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.