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Letterpress Printing – The Art of the Wedding …


Letterpress printing is the oldest form of printing and more recently has made a tremendous comeback especially for personalized stationery and wedding stationery for brides who are becoming increasingly conscientious about their invitations. Earlier letterpress invitations were made using moveable type and a printing press. The moveable type was handset in reserve and then pressed into the high quality cotton paper to provide an elegant deep impression. This process made letterpress expensive because this type of “oldstyle” set up required a great deal of time and effort from a skilled artisan. The advent of the photopolymer plate and aluminum bases has made the transition from computer to plate easy and opened a completely new canvas of design for artisans and designers. Plates can be made in as little time as a half an hour rather than a process that took days. The process also utilizes environmentally friendly materials like water soluble photopolymer plates rather than harsh chemicals to etch the plates. The aluminum milled bases on to which the plate mounts, ensure a better quality print over the old wood bases. The environmental friendliness of letterpress is also desirable for brides.

The History of Letterpress Printing

In 1440, Johannes Gutenberg invented moveable type, though other people have also been credited with the invention. He created individual casts of all the letters and various symbols that could be reused. He could set them in a frame, or form, to print whatever words or sentences were asked of him. He then went on to invent a wooden printing press, similar to the current wine press, which would help speed the process along.

With the Industrial Revolution came the advent of inked rollers that would pass along the plates and then move out of the way so a piece of paper could be placed in the press and the text then pressed into the paper. In the 20th Century, this process became fully automated with the invention of machines such as Kluge, CP and “Original” Heidelberg Platen which handled the feed and delivery of the paper.

Printing work was done for fast paced applications, such as newspapers, with rotary presses in the early 20th century. It would allow for continuous sheets of paper to press against the bent cast metal to print the large quantities needed within a short period of time. Rotary letterpresses were used to print labels with ultra-violet curing ink. Today, Computer to Plate, or digital presses do most of the work where rotary presses used to suffice. These digital models work faster and much more efficiently for most commercial printing applications. They do not provide the quality, look or feel of paper found in wedding stationery.

The History of Letterpress Invitations

Letterpress invitations became popular in the early 1990’s because of the resurgence of high quality craftsman and artisans who knew how to produce immaculate letterpress work. This, combined with the digital technology from earlier decades created a whole new world of designs and possibilities for wedding invitations. They are highly sought after because of the unique appearance in terms of style and texture.

When using letterpress for invitations, it is very important to remember that the quality of paper determines the overall result. Using a high quality cotton paper is essential to seeing a perfect invitation using this printing method. While the quality of paper will have the largest impact on price, using an inferior quality paper will produce an inferior letterpress wedding invitation. The paper must be strong enough to withstand the pressure of the press, yet soft enough to give way and hold the ink well. The wedding invitation will be a keepsake, and therefore must be done well, with no expense barred.

Do you want to learn more about letterpress printing and letterpress invitations? Click here

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Listed: April 19, 2010 8:03 am