Happy Happy Joy Joy!

Shannon is wrapping up the last of an invitation suite for Leah and Todd. Letterpress printed in charcoal ink, the Bella Figura design “Deveril” is a classy look to set their wedding. The couple will be receiving the package very shortly!

Another Splendid Press!

Just in case you thought we only had Heidelberg presses, here is a teeny one that lives on the reception desk. It is a miniature wooden handpress, ancestor to the Heidelbergs.

by Carrie Valenzuela, letterpress printer. 12:29 p.m.

Boxcar Talk with Pistachio Press

Rachael is a loving dog owner, wife, and fine art professor at nearby University of Rochester. If that right there doesn’t stop you from believing this girl is legit, she also single handedly runs Pistachio Press. From printing stationery, social invitations to limited edition prints, her work has been featured in Brides Magazine, Lucky Magazine, on the popular design blog design*sponge and more. Luckily for us, Rachel was able to squeeze in some time for a Boxcar Talk:



How did you first get into letterpress?
My undergraduate degree is in printmaking and bookmaking, but our department was small and we didn’t have a letterpress. I felt like I had been missing out on something big, so the summer before I headed to grad school for printmaking I drove to Ohio and picked up my first press. I had never even seen how a press worked, but I started reading online and slowly started to figure things out. When I got to grad school, we had a Vandercook No. 4 that I began using for my artist books. After grad school I started to get serious about printing stationery and wedding invitations and the rest is history!

pistachio-pressWhat was your very first press (and are you using it still)?
My very first press was a Sigwalt tabletop with missing rollers. I hand inked everything until I saved up enough money to buy rollers for it. My next press was an 8×12 C&P (which is still in the process of being restored), then a Vandercook SP-15 and finally my baby, a Vandercook No. 4. I still have all of the presses, but I primarily use the Vandercooks.

What medium do you usually print (lead/wood type, photopolymer, lino, etc.)?
Although I started by using lead type that I had accumulated on my quest for a press, I now primarily use photopolymer plates. I love them!



What’s your process from sketch to press?
I usually start by drawing on paper, even if it’s just a rough sketch. Then I scan the sketch into the computer and either use elements from that directly or draw over it in Illustrator. When I have a finished design I send the files to Boxcar and plates appear on my doorstep a few days later. Then it’s just a matter of mixing ink, registering the plate and pulling prints. I still love pulling the first print of a design and watching multiple runs turn into the piece I had imagined.

What other print shops do you admire?
I’m a total letterpress junky and there are a ton of shops I really admire, so these are just a few. Maginating by Brad Woods (for his playful designs and impeccable printing), Albertine Press by Shelley Barandes (for her amazing letterpress library), and Studio On Fire consistently blows me away.


Who or what inspires you the most?
I’m inspired by my grandmother’s stories, old photos, vintage china, my dogs and husband, simple lines.

What are your favorite things/items from Boxcar Press?
My favorite thing about Boxcar is that I’m able to work with people who love letterpress and are passionate about the craft. I also love my Boxcar 13×19″ base and plates.


Any neat tricks you can share?
I don’t know if this is so much a trick as it is one of my favorite studio must-haves…Eco House Citrus Thinner. After years in a print shop I can’t stand the smell of mineral spirits, even the odorless kind. I haven’t been in love with any soy-based alternatives because they tend to leave my press greasy. The Citrus Thinner is completely amazing, degreases and doesn’t ever give me a headache.

What are you looking forward to?
I help organize Second Storie Indie Market in Rochester and we’re in the midst of planning for our November show. I’m also excited to be participating in the Salt City Urban Craft Market in Syracuse in mid-October. I just started exhibiting at trade shows and I’m looking forward to the next gift show in January. There is a totally different vibe between indie shows and trade shows, but both are really exciting!


What was the experience like for you at NSS this year?
I had such an awesome experience at the National Stationery Show. It was my first time exhibiting at a trade show and I was fortunate to share a booth with several other talented printers in the Ladies of Letterpress booth. The entire show was a great way to connect with buyers and to meet other exhibitors that I’ve admired over the years. I felt lucky to share a booth because it cut down on the amount of overall work since everyone took on a role (like ordering walls, flooring, furniture, etc). I also made a great group of friends during the show.


Do you have any suggestions for people hoping to exhibit next year or how to promote their new product lines?
Having a clean booth and well displayed product is a must for trade shows. I would suggest talking to other people who have done the shows and see if they have some advice. After doing this at several shows, I now have a better idea of what suppliers are better or cheaper and how to navigate the intimidating world of trade show union labor. I would suggest reaching out to stores you want to meet before the show and following up afterward with everyone you meet afterward. And start planning early!


How was NYIGF for your first time?
The Gift Show was a completely different experience from the Stationery Show. At the Gift Show there were many more diverse products, which meant that some buyers had no interest in stationery. This also meant that it was easier to stand out as a stationer. I found that there were many different kinds of shops coming through – florists, book stores, interior decorators, etc. Overall, we picked up quite a few new stores, made some great connections and are planning to go back again in January!

For more from Rachael, her work can be found in numerous retail shops nationwide and on Etsy. Thanks for sharing, Rachael!

Boxcar Talk with Haute Papier

When planning her wedding three years ago, Sarah Meyer Walsh couldn’t find anyone who could customize her wedding invitations, which ultimately served as her inspiration in launching Haute Papier. Her business partner Erin Miller joined her about a year later and they’ve teamed up in creating a stationery business that places equal value on high design and top notch printing. With two locations, Haute Papier is a luxury letterpress studio dedicated to couture letterpress, specializing in high end custom wedding invitations and stationery, including a selection of custom designs, fine stationery and gift items. Their stationery is available in more than 80 stores across the US and Canada. With their two locations and expanding retail collection, they managed to squeeze in some time for a little Boxcar Talk:


How did each of you first get into letterpress?

Of course, any stationery designer certainly loves the look of letterpress. Prior to doing our own printing we would farm out the work to local printers – printers who we are proud to still call friends (and who we call on when we have a question about our presses!) We really really loved when our clients chose letterpress for their invitations and thought the one thing missing was knowing how to print ourselves. So we took a one day class in the basement of a letterpress hobbyist in Alexandria, Virginia. He was a super nice guy, but here we are two young ladies in a dingy basement hand cranking a tabletop press and just thinking we were so cool to be setting type and mixing ink and having a blast. To this day I’m not too sure what our instructor thought of us or our enthusiasm for letterpress. I think we quite overwhelmed him! Well, at the end of our class he handed us a copy of a newspaper dedicated to the letterpress community and in the back was a classified section. We honed in on our press, called the owner and purchased the press within 20 minutes of leaving our workshop. Now mind you, the press we bought was in Pittsburgh. We would go up and officially adopt her a few weeks later. And that is another the story in of itself. A story for another time perhaps!

What was your very first press (and are you using it still)?

A Golding Pearl 7×11. You may call her Pearl (we call her the gobbler)! She is semi-retired but still does a mean job on our envelopes!

What medium do you usually print (lead/wood type, photopolymer, lino, etc.)?

Photopolymer plates from Boxcar (specifically KF152)

What’s your process from sketch to press?

We love to draw! Our hand drawings and sketches form the foundation of our new designs. We also LOVE vintage images and sometimes incorporate those into our designs as well. So, from our doodling, we turn the designs into reality in CS4 and CS5 (depending on which computer we’re working on). Then we order plates from Boxcar and the rest, as they say, is history.

What other print shops do you admire?

We’ve always admired Studio on Fire for their ability to print anything!

What do you love about working with Boxcar Press?

Cathy Smith, of course! (read: wonderful customer service.) Of course, the quality plates keep us coming back for more!

Any neat tricks you can share?

I don’t know if we have any neat tricks, but I will say a deep breath goes a long way at times.

Who or what inspires you the most?

We find inspiration in so many different things. Right now, we’re in love with a bunch of photos that Sarah took of the amazing architecture in Argentina this past spring!


What’s next for Haute Papier?

We’re in the process of expanding our cash and carry lines and look forward to introducing it to our retailers!

What was the experience like for you at the National Stationery Show? Do you have any suggestions for people hoping to exhibit?

We love NSS! We’re going on exhibiting for our third year and love meeting new dealers and reconnecting with our current dealers. It’s also a nice time to meet fellow printers. As we all know, NSS is a costly undertaking so we really try and kill it! We are excited to be there and ready to talk everyone’s ear off who will listen to us about Haute Papier! It’s really about making the most of our week.

Thanks so much, ladies, for sharing a little insight about Haute Papier! For more about Sarah, Erin, and Haute Papier visit their website.

Letterpress Wedding Invitations Designed by Ian Koenig

We loved printing these sweet letterpress wedding invitations designed by Ian Koenig because they are just plain cool. According to the bride, Lindsay, “We did not want to take the whole idea of wedding invitations too seriously…make them fun, non-traditional and have our personalities shine through…We live in the Pacific NW where beer rules all [plus the groom works for Deschutes Brewery] so we definitely wanted that to be showcased as well.” Printed with metallic ink on smooth chocolate brown paper from French Paper, these invitations definitely achieve the goal of being fun and a little offbeat. We love it when couples think outside the box and these invitations are one of our favorite examples of doing just that…

The couple is incorporating a lot of handmade details and a ton of mixed and matched textiles and cool old buttons, vintage salt and pepper shakers and whatever good finds they can score at the farmer’s market on the day of the wedding, which will be at The Gardens at Flying Diamond Ranch in Redmond, Oregon, so Ian took that into account when designing. “I just wanted to capture and compliment all of the eclectic odds and ends that will make up the guest’s wedding experience. We began with a mood board, and from there it was clear that the design opportunity was in the details. The best way to suggest this was through repetition and variation of little icons, the idea that the sum is greater than the parts.” We agree that the sum is definitely great!

Congratulations, Lindsay and Geof!

Boxcar Plates in Action: Letterpress Wedding Invitations

Around here, we certainly understand why brides opt for letterpress when thinking about wedding invitations. But a bride who wants to take on her wedding invitations as her first adventure in letterpress printing? Now that is something we can really appreciate!

Letterpress printing video: Heidelberg Windmills, drama, invitations, beauty,

Letterpress printing is so darn pretty that we wanted to share it with the world – so Harold spend the afternoon filming our printer Jake interacting with one of our favorite Heidelberg Windmills as he printed some letterpress invitations — then Harold spent days and nights and days and nights editing the footage down into three really tight seat-gripping minutes of total printing beauty. Enjoy (and make sure to turn the volume up loud so you can dance along to the press sounds)!