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.


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.

Soiree for 70th

This was a fun invitation set to print. Designed by graphic designer Sarah Scott, it was a festive and classy way to invite guests to Suman's 70th birthday. Guests opened the outer envelope to find a sleeve — an Envelopments Portable Pocket with charcoal linen exterior and ecru linen interior, overprinted with fog ink – and withdrew the card. The striking invitation was printed in black and a custom green ink on heavy, 600g pearl white stock.

The design's details and touches abound — the v-opening of the pocket, the tiny script "and," the hat on the 70, the tone-on-tone printing over the textured enclosure — and it must surely have set the tone for a great party.

Photos by Sarah McCarty Arneson

Music Maker Relief Foundation: Tintype Meets Letterpress

Last year, Parklife Press was approached by Music Maker Relief Foundation to design, print and produce picture frames, customized to hold tintype images. You have questions! We know! Let's get into it.

First, a bit about Music Maker. The foundation, founded in 1994 by Tim and Denise Duffy and based in Hillsborough, NC, "was founded to preserve the musical traditions of the South by directly supporting the musicians who make it, ensuring their voices will not be silenced by poverty and time." Music Maker not only helps support Southern roots artists who have fallen on hard times (an excellent goal in and of itself), but also helps provide resources to get them performing and recording again, providing invaluable cultural documentation of Southern musical traditions. Per their website, since their founding, "we have assisted and partnered with over 300 artists, issued over 150 CDs and reached over a million people with live performance in over 40 states and 17 countries around the globe." It's a great organization, so be sure to check out their website and read more about it.

So ... tintypes? Tim Duffy, it turns out, is not only a music historian and philanthropist, but he's also a photographer. And what does a photographer do, when spending time his musical heroes, recording these living legends? He records their images, as well. And what better way to preserve the unique history of these artists, than with an old form of photography that produces one-of-a-kind images that will last hundreds of years? He honored the past, and learned to make tintypes — a photographic process more than a century and a half old. Together with colleague Aaron Greenhood (Music Maker's Artist Services Coordinator and tintype chemist) he produces these portraits, which are given to artists, used as donor gifts, and sold on their website to foundation supporters and music fans. (To learn more about the project, visit Music Maker's tintype page.)

Music Maker wanted a nice way to present these art objects, which are, essentially, 4.5"x 6.5" pieces of sharp-edged metal. Parklife Press designed, printed and assembled the frames, which incorporate Music Maker's logo. The black museum board and black/bronze-y ink are reminiscent of sepia tones, and the hand-crafted nature of letterpress printing itself pairs perfectly with the old-fashioned tin type process. The frame folds out to standing position, and holds the metal sheet securely in place — protected and perfectly positioned.

Each tintype is labeled with a "Music Maker Tin Type" label — which lists the subject, print number, date, photographer and chemist — and is then finished with an official, bright red "Music Maker Tin Type - Hillsborough N.C." stamp. Parklife Press designed both the label and stamp.

Tim, Denise, Aaron and the folks at Music Maker were nice enough to have us out to Hillsborough during one of their tin type shooting days, so we could get a sense of the process and see first-hand what our frames were framing. Below are some photos from that beautiful fall day. Most people have never seen a large-format camera like Tim's — at least in person — and many photographers these days haven't seen darkroom equipment in ages, if ever. (Hence the nostalgic photos of darkroom timers and developer pans!) You guys were so generous; it was a blast. Thanks for letting us be a part of this project.

Photos by Sarah McCarty Arneson

Formal, with Flourishes

Alexandra and Michael were planning a black-tie, traditional Catholic wedding, and wanted their invitation to reflect that style. Alex was drawn to the Fountain design — seeing how the layout's simplicity put the elaborate font on display, she was, as she put it, "hooked."

Deceptively simple in design, the typeface features intricate and playful ligatures and flourishes. The extra thick invitation cards were edged in gold, and that subtle sparkle was echoed by the envelopes' antique gold liners.

Alex found Parklife Press on the Martha Stewart Weddings website. As with any wedding, there were many decisions to be made — but when it came to the invitations, whether to use letterpress was never really a question. "My Mom is a calligrapher and has instilled a reverence to paper products in me that I was sure to embrace in our wedding planning process." The effect was everything she and Michael were looking for: formal and traditional, with impact.

Photos by Sarah McCarty Arneson

Old World Charm in New York City

The beauty of a classic, calligraphic invitation puts the emphasis on the writing. Here, in a invitation based on Quill, with custom calligraphy by Monica Rachel Lima, the swirls and flourishes of the text sets the tone for an elegant and festive occasion. The black ink on thick, pearl white paper stock is set off by a metallic silver envelope liner.

The simplicity of the dingbat rule pairs well with dramatic flair of the calligraphic flourishes, and all the rounded corners of all the pieces ties the set together.

Accompanying reception and RSVP cards are done in a understated serif font with a vintage feel. The two styles coordinate to set the tone for a formal wedding in New York City.

Photos by Sarah McCarty Arneson

Twist of Lime

Meghan and John knew they wanted letterpress invitations for their wedding, and had even seen Parklife's work before — a friend of theirs worked with Travis and used a similar invitation design. So when it came time to plan their wedding, they were a step ahead. Based on Whirl, the design features a conventional text layout with an off-center design bleeding off the corner. The motif is also repeated on the main envelope flap, as well as the RSVP and events schedule cards.

The swirly motif, when printed in pale lime ink, becomes springy and botanical, perfect for a late-spring wedding.

Photos by Sarah McCarty Arneson

Timeless Black on White

Michelle and Stephen weren't familiar with letterpress when they began planning their black tie wedding, but a love of elegant invitations had been instilled in Michelle an early age. Her grandmother used to frame beautiful invitations she received, and Michelle had always admired those with simple black calligraphy on a white note card. Parklife's Vignette fit that vision perfectly: striking black ink against bright white paper, set off and framed with a blind deboss border.

The script font had a few flourishes, with one particularly unusual and interesting one: the ligtature connecting the cursive capital "S" and "p" in Stephen's name. A classic dingbat was used to add some visual interest and to separate blocks of information. It also tied all the pieces together — it was used on the invitation, the main envelope's return address, the RSVP card, and the accommodation information card.

Photos by Sarah McCarty Arneson