turned around yesterday and saw a perfectly nice tape stripe peeling up on the edges of a very important package. That situation will not stand! So, I decided to get serious about serious tape.

I already knew the perfect tape dispenser, but I didn't read about it in Tape Quarterly. I heard about this machine in the New Yorker's cartoon issue of 2007, where cartoonist R. Crumb told the tale of his and his wife's journey to the manufacturer of the golden fleece of tape dispensers. In this panel, Aline, Crumb's wife, sits in awe as the president introduces his 90-year old company:


Better Packages, Inc. makes water-activated tape dispensers: durable, heavy, and, for someone used to scooping up bargain-basement machinery, sometimes out of basements, a bit of an investment. Manual BP 333 Plus is my favorite, and looks like a tape dispenser one's grandkids could inherit, it's so durable:

Uline has them, of course, and you can even get a free case of reinforced tape if you buy a heater. Ebay has a few of the more expensive models, as well as some fabulous Deco scotch tape dispensers--maybe I should retrofit all my machines to pre-1920 models! I can't play the will-it-stick roulette forever, though, so one of these days . . . Better Packages will hear from me.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Happy Weekend

I hope it was a productive week for you all--enjoy Spring, wherever you find yourself!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Good, green news from Van Son Inks

Van Son, manufacturer of our favorite rubber base printing ink, has introduced a zero VOC, vegetable-based printing ink, called VS Zero. It contains neither petroleum solvents nor mineral oil, and should be available soon (Van Son's site is currently down . . . ). It'll be another way not only to protect you and yours, but also to make your shop even greener. Read more about VS Zero here.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Not done with a computer:

You can watch the whole amazing thing here.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Ikea of Fairy Tales

This is awesome. And dance-y:

SlagsmÄlsklubben - Sponsored by destiny from Tomas Nilsson on Vimeo.

Letterpress related? You decide!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Yes, steamroller.

In case you haven't seen this, from my friend at A Curiosity Shop--printing with a steamroller:


It does get results.

mmm . . . Bakery

I've been hearing many good things lately about Bakery, a pubic-relations/marketing company owned by artist Jaime Derringer and publisher Erin Loechner. They specialize in helping small businesses with the most important, and most overlooked, parts of running one--marketing, PR, websites, strategic planning, etc. etc. Earlier this week, they had a great Biz Ladies post on media kits over on design*sponge, too.

Moreover, their Etsy shop is full of really inexpenive, customized media and press kits, and a guide to selling on Etsy. Check out their blog, too. I think I'll scoot on over and get a dozen or so warm blog ads, and maybe a glazed press release too for dessert.

Pantone OOPS

My intern just let me know that the Spring 2009 forecast from Pantone is also available. I'm so embarrassed. :) Here is the Spring report for your downloading pleasure.


Monday, March 23, 2009

Wood Type for Sale

Malcolm Dean has an enormous collection of wood type--373 fonts, plus 129 related items--and it's up for sale.

"What I learned is that a collection, like any work of art, is alive, and grows and changes according to the attention you give it," he says. "If I had the time, I'd cull some sections of the collection, and build others up, especially the strong simple faces I like best--the antiques, the gothics, the early Page fonts, and especially those of Vanderburgh & Wells. I'd gradually move the collection toward the goal I once had in mind: a thousand fonts that represent the designs I most love." But he no longer has the time. Now, he'd like to find a good home for the collection with someone "who will appreciate it, and care for it, and carry it forward."

Contact him at for more info, or download the prospectus: WOOD TYPE INVENTORY FINAL reduced.pdf.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Pantone sneaks? Hold me back!!!

Not that I'll be getting a tax refund, but I almost jumped out of my printing Danskos when I saw these:

SeaVees Pantone Sneakers! These are PMS 391, of course, and there are many other colors available for $125 here.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Riding the Rails

I promised this post many weeks ago, and to my horror I'm only posting it now! But for those who suffer daily from the shame of low rails on your platen press, I give you

Michael from Interrobang Letterpress' ingenious, illustrated solution using formica. The complete directions are on his flickr page, here.

"There is nothing complicated about ordinary equality."

This lovely letterpress print is the joint effort of Chandler O'Leary of Anagram Press and Jessica Spring of Springtide Press. Available in their Etsy store, the edition is limited to 108. The colophon reads:

"Alice Stokes Paul (1885-1977) continued the work of the suffragists, and helped form the National Woman's Party to demand equal rights. The NWP engaged in militant demonstrations and the first picketing of the White House; these "Silent Sentinels" were mobbed and imprisoned, then force-fed while attempting a hunger strike. Public and media support for their cause grew and by 1920, women secured the vote. Alice Paul continued to work on their behalf, writing the original Equal Rights Amendment in 1923."

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Did I miss something?

What about spring and summer? Seems like it's still pretty frosty here . . . in spite of that, Pantone has just released its Fall 2009 color predictions. As goes fashion, so goes print!

You can download a .pdf of the full report here.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Book Cover Archive

Design ideas come from anywhere and everywhere--and even if you don't have time to read, maybe looking at book covers will at least cleanse your palate.

The Book Cover Archive has over a thousand covers so far, and is searchable by designer as well as author and title. And, it's pretty.

Type women

Ladies of Letterpress, literally:

Along with type creatures and type bikes, the type ladies are for sale in Mary Sutter's Etsy shop here. Via Green Chair Press Blog.

Heidelberg Scholarship for Creative Leadership in Print

The days of long letterpress apprenticeships might be far behind us, but I was surprised to see this in my inbox the other day. From the site: "The purpose of the scholarship is to provide accomplished creative professionals the opportunity to develop essential leadership skills required to successfully grow in a dynamic industry." If you're a creative professional first and a printer second, or a printer with a foundation in litho, or some other kind of creative/printer person, this could be a great opportunity. Also, Berlin!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Paper Crave

An all around great blog for all things paper, Paper Crave gave us a nice shout out last week. Thanks Kristen!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Shirts are here!

Get yours at yours at the Ladies' Mercantile Outlet here!

Those of you who have reserved a shirt are good to go--you'll just need to purchase the size and color you want, and follow through with PayPal.

How did I find out about MUG?

Especially since I'm in rural PA, and, though I like NYC, don't make a habit of reading their things-to-do sites? I have a Google Alert for Ladies of Letterpress, of course! I don't know if the kids are learning how to do this in Marketing 101 these days, but they should be. You can set alerts for your name, your press name, or anything else you want to keep track of, and, when Google's little spiders find mention of you in a blog in Germany, or a list of faves in Nebraska, you get an email about it. It's a great way to meet new people, and track the reach of your work.


Ladies of Letterpress received a nice mention yesterday on the Manhattan Users Guide in their Designing Women section. Our blurb:

Monday, February 23, 2009

National Stationery Show

Would anyone planning to attend the National Stationery Show in May like to blog about their experiences before, during, and after? Joy of flybird press has kindly offered to do so, and welcomes other insights as well. Let me know, and I'll make sure your posts get featured on the main page.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Ah, Fridee

I don't know about you all, but I'm pooped. Let's have a little Friday relaxment, shall we?


And just to keep it printing related, the ca. 6" tall Baltimore 11:


I cannot tell which is more adorable. Is that why so many of us combine puppies and printing?

Next week: much business advice, ink-savers in the print shop, and how to fix the C+P rail-height problem from Michael at Interrobang. Have a nice weekend!

Spotlight on . . . Austin!

So last week at this time, we were taking a printing break in sunny Austin, Texas, where my mom was getting ready to run her 31st marathon (go Ma!). Yeah, that's a picture of 75 degrees in February. Austin is a great place to live and work--that's where I got my first job making plates for a printer who's been at work since before many of us were born--and it's also home to many fine archives, engravers, bookbinders, and printers. Here are a few faves--feel free to add your own!

Horsemuffin is owned by Gwendolyn Rice, who combines printing and glass to make fabulous objets. Her 3-D work is unique, too.

Many printers we know have gotten their footing at Flatbed Press, a great place to take classes and get inky with other printers. Take a class this spring and it's professional development for next year's taxes! [not real tax advice--go ask your accountant to make sure. :) ]

Effing Press focus is books, but they also do commercial printing. Relatively new to the wider and wider world of letterpress is Vertallee, a husband, wife, and Heidelberg team. Check out their great blog, too.

Finally, what would a list like this be without a printer of band posters. Rural Rooster prints, designs, and makes websites, too.


If you have a great letterpress scene in your city, let us know! We'll feature it and you in a future post.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Speaking of cotton

The new Ladies of Letterpress t-shirts, designed by Todd Thyberg and printed by VGKids, will be here the first week of March! Available in two colors on American Apparel in any size--email me to pre-order!

Is Lettra recycled?

We love Lettra--and not only because of its tree-freeness. What goes into that cotton stock? This info comes from Dave Kidwell, Crane's Mid-Atlantic Region Manager, regarding the "recycled" content of Crane's Lettra.

There are two sources for cotton that Crane's uses to make all of its 100% cotton "Commercial" (not to be confused with Currency) papers: 1) Trimmings and 2) Linters

1) Trimmings are the left-over scrap from the textile industry after, say, a 100% cotton undershirt has been stamped out.
2) Linters are the small group of fibers that are connected to the cotton seed which are removed after ginning. The cotton seeds are sold to be pressed for cotton seed oil--we are able to remove those small fibers from the seed and use those for paper making.

In either case, these are materials that would otherwise make their way into the landfills. Since they technically never passed though a consumer's hands, they cannot be considered "Post Consumer" under government guidelines. They are, however, reclaimed materials and under any "rational" thinking would be considered "recycled." Our brethren in the wood paper market caused a stir back in the beginning of the "recycled" movement when they would run up huge inventories of offset and such papers. They would then take the overage and use it as "broke" stock in which they would turn it back into pulp to be used for other paper. (A common practice throughout the paper industry). What they did though is then call the paper from this "broke" stock "recycled," which caused the Government to step in and say that it must first pass through a consumer's hands.

Sounds green to me . . .

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

New cotton stock options

From the PaperSpecs newsletter, a paper option for your arsenal:

Cordenons has issued a new swatchbook for its recently launched felt-marked Canaletto Grana Grossa.

The stock is available in four weights (85 lb. text, 60 lb. cover, 78 lb. cover and 111 lb cover); one color, Bianco (white); and one sheet size (27.6 " x 39.4"). Canaletto Grana Grossa contains 20 percent cotton and 80 percent elemental chlorine-free wood-free primary pulp.

During the paper making process the long cotton fibers bond and securely intertwine creating paper with exceptional strength for the most demanding of printing techniques such as letterpress, engraving and thermography as well as traditional offset printing.

It is also suitable for diecutting, foil stamping, embossing and laminating as well. This elegant, cotton-enhanced paper is luxurious to the touch and visually has a natural lasting brightness and crisp purity.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Letpress, I hardly knew ye

You all know about the Letterpress Listserv, right? Otherwise known as Letpress, it's an old school daily e-newsletter with more than a thousand subscribers worldwide. Among them are men and women who grew up printing, worked in all areas of the printing trade, belonged to unions, work for paper or type companies, started and closed businesses, and otherwise still pass the time shooting the breeze and answering questions about letterpress. Thare's a lot of b.s., of course, as happens when you get any big group of people together, but there's also invaluble information from printers who have been at work from five months to fifty years. I've learned so many workarounds and solutions to my printing issues there over the years, from where to get Pantone mixes in tubes, to how to fix an unbalanced paper cutter, to what to do with old type metal. If you have a question about letterpress, ask here, of course, but also ask Letpress!

I'll post good pieces of info from the Listserv here from time to time, too.

To subscribe, send an email (no subject) that reads SUBSCRIBE LETPRESS to To keep the deluge of messages in check, you can subscribe in a digest, so you get one big email every day--send a message that says SET LETPRESS DIGEST to the same address.

Friday, February 6, 2009

for love of Bembo

or, for love of funny animals created from Bembo: Bembos Zoo

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Hooray Members!

Ladies of Letterpress just reached 50 members! It's Jen from Starshaped Press, a great printer who uses, if I'm not mistaken, 100% lead type. Way to go everyone, and here's to 50 more.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Poor picked-on Helvetica

You've seen the movie, right?

Poor little typeface--can't even defend itself. To get a print-outable version of the above, click here.