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1 posts from November 2009

November 08, 2009

letterpress ...

After drooling over this puppy since CHA, an  L Letterpress now lives in my house!  You're looking at one of my first attempts to use it (the tree was only the second plate I'd inked up).  Not too shabby.  It's that easy to use. 

Since the L Letterpress came home with me, a few peeps and I have been talking about it over on Facebook and I told 'em I'd let 'em know what I thought about it. 

But in case you're not sure what it is, the L Letterpress is a new tool from Quickutz that lets you get the look of letterpress stationery at home.  It's kinda' a big deal for the average papercrafter to be able to economically achieve this elegant look at home.  (Not sure what letterpress stationery is or how it's different from stamping?  The quick answer is that it's printing in its original form - like, printing press printing - where a raised image is inked and then pressed into soft paper to achieve a debossed design.  Basically, it's what printing was from the get-go.  Thank you Mr. Gutenberg.  *wink*  As with anything else, it's evolved over the years, but you get the idea, yeah?)

So how does this work?  Quickutz shows you the basics in 4 photos here ...

  • you pick your design plate
  • add adhesive to back of design plate & stick it to the top clear layer of the L Letterpress
  • ink it up
  • place your paper on the base of the L Letterpress
  • add paper guides (small spongely things that hold the paper in place - optional)
  • run it through a die-cutting machine

QK designed it to work with their die cutting machine, the Epic Six.  The verbage I keep hearing is that it will work in "other die cutting machines as well."  So instead of dropping the dough on another machine, I decided to give it a go in my Big Shot.  Here's what I found ...

  • it works. 
  • you run the L Letterpress plate through the Big Shot with no additional layers of packing/sandwiching.  It's gonna' seem like there's too much space and not enough pressure for it work, but it does.  If you try to put another layer in there with it, even the wafer thin one, it's not gonna' pass through.

The good news is ... it works.  And it works pretty darn well.  And after some initial frustration, the ONLY downside I saw was a SLIGHT amount of design that shows through on the BACK of the paper you print your design on.  When the Letterpress passes through the Epic, I don't notice any of the design showing on the back of the paper.  (I'm not talking ink here, just a bit of the design coming through from the pressure of debossing.)

Does that matter?  Prolly not.   It's really gonna' be up to you.  I showed Dave and he thought I was nuts to be fussing over it.  *shrug*  I compared it to Epic results again today.  It still bugged me.  But then, I tend to be a perfectionist and stuff like that bothers me when I think I COULD achieve better results using it with the machine it's MADE to work with.  But in the end, I'm gonna' tell ya' that you're probably not gonna' care.  Even I can admit today, removed from it, that I'm being fussy.  But hey, I'm ok with that!  *laugh*

I also fiddled with the L Letterpress in the Cuttlebug.  I don't think it's gonna' work in that one.  Someone may come along that will make it work and I'll eat my words, but it seemed like a no-go for me. 

But let's back up a bit ...
Thinking about the L Letterpress as a tiny printing press, you wanna' be able to achieve precision placement on EACH one of your projects.  The L Letterpress answer is where I find a WEE bit of fault with the process.  Here's why ...

When you buy a set of design plates, it comes with the plates (obviously) and some sheets of adhesive. (The L Letterpress comes with a few design plates, but others are sold, grouped by theme, for about $25).  Much like the old Stampin' Up sets you had to cut out and put together, you're supposed to place the plates on the adhesive, then trim.  The adhesive is needed to stick the plate to the clear top layer on the L Letterpress.  Ok, fine.  Unfortunately, after I used each plate, the adhesive pulled completely off, staying behind on the clear layer of the L Letterpress. Which means that I'd have to trim and cut EVERY time I used an individual plate. 

QK's answer to this seems to be to include a couple of extra adhesive sheets in each set (and to sell it by the pack).  But ... there's gotta' be a better way, right?  No way I want to apply ahesive and trim around my plate EVERY time I use it.  At this point, my answer is gonna' be to apply my own adhesive with each use.  I tried it with my "dot roller" and it stayed put fine.  (And that's not even touching on where the heck I'd store 40 odd plates backed with adhesive.  With no adhesive, that storage issue is moot.) 

One thing I realized almost immediately - I want to use more than one color on a single project.  If I were mass producing, having only one surface to pull ink from and one brayer to transfer the ink to the plate wouldn't be a problem.  But I was only making one of each design, not mass producing.  And the fact is, most of the time I'm not gonna' be mass producing the stuff I design.  But I still want to be able to use multiple colors and not have to go back and forth cleaning stuff all the time.  This puts checking a hardware store for an economical answer for additional surfaces to pull ink from on my short list (and buying more brayers).

A few more random thoughts ...

  • the inks are limited in color, but there is white, and you can blend and mix your own custom colors.
  • a little ink goes a long way. 
  • getting a handle on the amount of ink to use on your plate is pretty easy.  Only took a couple of times through before I got a feel for the right amount.  Again, a little goes a long way.
  • I've only worked with red ink so far, but it has a slight shimmer to it.  Really lovely.
  • QK is selling soft cotton paper.  The type of paper you use for Letterpress matters.  It needs to be soft and thick enough to take the deboss, while leaving the back side flat.  The QK paper is nice, but there are a lot of options out there besides what QK sells.  Check your local paper companies, making sure to tell 'em what you're using it for.

If you want to see more, there's a video over at Craft Critique that shows the L Letterpress in action

Bottom line?  I'm excited about it.  It works well.  And I think there are enough design plates available initially for most to find something they like (not to mention some that just LOOK like letterpress designs to me).  I'm looking forward to having it in my design arsenal!


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Hi! I'm Heather, and welcome to my blog! I stamp, I travel, I make stuff, I cook, I take tons of photos - and you'll find a little of all of that here!

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