We R Memory Keepers Letterpress Combo Kit, with Epic 6 Tool
- Additional ink colors and paper sizes must be purchased separately
- Envelopes not included
- Contains Epic Six Tool, Letterpress, clear packing mat with grid, paper placement guides, ink base and brayer
- Also contains ten A2 flat cards, nine printing plates, tube of black ink, and a set of QuicKutz circle dies
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We R Memory Keepers' Letterpress Combo Kit contains everything you need to begin letterpress printing right away
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I admit, there is a big learning curve in learning how to Letterpress, but it really is a fine art so if you want to do it well, you're going to have to go through lots of trial and error until you get the techniques down. The frustrations I initially had were no fault of the machine itself, it was most about learning how to ink properly, what solutions to use for cleanup, etc.
- Read some blogs (Boxcarpress dot com has an excellent one - I'm very grateful for it!)
- PAPER: Buy really high quality letterpress paper (I got Crane's Lettra paper - 600gsm - the really thick stuff and makes for a much better impression than the cheapy paper that Lifestyle Crafts sells). The paper comes in giant sheets so I used a mat-cutter with a razor blade to size it down. You want nice, crisp, straight cuts.
- CUSTOM PRINTING PLATES: Order K152 plates from Boxcar Press. (And ask for the borders not to be trimmed off...they can be used to help make perfect roller guides for your brayer). It's pretty helpful if you are familiar with Adobe Illustrator to create good quality plate designs. Boxcar Press has some good tips on platemaking on their website.
- INK: The ink that Lifestyle Crafts sells works just fine and goes a LONG way. It only took me 1/2 tube to create 75 x 3-piece suite of wedding invitations. (I also ordered a few other colors after doing the wedding invitations to use for other projects. The colors are great and mix well with a toothpick).
- BRAYER: Get rid of the brayer that comes with the kit, and purchase a Speedball 6" SOFT rubber brayer. I got mine at Dick Blick for $12.
- PRINTING: I cannot overemphasize this enough - don't overink your brayer! The only way to figure it out is with some trial and error, so don't be discouraged when you mess up the first 20 prints or so! (Use the back side of the paper if you're testing, so you don't waste that expensive paper)
- CLEANING: Best/cheapest product you can buy to clean ink off your plates and brayer is odorless mineral spirits. You can get a bottle at Home Depot for a few bucks. Pour a few drops on your plates, add a little water and scrub gently with a soft sponge (be careful not to scrub hard or you'll wreck the plates). You can also use the mineral spirits to clean your brayer. It's helpful to clean up every 15 prints or so. If you're just an at-home crafter, don't bother buying the expensive Varn California Wash. At one point I tried product similar to Goo-Gone and it was a disaster! It left an oily residue on the plates and brayer that made the ink bleed.
- OTHER TIPS:
- For my wedding invitations, I bought matching Crane envelopes - same color as the paper, but not the thick letterpress material, so it matched perfectly.
- I had lots of leftover paper, so I used it to make matching Thank You cards, place cards, table cards and greeting cards!
- The supplied plates (that come with the Letterpress Kit) work just fine. I don't know what people are talking about - they didn't break for me, although I was mainly using custom plates.
-If you have any questions, I am happy to help answer them! amymcrump at gmail dot com.
PAPER - I ordered 110 lb. pearl white paper (and matching envelopes) online from crane.com. The majority of my order was received within a week, though one of my envelopes were backordered for 6 weeks, so I went to thepapermillstore.com for those and received them in less than a week. The paper that I ordered was in parent sheets, which needed to be cut down. You could order 8 x 11, but you'll still need to cut them either way. I used a paper cutter that had a razor blade to slice the paper. It worked out well in terms of it being accurate for the sizes I needed, but I ended up edging each piece with an X-acto knife and a ruler once they were all done. This helped to create super straight and clean cuts, but it was probably my least favorite part of creating my invites because it was extremely time consuming. When you order your paper, make sure to get more than you will actually need. You will make plenty of mistakes while you are learning and should cut extra right from the start to save the hassle of having to do it later.
SUPPLIES - I followed Amy's advice and bought a separate 6" soft brayer, which worked out perfectly. I also purchased additional clear ink bases (any glass or acrylic type of surface will do) to use for my separate ink colors. The one that comes with the kit is too small to use with a 6" brayer if you're using it for a big project like this, but it is fully functional otherwise. The 6" soft brayer is a definite must though. The Lifestyle Crafts inks were fine, as were the plates that came with it. I ordered additional colors to match my theme and a tube goes a long way. I did my entire set with two tubes of ink total and still had some leftover.
LETTERPRESS - test out a few samples using the plates and ink that are provided, but understand that your plates (if you order them) will print up a little differently. Practice by using small amounts of ink, thicker paper (if you have it available), or adding a thin sheet under the grid in order to achieve a deeper impression. Even once you get your own custom plates, you will want to practice a bit with each piece so that you get the impressions that you want.
PLATES - I ordered my plates from boxcarpress.com also. They were tricky to design, but I downloaded a free trial of Adobe Illustrator and figured out how to use it. You can also have someone design them for you, but obviously this will cost more. Boxcarpress does design work as well. Once you have your design prepared, the plates take less than a week to get. I ordered mine on a Friday afternoon and received them on Tuesday of the following week. There's a lot of information on their website about creating your design and having the format correct, but they can help you with this as well. The plates I ordered were KF152 photopolymer plates and you can ask for the plate strips to use as roller bearers when you ink up your plates. The extra plate strips are free and are absolutely necessary when applying ink to most designs (for us beginners anyway).
ADDITIONAL SUGGESTIONS - Give yourself a lot of time if you plan to make numerous pieces for your invitations. I pressed six pieces in total for my invitation suite - main invitation, reception, response, accommodations, directions, and a belly band. I had intended to press my envelopes as well, but 160 sets of 6 pieces was more than enough at that point, so all of the envelopes were sent through my printer at home instead. Doing these on my own was a huge job and I (luckily) knew that from the start, but it was still a time consuming process. Don't get discouraged when the first few you make look awful...just use less ink! If it's too little, you can add more. Also, keep an old white t-shirt handy. After a few presses from the plate and having inked it up so often, you may want to wipe down your plate so that it's like a fresh start again. You don't need to wash the plates or use any soap or anything, the ink will just come off.
If you have any questions about the letterpress, please comment! I'd be happy to help!
Most recent customer reviews
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