For the love of letterpress.

When I was an art director, I fell in love with letterpress printing. Never used it, but loved it. Much like you covet that really sweet car, but you never quite get around to owning it. I finally got it. The letterpress, that is.

When I saw the fantastic logo Crescendo Advertising’s Melissa Ligon dreamed up for my copywriting venture, my first thought was: it’s absolutely perfect! A few seconds later I realized it would look unbelievable in letterpress. That’s how I ended up at Copperdog Press last Friday morning.

Jeff and Donna Neese have two Chandler & Price letterpress printers that must be seen to be believed (if you’re a printing nerd like me). Both printers have been “upgraded” so they are no longer powered by foot petals, but beyond that are much the same as they were a hundred years ago.

Using plates special-ordered from a Syracuse, NY shop, Jeff carefully adjusts the depth of the impression and the thickness of the ink using makeready sheets. Then once everything is just right, the real paper goes on and off by hand with each pass of ink. The gentle clank, clank, clank of the printing process is so soft and solid it could lull you to sleep (if you weren’t so excited).

It’s amazing to see letterpress in action in this day and age. If you’ve ever witnessed a giant Heidelberg churning out sheet after sheet, the presses are fast, loud and take little work from the pressmen once they’re up and running. Letterpress is quiet, hand-fed and takes craftsmanship to reach the perfect imprint depth and ink coverage.

Letterpress is not cheap, but it’s also not unaffordable either. It’s a level of quality not often seen in today’s┬áturn and burn world. At first, printing the cards letterpress was scratching a long-felt itch. But now that they’re in my hands, I see there’s more to it than that.

When I look at this card, it reminds me of what I strive to do each day. Anyone can write, but some people have a knack for shaping words and sentences into stories that engage minds and hearts. When I run my fingers over the soft, dimpled paper, I feel craftsmanship. And that’s what I want to deliver on every project, too.

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