Just Jurf Designs

What Goes in to Your Letterpress Invitations

Tips & TricksJenn Jurf

Letterpress is a very hands on process so today, I wanted to take you through a step-by-step guide of what happens with your invitations once we start production.

1 | Plates

A big part the letterpress process (and price) are the custom plates that are made with each design. We take the digital PDF that you approve for printing and have a film negative created, similar to a photo negative. We then take this film and expose it against a photopolymer plate (along with several other steps involved) to create a reverse image that will be pressed into your invitations.

 Cleaning off letterpress plates after exposure and wash out

Cleaning off letterpress plates after exposure and wash out

2 | Paper


Letterpress paper is truly luxurious! It’s a 100% tree free cotton paper (woo-hoo!) It’s light and airy allowing the plates to create the beautiful impression that we all love with letterpress. All of our paper is cut down to the specifications of your job.

 Cutting cotton paper down to size for invitation printing

Cutting cotton paper down to size for invitation printing

3 | Ink


All of our inks are hand mixed and matched to the Pantone Matching System (PMS). This system allows us to replicate the ink formula time and time again to provide a consistent color throughout different projects.

Once the ink is mixed, we spread it on the disk of the press and run the press to spread the ink evenly.

Since we can only have 1 ink on the press at a time, you’ll find the letterpress prices to be broken out into number of ink colors. More on this in a minute!

 Mixing custom ink colors

Mixing custom ink colors

4 | Preparing the Press


So we have the plates, we have the paper and we have the ink. Now, it’s time to merge them all together and start pressing! But not just yet.

Once we load the plate on to the press, we take some time to set up the card alignments, check for even impressions and make any last minute adjustments before we run.

 Loading the plates into the press

Loading the plates into the press

5 | Hand-Feeding


Once we’re ready to start printing, each card is hand-fed through as the press runs. Since this is a handmade process, you’re constantly checking for alignment, even impression and ink inconsistencies after each card.

 Checking alignment and test prints

Checking alignment and test prints

That’s it! That’s how letterpress invitations are made!


A few other notes…

Now one big thing about letterpress is if you invitation has multiple colors, once you’re finished with step 5, steps 1, 3, 4 and 5 are all repeated for each color.

The other big question I get is quantity. Why are small runs almost the same price as big runs and that’s because the process is still the same. The only difference is we grab a few more or less paper or we spend an extra 2-3 minutes on the press. It’s enough that we show a difference in prices but the majority of the cost comes from the design time and time preparing the press to print. That’s why we always recommend ordering about 20% extra for letterpress invitations because a run for 5 cards can cost almost the same as 100 cards.

If you have any questions about letterpress, please don’t hesitate to contact me! You can also request a sample so you can see and feel this luxurious print method in person.