Letterpress – Design and production using historic techniques
Curious Fox Press is a western Loudoun company operated by Cathleen Titcomb. She provides bespoke, manually produced, printed goods that are hand crafted on an antique platen presses. The end result is invitations, letters, envelopes, menus, and such that stand apart in this age of digital mass production. . Materials that have been printed using these age old techniques result in selected paper surfaces featuring tactile impressions, and a crispness not obtainable with ink jet technology. Cathleen hired Wicked Design to develop a website that could enhance her business through community increased awareness while demonstrating the beauty of her work.
Custom letterpress services are a labor of love. Much of the process remains as it’s been for hundreds of years. Inks are mixed by hand to obtain colors selected by clients. When more than one color is required for a project, the printed pieces must be pressed yet again. Imagine if Cathleen had an order of 500 invitations that required blue and black ink. Each single invitation is printed by hand , for a total of 1000 impressions, for this example. It is a process that requires significant attention to detail as 100 year old machines are used to create goods that exceed today’s discerning expectations.
Clients can choose from a wide range of fine papers to meet nearly every event and holiday need. Curious Fox Press will then cut the paper to the specific size required. The options can include heavy weighted papers that many modern printers cannot utilize. In addition, the chosen paper can feature ragged edges because the process is a manual one. Other options include hot foil stamping (again by hand), envelope linings, die cuts and more.
To demonstrate the beauty of her work, Cathleen hired creative photographers to capture some of her finished pieces. The resulting photos stand as a lesson to all business owners who seek to create awareness for their services; Images of timeless beauty that evoke emotional ties can creates memories. Good designers, artists and photographers all realize this fact.
In capturing the printed media embedded within the event it aims to promote, one is drawn to feelings of family and community. A birthday invitation rests askew on a paper party plate with a blurred noise maker in the background. This setting transcends what would otherwise be a simple photo of a printed card. These are good lessons for any business or organization seeking to get their message heard.
The website design needed to weave these terrific photos into an online presentation that was complimentary. To accomplish this, elements of the letterpress process were placed strategically with the written word. In doing so, the hand crafted process is highlighted again and again. These components included hand tools, press wheels, stacks of uncut fine paper, storage bins and raised type . The freshly minted website evokes a sense of romance, history and fine craft.
In these modern times, we used the WordPress platform to design and develop this new website. It involves creating rows and columns filled with written word and photographs. The content components can be simply “dragged into place” to achieve a desired effect. However, this is not the case with letterpress printing. When the platen is struck, the paper is pressed against a set of tightly packed, lead letters (rolled with ink). The metal letters and symbols are manually set, and reinforced with spacers to keep the presentation from moving. Care is required to ensure proper registration with the paper, and that no misspellings are present. Moving a single character can cause the entire layout to require attention.
In this day and age of technical wonder, instant gratification and mass produced goods, letterpress printing pulls us back to a simpler time. However, we should not confuse simpler with easier. Hand crafted printing is tedious work, which is why modern conventions have taken over. With each great technical stride we make, some amount of human involvement and craft is left behind. The services offered by Curious Fox Press allow us to keep a connection with the old ways, while celebrating with friends and family in the most modern of ways.
See the new website here: CuriousFoxPress.com.