What's the Deal with Letterpress?

Whenever I get clients that are interested in letterpress wedding invitations, I like to take some time to explain to them the printing process behind letterpress. Letterpress printed paper goods are often a fairly large investment, so I wanted to share with you the process that goes into letterpress printing.

First, what is letterpress (in a nutshell)?

Letterpress printing is a form of relief printing that uses antique printing presses. It was the main form of printing used from the 15th century until the 20th century when offset printing was invented. Reusable wooden or metal letters were inked and pressed into the paper. You can always tell when you come across an item that was letterpress printed because the lettering will be debossed into the paper, creating a beautiful texture.

 What is involved in the process?

Creating letterpress invitations is a unique process. First, not all designs are suitable for letterpress printing. For instance, something that is a full color image with a variety of tones and gradients would not be able to be letterpress printed. Most designs have to use solid colors. The reason for this is because each colored element requires a metal plate to be created for that design. For instance, if you had a border of one color on your invitations and all of your text was another color, the border would be its own plate and the lettering would be its own plate. Colors are matched using the Pantone color matching system. Depending on what type of antique press you use, the printing process will always require manual labor, and is more labor intensive than regular digital printing. For these reasons, letterpress printed items are always a larger investment than flat printed pieces. However, the design possibilities of letterpress invitations can be expanded by combining flat printing with letterpress printing. For instance, you may have some full color elements printed digitally, and then all of your text letterpress printed. This creates a beautiful one of a kind piece.

We are happy to offer both flat and letterpress printing. Contact us today for more information.