Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Color Check!

I mixed a bunch of colors awhile back. Since the ink reacts differently depending on any number of variables (how much ink you put on the press, temperature, paper color, how well you've cleaned the press, among a host of other things), I tend to undermix the ink a little bit so I can make color adjustments on press.

PMS 382 today is case in point. The bottom test print is the original 382 I mixed, which tested almost the right color the day I mixed it, but today it was not quite blue enough. It's also on pearl white, which adds its own amount of yellow. With just a touch of process blue mixed on press, I get to the exact color on top:

I use this method mostly because with colors like this, if you add too much blue the first time around, it takes A LOT of yellow to get it back to where you want it to be, and then you're stuck with way more 382 than you really intended.

Back to printing!
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Gift Certificates

I decided that I needed gift certificates/gift cards for Joie Studio. So I handset type and decided that I would use my address line magnesium plate. Here are the lines and the magnesium plate:
After locking the forme into the chase and pulling a test print, I discovered (surprise surprise) that my magnesium plate was unevenly cut. So I had to do some crazy shimming with leads, slugs, and reglets to even it out:
One side only had one slug, while the other had two reglets and a lead:
The result wasn't perfectly straight, but it looks straight. I printed in metallic bronze for a little bit extra depth and paired it the gift certificate with a pale blush pink envelope. I'm also going to offer bluebell envelopes as well.

Now I have something for customers who want to buy their special someone custom letterpress! And they're versatile enough so that when I get my webshop up and running off Etsy, I'll be able to do online gift certificates as well and write the code on the card.
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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

800 down, 400 to go...

There hasn't been much time for blogging. I've been preparing things for Bazaar Bizarre this weekend, which has occupied A LOT of time. Today, with all the plates in, I took a break from Bazaar Bizarre stuff. This morning, I finished some custom stationery and other miscellaneous printing projects around the studio. This afternoon I've been printing wedding invitations for a client who needs letterpress wedding invitations ASAP. The client asked for 400 of each piece, and there's three pieces that I need to print. By the time today is done, I will have clocked over 1,500 impressions. Not bad for a day's printing.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Destashing Crane's Lettra, Coasters, Envelopes

So I buy paper specifically for custom jobs with a certain amount of overage just in case. Sometimes, I need to buy a specific bulk quantity and have leftover paper. Lately, my paper supply has gotten a little out of control, so I've decided to put them on sale. My largest supply is of course Crane's Lettra, which is professionally cut down by my paper broker with a nice big paper cutting machine. I've got a bunch, and by a bunch I mean a couple boxes, of A7 (4.875x7) flat cards. Also, I stocked up on coasters thinking I was going to do a project out of them, but I just haven't had the time and I need the space the boxes (yes, again, boxes) of coasters are taking up. The same goes for envelopes. I have lots and lots of envelopes around the studio.

Here is the link to my overstock shop:

I'm going through my supply slowly, so if there's a certain size or color you're looking for, shoot me an email and I'll see if I've got what you're looking for.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day!

You might have noticed that I've been labeling some of my posts "eco-savvy." Eco-savvy is not just about choosing something because it sounds environmentally friendly, like soy inks and baby oil. Being savvy is about being smart and making informed, educated choices. On Earth Day, I wanted to share with you all the ways Joie Studio is being environmentally responsible. I call it eco-savvy letterpress!

Environmentally Friendly Papers
Joie Studio isn’t going green – we’ve always been green! Joie Studio is proud that since our inception, the majority of our ready-made and custom letterpress has been printed on 100% cotton paper and cardstock. Cotton is a tree-free, renewable resource. The paper we use is made from cotton linters and rag from cotton ginning waste and textile cuttings. This recovered cotton is saved from landfills, and made into our ultra-luxurious, ultra-thick letterpress papers.

We carefully choose our other papers to make sure that our eco-savvy standard and our letterpress quality remain high. Most of our complementary papers are made with recycled paper. One paper mill we work with not only makes all their paper using 100% green hydroelectricity, they supply their surplus energy to their local energy company!

Reducing Waste
Joie Studio believes that being eco-savvy doesn’t stop at choosing environmentally-friendly paper. We have carefully chosen inks and solvents that produce the least amount of waste. It does Earth no good if by changing to materials that sound eco-friendlier, we produce more trash. So we have chosen the best letterpress papers, the least wasteful letterpress inks, and the best yet eco-friendly solvents to make our letterpress products so beautiful, our clients and customers won’t want to throw them away!

Eco-Chic Alternatives
Joie Studio recently introduced an eco-chic alternative to paper: wood! In April 2008, we started offering custom wood letterpress wedding invitations. Made from wood veneer, these small pieces of wood are cut from wood grown in private lots, are produced using less electricity and chemicals than regular paper, produce no VOC's in the process, and are recyclable!

Wedding invitation and special event clients looking to cut down on the amount of paper they are sending out can also employ Joie Studio to build custom event websites instead of sending out multiple enclosure cards. Custom-built event websites give event guests more information than a little card ever could, and they are a savvy way of reducing the amount of paper sent out.

Looking to the Future
In late April, Joie Studio will introduce our Nature’s Kiss letterpress collection, a collection inspired by nature with materials that are friendly to nature. The basis for the collection will be the wood invitations and 100% cotton or 100% recycled papers.

In the testing stages is plantable seed paper, which is 100% cotton and 100% recycled paper with seeds mixed into the paper pulp. We’ve got our fingers crossed that these papers are good enough to offer our clients and customers!

Perforating on the Press

My friend Michelle gave me some perforating rule awhile back, and I have had no idea what to do with it. A potential client asked me last week if I could perforate, and I thought to myself, "Well, that's actually a good question." So after looking up the info on how to do it, I discovered that, in fact, I had all the supplies necessary to perforate on the press.

After scoring thousands of cards (I kid you not), I tested out perforating on some scrap pieces of paper, and it worked beautifully!

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Introducing Ready-to-Write Letterpress Invites!

Introducing Joie Studio's Ready-to-Write Invites in our Sakura Matsuri design and our Circles & Dots design!

My husband has been after me to make fill-in invitations for smaller parties where custom letterpress invitations are just not cost effective. I'm really excited about how the sakura design turned out with the branch in back. Close registration like that can be tricky. I made the design such that I could use the cherry blossoms with or without the branch. I think the flowers are absolutely gorgeous.

The Circles & Dots Ready-to-Write Letterpress Invites are available in a variety of colors! Shown below is azure blue and chocolate brown, but I've also got pink and brown, pink and sage, and pink, sage, and brown. They are available either with white envelopes or chocolate brown envelopes.

A bunch of these are already available in my Etsy shop with white envelopes. The chocolate brown envelopes will be up eventually. My husband, who is a designer himself, insisted on pink envelopes for the Sakura Matsuri Invites. Since the sakura pink is a special pink I mixed for April, I had to go find sakura pink envelopes to match. They're on order and will be available soon!
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Friday, April 18, 2008


I've been wanting some sans-serif type for awhile to add a little bit of versatility to what I can handset here at the studio. I really wanted something like Century Gothic to complement my Century Schoolbook collection, but Century Gothic is a modern digital font that was made as an homage to Twentieth Century. (How's that for font geekiness? So much you can learn by Googling something.) Twentieth Century is okay, but not my favorite sans serif font.

Carrie pointed me towards Sans Serif Light, and I immediately fell in love with it. In desperate "I NEED IT NOW" love. So a bunch of emails to a bunch of people later, I am the proud new owner of 24pt Sans Serif Light, completely new and uninked. This font has not seen the light of day since it was cast in the late 20's or early 30's, which makes it even cooler to know that I was the first one to let the font see light since it was cast 80 years ago.

And here is what the font looks like:

I also found 12pt and it should be coming any day now, so I'm very excited to have these two fonts!
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The 3 R's!

A couple weeks ago, I substituted for a 7th-8th grade class, whose topic for the day was recycling. I asked if they knew what the three R's for the environment were, and surprisingly, they only knew reduce and recycle.

Our educational system needs work.

I've lived outside the United States for a couple months at a time, and every time I was struck by how little waste other countries produce on a day-in, day-out basis. And it's not because they recycle more than we do, though certainly they seemed to be masters at recycling.

The third R is probably one that a lot of clients notice because I reuse packing materials that I receive. A lot of my larger orders are packaged in old shipping boxes from any of one of my suppliers. Sometimes, smaller orders will go out in Amazon boxes. I keep all those plastic air pillows and bubble sheets to pack things in. I keep a small amount of packing popcorn here and bring the rest to a local mailing station where they'll reuse it to pack other customer's items. It's just good business to do this because not only does it help the environment, but it saves me time and money, which I can spend on making my letterpress products the best that they can be!

But reusing things doesn't stop at packing materials. Around the shop, I reuse everything possible. Shop rags, bad prints, boxes, strips of paper, sometimes even pieces of tape. Every little bit helps!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

On Blogging...

For the first 15 days of April, I decided to try blogging at least once a day, preferably two, on something, anything going on with Joie Studio. I have to say that it actually takes quite a bit of discipline to do this, and I am a little glad the experiment is over as I've got major work to do in the printroom, and me on the computer prevents me being in the printroom.

I feel bad that I missed posting yesterday, even though my experiment is officially over. But now I want to know if you all enjoyed the daily postings? I liked it a lot, and have resolved to make it a more regular part of Joie Studio.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Something Different...

In recent memory, I can really only recall printing chocolate brown. I'm sure I did other colors, but by far, most of my time these last couple weeks have been taken up by chocolate brown. And not just for clients, either. I spent a whole day printing some fun things that will debut soon in chocolate brown and a bunch of other colors.

Chocolate brown is like the new black.

This morning, it was nice out, so I decided to mix the ink colors that I needed for the next couple weeks outside on my patio. I like doing these things on my patio because I get nice natural light, great ventilation, and if the birds are singing, which they were today, a nice atmosphere.
I mixed nine different colors, and it took the better part of the morning. I'm excited to have such a colorful next couple of weeks!
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Monday, April 14, 2008

Eco-Savvy Paper: Well, whaddaya know?

So, I was looking at some letterpress online with a friend of mine. We share with each other to critique, snark, learn from, get inspired, pass the time, whatever. Anyway, as she was critiquing a card, I noticed that it was labeled with a bunch of "this paper is green" information. Like, taking up a lot of valuable real estate "this paper is green" information. I found this interesting because the paper in the picture looked exactly like Crane's Lettra, the very same paper that we use as house paper here at Joie Studio.

So I went to, and whaddaya know? On their "Green Since 1801" page, they list all the ways Crane is green. (This same information was condensed onto the backside of this little card we were viewing online, so yes, it was the same paper.) While I find Crane trying to covet chlorine-free by saying they don't use pure chlorine, only bleaches containing chlorine, laughable (ask me anytime about how I bitch to my paper suppliers about the extra cost for the bleaching of the bright white Crane's), I do love the fact that Crane's paper is made from recovered cotton and that Crane incinerates their trash for energy.

Joie Studio's as green as the other guys and we didn't even know it. Go figure.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Letterpress Wedding Invitations on Wood!

So awhile ago, I mentioned that I was testing out letterpress on wood. I was printing a custom wedding order and decided to test the wood with real invitation text. Some of the woods passed with flying colors and I am so excited to start offering wood as an eco-savvy (and oh so cool) option for custom letterpress wedding invitations! How are these pieces of wood more eco-friendly? Made from wood veneer, these small pieces of wood are cut from wood grown in private lots, are produced using less electricity and chemicals than regular paper, produce no VOC's in the process, and are recyclable! It's a great, truly eco-alternative to paper, and a truly distinctive option for wedding invitations. In the picture below are the four wood types I tested on. On top is cherry, which printed pretty well.

Below is aspen. I love the color of the wood and its shimmer. It's thinner than the rest of the woods, so I have to figure out a good backing for it (though I have a pretty good idea already) before it is offered with the rest of the woods.

I absolutely love the effect on maple below. It's a bit lighter than the cherry and provides a good contrast to the chocolate ink that I was using.
My favorite by far is red cedar, for its richness and color. The chocolate looked so so beautiful against the red cedar that this is what I would recommend to anyone looking for letterpress wedding invitations on wood.

I have more wood types to try out, of course, but I'm so excited that my experiment of printing on wood has gone so well! Contact me for more information and pricing!
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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Oiling the Press

Jim, a nice press repairman who taught me a bunch of tricks he had for platen presses, told me once that he didn't understand why people were taught to oil their presses after the run, when oiling the press before the run and letting the oil work its way into the joints while the press runs was such a better option. Jim was of the opinion that if you oiled the press after a run, the oil just sits there and doesn't oil the press as well. Opinions?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Circles & Dots Custom Baby Shower Invitations

On Monday, I showed you circles & dots baby shower invitations after the first run of blue. I was asked for fun custom letterpress shower invitations that weren't too "baby." Here is the result, which I absolutely love:
Congratulations, Brad & Megan!
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Fung Associates Card

Even companies can have some fun!

Back in January, I printed these festive custom designed letterpress invitations on 110lb 100% cotton bright white cardstock. The custom invitations were designed by my favorite collaborators Toast-ED/Shop Toast.

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

eBay Goodie!

So every now and then, I go a little crazy on eBay. But luckily, this time around I actually found something I've been needing for my printroom:

Yay! Everywhere I've inquired I've gotten not so fun prices, so this one on eBay was a "deal," even if I'm paying more for shipping than the item itself. I imagine this didn't go for very much because there's barely any furniture on it. I don't care. I already have furniture and I need a more orderly place to put them than in two different drawers on opposing sides of the room.

I have grand dreams of sanding this down and painting it hot pink. Probably what will actually happen is that I will wipe it down and put it in between my olive green type cabinet and my pretty Pearl press. I can't wait to get it!!!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Sakura Matsuri - Letterpress Cherry Blossoms

April is the month of cherry blossoms! In Japan I learned that Japanese families take the time during the cherry blossom festival to take time out, go on a picnic, and admire cherry blossoms. Isn't that just a lovely thought?

I spent all weekend working on the digital file of this sakura design. It printed perfectly today, thank goodness, so I'm jazzed and had to grab the camera and take a couple pictures. This is actually just the first part of the design, but I liked it so much as is that I'm leaving a bunch of them just like this as flat cards. We're having our own letterpress cherry blossom festival here at Joie Studio! They'll be going up in the Etsy shop as soon as they're done drying.

It's the first to be printed of my new collection! Enjoy!
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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Boxcar Base or Honeycomb Base?

I've been using the standard custom magnesium on wood, but now that I'm getting into larger patterns with my designs, I've been noticing unevenness in print that can only be due to the wood underneath. Problematic, though one of my letterpress friends in going through my recent work commented that the unevenness made the pattern look cooler. But that was only after I concocted some insane makeready to make it print the way it did.

So eventually I will need to make a decision on whether I want to go towards photopolymer and grab myself a photopolymer base or stick with metal plates and go for a honeycomb base.

What's fun about photopolymer is that with a Boxcar base, you're pretty much just using stickers on the base. Magnetic bases are probably the better option as they're so much more heavy-duty but they are so outrageously out of my price range. What's not so fun about photopolymer, besides the fact that those little sticky pieces of plastic are more expensive than my metal on wood setup right now, is that you're basically using stickers on the base. Magnesium to me is already flimsy enough as is, and I can't imagine hard plastic to be as strong as metal. There are those that say that magnesium makes a better print -- especially with text, and after seeing some photopolymer printing out there, I have to tend to agree.

Now with the honeycomb base, I get to keep using magnesium or even copper plates, but the difference is that I would be buying the plates unmounted and mount them onto the honeycomb base, which is metal and consistent and good. The downside is I'd need a thicker metal plate to mount onto a honeycomb base, so that the cost is higher than the old metal on wood method as wood is cheap and metal is not.

Either way, both options cost more, and I'm really uncertain of what it will do to my overall print quality.

I really really wish the letterpress classes that I took and the thousands of dollars I put into the classes would have let me experience these different methods of printing. I mean, sure, I can set type pretty well, I know how to set the chase properly (though I almost never do unless I'm using hand-set type), and I can mix my own colors, but these are the days when it's frustrating to me because I feel like I'm making a blind choice based on what I've read and other people's experiences when, really, I would have liked to experience ALL these different methods and choose for myself what I like best.

Hmm, if only there were an equipment rental program where I could try out all these bases before making a final decision...

Monday, April 7, 2008

Circles & Dots

Here is the first color of a baby shower invitation that utilizes my new circles design. Notice underneath the proof printout of the design? I use the proof to remind myself where placement of the different pieces of the design should be during the printing process. I find these, along with my trusty line gauge, completely invaluable during the printing process.
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Sunday, April 6, 2008


We're leaving the comforts of L.A. and taking a roadtrip up to a place where people wear flowers in their hair. Yes, Joie Studio is taking a roadtrip up to the San Francisco Bay area for Bazaar Bizarre, a part of Maker Faire. We'll have a booth May 3-4, 2008, and will be introducing some of our newest designs!

We're excited, and we hope our San Francisco friends will stop by to say hello!

My Black Ink

One of my clients marveled recently how beautiful my black is. She said it looked like rich calligrapher's ink.

So I'll let all of you in on my secret, which really isn't much of a secret at all. I find the black ink straight out of the can to be kind of flat and almost never use black straight out of the can. I add reflex blue, and quite a bit of it at that, to give it more body and to make it a richer jet black color.
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Saturday, April 5, 2008

Fabulous Christmas Cards

I know it's a little late (or early) for Christmas cards, but I realized that I never posted these wonderful cards. A while back, I posted about these absolutely gorgeous chocolate envelopes that I letterpressed in metallic gold ink. Here is the rest of the custom Christmas card. We printed on ultra ultra thick 220lb Crane's Lettra in Ecruwhite. Then, Joie Studio also assembled the photo card, adhering 300 photographs onto these cards. Yes, that was a fun day of sniffing glue. On top of that, since these cards were so thick, we also professionally drilled holes for the ribbon. The results are gorgeous.

Friday, April 4, 2008

New Letterpress Animal: The Otter!

Making a splashy entrance is one of my favorite animals: the otter! The otter is letterpressed in chocolate brown and paired with azure blue envelopes. I absolutely love the blue/brown color combination, and I thought, why not give the otter a blue envelope to swim in?

Don't call it a comeback...

Park Avenue's been around for years!

I thought the font had gone out of fashion, but while walking around trendy Robertson Blvd. in Beverly Hills, my friend Michelle pointed out three instances of Park Avenue. So there you go. Park Avenue is apparently as popular as ever!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Joie Studio on Facebook!

OK, so I'm still figuring out Facebook, but while I'm doing that, won't all of you online friends out there add yourselves as a fan of Joie Studio on Facebook? I'd be so glad if you could!

A peek into my R&D

In what little time my clients haven't taken up (hey, I'm not complaining!), I tested out printing on wood on the press.

I had sworn up and down that I'd seen other letterpress companies letterpress wood paper, but since these thin slices of wood are fairly pricey, I decided to go get some from my friendly not-in-the-neighborhood paper company way out yonder on the ever-so-trendy west side of LA to test before doing some sort of huge bulk order.

The woods from top to bottom are aspen, walnut, red cedar, cherry, and maple. Not all of these woods are going to stay in my repertoire because I found that some woods didn't print as well as others, and unless I can find a way to mitigate the problems, I won't use them. The price of wood paper is something like 10 times the price of my normal already luxurious cardstock, so I'm going to test these pieces some more with different inks and different designs to see what works and what doesn't.

I am so in love, though, with the result of this experiment. It gets me so excited thinking of the pretty little somethings I have dreamed up for this wood.
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Wednesday, April 2, 2008

I was going to post a snarky post...

I just read the Modish post about how one can clean a "letterpress machine" with baby oil, and I just made myself delete half of what I wrote. I mean, it's nothing new. I've heard of this, along with mineral oil, Crisco, vegetable oil, kerosene, fish oil, etc. I've cleaned ink off of my press with canola oil, so I have no questions about exactly how effective this is, because I have a pretty good idea.

I wasn't even going to even try to open up the discussion of whether using baby oil is "greener" than my diluted California Wash. I actually think the people who use vegetable oil and shortening win the green award for clean-up method. Last time I checked, baby oil is mineral oil with scent (a petroleum product), so one is still not getting around using a petroleum product to clean one's press by using baby oil. Mineral oil, mineral spirits, kerosene, California Wash -- they're all petroleum products. So by using baby oil, one isn't really getting away from petroleum products at all.

What I'm really worried about now that I've calmed down is that either (1) I have a gross misunderstanding of what the author means when she says that the whole press is oiled when she cleans with baby oil or (2) that press isn't being properly oiled. Because when I clean, I clean everything the ink gets on. Which is generally nowhere near the majority of the oiling holes on either of my presses.

So now that I've deleted most of the snarkiness out of my post, I'd just like to say that I'm worried about all of those letterpress newbies out there scouring all of our letterpress blogs. Please please please oil your presses properly. I know how expensive some of these presses are, and I would hate to see it freeze up on you.

And now I'm going to go oil my press.

Going Blind...

Blind impression is a neat letterpress trick which basically means that one letterpress prints without any ink. Basically, you're debossing (the opposite of embossing) the paper using letterpress techniques. I had a client ask for blind impressions. It came out great, and I absolutely love the effect. These letterpress wedding invitations are so romantic and elegant, and the floral border in the blind impression was such a gorgeous touch.

Congratulations, Rayna and Jack!
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