As soon as I saw it, I had to have it. You see, I have an addiction to all things paper and there's nothing like textured paper goods to send me into an (eco-friendly), tree-butchering relapse. I do have standards, thankyouverymuch.
So you can imagine the intense urge I had to go out and purchase the L Letterpress Tool when I first saw it. Now, just so you don't think I have zero self control, I put it on my Christmas list and hoped my hubby would purchase it for me. One minor detail of note was that I gave him very clear instructions not to deviate from the list or he would not have a turkey dinner for Christmas. Needless to say, I got my letterpress machine.
Fast forward 6 months. Okay so it turned out I didn't actually need to have it because I only cracked it open this weekend for the first time. Don't judge. I have an addiction, remember?
I knew that if I was going to try it I'd need an occasion that required multiple prints - like a triple baby shower. Bingo! I was co-organizing a baby shower for 3 moms at work and lucky for me, they all had girls. This was a perfect opportunity to take it out for a test-drive. So, here it is:
Ink: I got a good selection of ink. I didn't realize it already comes with black so now I have an extra tube. The ink is thick and tacky. I think it's this sticky consistency that allows it to adhere to the plastic plates.
I got several sets. For this project I used the Baby set. The printing plates are actually made out of plastic and from what I've heard on the internet, they are not very durable - word is they actually flatten and crack with each use. Bummer. I didn't notice any of this at all during my trial.
In the photo below, I'm setting up the layout I want for the cards. Each printing plate set comes with double-sided sticky adhesive sheets. You can't reuse them but you get 6 sheets with each set, so they'll last a while. I've also heard that using regular double-sided tape works just as well. In this photo I've actually placed the plate upside down (sticky side up) where I want it to go and then closed the lid to 'pick up' the plate.
See those little black foamy things? You stick those on the edges so you can easily place the next piece of paper in the same spot. Worked really well.
Time to ink! I put just over a pea size ink blob on the plate. It was a little more than I need for the amount of printing I was doing but covered nicely. No more than this is needed for this size of plate.
Next you wanna roll it out evenly. I spent a good minute rolling and spreading it out thinly and evenly with the brayer provided. I've heard that the one provided is sub par. The advice is that you should just chuck it out and get a better quality one. I noticed that it didn't roll properly sometimes.
Once the ink was spread, I was ready to ink the plate. You want to keep an even pressure and try not to apply too much ink. There is a fine balance between too much and not enough ink. I think inking will take some practice.
Time to press!
Ohhhhhhhh! Almost perfect ink application, if-I-do-say-so-myself! You can see I wasn't totally steady and applied some ink to the edge. Boooo.
I used my stampin' up mist + a Q-tip to clean off those pesky smudges. It helped but I never really got it off the edges completely.
Time to clean up. I'd heard online that this part was messy but it didn't take long at all. L makes a cleaning wipe that some people compare to baby wipes but they weren't included in my kit. I simply used dry paper towels and a little elbow grease.
The brayer was a little trickier to clean but I first rolled off as much ink as possible on a scrap paper.
Then I used my trusty stampin' up mist and scrubbing pads to make it squeaky clean.
I repeated the steps to spread the new ink color.
Repeat the previous steps and voila!
It's a girl!
The finished products.
One of my boo-boos. Too much ink and too sloppy.
Things I wish I'd known sooner
1. I actually purchased the Combo Kit which included the parts necessary to make it a die cutting machine too. Bummer. I already have a die cutter and totally didn't need this. Would'a saved half the price!
2. Cleaning clothes - they don't come with the kit but would probably be helpful. L should supply a few with the kit.
3. You must use thick, cotton paper if you want to get a deep impression. Regular cardstock just won't cut it. You receive a few flat note card sheet with your purchase but that didn't help me when I wanted to make folded cards. Now I need to find this special letterpress paper.
Overall, I loved the process. Granted, this won't replace a professional letterpress machine but for the home crafter who wants to spread some letterpress love without breaking the bank, it's a fun alternative.
For some great tips from a professional letterpresser (that's a word, right?) who used the QuicKutz Letterpress, check out this post from Boxcar Press.