Last night, a few of my friends and I went to Brooklyn to roll up our sleeves for Etsy's Hands-On Valentine's Day event. Participants had the opportunity to craft their own Valentine's Day cards using Etsy's letterpresses [they have two types: tabletop and Vandercook presses (below)]. Prior to last night, I had always wondered why letterpressed cards were so pricey. Now, I get it.
When I arrived at the Etsy Labs in Dumbo, the room was buzzing—almost 350 novice printers were on the scene to try their hand at letterpress. I thought I'd start small. Breck Hostetter, co-owner of Sesame Letterpress, showed me how to print a sweet message onto a coaster—turns out, many of her clients use the coasters as wedding save-the-dates and favors. "They are so utilitarian and not terribly expensive," Breck says.
To print them on a tabletop press (above), first, you place the design, ink the press, and carefully line up the card stock. Next, you pull down a lever, pressing the design into the card (which creates a deep impression in the paper); this also transfers the ink onto the card. Easy! However, I can certainly see how making 100 coasters can be labor-intensive—each piece needs to be hand-fed into the press. All in all, it was great to learn how letterpress works. But for me? I'll leave the heavy lifting...umm...pressing to a professional stationer.