Archive for August, 2008

Dear World,

We are proud to have made this invitation for Myra Beals and Ida Matson, who have been together for 32 priceless years. They are finally getting hitched in a huge community event that will include just about everyone on the Mendocino Coast, plus more. They are amazing women, wonderful, powerful, committed, and we at Studio Z Mendocino are honored to have been chosen to participate in their marriage by creating these extravaganza wedding invitations. We used a rich bronze metallic paper with copper foil initials — M & I — on the locking tab. The invitation itself was printed, in plum colored ink, on a thick, fluffy paper, which we attached to the inside panel. We used a chayote green envelope. Everything was printed in plum ink. This was a nod to “rainbow” colors without being too literal. Myra and Ida are very happy with the result and told us that many guests are calling up with compliments on the invitations’ fabulosity. Yay!

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Letterpress printing is a type of printing that has its beginnings in the 1450s, with Gutenberg’s world changing invention of movable type. As you may surmise, techniques have been modernized over the centuries, but the amazing look is the same today as it was then: a deep impression into soft, thick paper makes a “pillowing” effect around each letter and image. The distinctiveness of this “third dimension” in printing brings an intriguing beauty to every printed piece that can’t be duplicated by any other method. It, combined with excellent design and typography, draws wonderment from the recipient of each card or invitation. “Why does it look this way?” is most often the question asked. Our aim is always to elicit that response for your work or project or party or wedding.

By giving out a letterpress printed business card, the potential client looks more closely, touches the sculptural effect, thinks about the type of person who gives it out. By itself, it is a business builder, expressing your attention to detail and aesthetics. Letterpress is famous for a more spare look, serene and classical, even when used on a very contemporary design.

Modern design sensibilities married to the venerable art of letterpress printing techniques allows Studio Z to turn your dream into something you can mail or hand out with pride & excitement. Using our many years of experience, and rather remarkable intuition (some of our clients think we’re positively psychic) we work closely with you to express in your printed materials your style, intention, & to stay within your budget.

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Here is a poem I wrote many years ago. If you read it the right way, it sounds just like my press room on a busy day. Breathless!


 O Press!

O Heidelberg that swings

While at the same time

Squats, solid & black

& shining.

Your windmill arms

Flash and flick, crack

& whip around a breeze.

Your flywheel sings

A bass beat.

(That little tear in the belt clicks,

Repeats, clicks, repeats.)

Your gears chunk.

Pheumatic song you sing,

The whirling mesh of


The suck, the swoosh,

Wheezy exhale of air blast,

The pump, the low tones,

The hush between.

The thump of paper to type,

The hiss of ink between

Form rollers & drum,

The fountain a metronome,

Feeding color to the page.

Crisp rap of paper

Flipping round,


Picked up


Picked up


Light, clipped, rotating,

Giving voice

To someone’s dream.

Words, meaning, definition

(distinguishment Style Typographic)

Keep those cards & letters







Press Press Press

Rhythm & Blues

Rhythm & Reds

Rhythm & Blacks

Meaning in the sheet.

Meaning in the printer.

(Platen Tympan Forme Bed)

Squatty black elegance:

A German machine:

No screws,

Tapered pins

And harmony of use.

“Work taken to extremes

Describes love.”

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Dear World

 Today’s date seems to have special significance for a lot of people. I know a couple who is getting married this very day. Happy Wedding, Alan and Louis! I took this posting straight off The Wedding Planner Ireland blog http://theweddingplannerireland.wordpress.com/2008/01/18/080808-a-special-date/ re: today’s date: “The date is not only catchy but the number 8 is also considered very favourable in Chinese culture. The Chinese pronunciation for ‘eight’ (ba in Mandarin and paat in Cantonese) sounds similar to the word for ‘prosperity’ (fa in Mandarin and faat in Cantonese). The more eights involved in a couple’s lives, the better chance they have for luck and wealth (so get booking!). Numbers play a large role in choosing a wedding date for the Chinese (many Chinese couples are given a selection of auspicious days on which to marry). This applies to any special event in Chinese culture. In fact, the summer Olympics in Beijing will begin on 8/8/08, at 8:08 p.m.Along with the good luck associated with the number eight, 8/8/08 has a few other factors that might make it a desirable day to get married. August is always a popular month for weddings and when the numeral “8″ is turned on its side, it becomes the symbol for infinity — a fitting motif to represent the beginning of a marriage!”


Marriage or whatever, I like the LOOK of this number — all those round things… That it has “prosperity” in its connotation — all the better. What fabulous thing will happen this day? I wonder…I can hardly wait to see what the world brings in my door, telephone and my inbox!

This morning as I worked out at the gym, instead of counting reps I counted BLESSINGS — eeeeeeeeeeee! There were so many that it made the entire time go fast, all full of joy and gratitude. SO much more interesting than just one two three four…

The list included, first, my beautiful, funny, brilliant-genius daughters, Zoe and Alicia and my beautiful, thoughtful, true and loving Ed, my home in this extraordinary spot in the world, my family and friends and this supportive, loving, amazing community I get to live with. The list is too long and full of superlatives to put it all here or I would not get a lick of work done today, but I can’t help but add that the fact I can do a zillion bicep curls with 18 pound weights is a blessing, don’t you think? Well, yes. 

My letterpress print shop has been a blessing in my life for nearly 23 years. In it, I get to meet people from around the world, create something new every day, express beauty into the world with this craft have lived and loved and been crazy over for something like 35 years in total.

Well, gee, this is a great exercise, counting blessings. I wish you many this crazy eights day.



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Today I am gathering up a lot of Wedding Invitation samples to send down to a mother of the bride and a mother of the groom in Trinidad Tobago! This is extremely amazing to me because my mother was from Trinidad and I have been to Trinidad Tobago, and how can it even BE that two women from so far off have found me here in Fort Bragg, Mendocino County, California? How? Because ten years ago or so, Departures Magazine did an article about me and my shop that one of the moms saved all this time. Their kids are getting married and she knew where to find the reference. Inspirational organizationing abilities, no? It’s so wonderful to hear the Trinidadian accent I grew up with, and the warmth and charm the Islands infuse into their inhabitants. I have to go downstairs and find a bunch of the most yummy invitations we ever made here at Studio Z Mendocino RIGHT NOW!!!

Going through my archives of hundreds and hundreds of wedding invitations we have done over the last few years makes me very happy. Each one expresses a certain personality — the bride and groom who love each other enough to make this brave, joyous trip down the aisle — and I get to participate, interpreting that desire to invite everyone in their lives who ever loved them. This is the thing I love most about this work…I know for sure I am in the business of communication, celebration, relationship and love. Big kiss, Zida

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If you would like to see a business card we did recently (with testimonial!), please go to


Our web site, of course, has scads of examples of work we have done here:


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Hello, World

I am thinking about letterpress printing today, as usual. It is so much a part of me and my life that it’s a bit like breathing. I have been a printer since 1974 or or 1975, have had this business I so enjoy and love since 1984. It was rare to be a woman in this industry, particularly in that moment as letterpress had already been replaced almost entirely by offset printing. I was not strategic about it; I just wanted to do it, the way Amelia Erhart said, “I want to do it because I want to do it.” Women were not printers, letterpress printing was not revered. Thank goodness that part has changed.

Letterpress printing changed my life and continues to enrich it every day. I am very grateful I get to do this work, have this shop, make these relationships, create something new every couple of hours. It’s so much fun and so hard and so beautiful and people always kind of fall to their knees when they see it. A long time ago I discovered there is a lot of power in letterpress printing. It has the power to capture people’s curiosity. It has the power to make everybody want to come to the party. It has the power to create a desire to know you better when you give them your fluffy, deeply impressed business card. It is an art that is a craft that is a powerful force and hardly anybody knows about it. Even not knowing, when they encounter it, they know it is different, it has something about it that tells something interesting. What is that? I think it is the hand of the craftsperson showing in the work.

Gee, guys, I have a BLOG!

Big kiss,


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