Audra’s Wedding Invitations

Shew…A lot of big things have happened in the past two weeks! Let’s review:

-Chris and I are buying a house! It’s near my new job and we’re both really excited. It’s the same house I mentioned in my last post. We’re currently under contract and should be closing in two weeks.
-I started my new job. Yesterday I was officially welcomed into the “real world.” I previously interned for the company I’m working for, so it’s been more like coming home than starting a new job. I love the group I work with and am excited for this opportunity.
-I got a new niece! Miss Ellie was born late Saturday night. Congratulations Jennifer!
-Finally, I finished printing Drew and Audra’s wedding invitations, which is the whole point of this post.

Audra and I met through her fiancé, Drew, whom I attended graduate school with. I told Drew about my printing and he passed everything along to Audra. I loved meeting Audra. She is hilarious and was so much fun to work with, and I’m not just saying that. After they came over to pick up their invitations on Saturday, Chris said, “We should’ve hung out with Drew and Audra. They’re nice and she’s funny.” I sighed and replied, “Yeah, but we didn’t know and now we’re moving.”

Audra’s invitations are gorgeous. I was going to wait until March to share them, but she gave me the okay, so here we go:

Audra's entire wedding invitation suite. Light pink paper with gold ink

Audra’s entire wedding invitation suite. Light pink paper with gold ink

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Audra found an invitation that she loved and I based my design off that. The invitations were printed on light pink paper using gold ink. This pink paper is lovely. The pictures do not do it justice. In addition to the invitations, we also created a RSVP postcard and a “details” card. The invitations will be mailed in a pearl white Crane’s Lettra envelope with the return address printed on the back flap. I was so excited about the “Andrew and Audra” logo that I printed it first and sent Audra a picture as soon as I was finished:

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I love how well all the pieces in this suite coordinate. For after the wedding, we created folded thank you cards featuring the same “Andrew and Audra” design from the back of the RSVP postcard.

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Audra, I hope you love your invitations! Thank you for being so easy to work with, supporting my business, and supporting me when I decided to quit grad school. I know that you and Drew will have an amazing future together!

Christmas Presents

This year we spent Christmas with Chris’s family and celebrated Christmas with my family last night. Now that Christmas is officially over, I can share some of the Christmas presents I made for my family.

My brother as well as all of the ladies on my husbands side of the family got personalized note cards:

Note cards for my in-laws

Note cards for my in-laws

Note cards for in-laws

Note cards for in-laws

I made some folded note cards for my parents featuring a flat coated coated retriever and their names. I gave these away before getting a picture, but I made similar cards for my aunt and uncle who have two Brussel Griffons. I think both sets of these cards turned out great. I wish I had a better front facing view so that you can see the detail in the dog.

P1020688 Personalized Brussel Griffon note cards[/caption]

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We had a great Christmas, and I hope that everyone else did, too. I don’t want to get all mushy about the new year, but I think 2014 is going to be great.

It seems like things have been going at lightening speed the past three weeks to set up for a very different (and hopefully successful) 2014. In mid-December, I was offered a full time position with a company I used to intern with. This required that I leave my PhD program, which was an agonizing decision, but I feel like this is the best decision for us.

Now that I will also be working, Chris and I can settle down and get a house, which means the printing press can live with us versus living in his parent’s garage. The past two weeks or so we’ve been looking at houses and found one that we both really like. Yesterday we made an offer, but we’ve yet to hear back. Apparently the seller thinks the house is currently under priced by about $50,000 and we definitely didn’t go in at asking price, so we’re trying not get our hopes up, but I really hope things will work out. Keep us in your thoughts!

I hope that everyone else out there has a very happy 2014!

Soon, I will be posting pictures of some baby note cards I made last week. I also made a beautiful wedding suite, but will wait until the bride mails them out before posting pictures.

Dressing up Envelopes

Vintage postage stamps on invitation and postcard

Vintage postage stamps on invitation and postcard

I love vintage postage stamps. I think the USPS has fallen from their A-game the past few years when it comes to stamp designs. New wedding stamps are boring, but getting an invitation mailed with multiple vintage stamps is fun, and it’s probably something different for guests.

Chris and I decided to go the vintage route when we did our invitations, and I loved all the different stamp designs so much, that I decided to sell some of my favorites in my Etsy store. Getting vintage stamps can be expensive. I wanted to use this post to let others know what I did so that I could use vintage stamps and avoid overpaying for postage. I ended up going this way because buying enough sheets of specific stamps so that everyone could have the same design was going to be really expensive. Here’s a quick snapshot of what some of our invitations looked like:

Vintage stamps on wedding invitations

Vintage stamps on wedding invitations

What I did for my wedding was find 2 or 3 designs that I really liked and I tried to get the best deal on sheets/large quantities of those stamps at the best price I could. I really liked the “love” stamps though (scott #1951), and I had to pay over face value for all of them.

Scott 1951 Love stamps

Scott 1951 Love stamps

Then, I bought listings for random lots of stamps off of ebay and paid under face value. These listing really didn’t have many pictures, mainly just a pile of postage stamps, I didn’t really know what I’d be getting. Since I bought a few sheets of my favorite designs, I knew I’d at least have 1-2 stamps that I liked on all the envelopes. I tried to put 1-2 “special” stamps each envelope and used the cheaper stamps to fill in and make up the difference so that each envelope had .66 cents.

We split the unknown stamps into piles based on denomination and then made “formulas” for what would mail one envelope. Like one 20 cent love stamp + one 20 cent balloon stamp + a stamp from the 15 cent pile + a stamp from the 5 cent pile. If you do it this way, you can make an assembly line and it goes pretty quick.

In the end, I think I paid slightly under face value for the stamps once I averaged everything out. I think it was a little more work to hunt everything down, come up with the “formulas,” and attach multiple stamps to each envelope, but I loved the look and we got a lot of compliments on our envelopes.

When I bought listings of random stamps off of eBay, it was fun to open them up and see what designs I got. For instance, I wound up with a lot of nurse stamps, so I used those on my grandma and Chris’s sister who are nurses. I also got a lot of Christmas stamps, so I did my Aunt’s envelope completely in these since she owns a Christmas store. If I could, I tried to customize them to the recipient. If you’re having a theme wedding, you can also customize the stamps to the theme like I did with these Nautical stamps in my Etsy shop:

Nautical Themed Vintage Postage Stampls

Nautical Themed Vintage Postage Stampls

Hopefully this post will be helpful to someone who’s starting to think about stamps for their wedding invitations. Also, another heads up: stamps are going up to 49 cents next year for 1 oz invitations. Each additional ounce will be 21 cents and post cards are going up to 34 cents.

I hope that everyone has a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Capturing Letterpress

One thing I’ve had trouble with since opening my Etsy store is taking good quality photos of my printed pieces. I think part of the problem is my inability to take a good picture and the other part is my camera. I can get an overall view of my products just fine, but I struggle getting up close, detailed shots. I currently use a 7MP point and shoot camera I got while I was in high school and it can’t focus at very close distances like I need. I know nothing about cameras, but I was told that I should invest in a DSLR camera with a macro lens or at least a camera with a macro setting. A new camera isn’t something I can afford right now, so instead I’m seeking advice for maximizing the quality of my photos with my current camera.

These were some of the pictures I originally had listed on Etsy.

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Since I haven’t made a sale yet, I asked other Etsy sellers to critique my shop and give me tips for taking pictures. I was told that my background “wasn’t doing me any favors” and that I should try wood. I also did a lot of research on photographing letterpress, but couldn’t find much information. The only tips I could find were to have bright sunlight hitting parallel to the edge of the paper. I put these tips to use yesterday, and here are my “after” photos which I’ve put on Etsy:

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I think the pictures do show the impression and texture of the paper better. I’m not crazy about the “Thank you” or rocking horse pictures. I could not zoom in and stay focused on the images, so I had to take a larger photo in Photoshop, zoom in and crop it, but I think they both look really amateur.

I’m going to slowly work on redoing my pictures. If anyone has any photography tips that I could use with my current camera, any advice would be GREATLY appreciated. There are so many items on Etsy that great pictures are a must.

Eventually I will upgrade cameras, so if anyone has any suggestions for when that day comes, those are welcome too. I don’t really take pictures when I’m out, so the camera would really only be used for taking pictures of letterpress.

In other news, I had a crazy printing marathon this past weekend. Some of the pictures are on my Facebook page if you’re interested. Some of the things were for Christmas presents, so I can’t post those until after the holidays. Haha, if I ever improve my photography skills, I’ll post some of the things from last weekend up on the blog.

Recipe Card Giveaway

Gertie Sue and I still live 5 hours apart, which means we have to have marathon print sessions whenever I can make it to Chesapeake. This weekend I made an enclosure card for Jill at Old World Accents to include in her online orders, Christmas cards to send to friends and family, custom note cards for Christmas presents, a bridal shower invitation, a baby shower invitation, two types of thank you cards, a rocking horse notecard, and finally, some recipe cards.

The recipe cards are by far my favorite:
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I’m giving away a set of ten of these cards over on my facebook page. Enter by December 14 for a chance to win!

Family Note Cards

In January I will be getting a new niece. Baby Ellie will be my sister’s second baby and I can’t wait to meet her. My family decided to throw my sister a surprise baby shower after Thanksgiving dinner. I made these cards last weekend and have been dying to show them, but I had to wait until after the shower, so here they are:

Family note cards on 110lb lettra with black ink

Family note cards on 110lb lettra with black ink

I included their family name at the top and the names of all the members + the newest soon-to-be member along the bottom. Part of me wishes that I would have used a different ink color, but that particular day I was printing Christmas presents too and everyone got black ink (washing the press = no fun).

I thought these would make great thank you cards as she gets baby presents, so I also included some pink envelopes

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Most of her set was printed on 110 lb pearl white Crane Lettra, but I’ve been dying to print on this light pink Arturo paper I ordered. I’m seriously in love with this pink paper. It’s not quite as thick/heavy as the Lettra, but it’s so soft and feminine. I’m not really a fan of pink, but the Arturo is a nice barely there pink as opposed to an in-your-face bubble gum pink.

Pearl white next to Arturo pink.

Pearl white next to Arturo pink.

Because of work schedules, we celebrated Thanksgiving today, so I hope that the rest of you out there have a wonderful Thanksgiving tomorrow!

Calligraphy to Letterpress Part 1: The Design

When it came time for my husband, Chris, and I to think about wedding invitations, we really had no clue where to start. We knew 100% that we were going to print them ourselves, but after that, we were lost. There are so many amazing examples of letterpress wedding invitations out there, that it was hard to pick just one “vision” for our invitations. Initially, I liked more vintage-y, typographic,and quirky designs. As an example, I really wanted to have save the date cards similar to Erin Jang’s design. I just loved those mini envelopes.

Letterpress Invitation by Erin Jang….swoon

Chris liked what I considered to be extremely formal invitations similar to these by Dick and Jane Letterpress

Dick and Jane Letterpress Invitation

Besides not knowing what we wanted, I also didn’t know how we would go about designing the invitations and creating the artwork. At the time, I didn’t have any of the Adobe software, and I’d never touched Illustrator.

I love to look at Etsy for inspiration. On one of my Etsy hunts I found Calligraphy with Style. We talked about it, and for Chris and I, it was the perfect option. Renee’s calligraphy is beautiful and formal enough to suit Chris’s taste, and her flourishing abilities and hand drawn birds nodded to the more playful invitations I liked. Plus, having Renee do our invitations greatly limited the time I had to spend on the computer doing design work.

I emailed Renee, paid a deposit and gave her a brief description of what I had in mind. My email was pretty long and had lots of pictures, but I basically told her that I liked birds and flourishes. I also included the sizes of our invitation and RSVP post card. The next day (throughout this process I was amazed by the speed at which she got things done), I received our first drafts:

First round invitation by Calligraphy with Style

First round invitation by Calligraphy with Style

First Round RSVP

First Round RSVP

Back of RSVP first round

Back of RSVP first round

I LOVED the postcard. For the most part, it stayed the same throughout the entire process. The invitation was not quite what I had in mind. I sent her my positive and negative critiques, mostly asking if we could modify the branch to include flowers or leaves, something to make the whole invitation look more “summery.” I also asked if we could add a flourish at the bottom of the invitation to balance things out.

Three days later she sent us our second draft. I remember opening it and jumping up and down. I was in love. I felt like she had NAILED it.

2nd round invitation

2nd round invitation

I would have printed the invitations as is, but Chris wanted to modify the flourish at the bottom of the invite so it tied together more. We also decided that the same flourish should be on the post card to give both pieces a cohesive look. I didn’t mention any modifications to the back of our postcard, but I think Renee knew what I wanted. She added the date and leaves to our name and I think it looked great! I wish I would’ve thought of it:

Final invitation design

Final invitation design

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Sarah's RSVP redo

In addition to the invitation and RSVP, we also had our return address for the outer envelope written out, which I chose not to show.

I don’t like making extra work for people, so throughout the process I felt a little bit bad about asking Renee to make changes, but she was always very responsive and nice whenever I would ask for anything. The best part was, I felt like Renee actually listened to what I wanted and tried to bring what I envisioned to life. Seriously, I was blown away at how perfect our second round invitation was. In all honesty, she was great to work with, and I would recommend her to anyone.

Looking back, I’m really glad that we chose to go with the calligraphy option. In addition to having one-of-a-kind invitations, working with Renee helped save me time and a lot the added stress I probably would have experienced if I’d tried to design my own invitations.

The calligraphy did require a little bit of modifying in Photoshop prior to making plates, so I plan on covering that in my next post.

Sale Alert

I’m getting ready to order some photopolymer plates, and since I’m not quite ready to order yet and have some room to spare, I’ve decided to offer a great sale on personalized letterpress note cards in my etsy shop! When ordering plates, the price is $0.67/ sq. in. with a minimum charge of around $33. Since the names on note cards are so small, it wouldn’t make much sense to order plates only for personalized note cards, but since I have artwork I want to order, this is a great chance to add your name, or the name of your secret santa to my order.

For $7 + shipping you’ll get 12 A2 letterpress printed note cards. All cards will be printed on 110 lb pearl white paper with black ink, and you can have your choice of envelope color (kraft, pink or blue).

These note cards would make great teacher presents or Christmas gifts for your friends or neighbors. Check out my listing for more information. Here are some inspirational designs:

All of my family will be getting note cards this year (shhh…) The plates were delivered last week, so I’ll be sure to post pictures once they’re printed.

Featured on Marry and Bright

I have a lot of details to share about my wedding and especially my wedding invitations. The invitations were hand written and drawn by Renee’ Polcher at Calligraphy with Style. She did a great job capturing the look and feel we wanted. I plan on writing a full review of the calligraphy process later, so I’ll give you a taste of the final product for now.

Our wedding was recently featured a new wedding blog, Marry and Bright. What’s the first picture in our post? Our invitations! Here’s a sneak peak of our invitations and of what’s featured in the blog post. If you’re interested in seeing more of the wedding, you can hop on over the Marry and Bright and see the rest of the wedding here

Wedding invitations printed by Sarah at Letterpress Expressions and drawn by Renee' at Calligraphy with Style

Wedding invitations printed by Sarah at Letterpress Expressions and drawn by Renee’ at Calligraphy with Style