Boxcar Talk with Sweet Letter Press

Elizabeth and Matthew were professional dancers in New York when good ol’ letterpress twirled into their lives. These days, after numerous hours in their Boulder, Colorado studio Sweet Letter Press, they do find time to dance together in their kitchen. We’ve got a lot of love for husband and wife teams. A lot of love surrounds this duo – to each other and to their work.

How did you two first get into letterpress?
Matthew and I got into the stationery business when we decided to make our own invitations for our wedding in October 2006. Since I was a designer and he was an illustrator, we figured we could do a good job ourselves. When it came time to decide how the invitations should be printed, we fell in love with letterpress printing while looking at samples at Village Invites in Midtown NYC. It was a little out of our budget, but we remained very attracted to this form of printing long after the wedding. When we moved to Colorado, we decided to learn about letterpress and found a couple of generous older printers who offered to share their knowledge. On one of their presses, we printed our first professional wedding job for a very satisfied client in February 2008, and then we acquired our own studio and press in the summer of 2008.

What was your very first press?
Our very first press was a table top Craftsman. It only took 1 or 2 uses before we decided it was by no means enough and we promptly got it on Briarpress. Our first “real” press, which is still our current workhorse, is a C&P Old Style, 10×15.

What medium do you usually print (lead/wood type, photopolymer, lino, etc.)?
Photopolymer with the Boxcar base system.

What’s your process from sketch to press?
Usually new ideas come to us over morning coffee. We discuss a concept and then Matthew gets to work drawing ideas. Once we have all the original pieces we need, I scan his pencil drawings, convert them to vector art and put together the completed design in Illustrator. We then send the files off to Boxcar where they are magically converted into plates.

What other print shops do you admire?
We admire the work of Bella Figura* for their beautifully classic designs and impeccable printing. On the more whimsical side, we love Old School Stationers and Maginating Letterpress and Design. And of course, Studio on Fire for always pushing the envelope with printing techniques and styles. Their blog is always a great source of inspiration.

Who or what inspires you the most?
We find a lot of inspiration in nature – Colorado is full of amazing wild flowers, trees, mountains etc. Also vintage poster art, textiles and photography. Fabulous design in any medium.

What are your favorite things/items from Boxcar Press?
Love that they recycle plates!

Any neat tricks you can share?
Using the Boxcar system, many a typo can be fixed with a scalpel and a loop.

What are you looking forward to?
We are working to premiere a new line this May which should be fun. Also, we’ve taken on our biggest project yet that has us pretty ecstatic – a baby due this summer! Can’t wait to design the birth announcements!

What was the experience like for you at NSS last year?
NSS is a lot of work. 2010 was no exception, but we met a lot of great people and picked up some new stores.

For more from Sweet Letter Press, visit their etsy shop and check out more photos on flickr. Congratulations on the little one, Elizabeth and Matthew! No doubt the baby announcements will be fantastic.

{Photos by Sullivan Studios.}

*Bella Figura is a part of Boxcar Press.

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