Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Studio update & first newsletter

The print room has been a little quiet of late as I'm spending the majority of my time working on invitation concepts (which I love doing). I just love the variety of styles that each couple has chosen, and I can't wait to show them to you.

Above is a sketch that I've been developing tonight for a floral-themed letterpress invitations. When I have a little more time, I'll create a small suite of floral templates for couples to choose from. Flowers are always popular and never go out of fashion - you can't go wrong with them. But they don't have to be traditional illustrations, they can still be quite modern and funky.

This is the last week of my current 75+ hr/wk run of work. A few months ago I signed up for some temp design work, only to find myself up late every night working on Poppy. I think I underestimated how much spare time I had! So in 3 days from now, I'll be back to working fulltime at Poppy during the day (as opposed to fulltime at night after a full day in the temp job). Squee! Yes, this really excites me because I have lots of new things to do and plans to fulfill.

Also ~ The first of our Poppy newsletters will be emailed out shortly. The newsletter will contain an update of what's going on in the studio, photos and tidbits that won't be on the blog or website, and the occasional discount or special offer. Perhaps even a competition of sorts. We're planning to send the newsletter out every 2-3 months. We're also keen to hear suggestions of what you'd like to see in the newsletter.

Interested? Send me a message here or via our Contact Form, with your name and email, and we'll send you some newlettery goodness.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Re-Surface Re-print

I reprinted these for Donna a couple of weeks ago, but hadn't had the chance to upload the photos yet. We tried a stiffer, more textured card this time, and it worked a treat. BFK Rives is a perfect stock for inviations and such, but just doesn't cut it as a business card stock - it's not hardy enough.

Poppy in Canberra Times

It was just a small mention, but we were happy to have a short story about us in The Canberra Times wedding liftout, A Day To Remember. There are only a few stationery options for newly engaged couples in Canberra, and hopefully this page in the paper lead a few couples to consider letterpress for their stationery set.

Ranga, the Macbook Pro.

I know this isn't directly letterpress related (but I did buy it for the business, so technically it is somewhat related...), but I just had to blog it. For all you Mac fanatics out there, here's Ranga, my new Macbook Pro.

For all those non-fantatics out there, don't worry, it's a short post.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


I've been meaning to upload some photos for the past few days, but I can never get organised enough. The blog's been full of text-heavy posts lately, and no graphic designer likes that.

We've been busy little bees here at Poppy (70 hrs/week busy!). I'm currently working on concepts for 6 weddings and loving it. There's a real variety too. Not to mention my personal favourite theme at the moment: SQUIRRELS! Cute little buggers, they are.

Somewhere between Canberra and New York are some letterpress business cards on their way to Donna - a reprint, which was great to work on. We've gone for a stiffer card stock this time. Once again, haven't taken photos yet, but I'll be sure to post them shortly.

Other updates are:
- I'm on the hunt for another press. If anything ever happened to Collie, I'd need a Plan B.
- Also actively looking for a photopolymer platemaker. Have looked in India and the US, but if you know of a supplier in Aust, do let me know.
- Still debating if I should try rubber based and soy based inks.
- Will be importing Crane's Lettra in the next few weeks. BFK Rives is great, but I really need a bright white alternative. I've just ordered a stash more of it, and the nice guys at MES have also sent some samples of a white alternative to test out.
- I'll be getting a quote to from my metal machinist for new roller cores and trucks. They'll then be sent to a roller maker who will rubber coat them for me. It's still cheaper than importing a set from the US. I suspect that my current rubber rollers have a flat spot each, but I can't send them away yet as I can't stop printing for a whole two week period that is needed to get them done.
- Heading up to QLD shortly to visit gorgeous Alischa, of Bespoke Press. It'll also be the closest I'll get to a holiday for a long time.

And finally, I've had an excellent response to the new Poppy website. But I have still yet to hear some critisism, so if you have any suggestions for the site, please let me know.

Oh and PS: I love love LOVE my new laptop. His name is Ranga.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Judy Stone Makeup Artist

I actually printed Jude's cards a few days ago, but hadn't got around to blogging them yet. I used the same stock as I did for Kate Luke's business cards, and probably won't be doing that again. It was a Canson card from memory, and although 300gsm, it's really just too stiff to get a decent impression out of. BFK Rives is a beautiful stock for printing on, but gets damaged too quickly for business cards, so I'm on the lookout for a great new stock.

If you're in the Canberra area and need a makeup artist, Jude's fantastic, so give her a call!

My new mac

Behold - My new Macbook Pro!

Well, actually that's not it, that's just a pic off the mac website. Mine should arrive on Monday. So after years of wishing, I finally have my own mac. I use mac and pcs, but have always been fond of the macs. We've got a few PCs at home (yes, we have a dedicated computer room).

The lappy should help a lot with Poppy computer work. I'll be able to take my 'office' to a café, sit down with a coffee and work on designs, quotes, and my website. Ahhh, sounds glorious, doesn't it?


I think this will be a day of a few posts, so bear with me. Will I go from not posting enough to posting too much?

I've been tagged by Megan, and as it's been a while I thought why not? I'm not tagging anyone, as I'll leave it up to those who want to have a go instead.

What were you doing ten years ago? Finishing year 12 at school and trying to decide if I would go to Art School, or study graphic design or architecture. I think I made the right choice (after all, I met my now husband on the first day of graphic design), but I've always wanted to go to Art School.

Five items on my to do list: Only five? But it's so long! Ok, quotes, clip the dog, test prints, package Judy's business cards, and go visit a friend at his property out of town.

Snacks I enjoy: Anything chocolate. I really need to stop though. And chocolate coated coffee beans - best of both worlds.

What would you do if you were a billionaire? Buy a big studio! Well, actually I'd probably buy my husband and I a big property and house just out of town, where I can keep my horse, watch the dog run around like a maniac, and have a whole building dedicated to letterpress and design. Oh, and buy more chocolate coated coffee beans.

Places I would live: See above, or on a few acres somewhere, or Fiji.

Jobs I've had: Customer service at a chicken takeaway place, newspaper photographer and designer, stablehand, facepainter, harness racing photographer (still current), graphic designer (still current), letterpress printer (still current).

Thursday, July 3, 2008


I'm learning a lot about the quoting process. Of course, I've done a lot of quoting before as part of being a graphic designer, but those quotations always ended with a final dollar amount, and were rarely negotiable.

With printing quotes, however, prices are itemised as brides usually don't know exactly what they want or can afford until they see prices.

There are many things to consider when quoting, many of which people don't realise:
- paper cost (including the freight I have to pay)
- guillotining (this can be up to a couple hours of work)
- ink (especially if the customer requires a specific colour I need to order in)
- press maintainence (solvents, oil, my hours, cloths)
- plates (which includes paying someone else to make the film, and another person to make the plates. Preparing plate artwork can take an hour or two depending on artwork)
- graphic design/illustration (I actually don't charge extra for my design and illustration services, which saves the bride a lot, but also means I often don't get paid for hours of concept work and artwork setup)
- electricity (to run the press, studio and my very loud radio)
- mistakes (especially if Collie is misbehaving. I might have 2 bad prints for every good print sometimes, which is wasted paper, time and energy. Never fear, it's my own fault and I'm getting better, so wastage is being reduced gradually!)
- petrol (to go deliver/pickup artwork, film, and plates. I travel across town doing this sometimes).

And of course, add my own time and salary to the list.

Each colour can take up to 3 hours to prepare for printing, depending on the design and specific job. There's makeready and proofing before it officially goes 'on the press'. Letterpresses aren't like the gorgeous computerised offset machines that you see in print factories these days. Letterpresses are still a handmade craft, which takes time.

So someone may order just a few items in 3 colours or more and pay a higher amount than someone who orders more but in one colour.

Please don't get me wrong - I'm not whinging! Not at all. I just wanted to explain what goes into a printing quote, and why letterpress costs more than, say, digital printing. But I'm enjoying the quoting process, and love seeing new queries in my inbox -- so keep them coming! :)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

How temperature affects printing

When the Collies Paragon first arrived, it was the middle of summer and stinking hot. Although I tried to print mainly in the evenings, sometimes it was 35C while I was in the studio. I was worried that the high temperatures would make printing difficult, but the press seemed to love it. The ink was almost fluid at times, and I didn't have to use much at all to get a good even coverage.

It's now winter, and I'm printing in temperatures of down to 3C or so. The ink takes a long time to warm up on the press, but still covers the ink disc evenly. However, I think some of my plate inking issues may be due to the cold temperatures (as well as other problems I'm addressing). It's quite thick and not very tacky at all, which makes it a little harder to spread and take to the plate.

Of course, humidity plays a big part too. In summer, if there's a storm hanging around, I won't even try to print. The plates curl up off the base, which present a danger of them being wrapped into the rollers. Now I'm avoiding printing during winter rain. Humidty causes grief for both plates and paper - letterforms can peel off the photopolymer, serifs can break off, and paper can swell, causing registration nightmares. If you have a job with tight registration, try to print it all in the one day, or on days with similar conditions.

So my preference is definitely summer printing. It may be stinking hot and you'll be sweating away, but the ink will distribute nicely. Another things I've noticed, in winter my hands get so cold that it's hard to grab paper as I feed it in and out of the press. At least in summer my hands are grippy.
In an ideal world, I'd be setting up a more permanent home for Poppy, with ample space, lots of natural lighting, shelves upon shelves for storage, and a dehumidifier and heater. I can dream, can't I?