Why Letterpress Wedding Invitations?
Simply put, because no other invitation option can communicate the importance and elegance of a wedding better than letterpress. Letterpress wedding invitations actually reflect the event they are meant to introduce. They are carefully crafted, well designed, and have an air of sophistication that most people exude only once in a lifetime. Also, like planning a wedding, letterpress printing is an old tradition and a laborious process that results in something stunning.
Letterpress printing has been in practice for centuries. Its distinctive look and feel is achieved when a raised surface called a plate is inked and pressed into paper. It is the impression created from this pressure that gives letterpress its characteristic tactile quality. And that's the thing about letterpress — it's beauty you can actually feel. When guests receive a letterpress wedding invitation they will want to touch it. To hold it. To run their fingers across the texture of the words.
Letterpress evokes sentiments of the hand crafted, of something unique, timeless and special. The physicality of that experience is something that cannot be achieved quickly or through digital means. In today's fast-paced world, it will cause a person to slow down, take notice, and think "damn, that's nice". And that's just the kind of reaction that makes letterpress wedding invitations so unforgettable.
So what's the difference between letterpress and other print methods? Let's compare and contrast printing techniques.
How does letterpress differ from digital offset?
On demand digital offset printing is the latest technology in the color printing industry. This method offers the quality of traditional offset printing, but eliminates many of the steps involved in that process such as color separations, plate making, and film stripping. With a completely digital workflow, digital offset printing is fast and efficient, and makes even very short runs a possibility and an economical option. A variety of colors and tonal ranges can be achieved with this method.
The main difference you will notice when comparing a letterpress invitation to a digitally printed invitation is that the digital printing is flat. The inks sit on top of the paper, and this printing method produces no texture. Letterpress, on the other hand, literally creates an impression on the paper it is printed on. This creates a sumptuous texture that is quite beautiful.
How does letterpress differ from engraving?
Engraving is another printing method that is often used with wedding invitations. With engraving, the printed image is raised above the surface of the paper. It creates a texture opposite that of letterpress, in which the printed images are pressed into the paper. The result is crisp and sharp. Therefore, engraving is good for images that require very fine detail, but does not work well with photographic images or illustrations that include gradients or require a screen. Perhaps the most common and recognizable use of engraving is the printing of currency.
Engraving requires a metal plate, usually copper or steel, that contains an image or text "carved" into it. The plate is covered with ink and then wiped clean, leaving ink only in the recessed grooves of the image or text. Intense pressure is then used to transfer the image onto the paper. This type of printing is known as intaglio. It can be thought of as the opposite of letterpress printing, which is printed in relief, meaning that the inked plate is a raised surface.
Quality engraving requires much skill and makeready time. This, in turn, also renders it one of the most expensive printing options and is usually reserved for very formal invitations.
How does letterpress differ from thermography?
Thermography also results in ink raised above the surface of the paper, and can be thought of as an affordable imitation of engraving. The quality of thermography varies greatly, and when done poorly can be an eyesore. High quality thermography can be difficult to tell apart from engraving, but even best will never be able to achieve the fine lines and crisp image quality that engraving allows.
How does letterpress differ from foil stamping?
Foil stamping is often used to embellish wedding invitations and is often used in conjunction with other print methods. You will know foil stamping when you see it—the resulting images are shiny and often metallic. This differs from letterpress printing, in which the metallic inks are much more subtle and dull. Many colors are available in foil stamping besides metallics, and the results can be very opaque which can be good for printing on darker papers.
Like letterpress, foil stamping is a relief process. However, it incorporates the use of heat in addition to pressure to transfer the image into the paper. It is generally not good for printing very fine lines or small type.