Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Real Men Use Stationery

Guys, don’t let anyone tell you that stationery is unmanly. Especially letterpress stationery, which is made through a process that can’t be called “dainty.” Precise, yes, but not dainty. After all, a letterpress machine is exactly that: a machine, with a wheel and gears and other heavy-duty moving parts.

Because the process requires thick paper, letterpress stationery feels substantial. It makes an impression on the recipient, no pun intended. For custom orders, such as event announcements or business correspondence, consider an understated paper color like pearl white combined with a clean font and classic ink colors. The result is inarguably elegant.

At Bartleby’s Letterpress Emporium, we carry cards that appeal to a variety of personalities, including non-sentimental folks of any gender. Our line of Letterary Press cards, for instance, features many quotes by literary giants known for their wit or straightforwardness, paired with classic illustrations in bold or earth-toned colors.

A few examples:

Freedom lies in being bold. (Robert Frost)
Virtue has never been as respectable as money. (Mark Twain)
I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy. (Dorothy Parker) (insert)

If anything is the opposite of a mushy greeting card, it’s probably one with a pun. We have those, too, including a design pairing an illustration of a vacuum cleaner with the words “some things just suck” and another with a stove and the caption “you’re hot.” In fact, we have enough “punny” cards that we sell them as a pack.

Plus, we have beer-themed “Quotesters,” coasters printed with literary quotes. See? Manliness guaranteed.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Greening Letterpress

Although many aspects of the long-standing craft of letterpress printing haven’t changed all that much — care, precision, and artistry — there are some that have. For instance, here at Letterary Press, we use soy-based ink and recycled paper. Because environmental responsibility is just a tad more important now than it was back when Johan Gutenberg and Benjamin Franklin were using letterpress.

When it comes to the essential components of stationery, ink and paper, there are options available at both ends of the sustainability spectrum. We tend toward the more sustainable end.

1. We print with soy ink because it doesn’t give off the nasty chemical emissions that petroleum-based inks do. These fumes, called volatile organic compounds, are harmful to workers and contribute to air pollution. Soy-printed products are also easier to recycle, compared to petroleum-printed products, because soy doesn’t turn into hazardous sludge during the “de-inking” process. In a nutshell, using soy ink lets us achieve high-quality results while minimizing environmental impact.

Fun fact: The National Soy Ink Information Center was established in 1993 by the Iowa Soybean Association to promote research and use of soy ink. The center closed down in 2005, with this parting comment: “In short, the soy ink industry is such a success that you don’t need us anymore!”

2. We print on paper that is certified as 100% post-consumer recycled by the international Forest Stewardship Council. This certification means that the FSC, an independent, not-for-profit organization, has verified that the paper manufacturer has followed production guidelines put in place to limit problems such as wildlife habitat destruction and water pollution.

Not-so-fun fact: The United States is the largest market for paper products in the world, producing 90 million tons of paper annually and, in-turn, consuming about 100 million tons.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Letterpress workshops

Introduction to Letterpress

Saturday, May 22, 2010 from 11 am to 5 pm

Slow down, step back in time, and spend a Saturday in our vintage letterpress shop in southeast Portland. Students in this one day workshop will learn the basics of typesetting, lockup, make-ready, inking, and presswork. You are encouraged to bring ideas for a simple printed piece, such as a thank you note, greeting card, or calling card. Registration fee of $100, plus $20 shop fee. Enrollment is limited to 6 students.

Students will have access to all tools and equipment, including:

  • Dozens of drawers of types, dingbats, logo cuts, etc.
  • Antique "Advance" paper shear
  • Assorted hand tools
  • Soy-based inks
  • Printmaking papers


  • Chandler & Price Old Style - 8 x 12
  • Franklin Gordon 8 x 12
  • Chandler & Price new Style 10 x 15
  • Keley Excelsior 5 x 8 tabletop

Call 503-922-2310 for more information, or download the registration form.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Buckman school Art Show and Sell

Portlanders, don't miss this opportunity to browse and buy great wares from local artists while supporting the arts in elementary education. The annual Art Show & Sell is a fundraiser for Buckman Elemenary School, Portland's only Arts magnet program. Visit us March 6 & 7, 2009 at 320 SE 16th Ave. in Portland. It's a neighborhood tradition! http://www.buckmanelementary.org/artsale/

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Decisons, Decisions

Yesterday I made the momentous decision not to attend the 2009 National Stationery Show in New York. It was a hard decision to make. I have only ever just barely broken even on the show, but it has always felt like a necessary part of maintaining a presence in the stationery trade. It is just so far to travel from the west coast, and accommodations in New York are so expensive. All of my friends, who are extraordinary people with ordinary jobs, live out in the boroughs in tiny little apartments, and anyway, I'm too old to be sleeping on their floors. Yes, it is great to see my east coast reps. It is great to see the faces of all of those east coast buyers, but that's just the problem. It's all so east coast, and I am so far away from that, and a lot of those east coast accounts have been really, really, sluggishly slow to pay their accounts. The ones that are still in business, I mean.

SO, I am now of course terrified that the bottom will drop out of my business because I have dropped out of the show. I guess only time will tell. I have decided instead to go to the American Craft Retailer Exposition in Las Vegas, May 31 through June 2. It's just a heck of a lot cheaper to exhibit there, and to travel, and everything else. I am keeping my fingers crossed.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Holiday Events

It's been a busy November! Wordstock was tons of fun, and it was also great to attend the annual conference of the Publishers Association of the West here in Portland. I saw so many people from the past (you know who you are!), I kept falling into a time warp and forgetting where I was.

There is a lot to look forward to still in December. The first couple weeks will be crazy with craft fairs and open houses. If you're in Portland, be sure to visit me at one of these great events:

Portland Prints! First Thursday at City Hall
Thursday, December 4th from 5-7PM
1221 SW 4th, Portland
Join us at City Hall for a celebration and showcase of Portland printers. Artwork will be on display for the month of December, but if you want to shop, you'll have to come on Thursday evening.

Troy Artist's Studios Open House
Friday, December 5th from 5-9PM
Saturday, December 6th from 11AM-6PM
222 SE 10th Avenue, Portland
Visit over 20 local artist studios in one stop at this annual event. Oh, and don't forget to visit Letterary Press while you are here!

Oregon Historical Society's 41st Annual Holiday Cheer:
A Celebration of Oregon Authors and Artists

Sunday, December 7th from Noon–5PM
1200 SW Park Avenue, Portland
Visit with dozens of Portland authors and artists. Letterary Press will be hawking cards (as always) and providing a letterpress demonstration on our little tabletop Kelsey.

Winter Hadmade Bazaar @ p:ear
Sunday, December 14th from Noon-5PM
338 NW 6th Avenue, Portland
A Portland DIY tradition. Don't miss it!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

New catalogs are here!

I just love the irony of my wholesale catalog. It's an offset-printed catalog of letterpress goods. Of course, if I tried to print the catalog on one of my platen presses with accurate (or close to accurate) color and registration, it would take the rest of my life. So... offest it is! If you're on the mailing list, you can expect to get one any day now. At 16 pages, it's four pages heavier than last year. Be sure to check out the new line of coil-bound journals. I'm really excited about these, and of course all the new quotation cards, in which witty women figure more prominently than they did last year.