FAQ

Do you have a minimum order?

We will print as few or as many as you want, however the costs of setting up are the same whether you have us print one or two hundred.  The more you print, the cheaper it is on a per piece basis.

How should my digital files be formatted?

We prefer native Illustrator or InDesign files, although PDFs produced in other programs can work.

  • Please specify colors as spot colors in the file, either Pantone or any other color system.  This allows us to output your file as separations in the intended colors- if your colors are CMYK values, the file can only be separated into C-M-Y and K.
  • Please convert fonts to outlines, or else provide the font files with the art file.
  • If you have multiple items in a single document, please define the separate pieces with either crop marks, keylines or by using multiple artboards.
  • Any placed graphics should be high-resolution (600 dpi) bitmap TIFFs, or else turned to vectors. All type/fonts should be vectors.
  • Please note: We may not be able to get a clean printing plate from pixel-based images or type. Vector artwork is always preferred! If you are uncertain whether pixel-based artwork will work, please provide vector art instead.
  • Files must show placement and sizing of artwork. If you need us to size or place the artwork within the document, design/layout time will be charged at $75/hour with a half-hour minimum.
  • We are always happy to look at files and give technical feedback if you have any doubts that the art is set up correctly.

How long does the process take?

Turnaround is typically around two weeks from receipt of final art, specs and a deposit.  We are a small shop, so if we are busy the turnaround can sometimes be longer.  Please let us know what your turnaround requirements are when requesting an estimate.

Can I bring you the paper to print on?

You may provide paper if you wish, but we will need to see or have a description of the paper before approving. We print on uncoated papers only. Also, please contact us prior to ordering the paper to find out how much we will need. We require a certain amount of “overage” for each job to allow for spoils and setting up the press.

Can you do rounded corners on a card?

We can die cut cards with rounded corners. This requires a separate pass through the press for the cutting, and an additional charge.  We have some dies on hand in standard sizes- custom dies can be made within a couple days.

I’ve made a drawing I’d like to use on my invitations- can you print it?

Many drawings translate very nicely to the letterpress print process; ink drawings and pencil drawings where tones are made using line work (as opposed to washes or shading) are the most successful.  If you send a scan or photograph of the drawing we are happy to advise on the relative printability of your image.

I would like a flood of color on the back of my business card- can you do this?

Large solid areas of color are difficult to do well with a letterpress.  They require a tremendous amount of impressional strength to transfer the ink evenly and get a good even film on the paper.  We typically send floods out to be printed by an offset lithographer.

I’ve designed something in Word.  Can you work with this file?

It is possible, but not as flexible as files generated in true design programs.  If your art is one color and very simple, it may work if you can generate a PDF file from your Word document and send us that.  Before generating the PDF, be sure to turn everything to black.

How small can the type be?

Our plates can hold very fine, small type.  As typefaces can vary in size, it’s impossible to name a minimum point size.  If you feel you might be pushing the limits, please send a pdf and we’ll let you know if it works.  The biggest issue around very small type is whether it is placed with larger, heavier elements in the design.  It is difficult to keep fine type clean and crisp when it is placed next to something that requires a lot more ink to look good.

Can you print double-sided cards?

Double-sided printing is possible but problematic with letterpress because of the show-through of the impression.  We can control how hard the type is impressed into the paper, but the paper is squeezed between the plate and the tympan, so any pressure applied to one side affects the other.   In general, double-sided should work with artwork that has light coverage where the elements don’t back each other up precisely.  Otherwise, compromises need to be made to balance the amount of impression with the amount it shows through on the other side.  Using heavier papers helps, but doesn’t completely solve the problem all by itself.

Can you print white ink on black paper?

Letterpress inks are translucent, so light color inks don’t show up well on dark or saturated-color stocks.  Foil or engraving are better processes for this kind of thing. We have had some success with silver ink on darker stocks. The design will determine how well this will work, and we strongly suggest a press check when having us print on dark stocks.

Can you use metallic inks?

We can print with metallic inks but they do not have the same level of metallic sheen that you see in the swatchbooks.  Metallic inks were engineered to be printed with lithography onto smooth, preferably coated papers, for the best metallic effect.  With the letterpress process, printed on the softer and more absorbent papers that we use, the metallic effect is diminished.  In a larger solid area you will get some metallic sheen; in small type, the metallic effect will not really be perceptible and will almost always read as a flat color.

Can you print on pre-made book covers? T-shirts?  Metal?

While we are open to challenges, in general, no, we cannot print on those things.

Do you need apprentices or offer internships?

At present we do not have an apprenticeship or internship program.  While we appreciate the interest in our little shop, offering a program like this is not something we’re able to do currently. We will update this page when that changes.

Do you make plates for other people?

We offer film output services, but not platemaking.  Our film processor is more efficient when it is used in volume so we welcome film orders, but making plates takes time that we would rather spend printing.  Here are three good sources of film and plates:

Do you do other kinds of printing?

We only offer letterpress printing in-house, however we are glad to out-source other processes when done in combination with letterpress printing.

Can you design my business card/invitation for me?

We do not offer design services, other than updates or corrections to existing artwork, or  cleaning up of DIY art files.  However, we would be happy to refer you to one of the many talented designers with whom we work.

Are your environmental practices “green”?

It is my belief that the whole reason the world is now in an environmental crisis is because of the gradual shift over the last couple hundred years  away from small-scale, custom, hand made goods and towards cheap, mass-produced consumer goods.  Consequently, I believe the work that we do is inherently “green.”  Nevertheless, we are frequently asked about the materials we use, which do come from the land of large-scale manufacturing.

  • We print primarily on tree-free all cotton paper.  Read what Crane Paper has to say about the sources of cotton paper fiber here.
  • We source other high-quality commercial papers that come from FSC certified forests.  We also stock several recycled papers with high post-consumer content.
  • We do use soy-based inks, and our solvents are low- or zero-VOC.
  • We use steel-backed or plastic-backed printing plates that are recycled when they are no longer useful.

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