I am so excited about this post and cannot wait to share my latest discover. There is something you have to know about me. I love letterpress! I love the feel and texture of the depressed print into a thick piece of card stock. Yes, I am talking about paper and card stock, but you already know that this stuff makes me very excited!
I have been scouring the internet for a long time trying to find out how this print method could be done at home and I was at a loss for a very long time. Each time I found something it would consist of making a huge contraption out of wood and using tools and muscles (something I sorta lack) to put it together.
I have an embossing/die cutting tool called the Cuttlebug by Provocraft and thought that there must be someone out there that has put something together using this, there just has to be! I mean I wasn’t totally wrong,I constantly searched “How to make letterpress stationary with the Cuttlebug” and more with fewer or more words. I found quite a few videos using it but they either used another platform with their machine called the L letterpress starter kit by Lifestyles but that cost about $60 and I was not going to be dishing that much out. I couldn’t do it because it looked so similar to what I already had.
And then it struck me, just like that (tends to happen when I am just mindlessly thinking.)I could make one of my own using the plates I already owned and some other things I had on hand. I tried it before, but I was missing a key ingredient at the time and had gotten my hands on it at the last One of a Kind Show in Toronto during the winter.
Enough of my explanations! Here is the DIY:
Gather the Following:
Die Cutting Machine (Cuttlebug)
2 B Plates
Cling cushion mounting for stamps
(This is what makes it work so you need it!)
(pattered if you want a pretty look!)
Pigment-based ink pad
(or Letterpress ink and a brayer)
Photopolymer plate with design
(I got one custom made at Boxcar Press)
I decided to make myself some letterpress business cards and they turned out awesome and were really cheap in comparison to anything I found online or in Toronto.
Firstly, get your hands on some letterpress designs or a custom design that can be made here. They will be on a larger sheet, so you need to cut them, separate them and then you are ready to move on to step 2!
So what you want to do is mount your plates onto the cushion mounting. This stuff is really sticky so it will not fall off.Make sure it is on the sticky side and not the cling side. This is the key thing for this to work. You have to have this piece of foam for there to be an impression on the card stock. It acts like a shim.
Next, you want to take your two B plates and hold them side by side while duct taping down. This is the best tape to use because it is strong enough and also flexible so you can open and close the plate accordingly.
Align the paper or card stock that you will be using onto your plate and make guidelines by using a coloured tape, here I used some black washi tape. Make a second marking by closing the plates and matching the lines onto the second plate. This will help you know where the actual letterpress image will have to be placed. You also want to put some low-tack double sided tape or use a zig two-way pen to add some sticky-ness to the plate. This will help your paper stay put. You are now ready for the fun part!
Start by inking your image with a pigment based ink pad. Make sure you just rub it along the raised words and don’t squish it in. Because the image will be pressed into your paper, any ink in between the lines will cause it to have ink blots. Once it is inked up, close the plate and feed it though the die cutter. I usually run mine though the machine twice, once forward and once back so I can get a good enough impression. Use a scissor or a thin ruler/bone folder to make sure the card stock does not get lifted with the image.
And there you have it!! Lovely letterpress made at home!!
Keep in mind that not all the cards will be the same, some may have a darker ink stain and some may have edges of the photopolymer plate show up, but that is okay! I did not mind at all when the edges showed because it added character to my cards. These are handmade so people will know that.
*If you are working on a much more elegant piece of stationary then I do recommend you use the brayer and letterpress ink technique because that will give a much cleaner result!
I added some Washi tape to the edges of my cards to give them some interest, this can be optional, but remember these are your own so make them how you want to!
Don’t have time or a die cutting machine? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a quote.