Words and images by Alicia Parsons from Akimbo
Thanks to Stephanie for inviting me to have a chat with you today while she's off having a well-deserved break.
If you’re newly engaged and have just started reading wedding blogs, it can seem like an exclusive club where everyone knows the lingo and has forgotten what it was like being a freshly-minted member. Take letterpress stationery, for example, everyone’s talking about it and you don’t want to be the one who asks, ‘Um, so what exactly is letterpress?’ lest everyone look at you as if you’d revealed you were planning to wear hot pants down the aisle.
So here’s a crash course to get you up to speed.
Letterpress is one of the earliest printing methods and to begin with could only be used with ‘movable type’. This meant that the printer would have to manually typeset individual letters and ornaments to create layouts. Later advancements enabled designers to be freed from the limitations of movable type and whole designs would be created on a raised metal (these days sometimes polymer) plate.
The plate is then inked and pressed into the paper. Traditional letterpress would only just touch the page, but the new preference is to create a deep impression to achieve the signature pillowy look. It can be printed without ink, which is called ‘blind letterpress’, as in the example below.
If you’ve looked into having your invitations letterpressed, your next question will likely be ‘Why is it so much more expensive than regular printing?’
Great question. It not only requires special plates to be manufactured, as I mentioned, but also a different plate for each colour. There is a lot more labour involved as the machines are often hand-operated and the paper hand-fed, plus each colour necessitates an additional pass through the press. Finally the paper, which is usually a very thick and soft stock made from cotton, has a higher price tag than standard options.
Letterpress provides a beautiful, tactile finish that can’t be achieved with other printing methods and its luxury feel will add an unmistakable ‘wow’ factor to invitations of any style.
Still got a burning question? Ask away in the comments.