Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Letterpress Hangtags

You may have noticed in my last post about the Farmhouse booth, that we had new hangtags on our items for sale. These hangtags were made on a vintage letterpress -- a machine I had not seen before going to help make these tags. A very generous woman and friend, Sue Mellor, stopped by my house a few months back with some samples of hangtags she had made for my shop.
So, one evening a few weeks ago, I went over to Sue's letterpress shop (actually her garage) to take part in the making of these tags. Sue was very lucky to obtain a functioning letterpress from the 1930's (approx.) She told me there are few left as they became relics of newspaper printing long ago. Above, the red rollers are where the ink is applied-- they spin to ink the "stamp" as the paper is rolled and pressed over the stamp. Hard to describe, and I'm probably slaughtering the correct terminology. (Guess I'm not a good reporter, sorry). The little red object you can see in the upper left photo is the floral stamp you see on the cards. The stamp not only inks the paper, it also debosses the paper at the same time (pushes the image below the level of the paper). Sometimes, Sue uses the stamps without ink to "dry deboss" paper.

Trying my hand at the letterpress...... I'm a lot slower than Sue. This letterpress machine is manual, in that you have to turn the handcrank to roll the paper over the press.

Old letters on wood blocks, gears on the letterpress, inks

Sue had the awesome idea to punch holes in the bottom of the tag with a sewing machine needle so that the bottom portion (where the price is written) can be torn off and the item can be given as a gift. She's an inventive lady, that one. (I secretly wish I had thought of it....)

Here are some examples of cards Sue has made.... I really like the tree.

More examples. Really, the options are limitless because now you can design any image using Adobe Illustrator and have a stamp made (in the reverse of course), and viola.... you can make cards, wedding announcements, baby announcements, business cards, etc. Sue may be adding some note cards to my little shop in the near future, just for your purchasing pleasure.

Here is another fully automated (but yet to be fully functional) letterpress that Sue also has. She and her husband are rebuilding it and hope to have it running soon. I changed the color of this photo in Photoshop Elements. It looks to have stepped straight out of the early 1900s.

I had a really good evening, and am thrilled with the hangtags..... now about those business cards..... (thanks Sue)


Serline said...

It's astonishing that out of these monstrous machines come such beautiful finished products...

Rettabug said...

That is fascinating to learn how that works, Wendy. BRAVO on your friend for making such darling items with it. VERY creative!

Molly said...

wow! so cool!

Anonymous said...

The combinations of old and new technologies.
I am so glad younger generations take an interest in and appreciate the arts of history.

Gabriella Szabev said...

Dear Wendy

Thank you so much for visiting at my blog and yours beautiful sentensies!
Congratulation for your blog, I really-really like it.
Have a nice day!


Karin @ 6ByHisDesign said...

Wow! I'm salivating over the letterpress. Totally, totally cool!

EG Wow said...

This looks like so much fun! Ha! Another craft to learn. :)

Emily {Frilly Details} said...

That is so cool! I am in a graphic design program right now and last week we had a speaker who owns his own letterpress shop. He showed us video of his press in action and some of the work he's done. The finished product is just beautiful. Your little tags are perfect!

Ross Taylor said...

Excellent article. You are using the combinations of both old and new technologies, that's great. Such a beautiful cards. Using this technology we can make different types of cards such as gift cards, wedding cards, baby announcements, business cards, etc. Market Research