Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Tutorial // Letterpress Tags for December Daily

I had mentioned that I plan on incorporating some letterpress in my December Daily album, and I thought I'd share with you my thoughts on that + a little tutorial today. Letterpress is an incredibly cool technique but it requires a bit more time and effort with the set-up and clean-up necessary. It's best to do a lot of letterpressing all at once in order to utilize your time most efficiently, which is why I decided to create a bunch of holiday letterpress tags one afternoon. I may not use all of them in my December Daily, but having premade them and having a bunch of letterpress tags already on hand would highly increase the chances of me actually incorporating them in my mini-book. Plus, the leftovers would make great little gift tags for presents!

Here's my process for creating a batch of letterpress tags:

Supplies Needed
+ Letterpress Bundle
+ Letterpress inks (optional: substitute for pigment inks if you're short on time & want easier clean-up)
+ Letterpress plates - choose your favorites! The alphas are my personal fave.
+ Letterpress paper
+ Waterbrush
+ Watercolors

I had a pack of mini letterpress flat cards on hand (sized 2.125x3,375") so I decided to use those for my tags and I plan on stapling them to a 3x4 card when I actually use them in my December Daily. The nice thing about letterpress paper is that it is quite thick, so you can use watercolors on it with less chance of the paper warping.

I started by watercoloring a bunch of letterpress cards. I used a thick waterbrush and traditional Japanese watercolors I bought when I was in Japan, but I also love the Peerless watercolor sheets and think they provide just as vibrant and opaque colors. I mainly focused on painting gradients on my cards because I knew they would add a nice pop of color.
Tip: If you want your colors to blend seamlessly without a harsh line, apply paint while the paper is damp. It'll allow the watercolors to flow and blend together. On the left is an example of allowing the watercolor paint to dry before painting the next hue, and the right is an example of letting the colors blend by painting before the paper has dried.

Here's how all my tags look together once I finished watercoloring them. It gives you an example of all the different possibilities there are!

I did all my watercoloring at one time, and let the cards dry. Now it's time for letterpressing! I started by putting one of my watercolored cards on my letterpress platform base. I chose my letterpress plate and put some adhesive behind it, then positioned it face down on top of my card.

I closed the lid of my letterpress platform, which allowed my letterpress plate to stick on the lid and be positioned perfectly.

Make sure to use the ink guide strips around your letterpress plate. It'll ensure that you won't get stray ink on your plate, which may lead to a mess and stray ink! Choose your letterpress ink and add some to your ink base, then roll the ink with your brayer until your brayer is quite evenly covered. Apply ink to your letterpress plate with the brayer. Even if you choose to use pigment inks, I'd recommend using a brayer to apply ink to your letterpress plate because it helps make even coverage.

Make sure you remember to remove your letterpress ink guides, or else they'll get pressed onto your paper!

Close your letterpress platform and run it through your manual die-cut machine. I'm using a Sizzix BigShot and it works perfectly for letterpress.

Open your letterpress platform and here's your completed letterpress tag! Super simple, right? Now you can repeat the process and create a lot more letterpress tags for your holiday scrapping.

Another thing you can do is to look through your stamp collection to see which stamps you can use to combine with your letterpress tags. For example, underneath the letterpressed 'M' (from this alpha set) on the blue tag I stamped the word 'MERRY'. Underneath the letterpressed '2014' (using these numbers), I stamped 'A December to Remember'. It's really easy to further customize your letterpress tags with stamping!

Here are the various letterpress tags I ended up making with few different ink colors and lots of letterpress plates. Studio Calico has a lot of beautiful and unique letterpress plates that you can check out over here. There are several designs that are just perfect for holiday crafting!

Now that I have these all prepared, I can't wait to use them in my December Daily! Hope this inspires you to pull out your letterpress supplies and make some letterpressed pieces for your own crafting projects.

If you're interested in learning more about letterpress, I taught a Letterpress 2.0 Workshop at Studio Calico earlier this year. This class was a sequel to Tina's introductory Letterpress class, and the two classes may be purchased as a bundle over at SC. Happy letterpressing! 


  1. This is great. I need to use my Big Shot more and get the letterpress bundle. ThNks for sharing.

  2. Incredible stuff :-) It's all so beautiful, I could look at it all my life :-)