I recently purchased a Lifestyle Crafts L Letterpress Machine. I’ve been really excited to start letter pressing away on it, but after a few test runs, kept coming across things that were making the idea less “fun”. Seemed like cleaning the ink off of the tools was hard, especially with it being so tacky in texture. I purchased the wipes that you can use to clean, but it still took a little bit of elbow grease. Getting a clean consistent press every time was also frustrating, because you weren’t completely sure how to get an even amount of ink on every time for consistent presses. It’s also limiting on the size of papers it can take. For example…you can put a 5×7 card in the machine, but you have to protect the inside of the card from being pressed which can be somewhat difficult. I was determined to learn this tool, and figure out how to make it work. I found a great “how to” blog written by Boxcar Press, in Syracuse, NY. They have a full Letterpress and wanted to see how this little machine compared. They offered suggestions on ways to make it better, and I followed and was pleasantly surprised.
Boxcar will take your own designs and turn them into plates as well. Which is awesome because it allows for custom designs, so you don’t limit what you can do and offer with Lifestyle crafts options (though they have some greats plates). I ended up doing some wedding invites recently with my machine, and did just that. Custom ordered plates for them. It was my first attempt with new plates, and I highly recommend using Boxcar, and plan on using them more myself.
Here is a few shots of my process:
1. Placing the paper and guides where you want so the press will be on the same spot everytime.
2. Placing your plate in the correct place…only thing i’ve noticed is the presses don’t look good on top of each other. So I recommend avoiding layering, unless its the look your going for. Depending on your plate, I recommend taping the edges down to make sure the plate stays in place. The adhesive on the back has a tendency to pop off, and you dont want that to happen.
3. With your brayer, recommend replacing your kit brayer that comes with the machine with a bigger 6″ at least SOFT rubber brayer. It lays the ink nicer and helps with consistency, and help prevent too much error. (Boxcar also provides guides when you order you plate just ask, it can be helpful too). If you make a mistake outside of the plate, use the L Letterpress wipes, or baby wipes and just wipe it off.
4. Then close your plate. Then insert it into the Epic machine and turn the crank. I recommend going through twice…put in through once, and then take it back the opposite direction.
5. Lift the top and your press is done. You’ll want to put it to the side to let it dry. I recommend at least 24 hours.
Here is a shot of the final invites. I did a matching RSVP card, rounded the corners and lined the RSVP envelopes with matching paper I purchased, using envelope liner templates from Paper Source.
All in all I think they turned out great for an “at-home” letterpress production. My biggest advice to help with the best prints:
1. KEEP your kits brayer…use it as your blender…Apply your ink to the clear ink palette, then use your red small brayer to roll the ink out. You want to spread it out as well as possible so that it looks completely even on the palette. THEN use your new soft rubber brayer (run about $17) and use that to roll it out even thinner. It will work perfectly when you roll it on your letterpress plate.
2. BEST solution to clean your ink off your new brayer and the palette…GOO GONE! So quick and easy. It breaks up the tacky ink so well. After that I use the L Letterpress Wipes to clean it all off, and then you only need to go through 1 wipe verses 10+. I went through tons of time cleaning with just the wipes and started to get cramps in my hands and it took forever. Then I thought of using GOO GONE, and it took seconds. No pain, and quick!
3. Totally recommend using Boxcar Press. They are amazing, friendly, and quick! Completely worth it!
Have fun Letterpressing!