Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Letterpress = Sublime

Thanks for all the comments last week. Readers had a few questions in the Comments section. If one person has a question, there are probably others that do as well. So, the answers to the questions you've posted:

Anonymous readers posted twice asking what Letterpress is. Frequent readers of this site know that I'm a sucker for anything letterpressed (previous posts include this one and this one). I'm so passionate about letterpress that our wedding invites (see bottom of this post) were letterpressed.

What is letterpress? The Wikipedia explanation is here. It is a way of printing that literally stamps the words into and onto the page. If you run your fingers over a letterpressed item, the words and design will be sunk into the page.

Current methods of printing (such as laser) lay ink down on a page, upraising the words. Letterpress uses stamps and lots of pressure and ink to get the design on the page. The photo on the right is letterpressed stationary from Elum Designs. It's next on my "affordable luxury items to purchase" list.

Why doesn't everyone use letterpress for packaging? Price. Letterpress is significantly more time intensive, labor intensive, requires bulky expensive printing presses and custom stamps. All those components add up to pricing that costs approximately 8 - 15 times what normal printing costs. From an economics standpoint, it's difficult to justify letterpress for small items, such as soap, where the $4.00 purchase price normally won't cover the cost to get the custom stamp made, let alone the extra price per label or tag.

Then again, to elevate your bar of soap from a commodity to the sublime takes something special that not everyone is doing. Maybe Letterpress is just that thing.

Moon Valley obviously believes it is.

Photo of our letterpressed wedding invitations, designed by Shew Designs