What is Letterpress?
Letterpress is a centuries old relief printing technique in which prints are created by pressing an inked, raised surface (usually a plate or wooden or metal type) into paper using a printing press.
Letterpress at Sarah & Maude
All designs are lovingly letterpress printed one at a time in my small (but perfectly formed) home studio, with the help of my antique print press – a 700lb cast iron beauty affectionately known as Maude.
Dating back to 1912, Maude is a Golding Pearl Improved #11 antique print press. Originally manufactured in Franklin Massachusetts, at some point she made an epic journey across the Atlantic, now taking centre stage in the Sarah & Maude studio.
The Printing Process
She may be over 100 years old but Maude is a true workhorse when it comes to printing my designs.
As a platen press she operates using a clamshell mechanism, with a platen (sturdy metal plate) closing and applying pressure to a plate (design) to create a print. The press is powered by a treadle (foot pedal), and paper is fed into the press by hand, one sheet at at a time, so it's a very manual process.
Inks are mixed by hand (and eye) using the Pantone Uncoated system, and colours print one at a time – so the more colours in a design, the more trips through the press.
All designs are currently printed using photopolymer – a hardened plastic plate created using UV light. This plate is mounted onto a block and placed on the press inside a chase (a metal frame) that sits snugly into the press bed.
When the treadle is pressed, the wheels go into motion. The rollers collect ink from a rotating ink disk, and glide over the surface of the plate, coating it with ink. A sheet of paper is fed into the press and as the rollers return to collect more ink, the platen closes, and the paper meets the inked plate. Hooray, we have a print!
Why Choose Letterpress?
When a beautiful design is carefully letterpress printed on to specially selected paper, the results can be magical, with a luxurious tactile finish.
Printed by hand, one at a time, no two prints are ever exactly the same, with each having subtle differences that make it a truly one-of-a-kind piece.
Whether it's a set of business cards or a full suite of wedding stationery, you're guaranteed to have beautiful handcrafted prints that you love, and can't wait to share.