custom work, design process, finished product

Packaging is a really important factor when you are selling a hand-made product. I generally hand-wrap all large orders of wedding cards in tissue paper  and secure with a branded sticker. I wanted to try something different for this large order of coasters. Since it’s just one order of 16 coasters, I justified making the box by hand instead of ordering a set of 20 boxes. This way, I am able to make a box that fits my product exactly and out of high-quality paper; no one makes matchbox style boxes any where near these dimensions  4″ x 4″ x 1.4″.

I had to tweak the template a bit so I got the amount of overhang I needed to give the box a more polished look. Eventually, I’ll have a laser cutter to do the cutting for me, but for now I’m fine with hand cutting the odd box or 5.

I know everyone and their mom uses the two color baker’s twine, but here’s my justification for it:

  1. I had a piece that was just the right length leftover from another project.
  2. It goes with the black box and looks polished.
  3. Holds the card securely, unlike the hemp twine I tried.
  4. Ribbon I had looked lame.
  5. Couldn’t find a paper wrap that I liked and didn’t want to delve into my decorative paper collection to find something.

Next time I’ll probably use a layered paper wrap with circular seal.


finished product

Limited amount left, of all of them. I need to make room for new cards for next year. The snowflakes ones are all A6 size folded cards (4.5″ x 6.25″) printed on French Paper Co. 140#C Pure White, with a frosted blue envelope. The Winter Solstice card is a smaller single note (5″ × 3.25″, not folded), printed on Arturo 110#C Soft White with a deckled edge, with matching hand painted or plain envelope.

Stock-Lewis Wedding Invitations

finished product

Card Paper: Crane’s Lettra in Ecru 110#C (100% Cotton)
Band Paper: Wildflower by Rifle Paper Co.
Envelopes: #10 Straw Kraft & 4bar Peach from Cards and Pockets
Custom mixed Gold Ink (from Pantone 871 and 874)
Twine Wrap: 20lb Hemp Twine
Typefaces: Ondise and Gandhi Sans

Printing Again!

finished product, printing process

20140706-164209-60129110.jpgIt’s been a long while since I printed last. Between family illness, grad school, and my work with the Manhattan Experimental Theater Workshop I was swamped. I printed a new set of business cards this morning and had enough ink on the press to try out a new plate. It’s my largest plate. In fact, it’s the largest my press can print. The plate is a larger version if the Ryokan poem card.

Our life in this world –
to what shall I compare it?
It’s like an echo
Resounding through the mountains
and off into the empty sky.

It’s one of my favorite poems, and one that I want to share with people by making a beautiful letterpress print. I’ll have them for sale on my Etsy site shortly, and will be contacting the local shops I sell at to see if they want to stock them.

They are printed in a purplish-black color I call sumi black, because it reminds me of thick, freshly-ground sumi. I printed on four different colors of paper: Mohawk Loop in Antique Vellum finish in Milkweed (160#C), Husk (160#C), and Thai Gold (130#C); and French Paper Co. Construction in Pure White (140#C). The finished prints will be approximately 7.25″ x 9.25″. 20140706-164258-60178898.jpg

Wrap It Up!

digital, finished product

The Manhattan Arts Center is opening their annual art exhibit and holiday sale on Friday. I have even more cards for sale (and better ones) than I did last year. If you attended the MAC’s Art Happens fundraiser, you got a nice preview of the my holiday cards. If you are local, please come support the MAC, local artists and artisans, and get some great gifts for your friends and family. It’s a win-win situation! There are some beautiful hats made of Japanese fabric, blankets woven from wool that was gathered from sheep that the artisan raises herself, carved gourd vessels, watercolors, silk-paintings, awesome wood boxes, ceramics of all shapes and sizes, and more jewelry than you can shake a stick at.

As a design exercise, I made a festive poster for it. mac wrapitup mockIt’s not the official one, but it has all the right info.

The saga of Love & Tentacles

finished product, printing process

Those of you who’ve been following my business for the past year will remember that back in January of 2013, I had a plate made for Valentine’s day cards. The W. Somerset Maugham quote, Nietzsche spectacles, Thank you in Futura, and Oxytocin cards are all from that plate. Also on that plate was a writhing mass on tentacles and the quote “Love without Madness, is not Love.”, by Pedro Calderon de la Barca, and until yesterday, it was my “white whale”. It was impossible to get it to print properly, I wasted at least 10 sheets of paper trying to get the makeready (the paper packing behind the tympan) right.

This was a particularly troublesome plate because of the varying thicknesses of line and size of the area to be printed. What I didn’t know at the time was that my platen of the press wasn’t even. This didn’t show on smaller plates, so until then it hadn’t been much of a problem. The tentacle plate takes up ALL of the space on my Boxcar base, so it told me exactly how off things were. At the time though,  I didn’t know how to adjust my platen, and didn’t want to take the time to think it through (printing isn’t rocket science), because I was worried about deadlines, so I worked on getting the rest of my cards printed and out for sale. Then I was busy with other parts of my life and didn’t have time to print the tentacles.

Now that I’m not taking classes at K-State, when I come home from my day job, all I have to work on is Two Crow Press. It’s fucking magical. I suddenly have all this time to devote to something which I enjoy so much and is crazy fulfilling. It’s really tangible achievement, producing something.

Last week I worked on the oxytocin cards, because those have been a favorite and I was out of stock, and new winter snowflake cards, so there would be a less expensive version of my other snowflake card. I also had time to adjust the platen last week. It was as simple as cleaning off the 2 impression bolts on the back of the platen and then adjusting them with a crescent wrench until it was even. And it was labor day weekend, so I had a whole extra day to print! So, now that I had the platen fixed, I had to soak some more  paper, grab the plates, mix the ink, figure out registration and makeready, and print my little heart out…but I couldn’t find the text part of the plate. I looked and looked for the missing plate to no avail. I figured I might have accidentally thrown it away in the last purge of my studio. I looked into replacing it with the lead type I have, but I only have sizes 10pt, 12pt, and 48pt, and it was all too small or two big. I thought about having Boxcar Press make another plate, but I’d have to wait until I had more designs so make it worthwhile/cost effective. I decided to print the tentacle portion of the plate anyway.

twocrow-049Yesterday Annie came over and we printed the tentacles. The makeready took about 15 mins, but it wasn’t too difficult. Bonus:  I now have a permanent packing sheet for the card the next time I print. We finished sorting the Goudy Old Style 12pt type into it’s new case and she left.

such a pretty clean typecase

such a pretty, clean typecase

I ate dinner and then on a whim decided to search my studio one more time. I found the plate in a carrying case I had used for a presentation back in March, under a sheet of paper. Luckily, the paper was all still damp and I hadn’t cleaned the press off for the night yet. I slapped the plate on the press and finished the cards up.

Took about half an hour to score and fold them after that, Then I did something completely ridiculous:


But hey, it was late and I was riding a serious high of achievement. I had conquered my white whale and could go to bed content.

Woke up at 6am this morning full of energy, photographed the cards, and put them up for sale on Etsy.