This spring we were approached by Turkey Hill Apiary, located just south of us in Lakeville, MN, to redesign and letterpress print labels for their wildflower honey. This isn’t just any honey, either, it’s natural honey that is aged in micro-distiller barrels! There are two flavors, bourbon and rye whiskey, both of which we can confirm are just as tasty as you’d hope they would be.
We designed the labels to have the aesthetics of an old liquor bottle or newspaper, mostly typographic combined with some clean line work. Once the design phase was complete the labels were letterpress printed on Strathmore Soft White Label stock in two inks, black for the bourbon and a maroon for the rye whiskey. After printing they were kisscut, meaning we diecut through the labels, but not through the backing of the label stock, allowing them to be peeled from the backing during labeling process (done by hand by the beekeeper at the apiary).
Heads of State designed this identity and packaging for newly launched artisan confectioners Wondermade. They wanted this truly tasty marshmallow treat to be bold and fantastic on the crowded shelves at confection stores. With a unique assortment of flavors Wondermade needed a really special little box.
We letterpress printed this packaging assortment on French Papers. Using Speckletone Madero Beach 80lbC custom duplexed to six different Poptone 65lbC colors we achieved a 145lbC hefty box, still able to pack flat and fold up sturdy. On press, we used the same plates for all the boxes, just adding a color wash up on the diagonal strip plate as we rotated through the Poptone colors. That way the outside and inside of the package coordinate and the colors can be matched up with flavors. The boxes are sealed with a digitally printed label that Wondermade can add as they create new flavors. We think the letterpress craft of these boxes makes the ritual of opening and enjoying even more special. You should try them now.
With Memorial Day weekend staring us in the face, it only made sense to share this bbq related project. If you live in the Twin Cities you have probably come across the stylish orange Natedog’s food cart, stocked with quality wieners, tasty hand crafted mustards, and manned by the friendly proprietor, Nate Beck. We were lucky to have him at our open house in February and recently letterpress printed the labels for Nate’s honey-spiced mustard, now bottled and available for purchase.
Holmberg Design Co, who we most recently worked with on these Dogwood Coffee labels, is behind the Natedog’s identity and label design. Letterpress printed with two inks on an existing label stock, these were kisscut after printing with a custom made die that mimics the bottle shape.
CBS recently ran a nice feature of on Natedog’s that can be viewed here.
Hard Graft, it literally means “Hard Work,” and boy does this European company live up to their name. Makers of beautifully designed and handcrafted gadget cases, this duo (one English, one Austrian) has a passion for what they do–and it shows. From designing the products and tracking down the finest italian craftsman (they used to make every single item themselves), to packing each order by hand, they are involved in every aspect of their business. We’re actually surprised they don’t have sheep in their back yard (then again, for all we know, maybe they do). Moral of the story–they care, these are the kind of people we love to work with.
To complement their 100% wool felt and leather goods, they designed noted cards, merchandise cards and labels for us to produce. The note card and angular merchandise cards were printed on 60pt Ahlstrom Blotter, which is what we traditionally recommend for coasters. Though the outcome is beautiful, these items were a challenge to run on press. Whenever you run a flood of color alongside fine type you will constantly have to fight to keep the text crisp while still making the flood of color as solid as possible. This project was especially tricky because the blotter stock is notoriously challenging to run solid areas of color on, there is no avoiding what we call a “salty” result–luckily this was the look they were going for. They were finished with a custom diecut, which helps the cards tuck tightly into felt pockets prior to shipping (see the picture below that Hard Graft was nice enough to send over of the cards in use).
The labels were printed on Strathmore Soft White label stock, receiving a kiss-cut after printing, allowing them to easily peel off the backing sheet.
We designed this wedding invitation for the lucky couple that won our giveaway with Martha Stewart. It’s only too fitting that the couple we chose to work with will be jumping fires on their wedding night. Besides complimenting our studio name, their scheduled wedding night activities (get your mind out of the gutter) lends perfectly to the orange and white color palette featured by Martha Stewart.
Juan and Irma will be getting married in Madrid on the 24th of June, the night of “San Juan,” traditionally a night when friends and family gather to build bonfires and leap across them in celebration of the summer solstice. (We did some intense Googling and it appears that in many parts of Spain this is a party night not to be missed). They wanted to keep the invitations informal (reflecting the backyard bbq reception), to the point where it doesn’t even use the word wedding–we had to imply celebration and union strictly through the design.
With fire as a central part of the celebration, a matchbook format for the actual invitation seemed only natural. The whole letterpress printed suite is designed in physical layers, causing the viewer to interact as they unfold the invitation setting the stage for the matchbook sitting in the center of a custom frame. The invitation itself is a two and a half inch by three and a quarter inch matchbook that opens to reveal french folded text weight sheets (spanish on the front, english on the back), an intimate piece meant to directly reflect the fires that will be sparking that night.
The copy inside reads “Celebrating the arrival of the summer solstice (amongst other astronomical events),” so we created custom illustrations based around the sun, the moon and the stars to give the suite a celestial feel.
The wrap features the graphic sun inspired emblem with a smattering of stars making their way to a moon icon on the inside flap.
Several diecut papers and a pop of edge coloring create a custom built A7 size frame surrounding the matchbook invitation for mailing.
This ephemera was designed by the folks at Shine Advertising to dress up a pocket knife mailing sent to their clients as a promotional item. You might ask if that is really letterpress? Yep, actually that’s four color process plus two spot color letterpress printed one pass at a time. That means that lil’ piece of paper went through the presses seven times. (six color passes and a letterpress matrix score) Certainly not a typical use of letterpress, but that’s why it was so fun to print it. Laying down color one at a time means a little guess work as you build the color density for the final image, but fun to watch it unfold. The process printed picture was from CSA stock images and worked pretty well to break out into plates even though it started as a heavily line screened image. The plates were printed with a 90 line per inch screen on Mohawk Loop Husk 160lb Cover.
Also be sure and check out the flash light wrap we printed for Shine last year.
Fathom, the recent release LP from Taiga records, is a subtle and textural object of beauty and a sensory experience. The drawings were perfectly suited for letterpress and translated crisply to the printed edition. This is the description from Taiga:
“Douglas Quin’s Fathom brings together four extended underwater soundscapes—two each from the Arctic and Antarctic. The recordings have been gathered over a period of 15 years, capturing an extraordinary palette of sonic voices, events, spaces, and textures. To the human ear, these soundscapes are haunting and otherworldly; yet they are very much of this world—out of earreach. The tracks are minimally edited and are his first field recordings to be archived in vinyl. Included with the release is a sealed envelope containing an insert with specific locations, animals, and other elements heard, giving listeners the option to absorb sound with or without association. The envelope is printed with liner notes and comments from Dutch journalist and music critic René van Peer. Mastered by James Plotkin, cut direct to metal and pressed on 200 gram virgin-vinyl, Fathom comes packaged in custom letterpressed materials and is presented as a limited edition of 1000.”
There was clear, white, and black vinyl versions released. Only the black is still available.
The packaging is pressed in gray and a tonal white ink. We letterpress printed the outer sleeve on a custom duplexed stock – gray on the interior, white on the exterior. We were able to print on a preconverted inner envelope which accompanies the vinyl and containing the insert.
We print for other creative companies both large and small. Our friends in Designworks at BBDO in New York made up this gem of an identity system for their new post production suite called The Kitchen at BBDO. The system blends some fun patterns and crisp tiny type onto coasters, business cards and a CD package. And it was among the projects we printed that won a feature in the Print Design Annual.
It is a misconception that letterpress is only for small projects. We are not scared to run a big press sheet and handle large volume work. The 4 panel, 2 pocket CD package ran 2 up on our full size 18 x 23 sheet and was custom die cut and converted. The coasters and business cards ran together on a second sheet. And the details still look edible.