Letterpress is a true love of mine. I discovered my love for all things printmaking in college and moved from learning various methods to finding my favorite look and style that is achieved with letterpress. I worked an internship with my printmaking professor learning about the letterpress more in depth while we printed a series of poems & illustrations for a local sponsored art project. I moved on from there printing my own projects, including my own wedding invitations on the letterpress.
Turn forward the clock and I am raising my girls and longing for a day when I can work with printing and letterpress again. It's one reason that I turned my focus to stamping and paper crafts - I can easily do this form of printmaking in my home.
You have probably heard about doing letterpress right with your own die cutting machine that you own now. The die cutting machine is, in essence, a press. I have been itching to try "letterpress" this way and put Papertrey's impression plates to the test with my personal die cutting machine, the Cuttlebug...
So first gather your tools: your personal die cutting machine, plates, embossing pads, an impression plate, ink, brayer, cardstock, and something to protect your workspace.
Add ink to your brayer by rolling it through your ink pad and the apply the ink to the impression plate. I used the Fresh Snow ink - pigment type inks are the best to use for this technique, but you will need to experiment with the ink that you use. Some inks are thinner and will not give great coverage and/or will fall into the areas between the raised pattern on the plate. The Fresh Snow and Vintage Cream inks are thicker and will give you good results. The other thing to keep in mind is that not every impression plate will work as well for this technique. A wide open pattern will allow ink to fall in between the raised images and that will give you ink on your printed paper where you might not want it. Stick to busy all over patterns, like the Giga Guidelines 1 plate that I used here. This will give you more raised even areas to ink and that will give you better results.
Okay, after you are all inked up, it's time to set up your stack to run through the die cutting machine. I use the standard sandwich that I normally use when I run impression plates through my machine. If you want more information about using impression plates in general, watch the video that Nichole shares here. On my machine now, from the bottom up: A plate, B plate, impression plate - inked side up, and then I put the cardstock on top of that.
Next, I add the embossing mats and top it off with another B plate.
Run the sandwich through the machine...
And here is the result - how pretty is that???
This is the result from running the In Bloom impression plate through inked up - so fine, detailed, and delicate!
One tip to keep in mind, if you are feeling like your brayer is laying too much ink on the plate when you ink it up, try rolling some ink out on a surface before inking your plate. I rolled the ink directly onto my craft sheet.
Here are pieces of several printed impressions that I did and now I am laying out some cards that use a bit of each.
And here are the final cards. I added the thank you sentiment onto a circle and then added stiching lines with my sewing machine.
I think I definitely had success, so play around and see what you can come up with. I am sure that you will see much more of this technique showing up in projects of mine. It's a look that I personally love and it adds another use to things that you can do with your impression plates.
If you are interested in learning more about letterpress, check out this letterpress week series from the Oh, Hello Friend blog. Lots of great inspiration there and a great overview of what it's all about. You can also get some more in depth reading on letterpress by starting here at Wikipedia.
**edited to add: Check out this great post on doing letterpress with impression plates that Laurie Willison shared with me for even more inspiration :) Thanks Laurie!
all supplies are from Papertrey Ink unless otherwise noted.
Letterpress Impression Cards
stamps: Falling Leaves
ink: Fresh Snow, Smokey Shadow
cardstock: white, kraft, Ocean Tides, Smokey Shadow
other: Ocean Tides saddle stitch ribbon, Polka Dot Basics II impression plate, Giga Guidelines 1 impression plate, Woodgrain impression plate, In Bloom impression plate, Book Print impression plate, 1 1/4" square punch & 1 1/8" circle punch (EK Success), sewing machine/thread (my own)