Thursday, July 31, 2008

Anatomy of a Custom Letterpress Baby Shower Invitation

Here is Joie Studio's first anatomy lesson, where I'll take you through the making of a custom letterpress baby shower invitation from start to finish. Here at Joie Studio, we meld old and new letterpress techniques to get our desired results, and this baby shower invitation, more than many other projects here at the studio, showcases the different techniques we use, making it a great project to use for our anatomy lesson.

This project is actually for a very dear friend of mine, so Rebecca, the host of the baby shower, gave me a free rein to do whatever I wanted. I knew that the couple were decorating the nursery with a hippo theme, and as there is a hippo in Joie Studio's upcoming baby line, I decided that it would be the perfect design.

The hippo is part of a safari group that was created and illustrated by the ever talented artist Matt Cox. I laid out the shower invite digitally to figure out how the layout and spacing. Here is the digital proof:

The fonts in the proof are Kabel and Liberty. Kabel is the digital version of Sans Serif Light, and Liberty is a variation of Bernhard Cursive. Both these fonts are fonts that I have handset type for.

Setting the Forme
Here at Joie Studio, we use a combination of handset type and magnesium plates to letterpress our projects.

Here is what a case of type looks like:

To set it, you would take each letter out, one by one, and set it on a line. Time consuming, but I think that handset type gives the best result so I keep as many fonts as I can fit into my type cabinet. The case above is pretty empty, but some of the other drawers weigh as much as 50 lbs.

As space is a major consideration and setting type is majorly time consuming, we also use metal plates. The metal plates are etched from digital files that we send to the engraver's. We used to have our metal plates mounted on wood and we still use a lot of our plates that we had made that way:

I found, however, that I wasn't happy with the natural variations of the wood mount. As it's an organic material, wood will expand and contract depending on weather conditions, and with letterpress, even 1/1000 of a difference will translate onto paper. Sometimes it's ok, sometimes it's not. So now we order unmounted metal plates with a deeper etch that we mount onto a metal base. The deeper etch also allows us to give a deeper impression to our clients who want to go as deep as possible. Here's a closeup of an unmounted metal plate:

For this project, we used a combination of handset type for the text and a metal plate for the hippo illustration. Once the type is set, I use wood pieces called furniture to lock the set type into the chase (which is the frame that fits into the press). What is to be printed, once set, is called the forme, shown below:

Most ink colors are handcrafted by yours truly. Sage is a color that I use a lot so whenever I mix sage, I try to make a bunch extra. For letterpress, you don't use very much ink at all during a run. I store handcrafted inks in little 2oz tins, and as you can tell, I rarely mix that much ink, and this amount will last me through at least 2 more jobs:

Just a couple dabs gets the press to look like:

So after I letterpress printed the forme, the invitations looked like this:

It's still missing the hippo. The hippo is on an unmounted metal plate. To print the plate, it is first locked into a metal base, also known as a honeycomb or patent base:

The forme is then set into the press to be printed:

Notice the roller bearers on both sides? The bearers keep the rollers inking the forme properly, which is essential for gorgeous letterpress printing.

The Result
Here is the result of all that hard work:

I hope you love the result as much as I did, and I hope you enjoyed a peak at our letterpress process from concept to creation. The LUXE letterpress launch has taken up so much of my time that now that it's launched, I can turn my attention to debuting these gorgeous letterpress animals. Keep on the lookout for more animals in Joie Studio's upcoming baby line!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Amazing Photography...

Photo by Cassandra Dieterle Photography

I'm working on a new project right now (there are always internal projects here at Joie Studio!) which involves getting photographs of Joie Studio letterpress and design work from actual weddings. This project is proving to be so rewarding because I absolutely love how to see how Joie Studio's work fits in with the rest of the wedding. Cassandra Dieterle in Honolulu shared some amazing photos of Joie Studio's invitations that she took! Cassandra is so wonderful and professional - and the shots that she sent me were pure eye candy. How absolutely gorgeous does the invitation look in the photo? This is just a teaser because there is more gorgeousness to come when the new project launches! Thanks, Cassandra!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

LUXE letterpress on design blogs!

Thank you to Leigh at hapa hale, Kristen at Paper Crave, and Jan at Poppytalk for sharing the launch of LUXE letterpress!
One of the favorites thus far seems to be the Seville letterpress wedding invitation design, which was inspired by all the great Mediterranean tile designs out there. It's one of the favorite LUXE letterpress designs here at the studio as well -- my husband loves this design.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

New Orleans Fun!

Here is another design I worked on for Sonnema vodkaHERB through the ever lovely Erin Hunt. It's another digital design that I believe was used as digital postcards and made up into actual postcards. At least, I provided the digital files for both e-cards and real cards.
Anyhow, I was asked to capture the spirit of New Orleans for this one (the after party suite was in the Tennessee Williams Suite, named after my favorite playwright -- how perfect!) while incorporating the Sonnema red. I L-O-V-E the result.
I think I'm going to go find a bottle of Sonnema vodkaHERB for our party this weekend if I can find it. I'm convinced I should grab some and try it out!

Introducing LUXE letterpress by Joie Studio

Introducing LUXE letterpress by Joie Studio! This has been a long time in the making. For months now, I've had all these letterpress wedding designs that I wanted people to be able to peruse and order online. And for the last three months, I've been building this website in my spare time. Usually it doesn't take me this long, but I sort of became my own worst client. I had built out a website for the LUXE letterpress line and then I decided that I didn't like it. So then it was back to the drawing board.

As a special for my blog readers, from now until August 15th, Joie Studio is offering 20% off any letterpress wedding invitation order off of the LUXE letterpress website (use coupon code "GoLUXE" at checkout).

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Anatomy Lessons

Okay, so I'm working on a series of posts right now that will follow different types of letterpress projects here in the studio from concept to creation. I'm just working on getting permission from parties involved for the posts. My hope is that you'll get an idea on what goes into custom work here at Joie Studio as well as learn a little bit about letterpress. They're little primers on what goes on here! I've decided to call the first two posts "Anatomy of a Letterpress Baby Shower Invitation" and "Anatomy of a Letterpress Wedding Invitation." Watch for it soon!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

My Golding Official #4 Needs a Good Home

So as much as I'd love to keep my Golding Official #4, space as always is at a premium in my studio and the Golding Official just doesn't get as much use as it could. I'm sure someone looking for a press would love to have it, and I think it'll make a great first press for anyone out there. To that end, I've decided to take offers for my Golding Official, complete with a starter kit. Here's what I'm offering:

- 1919 Golding Official #4, complete with 6" x 9" chase and rubber rollers - recently printed wedding invitations and coasters
- 4-6 quoins and one quoin key
- Some wood furniture and reglets
- 1 lb of soy-based black ink
- Some sets of type and printer's cuts to get you started
- 1 ream of Crane's Lettra 110lb (125 sheets)

I'm putting it on the blog first, but I will also put it on Briarpress once I figure out exactly what type I'm going to send out along with it. My thought is some Century Schoolbook and maybe Copperplate, but I'm unsure at this point. Local pickup is preferred I won't crate the Official for shipment and it's worth too much to just put in a cardboard box and hope for the best. But if you can figure out shipping, then I'll be more than happy to accommodate.

You can send your bids to me at tina[at]

Monday, July 7, 2008


Megan tagged me, but I'm not sure which blog she meant to tag me on, so here's a repost from my personal blog:

What was I doing ten years ago?

Ten years ago: July 1998. I was on a summer study-abroad in the Kansai region of Japan, working on my Japanese. It was my first trip out of the country!

Five things on my to-do list for today?

Monday is my day off, sort of. 5 items off of today's list:
- Go to the paper company. Complain about paper received and buy ink.
- Check and respond to email.
- Make reservations at Patina.
- Go lay by the pool.
- Continue working on new business website.

Snacks I like?

Yummy salty snacks and yummy sugary snacks. Not too huge of a chocolate fan anymore, but I won't refuse it!

Things I would do if I were a billionaire?

Pay off all debts, buy a nice place to live and a nice car to drive, travel the world. Maybe try to take over a small country. A nice one, though. Preferably a nice one with pretty beaches.

Places I have lived?

Honolulu, Hawaii
Kaneohe, Hawaii
Claremont, California
Nishinomiya, Japan
Vienna, Austria
Los Angeles, California

Jobs I have had?

Retail Store Clerk
Web Developer
Library Assistant (blech! in Gov. Docs no less)
Research Assistant
Web Designer/Developer/Administrator
Letterpress Designer/Printer
I forgot - Debate Teacher and SAT/GRE Prep Instructor! Whoops!

I'm supposed to tag more people but...well...I wouldn't want to impose!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Clock is Ticking...

So, Joie Studio was buzzing the last couple weeks of June with finishing up our major work for the CLOCK BAR. It was lots of fun working with the Mina Group and their publicists. I designed the invitations and envelopes to feature the same design for each invitation, with different text for the four different invitations. All of these invitations are custom letterpress invitations (what else?), but as you saw in the previous post, I also designed digital save-the-date postcards for the events.

Here is a picture of the invites and envelopes on the work table:

A close up of the envelope flaps, complete with blind deboss:

One of the cool things I did was feature the CLOCK BAR logo in front as well, which I think really made the envelope pop:
And here are the four invitations:

I will post close up pics after the event, but I hope you like the design! The next time I'm in San Francisco, I'm definitely going to check the bar out!
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Press Mention for Joie Studio and the Love Fruits!

I get so wrapped up in projects that I forget to share what press mentions I find of Joie Studio. I really get excited when I find stuff about Joie Studio online. Here's one that I got really excited about -- mostly because it's a mention in the Honolulu Advertiser (or is it on the Honolulu Advertiser?), the newspaper I grew up reading. I especially like the mention of "former local girl."

I know the Love Fruits have passed agricultural inspection and are in Hawaii, so get them while supplies last!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

What I wanted to be doing last Sunday...

* Sigh *

I make invitations. It's what I do. I love designing invitations A LOT. The problem is that a lot of times I want to be invited to the events that I design for. Most of the time it's because there are these amazing menus to these events.

This digital postcard invitation was for an event last Sunday in New York City and is based off of an upcoming Joie Studio invitation design. I also designed a menu to go with it (digitally printed, not by me). For the design, I was asked to capture the feel of the venue and of Sonnema VodkaHERB. Now, if you ask me, a Sunday brunch event where vodka drinks are free-flowing, well, that really sounds like my idea of a good time.
Related Posts with Thumbnails