using paper with little seeds imbedded

I am working on a project for a woman that wants to use that paper that has little flower seeds imbedded in the paper. Any tips? I normally use Crane’s Lettra, and love that thick, stable feel, so afraid to deviate into a paper that is so soft, let alone the issues of finding such a paper. Any help would be appreciated! Thanks! Ann

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Have no fear, I print on seed paper every week. I am the founder of a seed paper company - Bloomin Flower Cards, If you do want any information, my email is [email protected] and my cell # is 303.517.3479
Please call me anytime. It’s a little rough and handmade, but it is fun stuff, and all the rage right now. Tom

I’ve seen this paper used for letterpress. It would damage foundry type and may even break a photopolymer plate if you were trying to go for a heavy impression. It may be worthwhile to have the client pay for a duplicate of the plate if you don’t make them in house.

There are a bunch of people making it. Just Google “seed paper.”

Daniel Morris
The Arm Letterpress
Brooklyn, NY

The people at Porridge paper do great work with seeded paper. They make all kinds:

Papers with seeds, stems, flowers, and leaves were not designed to be printed upon. Even smooth handmade papers are very hard on type and plates. I made the mistake of loaning some of my wood type to a printer who makes his own paper. Every single pice of type was pitted from the hard bits in the paper. I would be very hesitant to accept any job in which I was expected to print on a surface that would damage my printing matrix.

Richard Gabriel-Rummonds, who printed on the very finest of handmade papers, figured the cost of replacing his hard foundry type every few books (back when it was more affordable). When Ward Ritchie started his Laguna Verde Imprenta he was asked if he would be using handmade papers. He said no, that he would only use mould-made papers because of the expense of replacing type using handmade paper. If you choose to try to print on these kinds of papers, be well aware of the damage it will do, and build in the additional expense of replacing what you print with, perhaps multiple times.


I have printed on seeded paper several times without difficulty. I use mag plates and warn the customer ahead of time that because of the nature of the paper the impression will vary from piece to piece, no complaints yet.
I agree with not using lead type, those seeds can be deadly to it.

i own porridge papers, a handpapermill and letterpress studio. we make both plantable paper as well as regular paper. as for damaging the plates, we use very small seeds in the paper and rarely do we ever have an issue of damaging the plate (polymer). not to say it has not happened but it is not that often. and with the amount of paper we sell to other printers that must suggest that they are successful as well.

as for those that are afraid of or believe that all handmade paper damages your type my question to them is how much impression are you using and what kind of paper? i would love to see a piece of that paper.

we have been making paper for over 16 years and printing on our paper with letterpresses for over 7 years and have had beautiful results. i would be more than happy to send you several pieces for you to test on your press. give me a call at 402.742.5415, Christopher


I looked at your website and saw damage to plates that you use to illustrate your products. It is bad form to try to pretend that hard bits in paper will not damage plates, and woe be to anyone who thinks their wood and metal types will survive unscathed. Personally I would not use a paper that had hard bits of anything in it. But each to his or her own.


Hi Ann
I am new to Briar press but I do import seed paper from India. I have some cut 4x5 pieces that I would be happy to send you for you to try, natually free of charge. Please sendoff an email to [email protected]. I would suggest that you consider a mag die when you make your samples.
Paul DeFruscio


to each his own! “bad form” really. i could give you dozens of printers that have used our paper and have had nothing but praise to say about it and how happy their clients were. you may continue to use what ever paper you wish but do not give handmade paper a bad name!

Back in November, we printed holiday cards on Porridge Papers seeded paper and we did not ruin any type. The paper is well made. You will obviously get uneven impression throughout the run because it is handmade and the thickness varies but I think it just adds charm to the piece.

i don’t use any handmade papers, but i do short run foil stamping for a customer that supplies a commercial recycled very heavy sheet, i always use mag dies, you would not believe the nicks and dents in my mag dies, so its not just handmade papers. Dick G.


The only plate that one could print with on an uneven surface without damage would be a steel plate. Hard bits in paper will damage a plate, if it doesn’t you are just lucky that one time. The only “bad form” in this conversation would be the one damaged by a printing surface that is peppered with hard particles that don’t belong in a printing paper. Here are two examples from your own website that show plate damage.


image: plantable-paper.jpg


A few years ago I was printing a poetry broadside. The paper was hand made from old hospital linens and sacred dirt from a little church here in New Mexico.The papermaker had ground the dirt in a mortar and pestal to a
superfine dust. Well in the end that particular sheet pitted the type. On another occasion I was printing on hand made
lokta paper full of soda ash and bark chips and that ruined
some very nice wood type. Well made handmade paper
should be consistant, not thick and thin,not wedged to one end or the other. Seeds in paper is a gimic that can be capitalized great! I prefer to just plant the seeds the old fashion way and I also like to print that way too.

I would just like to clarify.The images you referenced demonstrate modeling of the ink that is a stylistic trait of our printing and process due to the texture of the handmade paper. While the seeds do add to the texture of the paper, they do not damage the plates. The plate for the image you reference has been re-used several times to date and could still be used on a commercially made paper that would not produce the results pictured above. While we have had certain seeds damage plates, we research each new project before offering seeds to the customers and advise against using seeds that are too large or hard that would damage our plates. Our stock papers contain seeds that have been specifically chosen to produce the consistent results that our customers are happy with.

While I acknowledge and respect your experience and opinion, we have a wide client base that have achieved amazing results with our embellished handmade papers without any damage to their equipment. Our clients come to us specifically seeking the tactile nature of our papers, especially when printed on a letterpress. We’ve not yet had a complaint that any of the printing companies using our paper for their invitations and stationery have had damage or lack of quality. Will the texture of the handmade paper give you a polished look and deep solids? Probably not. Does it damage your equipment? No. The difference here is one of personal style and opinion, not quality.

I encourage anyone who thinks it is a good idea to print on your paper to look carefully at the photos you have posted on your website, and make their own decision. If the items pictured were printed by yourselves, the heavy impression alone would damage type and most of the plates I have ever used, even without the seeds. A good quality handmade paper should print as black a solid as any other paper, provided the paper is handled appropriately. I never argued the point that your paper would damage equipment. You have finished the argument for me, the difference is personal style and opinion, and most definitely not quality.


i disagree with, well just about everything you spout! -

” If the items pictured were printed by yourselves, the heavy impression alone would damage type and most of the plates I have ever used, even without the seeds”

maybe for you but not for us, and keep in mind wither it is proper or not what people want to see is that”deep” impression. and no our plates are not damaged.

” A good quality handmade paper should print as black a solid as any other paper, provided the paper is handled appropriately”

completely false! if you are printing on a very thin sheet of extremely smooth paper and then you print that same image on a very thick sheet of textured handmade paper you will get a very different look. your statement alone proves that you have not had much experience with textured handmade paper.

you have gone completely of topic. ann asked if anyone has experience with printing on seed paper and is looking for advice. based on your comments it is clear that you have not. several others have posted their experiences. if you choose to continue to argue this please do so outside of this forum. this back and forth is not helping anyone!

I think the original question was has anyone printed on paper that contained seeds. Porridge papers has had great success with this. Paul, it sounds like you have not. However, because you have not, you make it sound like that nobody can. I have seen the products that Porridge Papers makes and find them clever, unique and well made. In fact, they pride themselves on innovation. It was for this reason that I used them for my wedding invitations. If you are worried about damage to a plate or typeset that is one thing, but to totally discount a method because it did not work for you personally is very narrow minded.

The forum is for people to exchange views and opinions. You obviously don’t appreciate my opinion, although I suspect there are many who share my views and value their type and plates which are expensive to replace. Since you don’t know me or my experience you shouldn’t be so quick to judge my reasoning.

In your previous post you admitted yourself that hard bits in paper can smash plates and type, this is a rather reasonable assumption. I noticed that your papers have large seeds, stems, etc, and would caution any printer to be hesitant to print upon it. I think you are doing a disservice to novice printers in not warning them about the damage that can be done. It really is simple physics, a flat plane hitting something hard and something soft at the same time - something has got to give. It usually is the plate.

I have shelves of books printed on handmade paper, with beautiful rich black printing. True, that paper is not as coarse and full of plant matter, but it is very possible to get rich blacks even on your paper if you know how. Because you can print with a deep impression doesn’t mean that it necessarily a good thing. Because you can put seeds and sticks into paper doesn’t mean that I have to agree with you that it is a good thing, in fact I disagree wholeheartedly with you, as is my right. If you advise someone that your paper wouldn’t damage someone’s 100 year old type and is perfectly safe to print on, then I would consider it my civic duty to warn them to proceed with caution. If you read my previous posts, I have advised just that.

Your choice of argument is to try to make it personal and attack my credentials. I really don’t care what people print on, that is their own business. I speak from my own experience, which by the way, started 39 years ago at one of the finer printers in your city. I have printed on hundreds of different kinds of paper; hand-made, mould-made and machine made (I really dislike Lettra paper, which seems to be the darling of the wedding invite set). I have printed with metal type (monotype and foundry), wood type (end-grain and side-grain), zinc, magnesium, polymer, and electro plates, as well as woodcuts, wood engravings and linoleum blocks. With every single one of these surfaces, a hard bit in the paper can cause damage. Readers, please make your choices accordingly.

Now back to our regularly scheduled program.


you have taken this to far! you have been to my website so you can find my contact number and email. if you still wish to carry on this absurd conversation about paper and printing, paper which YOU HAVE NOT EVER PRINTED ON oh do feel free to call me! and no i do not appreciate an opinion of someone that has not printed on “said” paper! stems?? there are no stems in our papers!!! before you discredit it don’t you think you should print on it? at this point your are just preaching and discrediting a paper which you have never seen or printed on. you are discrediting me, you have not met me, you do not know me or my company. i am not doing the disservice you are.

“I think you are doing a disservice to novice printers in not warning them about the damage that can be done. It really is simple physics, a flat plane hitting something hard and something soft at the same time - something has got to give. It usually is the plate.”

you are so full of ****!! would you like a list of the printers that have used our papers over the last 16 yeas?

yes i am making a personal attack on your credentials, you have not printed on my paper so do not attack it. as i said in my last post take your issues elsewhere or at least be open to the fact that not everyone subscribes to your method/thinking and close mindedness. we do have opinions but you seem to believe that we should all have your close minded opinions.

you may wish to carry this convo on this post because you like the exposure but i will be the better person and end it. you have stepped on toes, preached your opinion on printing, gave your advice on paper you have never printed on. at least i am in the position to be a papermaker as well as a printer, you are not!

you are not a source for this topic to be giving advice.

This has to be the stupidest exchange I have ever had with anyone on this site. I’m amazed at how you have totally missed my point. I have not attacked your paper, I have just recommended that people who choose to use it should be aware of possible damage to their type surface. This has actually been echoed by, The Dale Guild, PaulM, dickg, and james bourland. I’m sure you make other lovely papers, I just think the gamble in printing seeded papers (and yes, I did see things that looked like stems in your pictures, but the may have been pine needles) is not worth the expense for extra plates, type, etc. I’m rather shocked at your abusive language, and personal attacks. A good salesman would have said, “May I send you a sample of my paper so that you might try it, and give me an honest opinion?” Instead you tell me I don’t know ****. I’m disappointed, but not surprised.

I have been amazed by Christopher’s papers at Porridge Papers for over a decade. In fact Christopher made my wedding invitations with plantable wildflower paper over 8 years ago. This was before my guests had ever heard of doing anything like that. The invitations which were either kept whole to show off, or planted -are- still discussed amongst those invited to my wedding. In fact the only problem I have with Porridge Papers is the miles between their location and where I live. Sounds like Paul has a little “Salieri Syndrome” to Christopher’s genius. If you want advice on getting the right seed paper and making it work then follow Christopher. Porridge Papers obviously LOVES what they do. If you want to tell your customer that you can’t make a wish happen follow Paul’s advice. If you follow Paul’s advice Christopher may end up helping your customer in the long run anyway. Best of luck.

Thanks katye,

If I were a papermaker instead of a professional printer your rude comment might apply. Since the Mozart/Salieri syndrome that you mention was based on a fictional account, and not on Salieri’s actual life, the comment is but nonsense. What you seem to fail to realize is that I still have not attacked his paper, only cautioned on the use of it in relief printing. I think that this is about the fifth time I have said this, one would think it would have been understood by now.

ok paul so i said i would not respond but when you attack my clients…what do you expect?

you are, as a client responded to me “a pompus ass”

realize that there is a younger generation out there ready to learn the trade of letterpress, it may be art to you but when it comes down to it is about printing something beautiful on beautiful paper in order to make a is about paper and a style that you obvious don’t find worthy of your small letterpress operation.

this is not the forum for you to be on.

Sorry, Paul. You did attack his paper.

I guess the readers of this are left to decide the quality of your argument. And this reader thinks your methods reveal poor judgment if you claim to be a print expert but make such reactionary remarks about another man’s printing business by trying to say his images reveal damage in the quality based on a 72dpi picture from his website.

And proceed to reproduce them without his permission as evidence against him.

As a blogger just blogging an opinion on the bloggosphere, it’s to be expected. But from one professional printer trying to represent his business to another, it’s libelous AND it’s copyright infringement.

And continuing to pontificate on the issue without using your own print as evidence to your level of expertise reduces your writing to the level of “just another blogger blogging an opinion on the bloggosphere.” Not a professional.

I realize that the Salieri story referred was based on a fictional account but that does not demise the intent of my comment. Clearly you were insulted by it and understood the meaning I intended. In fact you may even take compliment from it because my intent was not to imply that you aren’t successful in your own right. (BTW- There are many, many fictional stories not based on actual life to describe situations in life which are academically utilized and accepted the world over.) What you fail to understand is that you have attacked Porridge Papers by attacking the very core niche market of printable seed paper they are successfully operating and thriving in. If you haven’t tried their paper I think it is safe to consider you inexperienced at printing their paper. Thus lacking knowledge of it’s effect. I appreciate Porridge Paper for the quality of craftsmanship they put into that very paper type you don’t recommend. Porridge Papers have been keeping customers happy with these papers for many years. These papers would have been rejected by printers and they would have had to cease creating them a long time ago if they were destructive to the extent you describe. In fact it would make poor business sense for Porridge Papers to invest in their own printing if they felt their paper would destroy their investment. I appreciate that you do not choose to print with seed paper, theirs or anyone elses, and you have made your opinion about that very clear. Your words of caution have been noted. Without printing on their paper you will never know, and I am okay with that.

katye and andrea

Again I am disappointed by your rudeness. When someone puts their work out on the internet it leaves their work open to criticism. I can look at Christopher’s printing and see the damage to some of the plates. He himself admits that damage happens. I don’t have to try a paper that has the drastic unevenness that would be caused by seeds to know that it would damage my type or plates. I’m not a “pompous ass,” I am, however a trained printer with many years of experience and an experienced eye to analyze printing problems when I see them. If any one of you would bother to listen, I might actually be able to suggest remedies that would improve the product.

I fully understand that there are no standards to printing anymore, and that an ‘anything goes/smash the hell out of it’ mentality is pervading the craft. That was not the way I was trained, nor is it a way I accept as proper use of types and equipment. If you choose to, that is your right, as it is my right to disagree. I have libeled no one and I don’t have a secret wish to be a great papermaker. Why you feel the need to attack me and to claim that I attacked him is very strange and uncalled for. Last time I checked, it is a free country and I can offer criticism and advice as I feel it necessary to do so.

This started out as a technical discussion and there is no place for personal insults; as paper and ink serve a social function only and have no actual personality. I have not called people names, or attacked their psychology, I have not attacked the seeded paper niche market; indeed I have repeatedly advised that anyone interested should move forward with caution.

I’m more than happy to share my work and my printing interests with anyone who might be interested. I have earned my own opinions by learning my trade from talented printers, and many hours of back-breaking (literally) labor. I wish others would be less ready to tag-team me for well grounded and ultimately fair criticism.

man oh man! the discussion here seems kinda gotten outta hand here. a softer ,”recoverable” make ready, such as maybe a layer of latex under a phenolic board, even a layer of black innertube type rubber under a glass board will allow alot of “give” needed to absorb the density of a particle in the stock. the latex or rubber will allow the cushion but rebound for the next hit which will need to allow a particle in a different position. i run into this same situation when running newer recycled papers that have hard bits of “things” in them. this helps me to save my brass and copper dies. (for foil stamping) it extends their life considerably. i think we all agree in that it is hard to “wrap” foil or ink “around” a particle so when hitting it, the particle must go someplace. either into the die/type, or, into the stock, the softer makeready can help. i realize that wood and lead type is much softer than my brass, so i can see that concern. but particulates can be delt with, with the right weapons. hope this helps,,,


… this cyber-bullying over a valid opinion is outa’ hand.

people should take the time to fully read and understand another’s opinion before responding, and then try not to be abusive in the reply.

salt on the wound, think of the seeds, how many are crushed and never see the light of day?

Another way to help preserve your type is always to print on dampened paper. Of course dampening the seeded paper could be problematic, since it would likely sprout in the humidor.


Boy, did this get ugly fast!

Even with the fear of getting my head lopped-off, I have to side with Paul 100%. It IS a matter of physics and this kind of stock must be dealt with with extreme caution if one is concerned about having their type damaged.

It doesn’t have to appear to the naked eye as though it has been hit with a ballpean hammer to be considered damaged. Perhaps these nuances are simply too subtle for some that have jumped on this thread.


Well- I’m not a printer but, as an interested reader, I feel that Paul comes across as sensible, polite, rational and remarkably restrained; a person merely stating that one may run the risk of damaged type using a paper with hard bits in it. I have no idea why a paper would need seeds in it but, as agreed by all, this is a personal choice.
Porridgepapers, on the other hand, seems a tad too defensive and, oddly for someone in a print-related trade, lacking in punctuation.
I freely admit to not being qualified to add anything to the debate but, as someone about to begin printing as a hobby and searching for suppliers, I would not go anywhere near any business who could be so rude on a public forum.

Proletkult, paul has been around since moveable type, he prints on an old press and is very passsionate about type, and not damaging these old treasures, i have never met him except on line he seems very knowledgeable and his website has some beautiful stuff he has done on it, i don’t agree 100% with him but about 99%, porridge papers is as passionate about their paper, i don’t know them either but they seem to be ok. if our ancestors had not tried experimenting a little we might still be writing everything instead of printing. If you are searching for for suppliers you have found a great site to search, there are lots of ads in the yellow pages that you can look at. Good Luck Dick G.

Gee whiz, Dick, you make me sound ancient. I was just lucky to train under men and women who had great respect for the traditions of printing.

while i do agree with my stand on our paper and printing i also realize that my passion and pride got the best of me and i could have used a better choice of words and phrases. it does not reflect well on me or my company. all i have to say is that we are passionate about our papers and what we do. those that work with us know that, now i just need to work on keeping my emotions in check!

Wow, what a volley. Just buy another plate. They aren’t that much. Sometimes imperfections add character.

Well, yes, this is true. Buy another plate. And it is also true that you would not want to print paper with added materials on any type metal or metal plate.

Photopolymer, however, is resilient and tends to bounce back from any kind of abuse. While you won’t see letters disappear you might, on an extended run with non-standard substrate, notice wear to the imaging. Photopolymer plates are not pieces of individual type, the connected relief surface is a matrix, so there is a completely different reaction to pressure.

I printed on a handmade paper with numerous pieces of straw in a fairly extended run and all I noticed was that the letterforms were slowly but uniformly getting a tad thicker.

Pat Reagh printed a poster for Disney on Mexican bark paper in an edition of something like 10,000 and went through three plates.

So, yeah, foreign objects will cause wear on photopolymer, but it is workable. Don’t know that I would try that with metal though. And certainly not with metal type.


My goodness, what a controversy!

My experience with printing on seeded paper, with heavy impression, using top-quality BASF photopolymer plates, is as follows:

- Yes, the hard seeds have caused broken letters and pitting in solid areas of the plate. I don’t know whether this would vary with different brands of seeded paper, but it has happened to me several times.

- As with almost any handmade paper, there will be variations in coverage due to uneven paper thickness. Sometimes the seeds would pop out of the paper, causing a letter to disappear.

SO. Use a good hard photopolymer and be prepared to replace the plate as needed, and figure in more waste than normal to get enough good prints. What’s the big deal?

It is important to ask and know where the paper is made and what is embedded in it. All of our handmade paper is manufactured in our San Diego facility with strict quality standards.

We use only post consumer pulp and, when making our Grow A Note seed embedded paper, seeds sourced in the US. We are on our third 1000+ print run of a letterpress wood cut collection of greeting cards using the same plates.

We primarily print offset and are able to do so because of the consistency of our paper.

image: Promotional Items Collage.jpg

Promotional Items Collage.jpg

Hi, all—

FWIW, I once ruined a form of 24-pt. handset Bodoni by printing on chipboard. Chip seems to be full of hard stuff, including bits of metal. I think French’s makes some printing papers that look like chip without the junk.

Best wishes, Brian

This sparring match has been very educational. I appreciate all the passion. From a commercial perspective, the seed paper is one more attractive product in the arsenal to market to some clients, and it is good to know what we are dealing with in order to price the jobs accurately. I’ve printed on other embedded papers, wood, birch bark, and some nasty chipboard (emphasis on the chip) in the past, and in some cases I knew it was a suicide mission for the plates. But as long as you are expecting it, its just part of the job.

As Bill said its an interesting debate with awareness of what could happen with the seeded paper. If a client really wants it, you could always double your price to cover the cost.What I would like to know is if there is any Australian printers that use seeded paper from overseas?