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Archive for February, 2010

Every day we go into my shop and work like maniacs. Sometimes we forget how beautiful it is in here. This is where a job begins, after the idea pops into the typographer’s head, that is. This is called a composing stick. You put each letter into it with the type going from left to right, upside down, and the nicks are up. After a day or two of doing this, you get to reading upside down almost as fast as the regular way.

These are ornaments, aka dingbats. This is where clipart came from. These pieces are made from lead, tin and antimony. Some are copper mounted on wood bases to bring them up to “type high.” They are so beautiful it makes you gasp.

This is one of my ornament cases. It is very fabulous because the cases (drawers) are at an angle. That is so that when the dingbats are placed in the case, they won’t just randomly roll around getting all banged up. They all stand up against the downhill side in their little compartments. The colored stripes at the bottom of the photo is a stack of colored papers we use for our origami packaged Ladies Who Lunch cards.

This is a case of spacing material. In a letterpress shop there are one billion little things to keep track of, and it’s a place for everything and everything in its place. These pieces of variously thin and thick lengths of lead are used for spacing between lines of type. That is why it’s called “leading,” even in modern computer typography. The lines of type are separated by leading. A 6 point thick piece of leading is called a slug. A 2 point thick piece of leading is called a lead.

This is a close-up of myRouse Slug Cutter. You use this machine to cut lengths of leading material into the sizes you need for your job. It has a handle and a bed where you lay the lead strips. There is a measuring device right on the bed and you just clamp down on the handle and snap the lead very accurately wherever you want it. Everything should be this simple. It’s about a million years old and it still works elegantly.

This is my beautiful old 1924 C&P. It came from the printshop they used to have in the Georgia Pacific mill here in town. They used to do all their own printing there. I bought it from an old printer who learned to print on it there in 1932. When I moved it to my shop, I remember driving behind the flatbed trailer it was strapped to. It looked so jaunty riding down the highway in the sunny day. Probably it’s second or third time out on the road. Maybe someone would like to buy this from me one day. I love it so much but I hardly use it anymore and it still works like a little angel.

Here’s how a job looks when it’s gone through the Heidelberg Windmill and is on the delivery board. There is something ineffably satisfying about doing a job and having it come out so gorgeously and making people so happy who get to use the papers. This is magical work I get to do every day. Alchemical, emotional, heart-filling, artful.

Dropping on to the delivery board.

You should come by and see the shop sometime. It is very charming. I am selling my type, though. If you know any letterpress printers who are still setting type by hand, it is very wonderful stuff I have here and I want it to go to someone who will love and respect if and not turn it into fishermen’s sinkers. I have a lot of it too. I have been collecting it for over 25 years. I am not using it at all anymore and it deserves a new home. The ornaments — I am thinking about selling those too. I want one million dollars for all of it but am willing to dicker.

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I promised to show you the cards we printed for Bruce Wolfe and here they are. Silver foil puts a little dazzle on Bruce’s strong-lined signature-logo. The sculptural quality of letterpress is a perfect match for Bruce’s art form, massive and gorgeous sculptures like this one he was working on in his studio when  I visited recently. This is the top half of Lamar Hunt. The bottom was in the next room. This will be installed at the St. Louis MO ball park when it is completed.

Me, Bruce Wolfe and Bruce's grandson next to a work in progress statue of ball club manager, Lamar Hunt

The backs of the cards are also very wonderful: typography by graphic designer Karen Johnson, of San Francisco

Bruce was not fond of the extra thick Cranes Lettra and chose instead the Lettra 300 gram. It still has the yummy fluffiness and texture of the thicker stuff but doesn’t take up as much room in a wallet. The extra bonus here is that is is much less expensive too, while still delivering a premium look and feel.

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Renee Avalos is a personal chef in San Francisco. We turned our Blue Bird Placecard from the old Studio Z Mendocino line of stationery into a yummy folding business card for Renee, and she says she loves it. The scribbly typeface refers to Renee’s imaginative, creative cuisine. Her tag line, “Honoring food traditions through culture, pleasure and nourishment,” tells a bigger story than one line usually can. Wonderful… Inside, the card is spare and minimal, just the facts in a beautiful typeface, and there is even room to write a note. She says the card is getting her noticed and landing opportunities, which of course is the whole point of having a drop-dead business card!

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Zoe is my first born child, a beautiful and amazing woman and to top it off, a gifted graphic designer. When she and Noah set the date for their Albion wedding and Mendocino destination reception (lucky them, the destination wedding happened where they actually live), everybody at the print shop knew we were in for something BIG, because when Zoe gets going, it is always trumpets and djembes and madcap unusualness, and we climb on board and RIDE. Zoe and Noah named their property in the country Chicken Pants Ranch — a fabulous organic garden, exuberant landscaping, ornamental yet quite productive chickens … and they somehow manage to make it all look totally chic at the same time.

Chantacleer — All photos in this post by Withers Wanberg Pictures

So, “Chicken Pants Ranch” became the leitmotif for the invitations Zoe designed last summer for their fabulous shindig, and we got busy in the shop producing an endless supply of gorgeous letterpress pieces. She used Kraft covered boxes, for a country-esque connotation and organic-looking paper-bag finish, and paired them with whimsical botanical (and livestock) motifs and typographical elan. As you can see, the mailing label and boxed presentation incorporates the winking, the fun, the stylishness, along with over-the-top calligraphy from Mary Meermans that appealingly predicted how the wedding itself would feel.

Everything – paper, ink, food, flower arrangements, etc. was all recycled and organic and reusable/replantable. I think that’s a very important element! My concept for the invitation was that there was this kind of rustic feeling – the kraft paper – and then a traditional wedding element feeling, with the wedding-y fonts and traditional wording. (Zoe’s note)

Mary’s calligraphy and a custom stamp designed by Zoe and printed up by Uncle Sam’s Post Office, delivered maximum punch in the mailbox… everything went together like a horse and carriage, a chicken and an egg or, to complete the simile-a-thon … no, I have to stop!

The box held invitations we die cut and mounted on thick chipboard. Who wouldn’t want to come to THIS?

There were a lot of pieces included in the box: Rsvp, directions card, menu choices card, envelope for the Rsvp, a separate invitation to the ceremony as well as the reception, etc., etc. etc. It was really too much for an envelope, and it all looked snappy and joyous, chic and fun-loving in the orange, soft yellow and green color palette Zoe devised. Everything was hand finished in the shop by Joe, Zoe and Rhea (we call it “Loving Hands at Home Press” when we do this kind of painstaking hand work), and Rhea was a genius behind the press, printing and die cutting and doing the impossible for days, as usual. Here is my beautiful Zoe; you would never think she is such a great farmer to look at her, but she is as much a genius in the garden as she is as a designer. And I’m not just saying that because I am her mom.

Parking Signs were part of the Studio Z printing job too, but they were NOT letterpressed

Here is Noah’s beautiful MacCallum House Inn and Restaurant, in Mendocino Village, where the reception was held in an enormous tent in its front yard. Here is the tent. It looked like a fairy tale inside…

Mary Meermans calligraphed names on Kraft enclosure envelopes in white ink. The cards were set up in trays of wheatgrass

Everywhere you looked there was more beautiful printing, more iconoclastic design, more amazing calligraphy, more glorious flowers, gorgeous, happy people and details nobody but Zoe and Noah could have come up with… and the food for the sit down dinner for 200 by Mac House chef Alan Kantor, left everybody dazzled.

Well, there are not enough superlatives, obviously. This is the menu.

Table cards, menu choice cards and table seating cards were also part of the printed materials that completed the affair in high style. One of the benefits of having a mom with a letterpress print shop: You get to have EVERYTHING at your wedding.

Table number cards by Studio Z, and centerpiece by Rosa from L & R Farms, in Albion, California. People dickered over which guest got to take the centerpiece from each table home.
Menus were mounted on chipboard too
Chicken, a motif for all seasons (in the country) but bring us your own themes and see what we can come up with

Sometimes, in the hurricane of activity we work in every day, we forget that fabulosity resides at Studio Z Mendocino. If you are getting married, perhaps you have considered sending your invitations in a box, even if you don’t have any chickens. There is an infinity of creative possibility you can request from us, and a universe of special techniques, experience and knowledge that can make your seemingly impossible dream come true. Call us at 707.964.2522.

All photos in this post by Withers Wanberg Pictures

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Inside of an invitation that was sent in a beautiful box. Designed by Zoe Bachelor and printed and assembled at Studio Z Mendocino

I just found this latest wedding update on Access Hollywood and thought it was so fabulously trendy that LETTERPRESS invitations are the new IT THING. Read on…

Katy Perry, Carrie Underwood, Emily Blunt and Kristen Bell are just a few Hollywood celebs who are planning a trip down the aisle. As one of the biggest days for marriage proposals, Valentine’s Day is the official start of wedding season.

“The biggest trend this year is nature-inspired, ethereal feel weddings,” says Wanda Wen, Founder of A Soolip Wedding, L.A.’s annual showcase for modern bridal trends. “Brides and grooms are personalizing their weddings more than ever with bold and individual statements in the ceremony and beyond,” says Wanda, who shares a preview of wedding trends for 2010.

GOWNS
Gowns flow with sleek and sophisticated silhouettes this year, leaving yesteryear’s cake toppers and prom night semblances far behind. We’re seeing pared down, elegant and carefree dresses accented with just the right amount of embellishment, creating the perfect dream dress for the bride to take center stage – not the puffy sleeves.

BRIDAL BEAUTY
Hair and makeup are taking cues from the nature-inspired wedding trend this year, with soft, natural, and very personalized styles. According to Yuki Sharoni, A-list hairstylist and owner of Yuki Sharoni: Beauty & Lifestyle Salon in Beverly Hills, soft, flowing curls are the biggest wedding day hair trend for 2010, with the bride’s personality and dress the true inspiration for every look.

Mailing label for an invitation in a box, designed by Zoe Bachelor and printed at our shop in Fort Bragg, California

INVITATIONS
Invitations set the tone of the entire wedding. This year’s favorites are wood veneer and 100% cotton paper letterpress printed invitations with organic and floral accents. Paper lace envelopes are very of the moment as are the always in vogue classic European calligraphered envelopes featuring rich, deep colored inks.

Invitation designed by Zoe Bachelor and printed at Studio Z Mendocino

CAKES
Brides are falling in love this season with organic vintage designs that are romantic and earthy, yet sparkle with metallic and glittering elements, such as hand painted sugar magnolias that resemble silvered glass and sparkly brooches, according to Amy Berman, executive chef and owner of Vanilla Bake Shop in Santa Monica, California. The biggest flavor favorite is the “Fleur Del Sel” dark chocolate cake with creamy caramel, dark chocolate buttercream and a dash of French sea salt. It’s a bold choice, and definitely not your grandmother’s wedding cake!

DANCING
Waltz no more! More than ever, couples want private dance lessons (for themselves as well the entire wedding party) and are requesting their first dance be choreographed. Gina Zamora, of Balliamos Dance Studio in West Hollywood where the ‘Dancing with the Stars’ contestants rehearse, says that couples are now requesting dance moves or routines they have seen on the show. “The first dance has turned into a featured time piece and guests look forward to the couple’s delivery of either art and grace or fun and outgoing dances.”

So, darlings, after your dancing lesson and trying out those big, loose curls (We have to unearth those old curling irons from the back of the closet), please drop by Studio Z Mendocino to order your trendy letterpress wedding invitations. We have been doing it this way for 25 years, preceded by numerous other years of working for master printer, Al Moise, preceded by 500 years of letterpress trendiness back to Gutenberg’s day. I adore this. You can see a small sampling of our wedding invitation work at www.studio-z.com We routinely use soy inks and recycled and cotton papers and have done several jobs on wood veneer. Letterpress, by definition, uses less ink, fewer toxic chemicals and creates much less wasted paper than any other form of printing. We work with Mary Meermans, the most amazing calligrapher in the known world. And our designs are up to the minute and very beautiful. Call any time to discuss your wedding invitations: 707.964,2522 I love this trend!

Trinidad Tobago destination engagement party invitation designed by Zida and printed and assembled by Studio Z  Mendocino

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Alana Couch called me from Vancouver, BC, last year to see about getting new business cards and a new logo. Her logo was quite traditional and conservative and she felt it no longer reflected the work she is doing now, which is fresh, organic, modern and, as you can see on her new splash page, exciting and gorgeous.

As a designer, it is often the case that my very first idea is THE idea, and even if I do several iterations after that, and 20 other designs, we will come back to that first intuitive hit. I find this miraculous. With this logo though, that was definitely NOT the case. At one point, Alana almost felt that I was not the designer that could uncover the way her logo really wanted to be (which really got my competitive blood up!) One of my attributes as a designer is that I don’t quit. I have a friend with whom I had a catering business in the ’80s who said once that “Zida will always go the last ten thousand miles” [to get to her goal]. In this job, that was really true. I just KNEW I had Alana’s logo inside me and kept after it until this monogram emerged, ten thousand miles later.

We used the same interesting green Alana had used in her original logo, and a wonderful dove gray for her two colors. Printed on 600 gram Cranes Lettra, they then got the fabulous Edge Painting treatment in the exact same shade of green. The cards are understated and arresting in this sleek, narrow shape, with that little flash of green along the edge that sets them into another class of marketing tool altogether. The asymmetrical typography on the backs continues the intrigue:

I loved working with Alana for her confident self knowledge and attention to every detail. Alana’s ten thousand miles quota matched mine and we stayed with the fascinating exploration until both of us felt that sense of elation when IT has been reached. These are qualities a great photographer requires in order to put out the sort of artistic, startling, skilled professional work Alana is able to accomplish. I love looking through her web site. The work is extraordinary and of course I am a big fan of her new Brand.

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Audrey Snow is as gorgeous in front of a camera’s lens as she is intuitive and talented behind it. Audrey wanted business cards that interpreted her singular style as a wedding and boudoir photographer.  Audrey’s blog post describes the cards we recently delivered to her thus:

I have always been a very tactile person.  The type of person who must touch every fabric she walks by in a store.  The type of person who believes a picture is more beautiful on paper that feels nice to touch.  It is no surprise then, that I have longed for letterpress business cards for years.  Feeling the print smashed into a luxurious paper, with a pretty design and the perfect font…  it gives the beholder an experience that stimulates the sense of touch and sight simultaneously…  and it makes me giddy. Check out our new letterpress cards by Studio Z Mendocino. I love the way our logo seems to sit on a pillow, and the pearly sheen Zida added to the swirly design. Aren’t they pretty?

The wonderful photos Audrey sent of her new letterpress business cards capture the sheen, gleam, shimmer, sexiness and arresting thickness of the 600 gram Cranes Lettra paper we printed them on.substance

The backs are almost as fab as the highly textured, pearly fronts…

All the type is printed in chocolate brown ink.

What happens when you pass a card like this to a prospective client? Usually stunned silence, open mouthed wonder. They do not get stuffed into the bag nor tossed into the waste basket. They are too beautiful and too precious and too-too. Memorable, arresting, important. Aside from this papery photo shoot, you can see other of Audrey’s fabulous work at audreyshowphotography.com

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