The Boxcar Press Holiday Gift Guide: 22 Gifts for a Letterpress Printer

(looking for our favorite letterpress cards for valentine’s day? Check that out here!)

Need holiday gift ideas for the letterpress fanatic in your life? We’ve put together a list of our favorite gifts for this holiday season—we found some amazing letterpress pieces online, along with some great books and handy supplies that any printer would love to receive.

A holiday gift shopping guide for letterpress lovers, created by Boxcar Press

1. Boxcar Press apron: A heavy duty printing apron with deep roomy pockets, made right here in Syracuse, New York. $16

2. 9SpotMonk letterpress placemats: 10 by 15 inch placemats, letterpress printed on 100% Recycled Kraft Paper, and packaged in a sealed, clear cello bag with 3 non-toxic crayons. $14 for a set of 24.

3. Studio on Fire calendar: Positive Apocalypse Edition. $30

4. Gutenberg Printing Press: A miniature Gutenberg Printing Press. $37.39

5. Wood type: The bold Preissig design is offered as a woodtype font – prices range from $22 – $470.25

6. Johann Gutenberg and the Amazing Printing Press: This book focuses on Johann Gutenberg as an innovator who developed a way of casting metal type, a linseed-based ink, and a press to allow the transfer of inked letters to paper. Great for ages 5 & up. $16

7. Pantone iPhone case: Available in 9 colors. $36

8. Rubber based ink: Rubber-based inks are our ink of choice for general letterpress printing. Choose from a variety of colors (prices vary). Oil-based inks, acrylic inks, metallic inks and other supplies also available. $31.20

9. Glow in the dark posters: Goodmorning, goodnight glow in the dark prints by Dolce Press. $45

10. Vandercook Press book: A new, essential Vandercook reference book by Paul Moxon based on his “Vandercook Maintenance” workshop with notes on significant models and competing presses. $55

11. The Cloudy Collection: Monster Parade:A four-color, 8″x10″ letterpress print created exclusively for the Cloudy Collection. The print comes in a custom folder that features metallic silver printing on black paper. $75

12. Boxcar Press t-shirts: Choose from the Vandercook Universal III; the Chandler & Price Craftsman 12 x 18; the Heidelberg Platen 13 x 18; and the baby Sigwalt 5 x 8. Made in the USA! View them all here. $16

13. Letterpress Woodland Creature clocks: This bird clock was letterpress printed by the Sesame Letterpress Shop. $30

14. LetterMPress App: Experience the craft of letterpress on your iPad or Mac. $9.99

15. Roller setting gauge: This handy tool will help you accurately measure the height of your rollers so your press can produce the crispest printing. $22

16. Mark Twain’s Book of Animals: Twenty-five impressions of each of the thirty-one prints Barry Moser designed, drew, and engraved for Mark Twain’s Book of Animals have been printed on an archival sheet from the Zerkall Paper Mill in Hurtgenwald-Zerkall, Germany. $3,500

17. Letterpress holiday coasters: Printed by Paisley Tree Press. $10 for a set of 8

18. The History of Printmaking: A highly interactive tour of the history of printmaking covers Sumerian cuneiform, the innovations of typographer Frederic Goudy, the works of Rembrandt and Henri de Toulouse-Latrec, and comic books. $13.77

19. Dead Feminists Broadside: On a Mission: A 10×18 broadside, printed by hand on an antique Vandercook Universal One press. Each piece is printed on archival, 100% rag (cotton) paper, and individually signed and numbered by both artists. $35

20. Gutenberg Printing Press pencil sharpener: A detailed, cast metal miniature model of the Gutenberg Printing Press, complete with moving parts, is also a pencil sharpener! $6.95

21. Letter from Santa: We love great type and letterpress, but man, seeing real live amazing gorgeous calligraphy gives us the chills. This is a hand-calligraphed, personalized letter from Santa (if Santa was a really talented calligrapher) $15

22. Hamilton Wood Type: A History in Headlines: A 65 page book outlining the history of the Hamilton Wood Type Company and the importance of wood type to the growth of printing world-wide. $20

Boxcar Base/plates in action: the Studio On Fire letterpress calendar

Okay, we’re in love.

Actually, we fall totally head over heels in love with the Studio On Fire calendar every single year, and this year is no different. The design is always amazing. The letterpress printing is always amazing (amazing solids, great impression, super crisp type).

And we’re so thrilled that the calendar is printed using our Boxcar Base and Boxcar’s photopolymer plates.

Studio On Fire, by the way, is a design and letterpress shop based in Minneapolis, Minnesota and they consistently create some of the most original letterpress work out there — so go check them out and get inspired! The calendar is available for purchase for $30 from their web site — and sure, it’s March, but that means you can still get nine more months of authentic over-the-top letterpress pleasure from this calendar. Also check out their awesome letterpress blog Beast Pieces.

Letterpress printing at Red Oak Press – letterpress calendars, a beautiful press, + more!

One of the joys of the new year for us is letterpress calendars – 12 pages of pure letterpress pleasure! So we were thrilled this year to receive a beautiful calendar from one of our platemaking customers, Rick Ziesing, the owner of Red Oak Press in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. Turns out, in addition to being a letterpress printer, Rick is also a photographer and has taken amazing photographs of his shop, his Windmill, and his printing. His pictures remind us of why we love letterpress printing so darn much – because everything about this printing process is beautiful! Can you imagine an offset shop looking so gorgeous? (see more photos of more letterpress printing at Red Oak Press here)

Rick shared with us some thoughts about letterpress (see below), and all photographs are taken by Rick. The calendar was printed using the Boxcar Base and KF95 plates.

“We bought a beautiful ‘red ball’ Heidelberg Tiegel (windmill) in August of 2007, in order to make products designed in-house without those pesky clients telling us what to do.”

“Of course, I was not a printer, had never run a press nor even seen a Windmill in the flesh until it arrived. Armed with the Heidelberg manual, Platen Press Operation, by George J. Mills, and Kelsey’s little green book, I commenced my self education. The paper companies loved me as I burned through reams of cotton paper while learning to get the press to feed, then to print, then to print properly. Many trials and errors later, I am able to produce something of reasonably good quality.”

“This calendar was designed by Lori Gray, my wife’s partner in Kedash Design, a graphic design firm in Kennett Square, PA.”

“The printing of the calendar itself was not particularly difficult, registration was not critical but getting good ink coverage on both the text and the graphic for the month was trying. I resorted to running most colors twice through the press, which is supposedly a sacrilege but certainly gets the job done without having to resort to smashing one run and deforming the letters to get the graphic to print. I did some makeready by glueing some tissue thin press packing to the platen in certain areas. Of course, the Heidelberg is so beautifully designed that you can run pieces through multiple times and get dead on registration every pass.”

“The gray wash graphics were simple, once I got the color right. There’s just a hint of color anyway and lots of trusty transparent white was consumed. We bought a hand operated wiro binding machine for finishing as the cost of outsourcing 100 calendars to some drone in a copy shop was more expensive (and frightening) than just doing our own.”

“I use standard Boxcar Bases and the KF95 photopolymer. If you’ve dealt with them, you know that this is a top-flight operation.”

“Here are a few hard learned tips. If you’re running a Windmill, get it to feed perfectly before trying to print. If your final print looks bad, it can be a million things, but I always go to the packing first and use fresh tympan and packing for every run. Roller height is critical and may even need to be changed according to what kind of job you are doing. Don’t overink….as in most things, less is best.”