Adventures in Letterpress: Hollow Book Invitation Set
This is actually my first full, solo letterpress project. It took me more time than I had originally anticipated, and there were definitely some things I would change for the future, but overall, I am very happy with how it turned out.
I wanted to do something special for my 25th birthday, so I decided to use books from my past. One of my favorites series growing up was the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mysteries. It also happens that this cover design was first introduced in the year I was born. Going along with mysteries theme, I hollowed out the books to “hide” the letterpress invitation set in it.
The save the dates (two sided postcard) use the same concept of books, with an old library check-out card. It is postcard sized and lists out the dates and locations of my previous birthday dinners dating back to 2007.
Printing the postcard ended up being a lot trickier than I thought because I didn’t realize how hard it was to line up the two sides perfectly. I now know that you should always feed using the same corner since you are square from that corner and doing so will make sure that everything lines up perfectly when you print on both sides of the paper. Another caveat of printing on both sides is a decrease in the amount of “punch” you get from letterpress. The paper is only so thick so you have to play around with too much or too little impression.
The invitation set was what I was really looking forward to. I ended up putting together a design that would play with a Vandercook’s limitation in printing large areas well by inserting diagonal lines into the background of the design. It made the design more interesting and overall I had a really great response to the invitations. Another trick while printing is that the “Yountville” on the maps and direction page was actually printing too lightly so a small piece of masking tape was placed underneath where the paper would hit “Yountville” to give it slightly more punch and making it stand out more.
Hollowing out the books ended up being really time-consuming. Which I guess the entire letterpress printing process is too, but you don’t notice it as much because it is less monotonous and there’s always something you can adjust while printing. The best tutorial I found for hollowing out a book is from rive.rs. The only modification I made is that I ended up having to hollow out the entire book in order to fit the invitations in. So I was able to completely cut out all the pages and then slapping an interesting page into the back and gluing everything shut. I think that was much easier than trying to cut a page to fit precisely into the hole and pasting it in if you cut too deep.
The last part to the invitation set was the box itself. I found the perfect sized box to place the books into and created a label for it. If I had time, I would’ve letterpressed the label too, but I think it still turned out really nice. They were a bit costly to mail, but definitely worth it.
Pieces: Save the Date, Invitation Set, Box
Tools: Vandercook proof press, Adobe InDesign, Adobe Illustrator, utility knife
Portfolio Link: Hollow Book Invite