Hard Graft, it literally means “Hard Work,” and boy does this European company live up to their name. Makers of beautifully designed and handcrafted gadget cases, this duo (one English, one Austrian) has a passion for what they do–and it shows. From designing the products and tracking down the finest italian craftsman (they used to make every single item themselves), to packing each order by hand, they are involved in every aspect of their business. We’re actually surprised they don’t have sheep in their back yard (then again, for all we know, maybe they do). Moral of the story–they care, these are the kind of people we love to work with.
To complement their 100% wool felt and leather goods, they designed noted cards, merchandise cards and labels for us to produce. The note card and angular merchandise cards were printed on 60pt Ahlstrom Blotter, which is what we traditionally recommend for coasters. Though the outcome is beautiful, these items were a challenge to run on press. Whenever you run a flood of color alongside fine type you will constantly have to fight to keep the text crisp while still making the flood of color as solid as possible. This project was especially tricky because the blotter stock is notoriously challenging to run solid areas of color on, there is no avoiding what we call a “salty” result–luckily this was the look they were going for. They were finished with a custom diecut, which helps the cards tuck tightly into felt pockets prior to shipping (see the picture below that Hard Graft was nice enough to send over of the cards in use).
The labels were printed on Strathmore Soft White label stock, receiving a kiss-cut after printing, allowing them to easily peel off the backing sheet.
Designed by Priest + Grace for Howler magazine, these oversize business cards are an amazing example of what a good design and a little tonal ink can do. Howler magazine is a quarterly publication for soccer enthusiasts in North America, so it only made sense for these cards to reference the size and color of actual penalty cards used in soccer.
There are several production techniques we used to successfully produce these cards. First, instead of printing all of the information blind we used a tonal ink color (a red ink on the red, yellow on the yellow). When something is printed blind it relies solely on good lighting conditions to be legible. Our solution is to print using a tonal ink, which creates just enough contrast between the artwork and the paper to make your contact information visible. Secondly, these cards were printed with fronts and backs up on the same sheet, duplexing the sheet after printing. This allowed us to run a heavy impression on press but then conceal the impression show through by duplexing the sheet back to itself.
The red cards are printed on Mohawk Via Scarlet Vellum 80C (duplexed to make 160C) and the yellow cards are on French Poptone Lemon Drop 100C (duplexed to make 200C).
An essential reason French Paper Company stands out in a world of large paper conglomerates is their unique design affair. They’ve had a longstanding relationship with Charles Spencer Anderson Design here in Minneapolis that has fueled and produced arguably some of the most visual ephemera to promote paper in the last decade. And trust us, here at Studio On Fire we see A LOT of promotional materials from paper companies. We were excited to be a part of that legacy with the latest French Paper promotion – a paper “Air Kraft” designed by the crew at CSA Design.
We worked closely with CSA to finalize the production. The sheets are letterpress printed in two colors on French Speckletone Kraft 140lbC. These Air Kraft are actually flight worthy, but you have to be sure to follow the instructions and tape a dime into the nose of the plane for a good glide.
Speckletone Kraft is one of those papers great for designers who fall in love with chipboard, only to realize that actual raw chip does not have color specifications. (In a batch of chipboard stock you may get some gray sheets or some dark brown sheets, it just depends on what went into the pulper) We like to use it especially when matching envelopes are needed.
This coffee label packaging was designed locally by Holmberg Design. Dogwood Coffee Company is a small coffee roaster based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota (and generously present at our last studio party.) They source, roast and serve some truly amazing coffees. And what is especially unique to the experience of Dogwood Coffee is the single cup brewing. Visit them and always expect a well crafted, fully realized flavor. And be sure to take beans home in one of these delicious bags. This is the good stuff, these guys love crafting coffee as much as we love letterpress.
We printed these with two colors – a red and a very light gray /nearly blind ink for the diamond texture. They are printed on our house label stock which is Strathmore Writing, Ultimate White Wove. This label takes a stiff impression and has a bit of tooth and texture that adds to the artisanal quality of letterpress. They are kisscut two up on an 8.5 x 11 sheet. They are cleverly designed to be end user friendly with use of simple rubber stamp imprints specific to the roasted microlots. Overprinting the stamp on the letterpress imprint gives the surface another layer of texture.
Also see the “Reserve” coffee labels we printed previously (when Dogwood was still a part of Bull Run Roasting) also created by Holmberg Design.
We’ve worked with BAKER here in Minneapolis on a few really fun letterpress projects over the last year or so. And they’ve designed some beautiful things for pressing. Most recently, their second installment of the bird themed holiday ornament cards rolled off the press. It is a little bird (a good luck Cardinal) with an ornate frame that die cuts and punches out of thick 60 point blotter stock. It is printed two color each side.
Last years card for Baker was a die cut bird ornament as well. The same production specs, but featuring a punch out owl.
Also in the last few months, we worked through the letterpress printing of the new Baker identity on their business cards. And is was quite the undertaking. They have an interesting post about the process of icon development here. Each employee has their own icon and each card has four color ways. With over 60 employees that was a lot of icons and business cards! They are a custom duplexed 200lbC black and white stock in an undersized narrow card format. (1 x 3.5 inches) BAKER is printed in silver on the black side and the white side receives the four different color variations.
BAKER is a Minneapolis based Branding + Design firm specializing in package design. On the web: bkrdsn.com or tweet: @bkrdsn
These letterpress business cards were the perfect fit for web development and design company Ackmann & Dickenson. We like how these guys frame their business as “Craftsmen of Fine Technology”. They designed these cards and we letterpress printed them to reflect craftsmanship.
And this card did require some crafting. We started with the making of a custom duplex paper – 160lb Mohawk Loop Ivory Smooth pasted to French Construction Nightshift Blue 100C – totaling a thick 260lbC card. Next we letterpress printed them with two colors on each side, silver and tonal navy inks on the blue side, then blue and gray inks on the ivory side. We printed a couple 8up forms to meet all the employee name versions needs and then die cut them with small inverted corners. Viva tactility and technology.
These over sized plaid pattern business cards were designed by our good friend Mark Saunders for his new solo creative venture PlaidLab. They use some great vibrant colors and the overprinting inks make rich and saturated secondary colors.
We letterpress printed them on heavy 220lb Cover Crane Lettra Pearl White. We usually run smaller custom business card orders two cards up on a small press sheet, so it was easy to provide some variety by including two different patterns. The magenta color is the same on both cards, but a color change from orange to blue on one plate gave the cards even more variety. One thing we did to keep the quality of the type crisp and punchy was to print it as a separate pass. By printing the same color in two passes we could run the large graphic plaid with heavy ink density and light ink density on the type. Mark was shooting for something about the size of an iphone, so the final cards were round corner die cut to an over sized 4.5 x 2.25. See comparison pic alongside a standard 3.5 x 2 inch business card for scale.
These business cards are elegant and simple with an unusual format. Although the feel of the design is traditional, the 4.25 x 1.25 inch size presents as an untraditional business card size. The client, William and Mary, makes premium gift wrap collections, so the paper crafting of the printing was very important.
These cards were letterpress printed with 2 ink colors on each side. The cards also have a heavy blind letterpress impression graphic on both sides. This blind area overlaps type on the reverse side. To get an even type appearance and a heavy sculptural impression on both sides we printed a 110lb sheet of Crane Lettra Fluorescent White and pasted it together back to back after printing. By duplexing the stock to a thick 220lb weight after printing the impression show through is eliminated. It is a time consuming and more premium production step, worth it for the final look of these cards. The final step was a round corner die cut.
Fathom, the recent release LP from Taiga records, is a subtle and textural object of beauty and a sensory experience. The drawings were perfectly suited for letterpress and translated crisply to the printed edition. This is the description from Taiga:
“Douglas Quin’s Fathom brings together four extended underwater soundscapes—two each from the Arctic and Antarctic. The recordings have been gathered over a period of 15 years, capturing an extraordinary palette of sonic voices, events, spaces, and textures. To the human ear, these soundscapes are haunting and otherworldly; yet they are very much of this world—out of earreach. The tracks are minimally edited and are his first field recordings to be archived in vinyl. Included with the release is a sealed envelope containing an insert with specific locations, animals, and other elements heard, giving listeners the option to absorb sound with or without association. The envelope is printed with liner notes and comments from Dutch journalist and music critic René van Peer. Mastered by James Plotkin, cut direct to metal and pressed on 200 gram virgin-vinyl, Fathom comes packaged in custom letterpressed materials and is presented as a limited edition of 1000.”
There was clear, white, and black vinyl versions released. Only the black is still available.
The packaging is pressed in gray and a tonal white ink. We letterpress printed the outer sleeve on a custom duplexed stock – gray on the interior, white on the exterior. We were able to print on a preconverted inner envelope which accompanies the vinyl and containing the insert.