shop talk: A lesson in ink

Sometimes letterpress printing can be like riding a bike while drinking a cup of coffee, while balancing an egg on your head, while writing a letter. There are a lot of things going on, and a lot of things that always need constant attention.

One of those places is inking.

Proper inking is the cornerstone of quality letterpress printing. Too much ink and your print becomes fuzzy and undefined, too little ink and your color will begin to lighten and provide uneven coverage on large solids. For perfect letterpress printing you need to find the "Goldilocks" amount of ink for each project, and work to maintain that level over the entire project. 

In letterpress printing inking is controlled by two factors - the physical amount of ink you put on the press and the height of the ink rollers as they pass over the printing plate. Proper height of ink rollers can be set with the aid of a roller height gage (often referred to as a "lollipop"), and can be checked under magnification (especially on jobs with finer details) with a loop. What may work for one job, may not work for the next, so it is important to make ink adjustment a priority on every job. The last thing to look out for when it comes to ink is color consistency (apart from mixing the color...that is a lesson for another time). Depending on what color was used last on the press, among a variety of other things, the color of the ink may change during a print run, so always keep your color guide close at hand.

make it a routine

Get a routine down. Checking the inking as you are printing should become second nature and automatic through the entirety of a press run. Three places to always check inking, every time...are on the image or design, in the negative space, and on the back of the paper. Write it down, make it into a song, just don't forget!

Anchal Project Tags

We recently teamed up with Anchal Project to create tags for their new (crazy beautiful) Narrative Collection. Anchal's mission is to address the exploitation of women around the world by using design thinking to create employment opportunities, services, and products that support empowerment. Anchal provided the design, which we printed on French Paper Co.'s Pop Tone 100# sweet tooth. Each side was printed separately in one color letterpress, duplexed, and trimmed to final size before hole drilling. The tags will be an awesome compliment to the hand crafted items that Anchal turns out, but the mission and artistry really take the spotlight in this project. 

Isn't it time for a road trip?

Our Top 5 Stops for the Pennsylvania Wilds Artisan Trail in McKean County (besides us!)


The Pennsylvania Wilds is a two million acre landscape in NW PA comprised of 12 counties that have long been famous for outdoor recreation and tourism. In 2008, the PA Wilds Artisan Trail was launched to celebrate the region’s rapidly growing artisan culture. On the artisan trail, you can find locally-made Pennsylvania goods ranging from maple syrup, to wood art, jewelry, craft liquor and wine, and of course, letterpress! The Laughing Owl Press was honored as the PA Wilds Artisan of the Year for 2014. 

Here are a few of our closest friends on the trail; they are “must stops” for your trail planning, to pick up some amazing locally made products and meet some awe-inspiring craftsmen!

Of course, it goes without saying you’ll swing by The Laughing Owl Press on your journey to say hello and shop our handcrafted letterpress stationary and unique gifts, and even watch us operate some presses.  But on to our Top 5:

ArtWorks at the Depot – an artist-run cooperative gallery and store located in the restored 1871 Railroad Depot in Kane, Pennsylvania, just down the street from The Laughing Owl Press! 
Flickerwood Wine Cellars – a family run and award-winning winery and gift shop, with a beautiful wine lounge for wine tastings.  
Straub Brewery – Craft beer producer. Since 1872 - the third oldest brewery in the United States! Designate a safe driver and take a factory tasting tour. 
Art in the Wilds – an outdoor juried fine art show set in beautifully wooded Evergreen Park in the center of Kane, Pennsylvania. This awesome event is held at the end of June.
Allegheny Outfitters – a family owned and operated business with one canoe and kayak livery and an outdoors store along the Allegheny River in northwest Pennsylvania. The outdoor store carries gear for backpacking, adventure racing, camping, canoeing, kayaking, climbing and more. The Wilderness Trip Planning Center, located in the store, is a free resource for anyone who is looking to take an adventure down the Allegheny River or in the Allegheny National Forest (ANF) that provides details pertinent to wilderness trip planning.

Plan your trip on the Pennsylvania Wilds Artisan Trail! 

Do's and Don'ts for Announcing Your Engagement

Congrats! You’re engaged! You’re in love and want to shout it from the rooftops! Here are a few do’s and don’ts we’ve gathered from our own experience, friends, customers of The Laughing Owl Press, and the endless vortex of social media. 

Don’t: Shout it from your rooftop. For starters, you could fall and injure yourself. Or be arrested for disturbing the peace.
Do: Have fun sharing the news, at your own pace! Many choose to privately share it with the “inner circle” first before the big Internet announcement. Once that post goes live, expect a flurry of well-wishers commenting your way! 

Don’t: Make it all about the ring. There’s no shame in wanting to flaunt a beautiful diamond, but remember the ring is just a symbol. For a good laugh, read up on the history of the De Beers ad campaign from 1947 that ingrained our brains with the idea that “Diamonds are Forever.” 
Do: Feel free to show off your bling on social media (without detailing the carats!), but include a personal photo as well. 

Do: Resist the pressure to live feed or take/share video of your entire proposal. It’s a personal choice if you want to video your proposal. It’s a big moment, and we all want to preserve life milestones as best as we can. But there’s no comparison to just living in the moment, taking in the sweetness of a fleeting moment. Ok, that sounds pretty corny, but you get the gist. 
Don’t: Try to stage an elaborate proposal in the hopes your wedding engagement video might go viral. Sure, it’s cool to have a viral video, but real moments are just way awesomer.

Don’t: Start planning your wedding the day after you get engaged and make the announcement. 
Do: Take a little time to yourself to enjoy the thought of “I’m engaged!” before jumping into wedding planning. Spread the good news. Catch yourself staring at your hand or your beloved’s hand for a ring that wasn’t there before. Take at least a few weeks to enjoy being and having a fiancée. Wedding planning is exciting, but it can be stressful. Oh yeah, did we mention we can help with some of that stress? 

When you do jump into the planning, know that we’re here to help coordinate all your wedding stationary essentials, from letterpress invitation suites, to save the date coasters and cards, favors, reception menus and more. Disclaimer: Most blogs have some kind of hidden or direct sales pitch. Here at The Laughing Owl, we like to be up front with our customers. 

Now, Happy Engagement Announcing, and Congratulations!