Looking for subjects for article

Hi, all—
I’m a letterpress artist and freelance writer. I recently hand-pressed my own wedding invitations, and am writing an article about it for DIY Weddings. Namely, the article is about how folks can go about making their own invites via access to community open studios, etc.
I’m looking for others who have made their own invites (primarily for weddings, but also for other events) using either their own press, a community studio, a university art department’s studio, etc. If this applies to you, please let me know and I’d love to talk with you about your project.
Thanks much.

image: My save-the-dates hanging out to dry

My save-the-dates hanging out to dry

Log in to reply   24 replies so far

If you do write an article, I hope you look up the word press, letterpress and print in the dictionary. I don’t believe any are verbs. Many of us who are in letterpress, printing professionally and teaching the same despair when we see such terms as letterpressed or hand-pressed. It is printed either in a hand press, letterpress or an offset press. I hate to sound snooty or condesending but the correct terminology is essential no matter what the endeavor or occupation.

LDP - I applaud your concern, but you are talking against the wind. The most fundamental of print terms is abused on this site, daily. (“Thingy” though, is acceptable.) Good luck on explaining ‘Font’. For many, a Glossary of Terms serves only to shim a wobbly whatchamacalit.

A glossary!!!! that’s why my whatchamacalit still wobbles I’ve been using old card stock. Now if I can only get that thingamig to do that stuff I’ll be golden


What sort of info are you looking for for you article? Not sure what I’ve done can be considered DYI as I’ve been doing “this sort of thing” for many more moons than I’d care recall I think.

Can’t resist adding my 2 cents - Looking to buy a printer and some type drawers.

Be careful when wearing those type drawers; splinters can be painful. As for buying a printer, well, I’m aware of one (perhaps more) available for the price of a hamburger and a sip of ‘Old Sailor Red’. What he’ll do for such payment is of course negotiable. :o)

You have opened a line of discussion that will draw comment. Some may be in response to your request. Much more may deal with the language and nomenclature of the printer. You are thanked for opening the thread. You are excused for not speaking the language of the ancient craft, for the moment. You jumped in and performed in the craft, got some ink on your shirt. Good. Next you will learn to speak the language.
I am an old sailor and an old printer. Each profession has its own strange terms and nomenclature. It is like learning a second language. One has to work at it.
I am not familiar with any of the three, but I believe there are specific terms and necessary precise language in rocket science, astronaut work and medical science and surgery. The use of less than precise and correct terms could cause disaster. The ancient Black Art of letterpress printing is less critical, but one should learn the language.

I know a lady who watched her husband work in his print shop. He was a quiet guy and didn’t attempt to teach her the craft or the language. He died. She stepped into the shop and ran it by herself. She didn’t know the names of things, but she could use them and print.


I have to say this. Please don’t write your article. Not to curb your enthusiasm, but you have just not started out on the right foot.

How did you get to be a “letterpress artist”, and what exactly is that? printing invites is “art”? And out of curiosity, why are your save-the-dates hanging out to dry like laundry? Have you ever been in a real letterpress printshop and seen printed materials hung out to dry like that?

Yes, folks can learn to print at any number of community based facilities, and more power to that. I teach at two education institutions that offer community based letterpress instruction. But my slight of hand questions, I hope, might give you some pause, perhaps to learn about more about letterpress printing and its rich heritage before you claim it as DIY. Letterpress isn’t fingerpainting, and it and its practitioners do deserve far more respect.


A great experience we had printing a wedding invitation was having the bride & groom there to help us print it. Not exactly DIY, but close.

From our portfolio: http://leadgraffiti.com/portfolio.asp?PortfolioID=60&CatID=2027

From our blog: http://blog.leadgraffiti.com/?p=17

Hello Lauren,

I’m usually very supportive of new printers because I want to see the craft and the tools survive. But in this case I have to go along with Gerald. Letterpress printing is not something you take up with the intention of completing a single project. To me it seems grossly self-serving to exploit an instructor’s time, skill, and no doubt many years of experience just to get that “letterpressed look” that Martha Stewart says everyone should have these days. Not only that, I have seen one-shot printers destroy beautiful hundred-year-old type on the first impression.

There are many other ways to produce lovely handmade wedding invitations. The craft stores and scrapbooking centers are filled with wonderful materials that can be assembled with minimal training. And Lead Graffiti’s suggestion to work alongside an experienced printer is a good one. There are things the couple can do themselves that will save loads of money and make their invitations extra special, such as cutting out and gluing in custom envelope liners.

I do hope you reconsider your article. I would hate to see the community letterpress programs become a routine stop for DIY brides. In my opinion they are far better used to preserve and advance a centuries-old art.


Somewhere along the line, letterpress printing jumped from business to religion. I can’t believe the negative responses in this thread. This is so sad.

What’s so wrong with writing an article about working with community studios? It seems like a really neat idea. The more access people have to letterpress, the better it is for letterpress printers.

What better way is there to discover a love for a craft than to perform it yourself?

I have allowed a couple to do just that at our shop, and it turned out great. I worked with them every step of the way, showing them what to do and how to do it. They came up with an amazing layout, and they were proud of their work.

What’s the big deal? Letterpress equipment is all just scrap metal unless people love it.


“The more access people have to letterpress, the better it is for letterpress printers.”

How so?


If no one knows about letterpress, no one cares about letterpress.

It’s kind of a simple idea, isn’t it?

Not really. People do very well know about letterpress. It’s not a lost art or craft. That is somewhat established. It’s a printing technique that has been around since the mid-15th century. It was the primary printing technique until about mid-20th century. Fine press book publishing has been around for about 120 years now. Lot’s of folks have gone down the path. Do you think you are re-inventing something here?

To the point, does introducing one-time wedding invitation printing foster the growth and integrity of letterpress? and just how would you defend this?


Step outside the bubble for a minute, Gerald! There’s a world of people out there who have yet to discover letterpress.

One person’s invitations can introduce the craft to a hundred people at a time.

Out of those people, a few might be inspired to get their own letterpress invitations. Are they going to print it themselves? Probably not. They’re going to hire someone like you or me to do it.

I said it earlier. Letterpress equipment is scrap metal, unless people love it. Likewise, it’s not the scrap metal that sells the print, it’s the skill at maneuvering the scrap metal to pull a perfect image that seals the deal.


I wouldn’t disagree with the way you have stated this at all.


Hello madmaudepress and Lauren,

I agree about being in a bubble. I guess I’m in one, too. Being a hobby printer who doesn’t sell her things, I sometimes forget that letterpress printing was, and I suppose still is, primarily a commercial enterprise. So madmaudepress, I see your point about using the community letterpress programs as an indirect marketing tool.

It still pains me, however, to think of a highly skilled instructor channeling brides through a one-time, one-purpose letterpress class, but you’re right, perhaps out of the hundred people who receive an invitation letterpress-printed by the bride, a few will decide to have their own invites printed letterpress. And perhaps there may even be someone who is so taken with the effect that she will end up like me with a roomful of lead and old machines that have not been sent to the scrap dealer.

Now Lauren, if you do write that article, perhaps you could include some words about the rich heritage of letterpress printing that Gerald mentioned. Perhaps you also could include a paragraph about the contemporary letterpress revival, and maybe one little sentence about how back in the old days the deep impression that people love today was once considered, and by some is still considered, a mistake. And, as a few others have suggested, you also might use the opportunity to educate your readers about proper printing terms.


Hi Barbara

I woke this morning and found an email that a former student sent that linked to a DYI Wedding site where another former student had her work shown. Interestingly enough, not only did she take advantage of the letterpress class to print her invitations, she worked at a flower studio so she could learn how to do the flower arrangements!

I don’t see anything wrong with this at all, in fact, I applaud her efforts. And she did learn some useful things in class, and most importantly, some of the techniques on how to print well. That someone can execute a design, print it letterpress, and make the page sing is basically my only criterion. That someone has a specific focus makes my job a whole lot easier.

This is hardly the first time I’ve encountered this and I have not given it much thought until now, but I do see it more and more. However, I agree with your appeal. And hopefully, Lauren will take it to heart.


No comment on vocabulary that is of any benefit.

I printed my sister-in-laws wedding invites this summer. It was my first real letterpress job, and I used it as a free learning experience. My beautiful wife encouraged me in my endeavor, and I think that I didn’t mess it up too much.




I’m new to this site, and just wanted to say that I’ve found this particular thread of discussion very informative and interesting as an outsider to the art of using a letterpress.
I appreciate learning about each author’s perspective and can respect the different views.

I am one of those newly engaged women, who has stumbled upon the art. I must confess, I never knew it before. I was never the kind of girl to be dreaming about her wedding day, but all of a sudden here it is on the horizon!

I was initially wondering why this is so expensive, and I wished to research different types of formal invitations and ways of printing to see what suited my desires as well as my budget. It is amazing how much you can learn online these days. As a scientist, I am used to research and so I went to town on my effort to educate myself on printing a bit. I must say that I too have “fallen in love” with some of the beautiful works that are possible using the letterpress. The history and ties to the history of printing in general helped me to grow an appreciation for what the art is and why it is sought after for so many individual reasons.

I found myself looking up used Kelsey Excelsior Tabletop Machines and C&P Pilots, knowing that I do not truly have the time or finances that it would take to make all this work in time for my August wedding :) It has been a lovely learning process and dream though. I found Briarpress.org and also found the International Printing Museum here around LA (where I reside) and I am actually contemplating taking one of the courses offered so that I can learn what this is all about.

I still have dreams of somehow being involved in the process and hope to be able to incorporate some part of the invite that might cleverly use the art of that type of printing technique. I can understand the points that were made by people who have had a love for this for many years and who have been dedicated to it. However, I think that it is a little bit of a shame that so many people seem to admire the art and yet they feel it is not a reasonable option for them financially. In this day and age there is so much information available to people that I think it empowers them to be able to try new things. I really like this idea.

I would love to try my hand at a letterpress for the purpose of having a personal part in inviting my loved ones to the most special day so far of my life… I hope that someone who is a master at such an art would find delight in my appreciation of their passion, and would allow me to crudely try to join in their fun, if just for a little while. After all, these are the delightful things in life that can be really wonderful when shared…

Best to all,

I have to agree with madmaude, though it seems some of the naysayers have already conceded a bit. I, apparently, am one of the dreaded bride-learners. I learned about letterpress and the idea that I could do it myself when researching invitations for my wedding last year. I thought it was fantastic - I could save money, learn a new skill, and have that process of my wedding be that much more personal and special. With the astronomical prices attached to the word “wedding,” it’s always nice to find an area where you can pitch in and be able to learn AND create something.

Before I was trained, I didn’t really get why letterpress was so expensive - I knew it was a very manual process, but I didn’t really “get” it…after going through the process, my respect for letterpress printers went up tremendously. It’s hard work, and I don’t think that most outsiders could possibly realize that without doing it themselves.

Further, besides some of madmaude’s points about exposure, I just think that people should get to try things they’re interested in. Otherwise, how would you ever know that you love something? How would one even ever become a letterpress printer, if you never got a chance to try it? (I certainly would prefer people get a chance to take a class first rather than assuming they will enjoy the process and snatching up tabletop machines off of craigslist, only to possibly abandon them later). Maybe a number of people in these classes will be one-off brides. But you will probably also get a handful of people, like myself, who have a newfound respect and have fallen in love with the craft, and hope to take their learning further. And I would hope established printers wouldn’t be so protective of the field that they wouldn’t allow that opportunity to new minds.

“It still pains me, however, to think of a highly skilled instructor channeling brides through a one-time, one-purpose letterpress class … “

As long as the brides pay their tuition, why should the instructor care what they do with the knowledge obtained?
My highly skilled Chemistry 101 professor certainly didn’t expect all his students to become professional chemists.
One of the charms of letterpress printing, to me, is that it can be enjoyed at so many different levels — from a simple business card to books. There’s room for all.

Woes of a Printer…In my years and years in printing, dealing with couples to be married, I have experienced people who spend big bucks on a ceremony, flowers, banquet hall, champagne, booze, dinners, limousines, umteen-piece band, honeymoon, gowns, tuxedos, etc., and what is the first thing you hear from them at the printers; “How much are wedding invitations?” Whatever the price, it always seems they can get it cheaper through some friend or relative. We now send them to Kinko’s or some franchise speedy printers, or to our competitors who are deserving of this type of time-consuming customers. One of the deciding factors in this decision is the friend, who found our price to be too high, and produced her own wedding invitations on a computer, requesting the honour of our “PRESENTS” at the ceremony. She set this poster size annoncement in 24 point Brush…ALL CAPS! Our advice to her …”Don’t quit your day job!” If, in a moment of weakness, I should agree to getting married, I think I’ll buy a sewing machine and make my own tuxedo, and a gown for the bride, and then perhaps I can “hand-press” the both of them!! Thank you and have a nice day!


“And I would hope established printers wouldn’t be so protective of the field that they wouldn’t allow that opportunity to new minds.”

Just who the hell do you think is providing the instruction and guidance and information? Newbies?


You state…”And I would hope established printers wouldn’t be so protective of the field that they wouldn’t allow that opportunity to new minds.” We are not at all protective of our field…in fact we are more than willing to share our years of experience with the newbies. After all we would like someone to carry on our trade customs and traditions dating back to the days of Gutenberg, Faust, Caslon, and others. But it would be nice for the newbie to read a few books, check out the many websites on letterpress printing, visit a letterpress shop in your area…and take an initiative to learn the terminology and practices used in the trade. Learn the difference between “stationary” and “stationery.” “Letterpressing’” and the use of “printer” instead of “press” is an indication of the writer’s lack of study of the trade. Again, us old timers are more than glad to share our knowledge and expertise, but it would be nice if the beginners would take the first step.