PDX Sports Fan Letterpress Coasters

Looking for the perfect gift for your beverage-sipping Portland sports fan friend? Well shoot, these aren't for sale. But if they were, they'd be perfect... if not a little pricey.

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We printed the Timbers side with two inks on 300g Fluorescent White Lettra. On the opposite side, we printed a modified Trail Blazers logo with silver and red inks on ridiculously thick 4-ply rich black museum board. Then we duplexed the two sheets by hand and die cut them to 4 inch 80pt thick circles.

Silver is one of the few letterpress inks that's opaque; most non-metallics are transparent. So we printed the full Blazer logo in silver to create a light-colored base, then printed red ink on top of the silver for half of the logo. If we'd just printed red on black, the color would be completely lost.

Lavender & Mint in Scappoose

Here's a lovely wedding set for Parklife's favorite brother and his favorite new wife. For the save the date we used two custom inks on thick 600g ecru paper.

For the invitations, we carried through the same inks, paper, along with a few variations on the Gotham typeface.

On the back of the invitation we added a hand-duplexed backing that's letterpress printed with a tonal ink and a fine halftone screen. The image is adapted from an early nineteenth century drawing of Portland.

Photos by Sarah Arneson

Growing Businesses, One Card at a Time

You know how sometimes you have to move thousands of pounds of antique machinery from one edge of the country to another, and then get it all set up properly so you can keep your business running? Wait, you don't? Ah ... count yourself lucky. Parklife Press moved from lovely North Carolina to beautiful Portland, Oregon this summer, and setting up the new studio was a f… a fun opportunity for greatness! And truly, it turned out great. But it was a challenge. And you know who you need in your corner when facing challenging situations? (Especially ones which involve basic elemental needs like heat, power, and protection from the elements?) Talented professionals. You know it ... here begins a good old-fashioned business card round-up!

We did these cards as thank yous for the electrician and contractor who renovated the new studio. They were great to work with. They kept us dry, and (seasonally) warm or cool.

Each card has tiny graphic representations on blind deboss (ink-free) impressions — hammers for the contractor and electric bolts for the electrician. It was fun to get to work with these fellow craftsmen and small-business owners.

Speaking of growing a business: cards we did for Grow. These involved three custom letterpress inks on the front, offset flood and one letterpress ink on the back. They were hand-duplexed (two different paper stocks glued together) and edge-painted in a corresponding brick-colored ink. That sounds like a lot of press runs, right? Three runs just to make one side of this card! Oh, and, we did cards for 28 employees. Nothing says "we're glad you work here" than the boss handing an employee a box of beautiful, hand-crafted letterpress business cards.

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Some detail shots are below. Check out Grow's subtle plant motif in black-on-black.

Listen, we're a bit late on giving thanks on this blog, but we figure gratitude shouldn't be limited to one month of the year. So to our new neighbors, fellow business owners, new clients and old: we are thankful for you. Thank you for your business, and for helping us (directly or indirectly) fix the roof over our heads and the electrical outlets for our presses. Wishing you and yours a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

Photos by Sarah McCarty Arneson

Leaves in Motion

This cheerful set was based on Parklife's Antiquity. It's one of our most popular designs. As we describe on the site, "The overlapping light and dark motifs give this invitation a sense of motion that's unlike anything else in our collection." This version has been modified a bit: the couple chose pearl white paper and a vertical orientation. By the way: we love it when people ask for modifications; our designs are a jumping-off point, but we want our clients to have exactly what they want.

This set had a fun combination of a traditional-looking calligraphic script paired with a modern, expressionistic contour drawing of leaves and garlands.

The thin parts of the script's stroke mirror the line art of the flora design. The two inks, midnight and peacock, compliment each other beautifully, and pop off the pearl white stock. The pieces are edge-painted in midnight.

Along with the invitation and RSVP card and printed return envelope, the set included these two additional pieces. An information card detailed directions and accommodations, and a separate card invited guests to a welcome dinner and a farewell brunch.

The dancing vines weren't the only graphic elements of this set. The RSVP card used playful icons — a cow, a fish, some carrots — for guests to select either the beef, seafood, or vegetarian dinner options. And, the "additional events" card featured custom illustrations done by Parklife Press. For the welcome dinner: a homey, old-school charcoal barbecue; and for the farewell brunch: a bloody mary, complete with celery stalk.

Photos by Sarah Arneson


Kindly Save the Date

Halloween's over, midterm elections are in the rear-view mirror, and we're barreling toward Thanksgiving (which, in our modern era, is a blink away from Christmas and New Year's). Then, the recovery from all that, followed by the dull expanse of winter. HOW DID IT GET TO BE FEBRUARY ALREADY, you ask? Well, take a breath; we're not there. Yet.

But if you plan to send out invitations sometime this winter for a spring or summer (or fall) wedding, then you might want to start thinking about getting your nearest and dearest to mark your wedding date on their calendars. (Oh, hey — now that we mention it, we're having a sale on save the dates. Serendipity!)

The “official” rule would be to send the save the dates 4 to 6 months before your wedding. But like with any other wedding guideline, it really depends on the situation. Some people order them a year ahead, others 3 months. But it tends to be more important to send them early if you have a lot of guests who’ll need to travel.

To get started, above is a quick round-up of some save the dates from past sets we've written about. (If you'd like to explore them further, check out the posts here, here, here, and here.)

Now, on to our featured save the dates …

Customarily, save the dates are related to the invitations, design-wise. But they're usually much less formal, so people often opt to have a little fun with them. Parklife Press provides custom design work, included free (to a point) with a print order.

Here's a card that was designed for a pair of librarians. It was done on pearl white stock with midnight and fog inks. It resembles a library book check-out card, complete with an old-school typewriter font and custom monogram "stamp."

There is a lot of leeway in what's included on card, but the most common elements are pretty straightforward. The couple's names, some version of the phrase "save the date" ("mark your calendars," "reserve the date," etc.), and ... you guessed it: the date.

Then, add some version of the words, "formal invitation to follow." If you have a wedding website that has event details, including the URL is helpful.

Some — like this one with a pale blue pinstripe and floral dingbat design — include the date, place, notice of invitation-to-come, but also include the accommodation information for those who like to make arrangements ASAP.

The card has lovely details — from the repeated floral vine to the scalloped pinstriped background to the repeated square dingbats — the set shows off the custom inks on the fluorescent white stock. It's based on Playbill design. We can create a save the date based on any of our plentiful invitation designs.

The card above, based on the Belvedere design, is more formal than some; it matches the invitation instead of just coordinating with the design elements. Note the large, swoopy dingbat, and and the custom border with floral motif impression offset by a double frame.

Location of the wedding is a frequent inspiration for save the date card motif. This is a playful one which focuses the well-known venue. The wedding will be held at historic Pinehurst Country Club in South Carolina. The card — printed in cheerful apple and sherbet inks on pearl white stock — features the club's logo and founding date.

We're closing out this save-the-date round-up with a square card printed with espresso and white inks on pearl white stock. It's illustrated by breeze-blown dandelions and the words "Love is in the air."

And as you look over the detail shots of the lovely illustration, keep in this in mind: Days, weeks and months can float away as easily (and quickly) as seedlings in the wind. So, you know … get those save the date cards printed.

Photos by Sarah Arneson

Gold Leaves

Here's a set we did which shows off new technique. (Well, new to this blog … the technique itself is hundreds of years old.) Overall, it's sort of a modified combination of elements from Whirl and Vignette, with a custom, gold-foil-stamped art element. This set included an RSVP card with printed return address envelopes, and — as a nice additional piece — corresponding note cards for the couple's thank you notes.

The custom art motif was inspired by an architectural detail from the wedding venue: a brass inset from a handrail, depicting a golden tumble of leaves, stems and vines. Pretty sweet likeness, huh? The artwork is a perfect re-creation, but to really connect it to the brass original — to make it pop and shine — foil stamping was used throughout the set.

Foil stamping goes back to European Monks in the Middle Ages, but it was possibly inspired by the gold leafing techniques of ancient Egypt. It's a heat-transfer process: an impression is made, pressing metallic foil to the paper surface, and foil is left behind in the impressed design or bits of type. It's a separate process from letterpress (which doesn't apply heat, just pressure and usually pigment), and it creates a look you can't get with ink.

Below is a closer look, showing how the foil reflects light.

Of course, there are pros and cons to foil stamping, so it's best to use the process thoughtfully. As we've mentioned, it gives a shiny, mirrored look. (Yes, metallic ink is an option — but it usually looks only just slightly metallic when printed on cotton paper.) And because stamped foil is opaque, it can be printed on dark backgrounds; it will appear high in contrast, instead of taking on some of the paper's tone and blending in, as ink would to some degree.

Onto the (yes, inevitable) disadvantages: first, it's more expensive than ink. Not all letterpress printers do foil stamping themselves, so it has to be sent out, which can extend the turnaround time. And from a technical standpoint, the edges don't print as crisply as using the regular letterpress-and-ink process — so fine detail work isn't as clean.

For this job, however, it was the perfect solution. Above, see how the lovely details of the set are carried throughout: from the custom double border used on the invitation and the thank you card, to the gold foil-stamping used for the the  "to" and leaf dingbat, to the leaf motif used with the return address on the envelope flap. (Note the gold ink selected to match the the color of the gold foil accents.)

Letterpress printing with foil stamping, as it's used here, really is something special. And despite the the fact the processes have been around for centuries, most people have probably never seen both techniques used together — nor held in their hands something printed this way. Bits of shiny gold next to crisp, black text on a heavy pearl paper stock: this invitation sets the stage for an elegant, formal wedding.

Photos by Sarah McCarty Arneson

Calistoga Oak

This design is a testament to inspiration and collaboration, and to taking aspects from different designs to create your your dream union of design elements. To follow that metaphor, this set is a sort of marriage of the Californian and Vignette designs, with some art adopted from an earlier set.

The oak tree illustration is simple, yet incredibly detailed. Trees are common motifs for wedding invitations: they can represent vitality, strength, shelter, looking to the future. And they can also, of course, be more literal: depictions of the venue — in this case, a ranch in Calistoga, California — or they can be emblematic of a place special to the couple. The tree motif can embody all of these characteristics and connections.

This design is so clean and sophisticated. Because it has a lot of white space and isn't overly ornate, the little details really shine. The script has wonderful (in some case, overlapping) flourishes, and the custom double border really highlights the texture of the thick paper stock.

Photos by Sarah Arneson