Please follow our adventures over at our blog’s new location on our website.
Now that the shop has been freshly painted and is ready for inhabitants (yay!), last week it was time to start actually moving equipment. It took a pretty long time to coordinate schedules with the movers, the window guys, the owners of the house where Edward and Frank were, and myself. I felt like some sort of weird circus conductor (ringmaster?). First order of business, after leaving home at 6:30am and meeting everyone out in Woodstock, was to take off Edward’s power carriage.
They brought along a massive amount of tools, wood, ropes, and other equipment. I actually expected them to have a bunch of magical machines that would just float everything right out the window, but everything was human powered and done the old fashioned way with sweat and muscle.
At this point I had to leave for traffic court, which was a major bummer. Ed continued taking pictures for me though, which was awesome of him. Two frustrated window guys, one frustrated house owner, two frustrated movers, one broken window, many shreds of window frame, and several freakouts later, Edward was ready to go out the window.
At this point, apparently it started raining pretty heavily and so Ed was unable to get any pictures of Edward actually coming through the window. Edward was doused with a layer of protecting oil to make sure the rain didn’t damage him, and he and Frank, the drying cabinet, and the furniture cabinet were all covered in plastic and left to wait until the next day when the tow truck came to drag them up the hill.
Once at the top of the hill, everybody was secured to the big flat bed and taken back to the warehouse in Indiana where they currently wait for a stretch of good weather to be brought back to the shop.
It was a pretty nerve-wracking day – as Ed, with 30+ years experience in the print moving business said, he moved a 40,000 pound die cutter the week before and on a scale of 1-10 in difficulty that was probably a 7. Getting this equipment out of the basement of a 3 story mansion built into the side of a hill, he said, was a 10.
Full set of pictures can be found here.
Pulp & Press Soundtrack: “All The Same” by The Infamous Stringdusters.
It’s been frustrating to wait so long to get the new equipment into the shop, but it has provided some extra time to get everything up to snuff first. There was a ceiling leak the other day, so the paint work was put off until a plumber could come by and basically tell me that there was nothing he could do unless it was actively leaking. Hopefully it won’t happen again after Frank‘s lovely paint job, which he was finally able to start work on today!
First things first: patch general wall holes and ugliness leftover by the removal of the wall partitions. Frank doesn’t mess around:
That’s a lot of chips! As for the new paint, I decided to say “screw it” to the idea of light, unobtrusive colors. Everything will be Benjamin Moore’s low VOC paint Aura. I’ve been really into deep rust/ochre colors for the last few years, so that’s what the main walls will be (Copper Day). Keeping the trim and fixtures a bright white for a nice contrast, and the ceiling and bathroom will be a super light tan (Sand Dunes). The doors will then all be a deep chocolate brown (Bittersweet Chocolate). Yep, it’s the Tweedle Press color trio.
It took a couple of tries, but I really like the colors. Hopefully they’ll look as good when everything is painted in them! A view of the wall above the sink and bathroom door, and Ian strikes a pose in front of the back window and door:
Also planning to stain and varnish the sink cabinets (which you can see in the first photo) – that sounds like a good weekend Dad project, right? I love putting the Dad to work when he’s in town. More updates soon!
You may have been wondering why the radio silence for about 2 months now. Or maybe you haven’t, given that I’m an inconsistent blogger at best. If you’ve been following Facebook, Twitter, or been in my general vicinity recently, you’ll know that a lot of things have been going on in the Tweedle world. A couple of months ago, after a brief low point during which I actually applied for a job somewhere else, business really started to pick up in earnest. Up until now I’ve managed to run Tweedle Press out of my home, using my C&P Pilot (rarely), my 8×12 C&P (Leonard, frequently), and renting time on a Vandercook when necessary. Leonard’s current home is a warehouse in Skokie, which has been convenient and free (perfect for a business just getting started!) but climate challenging and with limited space. It became clear that I needed to start looking for a real shop and new equipment lickety split.
Several hundred ideas, real estate agents, building owners, emails, and space viewings later, I stumbled across the new home of Tweedle Press. It wasn’t listed on any website, and in fact the only reason I came across it was because I was determined to do a driving tour of all the areas closest to my home in Rogers Park and find something within walking distance. I called the number in the window of a cute little retail space on Greenview just off of Morse, and after many associated emails, calls, and faxes back and forth, finally secured the lease for my first ever commercial space.
Adorable, right? It reminds me of one of the little paper shops on the side street of Florence – sigh. I’ll get into the particulars of how I’m renovating the space in a later post, because for now I want to focus on the new equipment I’ve found and how I’m planning to get it in. Through various magical and mystical means (otherwise known as asking everyone in the local letterpress community), I was lead to a print shop out in Woodstock that is selling the 2 pieces of equipment I most desired: a Vandercook Universal 3, hereafter referred to as “Edward”:
As you can see from the above picture, Edward and Frank will all need to be moved out of their current shop with window views of the forest and wild turkeys. It’s fairly impossible to describe the house they’re in, but I’ll try. Their current owner is Edward Leibhardt, 91 and just recently moved to a nursing home, and he was an astrophysicist for NASA. He had this 3 story house with an observatory on top built into the side of a hill back in the 70s, and it is a maze of underground laboratories, a print shop, a violin making shop, woodworking shop, metalsmithing shop, and something referred to as a “prized engine room.”
In order to get the equipment out, we’ll have to have a mover drive up the precarious incline to the top of the hill where the house sits, disassemble various parts, take out the windows from the back, drive a truck with winch down a steep decline to the back of the house onto some grass, and pull everything out the windows.
Swinging by to pick up Leonard from the warehouse and getting everything into my street level shop will hopefully be a piece of cake compared to that. I’ve spent the last few weeks arranging for a mover to give me a quote, playing tetris with schedules to accommodate the mover, the daughter of the astrophysicist, the window guys, the tow truck guys, my painter for the shop, and myself to try and get this insane feat accomplished. The mover believes it will be at least a 3-4 day process, but I’m currently getting an estimate from another specialist to see what they come up with.
Bottom line is, I will be a vary happy camper when this is all over with. It may end up costing just as much if not more to move the equipment as it will to buy it. This has to be one of the most epic moves for a small letterpress print shop ever! And even once the equipment has arrived safely, I’ll still have to give it all a thorough cleaning and likely have new rollers and other pieces updated before it’s functional. Stay tuned…
Today I learned some interesting things about recycled paper vs. virgin paper, FSC certification and energy use. It quite literally blew my mind apart, challenging everything I thought I knew about what the most eco-friendly papers are. As soon as I’ve researched, verified, backup up, and generally made sure I know what I’m talking about, you can bet I’ll be sharing the info with you. Also, at the risk of jinxing it all, I may have some very exciting business development news soon too! Wow, I’m just full of dangling donuts today huh? Here’s a donut you can sink your teeth into instead:
You may have seen this lovely photo in our post about Light On Life Images, but I thought this project deserved its own post. I have oft complained about my lack of friends and family that have gotten married since I began letterpress printing 4 years ago. And actually, my husband and I have only been to 1 family wedding and 2 friend weddings in the entire time we’ve been together (11 years!). Most printers I know cut their teeth making invitations for friends and family before they actually went into business and charging money for it, but I haven’t had the luxury of such practice. For the most part I’ve just had to make things up as I’ve gone along, which is pretty common for most small business owners. It’s just now that I feel like I’m really starting to advance my printing skills by leaps and bounds , and it’s just now that I’ve finally had my first family member (my cousin Kate) to print invitations for!
Kate and her fiancee, Jay, live in New York, which is where my husband grew up and where I lived for 7 years before we moved to the Windy City. She works in fashion and is always so completely, effortlessly put together looking I want to stab her. When she and her mom came to talk to me last year about invitations, it sounded like that was exactly the vibe they are going for with their wedding too. Modern, chic, fairly formal, but also relaxed and simple. Kate really likes dove grey, sage green, and off white. I designed a monogram of the first initials of their names to be used throughout the wedding print materials:
I printed these Save The Date postcards on 100% post-consumer recycled cotton paper using hand mixed, 100% vegetable based dove grey and sage green inks. On the backs (not pictured) I printed their return address information, and they were trimmed and ready to go!
Alright folks…there is some exciting stuff going on at Tweedle. Kristi’s photos of my letterpress print work came out amazingly and I used the same lighting scheme and backdrop of an old wooden letterpress type drawer to take more photos. I’m speaking on Sunday the 24th at the Green Wedding Alliance’s first workshop for wedding planners, the Tweedle website is getting a major revamp, Spilled Ink Press and Tweedle are getting ready to launch our super awesome line of invitations, and I’ve been gearing up for a media assault. Seriously, it’s all hitting at once!
But behind all the glitz and glam, the PR, the meetings and musings and meanderings, at the root of everything is the design and letterpress print work. That’s what inspired me to start Tweedle Press in the first place, and that’s what keeps me grounded during times of reinvention and head spinning. I’m still giddy when I pull off that first awesome looking print off the press, and I still continue to be inspired by the clients I work with. Remember a couple of weeks ago I posted a mysterious image of a perforator that I braved 20+ inches of snow to go find? Well, this is the job I needed it for:
But let me back up for a second and start from the beginning. When Monica approached me last fall about doing her Save The Dates and Wedding Invitations in a Hatch Show Print-esque “movie poster” style, I wanted to reach down to Nashville and kiss her! While I certainly enjoy doing more traditional styles, vintage letterpress inspired design is what I really live for. It takes a special sort of couple with a particular type of event to request such a thing, and I had been waiting 4 years (ever since I learned the art of letterpress printing) for someone to ask for it. The type styling of Hatch is immensely unique due to their vast collection of vintage wood and metal type:
I would love to have the space and budget to house drawers and drawers of type someday, but for now I’ll just have to do with the modern equivalent of computer design and printing plates. The first part of the project was Save The Dates, and we decided on a bookmark shaped piece. Monica and Patrick’s wedding colors are deep purple and silver, but since Tweedle doesn’t print using metallic inks (both an environmental and health hazard), we opted to print purple and grey and use a silver shimmer envelope:
(above and below awesome photos by Light On Life Images)
When it came time to start thinking about the design for the actual invitations, I decided to just sit back and let my creativity flow. There were so many different parts to the invitation (ceremony/reception invite, brunch invite, welcome reception invite, RSVP, schedule of events, accommodations, transportation) that I started imagining what layout would be the most fun for me to create, and I came up with the idea for a 3 panel fold out with a perforated RSVP event “ticket”. And you know what? They went for it. YES!
I printed using Tweedle’s exclusive custom stock handmade paper which is 100% recycled, chlorine free, and has a delicious thick toothy texture. The deepest impression was reserved for the front 2 colors:
The print was trimmed, scored, folded, and the RSVP ticket was perforated. Paired with a silver shimmer RSVP envelope and outer envelope (which the couple had addressed with calligraphy), the invitation is simultaneously vintage, modern, relaxed, and distinctive. I couldn’t have asked for more responsive and supportive clients for this invitation and I couldn’t be happier with the result. I hope their event is every bit as joyous!
Kristi Sanford and I met through the Green Wedding Alliance – both of us have been there since the beginning, watching it grow and hoping it will keep getting bigger and better. We obviously share similar eco-friendly goals, even though she’s a photographer and I’m a letterpress printer. We also share similar aesthetic principles – I’ve always been a huge fan of “documentary” style photography. When I get married 4 year ago, the photographers we hired did a great job capturing genuine moments instead of forced emotions. Sure we had a few requisite posed photos of the bridal party, but the majority were an unobtrusive look at the event. Almost like what you’d see if you were invisible. From what I’ve seen of Kristi’s work, she takes a very similar approach.
So when Kristi suggested coming over to take some photos of recent Tweedle work, I was totally thrilled! Between designing, printing, and client consultations, I have fallen seriously behind in product photos and her expertise was just the kick in the butt I needed.
Although Kristi spends most of her time photographing people and not “things”, her enthusiasm for her craft was evident through careful consideration of frame, lighting, and focus. Even though these letterpress printed items aren’t in motion and were most definitely “posed,” I could tell that her focus was still on telling some sort of story as she described some of the shots as almost “vignetted.” I feel like the reason that term is used for the photographic technique of darkening corners around a subject is because it makes a photo look like it has a narrative somehow. The darkened frame always sort of reminds me that it’s just one frozen point in someone or something’s adventures.
Before I go any further, I wanted to mention that the above invitation pictured (also at the beginning of this post) was designed by Amanda over at Spilled Ink Press. We’ve been working together for almost a year now, and are preparing to officially launch our hybrid letterpress & flat printed line of invitations called Entwine. As you can see above, the border and the couple’s names are letterpress printed, while the other text as well as the informational cards are flat printed. We can’t wait to share more details about this exciting idea!
I’ve been taking photos of letterpress work for quite a while now, and it’s always challenging to achieve just the right lighting to show off the impression into the paper. Kristi and I eventually settled on a really cool lighting method that I then continued to use on some photos I took myself after she left. Another benefit to having a “real” photographer take your pictures is the neat macro lens that shows off the extreme detail of letterpress impression. The registration, or alignment of different colors printed on individual passes through a printing press, was pretty challenging for the job above. I’m so excited to be able to show you a super up close image of it! For reference, those colors are about 1/32″ apart from each other.
I actually have a whole bunch more of Kristi’s photos to share, and you’ll see them sprinkled throughout future posts and on the Tweedle website. If you’re looking for a wedding photographer, I can’t recommend her highly enough. She’s great fun, extremely talented, and carefully considers how to make her business as sustainable as possible. Thanks Kristi!
Pulp & Press Soundtrack: “You Know The Rest” by Steve Earle.