Meg Keene, APW Executive Editor
Letterpress. It’s an art form beloved by many APW readers (including me), and it can also be a real pain to figure out how to execute affordably and with your sanity intact. So today I’m beyond thrilled to introduce our newest APW sponsor: Thomas-Printers. Thomas-Printers is a one woman letterpress operation run by Kseniya Thomas in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Kseniya has a serious background in a serious art form. She opened Thomas-Printers in 2005. She was trained as an intern at the print shop of the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz, Germany. And, best of all, she is the co-founder of Ladies of Letterpress, which is “dedicated to the proposition that a woman’s place is in the print shop.” Rad, right? Plus, she can also take your invitation designs and print them for you in an affordable and timely manner, with great customer service. Want a basic one color print job? Great! The two of you can decide on luscious paper options. Want to get creative and do foil stamping and edge painting? (We did both on our brand new business cards.) Done and done. If you’ve been trying to figure out how to make letterpress happen for your wedding, today is your lucky day. Plus, Thomas-Printers is offering 10% off all letterpress printing + free shipping for readers who mention the code PRACTICALPRINT from now till December 31st.
When discussing this post, I commented that APW readers who choose letterpress don’t pick it just because they feel like they should. It’s a choice people make very intentionally, for personal reasons. Maddie posited that lots of APW readers like letterpress because we’re kind of… book-y. Which, guilty as charged. I was shocked by how important our wedding invitations were to me. It turned out that it was important to me to create a beautiful physical record of a monumental event in our lives. I don’t know (or care) how important our invitations were to any random guest. But I do know that I’m looking at our letterpressed invitation right now, because it lives on my desk. It’s the same reason that I had non-photo birth announcements custom designed, and printed on a rich heavy paper. In fifty years, I wanted there to be records of these events. I wanted grandchildren digging through boxes to come across a beautiful letterpressed wedding invitation, packed with all that historical information, and feel momentarily closer to us. I made these choices because I’ve come across my dad’s baby announcement, a tiny letterpressed name card affixed with a tiny blue bow, and it made my heart sing.
For those of you that share my love of paper art, and paper artifacts, I’m thrilled to introduce Kseniya of Thomas-Printers, and let her tell you about her small creative business:
Letterpress printing is hard work, and sometimes it’s slow and painstaking when it should be smooth and easy. Dare I compare letterpress printing to marriage? Sometimes marriage is hard, sometimes it’s a breeze, but it’s always, always work. APW does a great job of talking about the inner workings of all kinds of marriages, so in that way I think that APW readers and I are already of similar disposition.
We’re commercial letterpress printers at Thomas-Printers, which means we primarily print others’ designs. This provides us with a great variety of work: we’ve printed on sheet copper for napkin rings, printed corporate invitations for functions we’re not allowed to talk about, and even printed a birth announcement for the son of a German princess. Germany still has princesses! So every day brings a new challenge, but that keeps me looking forward to work every day and to making whatever it is I’m printing look amazing.
My philosophy: not only do I believe in hard work and quality materials, but I also strive to be the fastest, friendliest letterpress printer out there. Our usual turnaround time is ten business days—even at the height of invitation season—and we can usually accommodate rush orders as well. Good customer service is paramount with us, and the best part of that printer-client interaction is talking with them about letterpress, educating them about what we do and how letterpress works best, and working together to make a beautiful finished piece.
That’s what draws me to printing: the communal nature of what looks like a solitary thing, a woman at her printing press. I love making things every day, interacting with my customers, and problem solving each new job’s challenges. The fact that I get to work with antique machines, beautiful paper, and killer designs doesn’t hurt either. I really believe in making things by hand, and keeping people involved with processes, and am thankful every time someone chooses a handmade invitation over one made by a machine in a huge plant. That choice not only supports me and the business, but also a whole ecosystem of other humans, from papermakers to plate makers to the postal worker who delivers the finished invitation. Choosing print is an increasingly important choice, and I’m hopeful that the relationships we’ve established will help keep printed things vital far into the future.
The (other, so many!) great thing about letterpress printing is the community of printers. While we all have our unique methods and ways of getting ink onto paper, and getting that printed thing out into the world, we all share a love of the craft and a commitment to its continuance. A friend and I started Ladies of Letterpress about five years ago to help encourage the community of printers out there to come together and share knowledge—we now have almost nineteen hundred members all over the world.
Since every job is different, pricing is dependent on the specifics of a given project. We offer foil stamping, edge painting, custom duplexing, die-cutting, and envelope lining, among many other services, and are always happy to send custom quotes to anyone thinking of making the leap to letterpress.
If you’re looking to get your invitations letterpressed (hey, A Printable Press has a whole letterpress ready design section), Thomas-Printers is here to solve your problems with style, and you should can contact them today for a price estimate, after digging through their photo galleries for awhile.