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Martha Stewart Weddings, Fall 2004

Great care is taken in choosing the perfect wedding stationery -- couples ponder details from the level of formality to the flourishes of the typeface. The method of printing should be no less important, as it can enliven the design exquisitely. That is certainly the case with letterpress. Though the fine detailing of engraving results in the most traditional style, letterpress has grown in popularity. In this centuries-old printing craft, blocks or plates of raised type are inked and pressed deep into the paper, giving words and images a grooved texture you can't help but touch.

Letterpress technology has come a long way since its earliest form, which relied on carved wooden blocks; now any script or design can be scanned into or created on a computer to make a plate, yet much of the process is still done by hand. Despite its old-fashioned appeal, letterpress lends itself well to the many colors and whimsical patterns of today's invitations. And it needn't be limited to stationery: Coasters, matchbooks, even favor boxes are great candidates for letterpress because of the thickness of their paper.

Couples who wish to use letterpress should select an experienced printer and ask to see samples. "All of the ink should be in the floor of the impression and none on the sides, and it should be even in color," says Julie Holcomb, a California-based letterpress printer. She suggests using soft, dense paper, such as 100-percent cotton rag, because it takes impressions best. Letterpress is generally less expensive than engraving; it does, however, cost more than other kinds of printing, such as lithography (or offset), which produces crisp, flat type. With letterpress, though, you can literally feel the high quality.

One Color on White or Cream
One Color on Color
Multiple Colors

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