Printing on Specialty Papers: Seed Paper and Handmade Paper: Part 2

Part two of our specialty papers roundtable on seed paper and handmade paper focuses in on more excellent tips and inspiring projects from three amazing printers and paper vendors. And don’t forget to check out Part 1 here for tips and tricks for getting the best print on luxurious deckled paper and the eco-friendly!

Don Martin – Bloomin Paper Keep ink coverage to a minimum [when printing on seed paper], as any place that the plate strikes, it will crush the seeds and they won’t grow. Additionally, the cracked seeds ooze an oil and stain the paper, so light minimal ink coverage is always best. Our paper are thick and packed with seeds, so even if some of the seeds are damaged by the letterpress printing, the paper will still grow.

Printing on Specialty Papers: Seed Paper or Handmade Paper -Seed paper letterpress printed on by Blooming Paper via their Garden Gram piece.

It’s not an exact science [when printing on specialty paper]. Folks should know that variations in the paper thickness can cause the printing density to vary as well. Again, minimal ink coverage minimizes that concern, as heavy solids are more noticeable.

Bloomin’ Premium papers are thick enough for any letterpress plate to get their teeth into it. Because this Premium seed paper sheet from Bloomin is packed with seeds, it grows great, even when a percentage of the seeds are damaged on press.

Printing on Specialty Papers: Seed Paper or Handmade Paper -Seed paper letterpress printed on by Blooming Paper adds wow factor to business cards and printed goodies.

The variation and handmade quality of the Bloomin papers makes each and every final piece unique and original. Handmade paper letterpress printed one-at-a-time has an old world nostalgic quality that no digital or offset machine can replicate.

Jenn Upham – Tiny Pine Press  For printing on handmade paper: If you have a natural deckle, it’s important to go slow, because sometimes the sheets don’t drop into the gauge pins on their own and you usually don’t have too much overage. I always set up on trimmed edge paper as make ready because the edges can get so wiggly. Also, you have to make sure the type is extremely clean to get a crisp pillow.

For seeded paper: You really have to watch your type because if a seed hits it could drop out and be there for a while because it mashed in the packing – so I move around the packing to make sure nothing too bumpy gets in my way! I use Of the Earth for their lotka seeded … it’s not too seedy but still nice. Greenfield Paper Company has so many colors of seeded. I love Jute from Sustain and Heal, these are all trimmed edge. I hold my natural deckle vendors closely, but unfortunately some of those have gone out of business so I can’t even refer them.

I love the pillow of both. Most handmade or seeded papers are not processed as much and they are extra soft. The type sinks in and you just want to grab a blanket and rest your head on a wedding invitation.

Annemarie Munn – Lady Bones Paper Inc.  The main challenge of printing on handmade paper is that both the thickness and density of the paper can vary enormously within a single sheet as well as between sheets, which poses a problem both for achieving consistent impression and consistent transfer of ink. There’s a bit of letting go that’s necessary for the especially exacting printmaker; the printed pieces will be neither as close to identical, nor as easy to control, as those printed on commercial paper. In order to get the cleanest prints I can on handmade paper, I generally use fairly hard packing, set my rollers as high as I can get away with, and use slightly more ink than I normally would. I use a heavy impression, so that the thinner sheets (or parts of sheets) will still get a decent hit. I also just try to relax and let the process happen!

Annemarie Munn of Lady Bones Press prints beautiful letterpress pieces on deckled handmade paper. Annemarie Munn of Lady Bones Press prints beautiful letterpress pieces on seed paper.

Another issue with handmade paper is the deckle. It doesn’t come up every time (some projects will have a clean cut edge), but often the natural deckle edge is a desirable component of the handmade sheet (especially in the wedding industry, currently). The deckle presents a problem for registration of course; tight register is not possible when printing on paper with a deckled feed-edge–if you need to achieve a tight register, it will be necessary to cut the feed edges square and then create a false deckle by tearing–but it’s far preferable to just avoid printing tightly registered pieces on deckle-edge paper, and instead use a simple one-color design that allows the paper to be the star. A deckled feed edge can also sometimes cause the print to appear crooked on the overall sheet (though it is straight to the feed edge)–this crookedness drives me bonkers, so I usually tape a gridded sheet to my feed table (on the Vandercook) so that I can achieve a feeling of overall straightness even when none of the paper’s edges are actually straight. That might sound a little over-the-top… but letterpress printing nearly always is, right?

I like a lot of handmade paper vendors; there’s something to appreciate about any handmade sheet. That being said, my all-time favorite handmade/seed paper is from Porridge Papers. I really enjoy the proletarian aesthetic of their Blue Collar line, and I love buying from small, authentic companies. I have a hard time talking wedding clients into using the Blue Collar Papers, both because of the cost and because they don’t fit the in vogue, airy, natural-deckle aesthetic as well as a paper like Silk and Willow, so I mostly covet them for personal projects, and wait around for the special client who will get on board with the workman aesthetic!

Annemarie Munn of Lady Bones Press prints beautiful letterpress pieces on deckled handmade paper.

The cover of Deconstruction/Construction, the book I wrote and printed for the San Francisco Center for the Book’s Small Plates series, was printed on a Porridge Papers seed paper. The color is sadly discontinued–it’s a fantastic neon green which I believe was called Sour Apple. I have some sheets left and I’m always mulling over what to print on them; so far, I’ve just been hoarding them away.

Annemarie Munn of Lady Bones Press prints beautiful letterpress pieces on seed paper.

I also love printing on hand-dyed or dipped handmade paper — the colors never land in exactly the same place on each sheet, so when designing for hand-dyed paper I enjoy contending with that element of chance, and while printing, it’s just a visual feast.

Seed paper is a special challenge because the seeds can be hard enough to dent the printing form. For this reason, I only print on seed paper with polymer plates–I don’t want to damage my lead or wood type! Incidentally, on the other end of the papercost spectrum, chipboard poses the same problem, because it can have small pebbles or pieces of debris in it that will dent type (I learned this one the hard way!). Sometimes the seeds can even dent the super-hard polymer, but luckily that can be re-made when necessary, so it’s not as serious of an issue.

Annemarie Munn of Lady Bones Press prints beautiful letterpress pieces on handmade paper.

One of the nicest things about printing on seed paper is the opportunity to reflect on impermanence and the cycling of physical objects. As letterpress printers, we often spend a lot of time making prints that are beautiful enough to be worthy of being saved for generations, and using archival materials so that they will be capable of lasting generations. But seed paper is intended to be planted in the ground, to rot and provide the basis for a young plant. It presents us with the opportunity to embrace ephemerality and to “kiss the joy (of printing something beautiful) as it flies.”

Fun side story: My first commercial venture as a printer, at the age of 11, was hand-printing my linoleum cuts onto handmade paper to make Christmas cards. I made the pulp out of scrap paper and dryer lint in an old blender; my dad was kind enough to make me a screen and deckle out of some 1″ x 1″s and an old window screen. The decision to make the paper myself was a classic misguided money-saving move, I just didn’t want to pay for paper, so naturally I opted to spend days making my own instead. I think I charged a dollar a card.

(Paper credits!: Deconstruction/Construction:Porridge Papers;  Mickey & Chris: The Paper RecycleryVivian & Kyle: Papel Vivo; and Kai & Jeremy: Silk and Willow)


Still feeling as energized as we are? Share your thoughts & tips in the comments section below–we’d love to hear from you!

Printing on Specialty Papers: Seed Paper and Handmade Paper: Part 1

Seeking to add a special touch or extra “wow factor” to your next letterpress print project? Specialty papers (such as seed paper and handmade paper) add texture, personality, and eco-friendly advantages to invitations, business cards, and more. In this roundtable, we reach out to paper vendors and printers alike for their weigh in, tips, and advice on printing on such unique paper stock to create a lasting impression.

Annika Buxman – De Milo Design  I’ve only printed on Porridge Papers’ seed paper a few times. It’s similar to Mr. Ellie Pooh’s handmade paper in that the larger seeds (or in the case of Mr. Ellie Pooh, the chunky grass) can bust the plate. Lightweight type can break. I try to use bolder, stronger fonts. And always make two plates in case I need to replace it.

I have a handfed C&P and SP15 Vandercook. I don’t know if the following would work on a Windmill [for printing with hand-made paper]. When printing on handmade marble paper, I arrange each sheet in the stack beforehand to make sure the print will read legibly over the marbling.

Printing on Specialty Papers: Seed Paper or Handmade Paper - Annika Buxman prints elegant and memorable letterpress Happy Birthday card on handmade, marbled paper (De Milo Design).

If there’s a rough deckle edge against the guides, the print can sometimes look crooked. Here’s my hard earned trade secret. 🙂 Eyeball the paper so it looks square on a large post-it note applied to the back. That way the guides have a straight edge. This is especially helpful with registering more than one color. Even with the post-it note edges, it often won’t look perfectly aligned. Accept the imperfection…

Printing on Specialty Papers: Seed Paper or Handmade Paper - Annika Buxman prints elegant and memorable wedding invitations on handmade paper (De Milo Design).

If trimming handmade paper it can easily tweak in the cutter no matter how hard it’s clamped because it’s so spongy. I interleave cheap printer paper and that helps wtih the tweaking. I also do two cuts. The first 1/8″ away from the trim guide. The second is shaving off that last 1/8″. I don’t know why it works, but it works.

[I’d recommend] Porridge Papers for seed paper. Of course my favorite for handmade paper is my own Sustain & Heal marble and Letterpress line because it supports fair trade artisans in Bangladesh. I recently did some marbling and printing on Fabulous Fancy Pants paper and that was a lot of fun! […] The handmade fluffy surface takes the print so well. I don’t mind the extra work because the end result is so unique.

Kelly Caruk – Botanical Papers When using letterpress on seed paper, we recommend using minimal ink coverage as the pressing nature of the process may damage the seeds. Less ink coverage will ensure you get more viable seeds to grow in your finished piece. We also recommend you do some testing with a small batch of plantable paper before placing a large order.

Printing on Specialty Papers: Seed Paper or Handmade Paper - Seed paper from Botanical Papers adds eco-friendly touch to wedding invitations and business cards. Printing on Specialty Papers: Seed Paper or Handmade Paper - Seed paper from Botanical Papers adds eco-friendly touch to wedding invitations and business cards.

We only produce and manufacture seed paper and seed paper products at the moment [and] we love printing on seed paper because it has a unique texture and very natural feeling to it. The fact that grows into plants that benefit the environment makes the pieces extra special and symbolic.

Printing on Specialty Papers: Seed Paper or Handmade Paper - Seed paper from Botanical Papers adds eco-friendly touch and memorable impressions.

Christopher James – Porridge Papers When printing on seed embedded paper or handmade paper with inclusions the most important thing is NOT to use wood or lead type or old cuts. Because the seeds can be hard they will dent the soft material. We recommend and use photopolymer plates.

Printing on Specialty Papers: Seed Paper or Handmade Paper - Plants sprout from eco-friendly seed paper from Porridge Paper.

While you can and most likely will create small indents in the polymer it is easy to replace. That being said, if it is small areas or type most of the time, you will not see it.

We are in the process of coming out with our new line of seed papers. There are about 8 colors, mostly all light so that they will work well for printing. While white is the dominate color we like Ecotan which we describe as the color of Khaki pants. In our new color line, the light grey and green are our new favorite colors.

Printing on Specialty Papers: Seed Paper or Handmade Paper - Porridge Papers Blue Collar Handmade Paper line prints with character and uniqueness.

Aside from seed paper, we have the Blue Collar [handmade paper] line which was specifically made for letterpress printing. There are 7 colors in that line and all made with, or inspired by, Blue Collar professions. Overalls is made from denim, Pallet is made from chipboard and cotton trimmings, [and] Brewhaus is made from spent grain from a local brewery. These papers by far have been our favorites. After years of printing, we wanted to make and offer a paper that had some interesting characteristics, was a little thicker, would make for a wonderful impression, and something that would be different from what is currently out there. We launched it almost 2 years ago and it has been exciting to hear what people have said and done with it!

Printing on Specialty Papers: Seed Paper or Handmade Paper - Stacks of colorful handmade paper from Porridge Paper. Printing on Specialty Papers: Seed Paper or Handmade Paper - In-process papermaking seen at Porridge Papers.

With handmade paper, it tends to take a wonderful impression; and a lot of times you can get away with double sided printing where with commercial paper you tend to see the “punch through” on the reverse side.

Printing on Specialty Papers: Seed Paper or Handmade Paper - Porridge Papers handmade papers print elegantly for invitations and wine labels.

Keep in mind that handmade paper, ours in particular, is soft, textured, and fibrous. Because of that it can be hard to get 100% solids. You tend to have more of a mottling effect. That can lend itself well to the design, so when we are printing, we always like to point that out ahead of time.

Printing on Specialty Papers: Seed Paper or Handmade Paper - In-process papermaking seen at Porridge Papers.

Our favorite paper to print on is Timecard from the Blue Collar line. It is such a great recycled sheet. White in color with interesting recycled bits in it. Aside from that, almost all of them can find their way into that perfect project. Our other favorite papers that we have made and love to print on our the ones embedded with silver and gold leaf or iridescent powders and if the project arises, scented paper can be a lot of fun!

In addition to our stock papers/lines, we love to work with the client before they begin the project. To have the opportunity to create a paper that specifically shows their personality, or is embedded with materials they provide, is what makes it so unique.


Feeling as excited and inspired as we are? Share your tips and thoughts in the comments section below–we’d love to hear from you! And stay tuned for upcoming Part 2 of this awesome blog article feature on these eco-friendly delights!

Green printing: tips for being an earth-friendly letterpress printer

One of the biggest ways a letterpress printer (newcomers and veterans-of-the-trade alike) can make a positive environmental impact is to incorporate eco-friendly practices into their business and workflow. Actions as simple as recycling paper, re-using scrap materials, or partnering up with a non-profit organization whose vision for a greener planet is as sharp & clear as yours. We reached out to some earth-friendly letterpress printers for ideas on how to lighten your shop’s environmental footprint.

Sierra Zamarripa – Lovewild Design Sustainability is a huge priority for us at Lovewild Design. We have a full range of letterpress goods, screen printed gifts and bath products all handmade in our Brooklyn studio. We do much of our printing on a Vandercook SP-15, as most of our letterpress items are small batch. All of our papers are made from post consumer waste or renewable resources like cotton and made with the use of hydro or wind power. We also try to be pretty waste-free. Be it paper scraps, rags, etc. – everything gets reused as much as possible.

Eco-friendly Lovewild totes featuring NYC designs.

Before starting Lovewild, I worked in the public sector. This really woke me up as to how much was being wasted in day to day operations be it money, resources or materials (paper!). I knew that if I was going to do my own thing, I couldn’t in good conscious contribute to the massive amounts of waste many companies make.

We’re constantly inspired by other companies or initiatives, and we’re always looking for ways to be even more green. Eco friendly paper is a start, but is often wrapped in packaging that will end up in a landfill. We’ve switched to “plastic” that is plant based. It’s sustainably made and is compostable. Some of these materials have limits as there isn’t yet an eco plastic that is rigid. We have to be creative with our packaging to make sure it meets market standards while staying green.

Eco-friendly Lovewild coasters featuring NYC designs. Lovewild Design utilizes eco-friendly practices in her letterpress printing operations.

Alicia Rohan – A&P Design & Co. We are a custom invitation studio & letterpress print shop. We have been in business for 5 years, and we have 10×15 C&P called Lupe, and a C&P Pilot called Lola.We are all about incorporating eco friendly practices into our print shop the best we can. We letterpress on tree-free 100% cotton paper, our printing is all done manually by hand with a foot treadle. Our cutting is also done manually. We recycle all paper scrapes, plates and shipping materials.

We love that we do everything by hand. It helps to reduce errors and allows us to make sure everything is printed to our expectations. I think our brides appreciate it when they see how their invitations are printed and when they see its all done by hand they appreciate the process so much more!

A&P Design uses hand-powered printing presses to cut down on carbon footprint. A&P Design uses hand-powered printing presses to cut down on carbon footprint.

Joe & Margot Borges – Pomegranate Letterpress When we decided to jump into letterpress in 2007 and buy our first press, we made a few upfront decisions on what we wanted to be and how we were going to do it. Partly because we understood that there were already many big players, especially in the United States, and a couple in the Toronto area. So did the world need another letterpress printer? We had to carve our niche and the best thing we could do was be ourselves and make business decisions based on our values. After all, that really is the only difference between us and everyone else.


Both Margot and I are very aware of how we live our lives, and how our decisions impact the world around us. We don’t see ourselves as fanatic eco-champions, nor do we shy away from the fact that we print on paper. Our view is that we can find a way to live better by making simple personal decisions on what to buy, when to buy it and even where it buy. We shop at places we feel match our core values and to try, whenever possible, to shop local. This translates into our business goal: to lessen our environmental impact, provide a quality service and run a fun business.

Our first decision was on the types of presses we were going to go after — non-electric, non-motorized. All three of our press are hand-cranked, and that means a few things: reduced electricity use, shorter print runs and less waste. When you can only print 150-200 impressions an hour, you do everything you can to be as efficient as possible during make-ready and rarely print more than you need! This means all our wedding designs are bespoke — no catalogue and very few samples. As a result, we’ve become a well-respected, local print and design studio, working face-to-face with all our clients. When you work directly with the client you become a team and the projects are more fulfilling.

Earth-friendly letterpress printer tips from Pomegranate Letterpress

Our next big decision was our ink choice. In addition to considering the environmental impact of the ink, we wanted an ink that did not smell — our studio started in our basement and we needed something we could live with. We found and use Caligo Safe Wash inks, a smaller, independent, family run operation in Wales. The inks are non-toxic, wash up with soap and water, and there is no smell. They take a little longer to dry, and although we may not always achieve the same opaque colour and coverage as rubber inks, we feel that it’s the best choice for us and the environment. Not only are we extremely happy with the results we’ve achieved, so are our clients, and we recommend Caligo to any fellow printer who has ever asked.

Next: paper. Trust us, we appreciate the irony of printing on paper while promoting an environmentally sustainable conscience. We are constantly searching for papers that maximize the recycled content and give preference to Certified Processed Chlorine Free paper (PCF). Whenever possible, we look for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification. We have also tested other non-tree paper but we have to ensure they work well with our inks. It’s difficult to find paper for letterpress that fits all these criteria and in smaller quantities for craft printers. We use Neenah Classic Crest, which is manufactured Carbon Neutral and is Green-e certified. We also love using Saint-Armand, Crane Lettra and Mohawk Strathmore.

Some of our most popular products have been created from the off-cuts of other projects. Our PomeMini cards and gift tags are printed on the remnants from wedding invitations, our PomeNotebooks are made from repurposed posters and the inside sheets are art paper we found in the garbage. Last year we purchased some cutting dies destined for landfill. One of them was a Christmas Ball ornament. We had a few Christmas cards that weren’t selling well and with a few passes through the press we had brand new ornament cards — a popular items at the fall craft shows. If a product isn’t working, why not give it a new life?

“Going green” for some is a fad, or something to attract more customers. For us, we don’t see ourselves as “green,” we just try to be sustainable and it’s truly how we roll. Pomegranate is an extension of Margot and I together, and the core values we live by. We print everything from wood and metal type, to polymer plates and lino carving. In our studio, we currently have a Vandercook SP15 proof press, C&P Pilot table top platen and a small Showcard press. We have a very nice collection of wood and metal type as well. We love what we do, and we love when people appreciate letterpress.

Jeff Marrow – Percolator Letterpress Co. We are located in Austin, Texas, a community that is very mindful of the environment and green business practices. At our shop, we try to minimize our environmental impact as much as possible. In Central Texas, water conservation is a top of mind issue. It can be very hot and dry down here, which means we run the air conditioner a lot during the summer months to keep the shop at a practical working temperature and low humidity level. In addition to making cool air, the A/C also makes a lot of distilled water. We harvest this water and are able to use it in many ways including watering plants, trees, and grass, which then take greenhouse gases out of the air as they grow. The A/C does use electricity, but our philosophy is to maximize all the benefits we can from any machine in the shop.

Baum cutter at Percolator Press.

To further save on electricity, we chose a Baum paper cutter with a motor that only activates when a cut is made. It is a tremendously efficient machine. Also, our Heidelberg 10×15 Windmill is a very efficient marvel of engineering. The GE electric motor that runs the powerful press pulls very little electricity relative to its production output.

Finally, we have a shop-wide recycling and hazardous waste disposal program.  Austin has a wonderful single-stream recycling program that allows us to recycle nearly 100% of our scrap papers and plastics.  In addition to recycling paper, we are able to reuse some of the larger paper scraps in other project and we donate some paper scraps to a local kindergarten class for art projects. The kids love it!

Furthermore, the Heidelberg has a very clever, quick-clean mechanism that allows us to reclaim the hazardous cleaning solvents to be disposed of safely at Austin’s hazardous waste disposal facility.  Also, the rags we use to clean the press are old clothes at the end of their wearable usefulness that we purchase from a large used clothing facility.

We are always looking for ways to be more eco-friendly and efficient in our shop.  We love what we do and strive to create sustainable practices to help us create beautiful stationery, while doing our best to protect our natural environment.

Annika Buxman – De Milo Design Studio & Letterpress De Milo Design Studio & Letterpress is a small shop located in South Pasadena, California. Two treadle presses (Franklin Gordon and C&P), one Vandercook SP15, and two C&P Pilot presses get the work done. One wiener dog named Frankie helps out when she’s not busy sleeping on top of a paper stack.

Annika Buxman of De Milo Design Studio & Letterpress gives back as an eco & fair trade paper printer & user.

I think being “earth friendly” and “global friendly” go together. In 2007 I was fortunate to meet some fair trade artisans in Bangladesh who, along with making beautiful paper, have created a supportive and safe community for rural women who have few options for employment. I call the paper line “Sustain & Heal” because the goal is to sustain the earth and heal lives that have been adversely affected by poverty and cultural systems detrimental for women. It’s been so fun to meet customers who also care about these things. I’ve learned a lot from them and they’ve helped to shape the product.

We do other things like using Ecolo Clean press wash, soy inks, and regular trips to the hazardous waste drop off instead of dumping film chemicals down the drain. Also a lot of tricky trimming at the cutter so we get very little paper waste. We save the trim for use in handmade papermaking.

Annika Buxman of De Milo Design Studio & Letterpress gives back as an eco & fair trade paper printer & user.

I am inspired by observing and admiring other people who live close to the earth. My grandparents on both sides of our family were farmers. They composted and reused everything. I’ve met many urban farmers who continue the same practices. I watch them and try to follow their examples.

I used to do all kinds of design acrobatics to detract from the fact that the eco paper is not as bright white. Lots of floods with bright inks and overall patterns. Now I don’t mind the less bright paper and design more simply.

Amy Worsham – Typanum Press Since our last visit, our home studio has grown into a garage shop. Our original and ancestral 5×8 Kelsey Excelsior was joined this spring by a new style 10”x15” Chandler & Price. While proving harder to fit in our living room, the larger press has helped us to expand our capabilities and turnaround time in so many ways. We continue to offer a wide range of services including full design, hand-set type, mixed media prints, and social stationery, all with the ability to handle more jobs and with increasing complexity.  We pride ourselves in our environmentally friendly practices, from press and energy usage, press inking and clean up, to paper selection and packaging. This has been an easy process for us to implement for a number of reasons.

In many ways letterpress printing has an inherently low environmental impact. Merely by continuing to maintain and use our antique presses, rather than committing them to the landfill every couple of years, we, as letterpress printers, are retaining energy. Many of these presses use hand or minimal electric power (like our C&P). In addition to this, advances in ink and the increased interest in post-consumer paper have greatly reduced the waste and toxicity of the letterpress printing process.

Eco-friendly printing at Tympanum Press with Amy Worsham.

Like many other printers, we made the switch from oil to rubber based inks for a variety of reasons. We did a lot of research when we first began stocking our shop. We had a good deal of leftover oil-based inks that worked just fine, and were almost as old as the press, but for our situation, I wasn’t interested in using harmful chemicals with each press cleaning. We printed for a long time inside our home, with young children afoot and I use a lot of natural cleaning products with my home cleaning, why would I want dangerous and flammable chemicals in the house? Not only do we appreciate the print quality and shelf life of the rubber-based inks, but the lack of the need to use harsh solvents during cleanup has been a game changer, especially when we were printing out of our kitchen. Because we mix all of our specialty colors by hand, as needed, we also use very little ink.

For basic cleanup, we use vegetable oil with old cotton rags and newspaper. This quickly and easily removes the ink from the press but leaves an oily residue that will prevent proper inking on the next job. We had been using Bestine or other solvents [e.g. mineral spirits] to remove this, however acting on the recommendation of my fellow printer friend, Martha Beason of nearby Little Cricket Letterpress, we have switched to using a solution of dawn soap and vinegar. It works quite well and has no fumes or other noxious effects.

All our primary choices for paper are tree-free, recycled, or produced using alternative energy sources. This has been relatively easy to achieve as these types of paper often tend to lend themselves best to the letterpress process! In cutting, we order paper sizes that best match the project intended so we have very few scraps. For the times that we do end up with scraps, we are rarely at a loss to find use for them.

Eco-friendly printing at Tympanum Press with Amy Worsham.

Packaging is, many days, the bane of my existence. It is with great difficulty that I can convince myself to throw away materials that could be reused. Depending on which day on the week you visit the shop, it may look like a trash heap or an episode of Hoarders, but the truth is, I can’t throw any of my vendor packaging away. Because of this, my customers usually receive their orders in reused boxes. There are many ways to both creatively and professionally decorate a used box to allow for continued use. I am also constantly on the lookout for better, more sustainable ways to package our goods.

Eco-friendly printing at Tympanum Press with Amy Worsham.

Letterpress is a tradition born in a era where sustainability was just as much about economy as ecology, and we find that the same still holds true today. If we truly value our environment, its worth considering our waste for a wide variety of reasons.

We order a fair amount of Boxcar plates, but with good storage technique & care, we’ve found that we’ve been able to continue to use most of our Boxcar plates again and again. We’ll be sending them back for recycling once they are too cracked and brittle for use. We’ve recently taken on the task of creating recycling signs for local offices & friends in town and can’t wait to distribute them!

What does your shop do to help reduce your carbon footprint while creating eco-friendly letterpress goods? Share your tips in the comments section below – we’d love to hear from you! Interested in more ideas? Check out the different ways we’re a green print shop.