IMG_4421Last week, I had the pleasure of reuniting with an old friend — printer, Bill Cook of  Waldwick Printing. He and his father Bill Cook Sr. own this little gem of a print shop in the heart of Waldwick, New Jersey. It has been in business for over 50 years! This family owned business boasts of much experience and first hand knowledge of centuries old printing techniques as well embracing new technology. Included with the many older presses, it also houses a new digital press with capability to lay down white type.

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When I first started dreaming of my venture into letterpress, I was working as a professional in a corporate environment. I often went on press runs across the country.  In these travels to check color, accuracy and print quality – I met many wonderful pressman. Most often I was also given a tour of the premises and the different operational machines they had running at the moment. In one of my visits to Chicago, I was introduced to a Letterpress. I was fascinated with the tactile quality of the print and paper. I love all things vintage and was more intrigued that the presses producing this beautiful art were built in the mid-1950s. It seemed such a labor of love and craftmanship that you don’t see quite as often in this world of slick, coated digital offerings.

First and foremost, I pride myself on being and artist and designer. I am blessed to work in a profession where I turn meaningful events into memorable keepsakes. The art and design are import in conveying style, beauty and emotion. However, equally as important is the vessel in which it is transcribed. A true Pressman is an artist and craftsman in his/her own right. It requires much skill, patience and experience.

When starting to form Little Dove Design, (formerly Chauhie) I researched the talents of Letterpress printers in the Tri-State metro area. I live and work in New Jersey and was delighted to find Waldwick Printing in my home state.  It is here that I first met Bill Cook Jr. He is and always has been a warm and friendly soul eager to share his first hand knoweledge of all things print. He is honestly one of the most genuine people I know and I am extremely proud and happy to know him. I had some small savings set aside and asked Waldwick Printing to print off some sample sets for me. I chose Bill not only for his expertise, but because he just came across as a “really good guy”.  To this day, that very first invitation set he printed for me is still my most sought after piece.

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Bill Cook (Junior at left) and (Senior at right at a very handsome 80 years young!!!) #WaldwickPrinting

Recently, Bill invited me to share a day at the shop. It was extremely informative as both Bill Jr. and Senior offered up tips and printing techniques. Bill Junior first discussed some of the background involving the Heidelberg Windmill Letterpress before showing me the operations. It is interesting because it certainly seemed an extension of his being. What to me seemed a bit daunting, Bill made seem like fluid interactions — explaining the process in a relaxed and thoughtful manner. He is a great mentor!

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Bill operating his Heidelberg Windmill Press

Thank you again Bill Cook and Waldwick Printing Co. It was a great time!

 

 

Envelope Addressing

Envelope Addressing

Addressing Envelopes – Part 1

The correct way to address your wedding invitation envelopes is a question that pops up every once in a while. I will let you know the proper etiquette for printing both return and guest addresses on your wedding envelopes.

Customarily, the return address consists only of the street address. This is typically positioned on the back flap of the envelope. Quite different from normal post, the return address for wedding invitations is never positioned in the top left, front/face of the envelopes.

In the past, the return address was often blind embossed, without ink onto the back flap. The idea behind keeping the return address so subtle, was to give the recipient a bigger impression of the gorgeous invitation waiting inside the envelope. ( a larger “wow” factor). Today, the look can also be achieved using the letterpress technique without ink or printed digitally using tone on tone inks.

However, during these more modern times, the envelope has itself stepped into the spotlight quite a bit. Offerings include colored variations, wooden veneers, custom made monograms as well as beautiful designed liners to slip inside the envelope itself. They are fast becoming a beautiful accessory to the main event — the invitation.

The worry is no longer of taking away from the importance of the invitation, but instead, adding to it. Each item in a wedding stationery suite is thoughtfully considered. The effect is a beautifully curated and well thought out design that punctuates the beauty of the wedding day. It will set the tone for the event and add a sense of excitement and anticipation for your guests.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this article. I will cover the proper etiquette of printing guest names and addresses.

 

Skylands Manor

Skylands Manor at New Jersey’s Botanical Gardens

I was reflecting back on one of my all time favorite wedding invitations. The wedding took place in February during an unbelievable snow storm. It was a record year here in New Jersey for storms, most notably Hurricane Sandy. Much of the design and print work was put together during superstorm Sandy. Yes, it was nearly impossible to have this completed with no means of power for almost 3 weeks! With perseverance, this snowy, woodland theme came to life.

Woodland Winter Design Suite

Woodland Winter Design Suite

I first consulted with Melissa and John about their wedding and the style they wished to evoke on their special day. The wedding took place at the beautiful Skylands Manor, New Jersey’s Botanical Gardens. The idea for the custom invitations easily fell into place after visiting the gardens and reception site. I had drawn up some sketches of the venue and taken a tour of the grounds. The wedding suite would feature both the surrounding natural, woodland beauty and the grand architecture of the castle itself. The overall feel would become a glamorous, woodland  theme. Natural elements along with the sparkle of Swarovski crystals throughout gave the icy vibe I was looking for.

Swarovski Crystals

Loose Swarovski Crystals ready to be hand applied to the invitation suite

Snowflakes in different styles were cut from numerous paper weights and finishes. These were then carefully packed into glassine envelopes to add a bit of whimsy to the wintery wedding suite.

Cut Paper Snowflakes

Cut paper snowflakes in different weights and finishes

Translucent, textured wood grain wrappers in a milky white and metallic white envelope liners printed with silver snowflakes added to the wintery scene.

Woodgrain wrappers fastened with belly bands

Woodgrain wrappers fastened with belly bands

Envelope Liners

Envelope Liners

Belly Bands with hand applied crystals

Belly Bands with hand applied crystals

Envelope Liners

Envelope liners, wood grain wrapper and belly band

The design also included pinecones, winter berries, tree branches and evergreens.  Direction cards with a custom pinecone motif were folded and fastened with silver cord.

Direction and accommodation cards

Direction and accommodation cards

Silver wax seals in a snowflake motif and pinecone forestry stamps rounded out the design.

Woodland Winter

Woodland Winter Wedding Design Suite

Woodland Winter gift tags

Woodland Winter gift tags

Recently, I reimagined this wedding suite with a beautiful winter border suitable for all winter weddings! I also added NEW pinecone envelope liners and seating card options. Please see the link below and click on other available elements to view the full design suite. http://www.littledovedesign.com/designs/woodland-winter

For ideas on floral arrangements and boutonnieres to complete this Woodland Winter themed wedding, see below. To add a bit of drama, you may easily incorporate natural elements in different shades of white, green and woodsy brown with some sparkle. Here, I wired small hemlock pinecones and then proceeded to beed them with crystals and seed pearls. When in midtown New York, I often like to visit Hymen Hendler & Sons — a specialty shop carrying ribbons and millinery. It is there that I found these beautiful vintage, white velvet leaves. I was just waiting for the right occasion to use them. I decided they would make the perfect backer for my beaded pinecone stems.

Bejeweled Pinecones

Bejeweled Pinecones

For table decor, vases wrapped in natural wood bark are a great find! Winter white roses, evergreens, small twigs, pinecones and the white velvet leaf with bejeweled pinecones gave an unexpected pop of sparkle to the arrangement.

Woodland Winter Table Decor

Woodland Winter Table Decor

To add a woodsy glow to the event, tea lights were inserted into small slabs cut from trees. Each votive holder was of different width and height to add interest to the tablescape.

Table Decor

Woodland Winter Table Decor

Please feel free to contact me for any custom items or ideas that you might like incorporated into your wedding. A wedding should be as unique as you are and I love helping my wedding couples achieve their vision.

Cheers- Monika

 

What is letterpress printing? This is a question I get asked a lot. Many people want to know exactly how this process works and what is involved.

Let’s first learn about the history of this art form. Letterpress printing was started in the mid-fifteenth century by a German goldsmith named Johannes Gutenberg. In 1439, his invention of moveable type started the Printing Revolution. This allowed for mass communication in Renaissance Europe. Before this, book production in Europe was a handwritten manuscript. In 1455, Gutenberg printed one of his most famous works — 180 copies of his 42-line bible known as the Gutenberg Bible. At the time, a copy of this bible could be obtained by the wages an average clerk would earn over the course of three years. Today, 48 copies are known to have survived, two of which are housed in the British Library. The pages of both the paper and vellum scripts can be viewed here.

The process itself is very laborious. Setting the type for each page may have taken half a day and Gutenbergs shop is thought to have employed 25 craftsmen to help in this task. Today, Johannes Gutenberg is considered one of the most influential people in human history and Time-Life magazine regards his invention as the most important of the second millennium. Moveable type is where letters and type forms were cast or hand carved and then set by hand onto a frame or “chase”. The “chase” is then locked into the bed of the printing press. The type forms are inked and paper is sandwiched between the bed holding the text and the “platen” above. In Gutenberg’s time, this flat plate known as the “platen” was wood. Today, it is made of metal. The pressure applied when closing the press, produces a relief print onto the page. Essentially, the ink is pressed down into the paper producing a tactile, deboss which can be seen and felt. The finished print is very much prized because of its beautiful definition of type and artwork.

Letterpress wedding invitation

Letterpress wedding invitation

Currently, a very small amount of these letterpresses remain. With the ease and popularity of “offset” or flat printing in the 20th century, many of these presses were left by the wayside. Presses that are found, need to be lovingly restored by expert craftsman. We are fortunate to now be able to use these select vintage presses for upscale stationery items and wedding invitation suites. Lovers of the “craft” appreciate that papers often need to be fed into the printing press — by hand, one at a time. Unlike, “offset” printing, which can produce multiple colors at once, letterpress can only print one color at a time. The process requires a great amount of skill and high degree of craftsmanship by the press operator.

The visual beauty and texture of this printing process has spurred a rise in high-end ephemera such as wedding invitations and greeting cards. Many couples and collectors value the finish and quality of letterpress — something that can not often be found in more modern techniques. These precious items hark back to a bygone era.

Please enjoy this beautiful video from Neenah Paper showing the process in a large print shop. I hope you like it. http://vimeo.com/62635922