Recently, we got a custom order from a customer who wanted their logo on the front of the card - so we knew we had to get dies made. When you want to letterpress an image of your own design, there are two options you have. For either one, you must start with a digital image - in our case, the logo of the customer. It can just be a scanned drawing or it can be drawn on the computer. One option you have is to get the digital file engraved into a thin piece of metal and that piece of metal mounted onto a wood block that's type high. This method is nice because you end up with lots of little blocks (dies) that are interchangeable and can be reused almost indefinitely. We have tons of these dies that we got on Ebay that are 50 years old or older. Since they're blocks that are the same height as type, you can print the image and metal type at the same time. It's very convenient and doesn't create much waste. We use them all the time, like in these two new stationery sets we just made today:
The other method, one that's become especially popular in recent years - and some would say is behind the entire revival of letterpress - is called photopolymer plates. In this method, you take your digital image and get it made into a flat plate, usually made of plastic-backed photopolymers. These thin sheets of flexible plastic are mounted onto big blocks that are type high. This kind of image creation is really handy if you're making a big image that goes across a large area. The one drawback is that if you want to use metal type and a photopolymer plate, you have to print it in two rounds, because the large backing block doesn't have holes in it to allow you to place type. That's why a lot of people who do photopolymer plates do their type digitally as well. We have one of those backing blocks (a birthday present to Matt from his parents, if I remember correctly!) and have gotten a few plates made...but we haven't printed them yet for the shop. Overall, we prefer to use dies because it's much easier to combine them with the metal type we already have. They're more flexible in that respect. Photopolymer plates definitely have their uses, though, so we've kept them in mind for specific types of projects (we have a birthday card coming soon that I illustrated, scanned, and got made into a plate).
Anyway - now that you know a little bit more about letterpress images, I can share the exciting news! When we got the customer's logo made into a die, we knew we had to add on some other images to reach the minimum order. Luckily, this wasn't a problem since we'd already been planning a whole bunch of other ideas. Now, instead of buying those antique images on Ebay that go for $10-$30+ each (!), we could create our own and price them by the square inch. We have a lot of images on our computer that we've saved from scans of old books - archive.org and Google Books are great sources for old engravings - so we decided to get them made into dies for our next projects. We used old images so that they'd go with the images we already have, which are antiques, and so we could use them all together. The company we bought the dies from is called
and they created our dies the same day we ordered! We just got them yesterday and here they all are - -
We already had black ink on the press last night so we decided to make one of our planned projects -
And that's how it turned out! Sort of took care of two things at once, since I now have a few note cards (pretty silly to have a stationery shop and have no stationery yourself, right?). Right now, we're printing more custom orders, but pretty soon we'll have all the other die projects to show you!
I also have to share this:
When we went out the other day, we stopped at this place which has
frozen yogurt and toppings! Like a frozen yogurt buffet! Yum. You pay by the ounce and mine was $2.50 - I got strawberries, almonds, mini chocolate chips and gummy bears. There are a million froyo flavors to choose from and lots of toppings (including all kinds of fruits!). We got a punch card, so now we have to go back!
Until next time!