sweetfrenchtoast » for a modern handmade life

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  • HOWDY.

    Thanks for stopping by sweetfrenchtoast!

    I'm Sabrina, and I love to make pretty things, visit inspiring places, eat really good food, and take lots of photos along the way. Though I live with my husband in Atlanta, GA, I consider the world my home, and I can't wait to see more of it.

using the L letterpress

notecard with lined envelope

I’ve always loved the letterpressed notecards found in cute stationery boutiques, so when RH and I were planning our wedding, I knew that we simply had to have letterpressed invitations. My heart sank when I realized how expensive that could be, so I decided to take a class at a local printmaking studio and make them myself.

They turned out great, and I fell in love with letterpress. I became a member of the studio and have since rented the 100-year-old press several times to crank out birth announcements, holiday cards, and personal stationery. I even seriously considered buying a press, but—sadly— there’s zero room for the Chandler & Price press of my dreams in our two-bedroom loft.

For our first anniversary, RH surprised me with an incredibly thoughtful and unexpected gift—an L Letterpress. Since the traditional first anniversary gift is paper, he thought it would be fitting, and I agree that it was the perfect gift!

I immediately began researching to see what people thought about the machine. After reading several negative reviews, I read Harold’s incredibly helpful tips on the Boxcar Press blog. I had been ordering Boxcar’s plates for my Boxcar base since I took the class and made my wedding invites, so I was familiar with them and trusted their advice.

After a few tweaks to the setup and equipment, I started printing on the L Letterpress and had pretty good results. My first big project was invites for a 90th birthday party, and with that I realized that while the L is excellent for home printing, if you need a lot of prints (more than 40 or 50), you should plan several hours or space your printing out over a few days. It’s much more time-consuming than printing on a flywheel press, which allows me to produce a couple hundred prints in a day.

It is a lot of fun though, and it’s perfect for smaller projects like personal stationery. I’ve created a brief video to show how I recently used the L Letterpress to print some notecards. I used some leftover wrapping paper from Paper Source to line a few envelopes, and I think the ensemble came together very nicely.

My supply list includes:

  • nameplate designed in Photoshop with a font from MyFonts.com
  • photopolymer plate made by Boxcar Press
  • Crane & Co. Lettra paper (120lb cover) and envelopes in Fluorescent White
  • Van Son rubber-based ink

While I think it probably helps that I’m familiar with traditional letterpress, I think—with practice—anyone can master the L Letterpress and turn out fantastic-looking prints. Happy letterpressing!

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Making things makes Sabrina happy. Whether it's letterpressing custom stationery or creating photographic memories in a far-flung destination, she's smitten with the process of creating and is always learning a new hobby.
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Latest posts by Sabrina (see all)

February 21, 2011 - 10:46 am

Jam - Well done. The results look very good.

February 22, 2011 - 9:40 pm

sabrina - Thanks! :)

February 25, 2011 - 6:46 pm

peach - hi, i’m considering the L letterpress for wedding invitations. do you have experience using the L for small-ish type? i love how your sabrina cards came out but the type is a little large for what i need. any advice is so appreciated – thanks!!!

February 27, 2011 - 2:55 pm

sabrina - Hi, Peach! I made some party invites that used smaller type. I’ll email you a photo so you can see how it turned out.

March 8, 2011 - 3:57 pm

Leah - Your stationery looks great. I found your link from Boxcar’s blogpost on the L letterpress. Im also considering it fo my wedding invitations but a lil aprehensive on getting it because of the mixed reviews. Can you send me a sample of the invites u mentioned? Any tips or advice on using the letterpress. I would really appreciate any suggestions you may have. Thanks!

March 10, 2011 - 9:58 am

jolanta - Hi Sabrina,
I LOVE what you did for your stationery…very cute with the lined envelope too!…I also bought the L letterpress…Can you send me a photo of your invite…I’m thinking of doing one for my sister’s baby shower and want it to look incredible!


March 10, 2011 - 8:32 pm

sabrina - Leah and Jolanta, I’m emailing you a photo. My best advice is to order your plates and get your supplies together early enough to give you plenty of time to do a few test runs. It may take you a try or two to get the hang of inking the brayer, inking your plate, etc. The hardest part for me has been mixing custom ink colors. I’ve never taken an art class and have zero education on color theory, so some attempts to make, say a gorgeous bright pink have not ended the way I wanted them to (result: pepto bismol). Good luck! Let me know if you have any other specific questions. :)

March 21, 2011 - 3:59 am

gigi - hi,
i love how the envelope liners match your stationery! been reading/researching on the l-letterpress and found your link through boxcar press’ blog.

may i ask what you use to clean your brayer and plates? also, how do you store the plates after use to maintain the sticky adhesive? is it possible to re-use the plates?

March 27, 2011 - 8:16 pm

sabrina - Hi, Gigi! I tried using vegetable oil to clean my brayer and plates, and while that does work, it’s very messy and it takes a LOT of scrubbing for everything to come clean. I have transitioned to using odorless mineral spirits — that works really well. Yes, the plates are reusable. In fact, I have reused several of my plates over and over. For example, I designed a return address plate when I made my wedding invitations, and I have used that one many times for personal notecards, holiday cards, thank you notes, etc. The plates are very easy to store. Just save the thin blue backing that exposes the sticky part and replace it when you’re done printing. Sometimes it’s hard to get the backing lined up perfectly again, especially if you’ve cut out some intricate shapes from the plate, but I haven’t had any problems at all with the plates becoming less sticky. I store the plates with the backing reattached in separate ziploc bags — one bag for icons and ornament, one for greetings, one for names and monograms, etc. I hope this helps — good luck and have fun! :)

June 2, 2011 - 5:02 pm

Mackenzie - Hi Sabrina! I found your website while googling the L letterpress. I would love to see you invites with the smaller letter type. Would you mind sending a photo? Love your work :)

June 27, 2011 - 9:40 pm

Michelle Lee - Hi,

I am also interested in making my own wedding invitations. Can you send me photos of invitations you have done with the smaller font?

Also, it is possible to have 2 colors on the same line of print?

February 14, 2012 - 7:26 am

marshmallows and letterpress » sweetfrenchtoast - [...] up with some red ribbon and home-letterpressed tags. I’ve still got nothing but love for my L Letterpress. I’ve done a few more small-run letterpress projects at home since my personal notecards, and [...]

March 13, 2013 - 8:17 am

calligraphy stamps from kathryn murray » sweetfrenchtoast - [...] press, and for those times I can’t get my local printmakers studio, I have a tiny little L letterpress for home projects like [...]

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