If I learned anything from 37 years in dispensing optics (as a licensed Optician, that's G. Johanson, L.D.O. thank you very much!) - it's that the more expensive a fashion eyeglass frame was, the less festooned with "stuff", "bling", "baubles", call it what you wish, the more stark said fashion frame becomes. From Prada to Gucci to Silhouette, the very nice, and costy, frames were very unadorned. Same goes with clothing. And automobiles . . . and Wedding Stationery. Kailey asked us to do her's. She only wanted a simple solid border. Simple letters with a very mild serif. Very straight-forward and uncluttered. But then, I remember Kailey growing up. She's my daughter's best friend in the whole wide world! My daughter was the whimsical artist type. Kailey played Cello when the hip crowd played the Uke or the Mandolin. Kailey was the no-nonsense part of the dynamic duo. Anna . . . well . . . she took a bit after her dad, I'm afraid. Both of us are rather non-nonsensical. But that's another story. And now, it's Show and Tell time!
Kailey's Wedding Stationery is run on a 1936 "New Series" Chandler & Price 8x12 Letterpress, known in it's day as a "Platen Jobber". Up to now, this has been our work-horse, and she has done an admirable job. A lot of Letterpress operations around Central Florida got their start training in one of my work-shops using this press. Notice the die: metal mounted on wood. That's about as "Old School" as it gets. We don't use polymer plating here. We may try it out soon, but I cut my teeth on the traditional materials, and I tend to stay with them.
Once again, we used our official "house" paper stock: Crane's Lettra. The most widely used and most popular colour is Pearl White. The paper weight is 320gsm, or 110 lb. Lettra is a velvety, plush, open sized paper that is entirely cotton. It may be noted that Crane supplies the United States Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Why am I not surprised?
Kailey's A7 Announcement card required the use of a "frisket" or "frisquet", that window you see there positioned above the printed card on the platen. The idea is to prevent the paper from sticking to the die. As it is, the relatively thick border provided just enough tack to pull the paper off the gauge pins. That frisket kept the paper in place.
Above and below are some card detail. Colour used is "ordinary Black". This is an excellent combination, contrasting the natural white "pearl" Lettra. The paper gives way to leave a very pleasing deboss without a huge amount of pressure.
The border was a challenge. Broad areas of colour are better run on a cylinder press, platen presses are primarily designed for thin line work, characters, letters, or wood engravings and cuts. Nonetheless, broader areas of colour can be done. More ink must be used, the paper should be steamed, and the press should be run as slowly as possible. Even still, platen letter press usually yield that tell-tale mottled look in a heavy colour field unless a whole lot of ink is applied. Personally, I run the ink a tad light, and allow the press to double-roll the die, which helps to distribute the ink efficiently.
Here is the whole suite, including the hand-set envelope address, which was set in 18pt. Open Caslon, which is our favourite titling font. Clockwise we have the envelopes, the A7 invitation, the Reception Card, and atop that the R.S.V.P.
Above and Below: Close-up detail.
Envelope address detail.
I have run more intricate cards, with lots of illustration in the past. This card, however, was a return to typographic design in its purest sense, which is in itself very traditional. There was a time when all announcements and invitations such as these were entirely "Letter-Centric". There is a beauty in Letter-form that stands by itself.
That's it for today. This design has been added to our collection of designs, called "Kailey", after it's namesake. Simple, straightforward, and as far as letterpress printing is concerned, inexpensive.
If you are interested in this, or any other of our designs for your wedding, or have ideas of your own, feel free to contact us here.
G. Johanson, Printer
Paper Wren Press