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Old School meets New School

October 30, 2013

Well, finally the new business cards are printed. It has taken many months to finalize the design (thanks to help from the team at Creative Engine), and I’ve been dreaming of a card like this for much longer. You know the old story about a cobbler and his shoes? The cobbler is so busy, he never has time to fix his own shoes. Same goes for printers I guess. Image

This is the concept:

Old School; I used letterpress printing for the front, or name side. The machine that printed these was manufactured in the 1930’s. We used modern fonts and etched the type dies in magnesium mounted to a wood backing. The light grey ink we used was carefully chosen as to display the shadow feature of the deep deboss from the impression. If the ink were too dark, it would lessen some of the effect.

New School; The colour side, or back is printed on a new HP Indigo digital press in 4 colour process. We made a tangerine/red gradated and a blue gradated version. Both colour versions have our new logo stamped with a deboss impression and a clear thermal transfer foil stamp to give it some shine to contrast the toothy 100% cotton paper.

One of the challenges was that the HP Indigo digital press can only handle a maximum of 16pt cover stock. So for that side we used a 92lb cover stock (16pt) and then laminated it to the letterpress printed side which was printed on 184lb cover stock (30pt). For a somewhat insane 46pt thick card.

The most fun is watching a prospect receive the new card. Everyone is amazed. The first word they say is; “Thick!”.
I wanted a card that showed true craftsmanship – something that I take seriously everyday.


Free Beer!!

June 27, 2013

It’s not everyday that we get to print cool stuff. Don’t get me wrong, we get a lion’s share of the cool print projects, but come on… Free Beer?

Recently a customer came to us with a bunch of projects for their trade show marketing. We ended up printing a very nice brochure with Spot Gloss UV special effects, a super cool poster showing a “Map of the Internet” and the crowning jewel… Beer Labels.

Discussing the job back and forth with the designer, we decided to use some silver metallic pressure sensitive paper and print white and 4 colour process inks on top of it. Because our printing inks are to a certain extent transparent, we were able to achieve some neat effects making the inks look metallic in some areas.

With a custom diecut for the main and neck labels, the result is outstanding. Taste was pretty good too.


What’s Your Minimum Order?

June 13, 2013

Funny story: Today I was talking to a print rep colleague, she was musing about a call from a new customer.
The conversation went like this:

Customer: What’s your minimum order?
Rep: $20 Cash.
Customer: What do I get for that?
Rep: You just spent it on that question…

Large chuckles all around. But seriously, this is a common question I get asked. The straight honest answer is; ONE.
But I really need to determine what kind of project that needs to be printed, in order to give a better answer. You can print ONE, but it might cost you the same as 500, depending on what print method we need to employ. Most printing methods are heavy on costs at the beginning, and get lighter as the run goes on. The more you run, the more copies can share on the expensive start-up costs. Sometimes doubling your print run will only increase your cost by 20-30%.
Here is a useful guideline for print quantities:

Digital Printing; usually good for 1-1000 copies.
Offset Printing; usually starting at 500 copies, but can go lower depending on the type and size of the project.
Web Offset Printing; Can go as low as 10,000, but more suitable for multi-page documents with saddle stich binding because the binding can be done in-line.

Here are some more guidelines for these types of printing:

  • Digital; Keep it to CMYK /Full colour printing, or just Black/White. Spot colours or metallics are not possible, but talk to us before you build a file with spot colours, there might be a good reason to leave them in the file.
  • Size limitations of up to 14×20″ for most better quality presses. Uncoated paper looks closer to offset printing. The dreaded ink shine comes mostly from               cheaper digital presses and gloss coated paper.
  • Better quality presses, like the ones we use, can run paper up to around 17pt thick.
  • Image registration is not as stable as Sheetfed Offset. Important if you want to add some specialty finishing at the end like diecutting/embossing.
  • Film lamination has trouble sticking to Digital printed sheets with heavy coverage.
  • Each sheet can be easily personalized with text or image changes.
  • Only flat sheets, no folded sheets like envelopes.
  • Sheetfed Offset; Can be spot colours, might be cheaper with CMYK/Full colour though depending on the project.
  • Size limitations of up to 29×41″, but we’ll only find maximum 28×40″ paper around town.
  • In North America, most printing presses and papers are based on a multiple of the standard letter size (8.5×11″)
  • Cool looking varnishes, gloss, matte, and my favourite satin are available. Even spot gloss can look great if you use it right.
  • Larger printing machines can handle very thick stock, even up to 40pt or more. It just gets kinda scary hearing those thick sheets clunk through the press.
  • Web Offset; Can be spot colours, might be cheaper with CMYK/Full colour though depending on the project.
  • Great for magazine type work, running on thin newsprint like paper.
  • Size limitations on page size. 8×10″ is fairly normal. Going larger can limit your options.
  • It’s easy to mix a Offset cover with Web Offset inside pages (or guts, as I like to call them).
  • Print quality of Web Offset can be lower quality than traditional sheetfed offset.

If you have any other questions about what type of printing is right for your project, give us a quick call. We can usually have you straightened out in a few minutes.

Flexo Labels made into sheets

March 12, 2012

Here is a quicky post of some Flexo Printing. Flexo is a printing process, that uses flexible polymer plates with a reverse image to directly make an impression. Offset printing uses a “blanket” to transfer the image to the paper.

Flexo printing is IDEAL for labels. Because pressure sensitive (sticky) paper is so expensive, it is way cheaper to buy this paper in roll stock. We can diecut the labels inline – saving more money, and add matte or gloss UV coatings inline as well – saving even MORE money.

For this job, we used some extra tooling at the end of the press to perforate and cut the labels into sheets.
This helped the customer, because they were distributing these labels all over the Province in small batches.

Rockin Millboard Covers Brochure

February 16, 2012

We are very pleased to have the Fold Factory choose our brochure project for Burleigh Walk as their Super Cool Fold of the Week! Designed by Daniel Choi Design in New Westminster, BC.

This was a very fun project, and we are very lucky to have such a great client to let us produce this for them.
Check out the YouTube video.

Client Christmas Gift Idea

November 29, 2011

Here is a Great client gift idea.








What better way to stay connected than providing each client or prospect with a custom note pad.

  • They’ll keep this on their desk all year long
  • It won’t make them fat
  • No allergy concerns
  • They have your phone number right there when they need it
  • You can give one to your Mom to for her grocery list
  • They are the perfect size for quicky notes in front of the computer
  • They come in pads of 20 or 50 sheets
  • On a nice white uncoated offset paper

Size 4.25 x 5.5″  4 colour, 1 side on 60lb White Offset Paper


Pads of 20 Sheets;                                                          Pads of 50 Sheets;
25 Pads     $189                                                                     25 Pads     $214
50 Pads     $214                                                                     50 Pads     $287
75 Pads     $252                                                                     75 Pads     $335
100 Pads   $299 (best deal $2.99/pad)                           100 Pads   $423 (best deal $4.23/pad)


This is not your Grandad’s accordion.

November 21, 2011

Recently a customer came to as with an idea for an accordion fold piece. This would be a piece that is very narrow and very long. The dimensions of this one were close to 40″ long and only 3 1/2″ wide.
Sixteen panels in all. Yikes!
Hmm, this will be a bit of a challenge. We have to figure out a way to make this work. I checked around town, and my suspicions were confirmed; no folding machine can handle this piece. It will be too long and too narrow. The maximum amount of folds on a standard machine is 6; and we have 16…  It will have to be hand folded. Sixteen panels, Yikes!
As usual, we made up some paper dummies to get a feel for how this will work. We tried all the different thicknesses available of the paper we wanted to use. We liked the more substantial 100lb text, but the client thought it was too thick. We ended up using a 70lb Gloss text weight paper. Pretty thin; close to magazine thickness paper. The flimsiness of the paper  would also create some challenges. The paper doesn’t really have enough bulk or umpf to hold its shape. The worry is that while folding, the paper would bend just about anywhere – except where needed, and the fold will come out looking ragged and uneven. Using a letterpress crease will help, but not enough. We decided on using a micro perf rule instead of the standard male/female creasing matrix. This would weaken the paper just enough to allow the folding to go right where we wanted it – but not too much so that the piece would come apart. It folded beautifully; nice and straight and even for all panels.

The other challenge that presented; how do we keep these paper ’16 panel springs’ together once folded? We suggested  a small sleeve with a finger cut-out to slide the accordion piece into. This makes for a very classy presentation, and a good way to keep it all together.

The result is outstanding. The client was super happy with the look and feel.
They will hand these out at a trade-show. It is a cool way to engage someone walking by your booth. It is small enough to put in a shirt pocket and explore later; giving an extended amount of brand awareness time.

If you have a trade-show coming up and would like to explore something like this, give us a call. We would be happy to explore the possibilities with you.


Letterpress is FUN!

August 6, 2011

Letterpress is a very nice ‘old school’ method of printing. If you’ve never seen or felt Letterpress, there is nothing quite like it. The tactile feel of the lettering and special papers we use have a very OMG! feeling. At least for me anyway. It takes a true Craftsman to get Letterpress right, and of course, like with any printing project there are limitations which must be understood.

Recently we Letterpress printed an entire wedding package. The customer (a graphic designer friend of mine) came to me with the idea, we looked at the options and limitations and produced this stunning package. Printed in 2 special mix PMS colours and diecut with 1/8″ radius corners.


Traditional Letterpress printing was done so that you shouldn’t see an indentation into the paper surface. I still work with some old timers that complain to me every time I say “pound the snot out of it”. Modern Letterpress combines the ink transfer from lead type or a die with the deboss into a nice soft sheet.

Beautiful Deep Impression

For this wedding package we chose a new paper by Reich called Savoy. It is 100% cotton. There are a couple of colour options and we chose the slightly off white colour. The cool thing about the Savoy is it comes in a 236lb Cover – 40pt / 640GSM. This is a mighty THICK paper, more than double the thickness of a thick business card paper.

We also custom made the envelope – using the 92lb Cover – 16pt / 250GSM. The diamond pattern on the envelope added some challenges when it crosses over the flap.  The artwork / printing and diecutting had to be bang on to line them up perfectly. The envelope was letterpressed flat and then diecut and converted to the final size. Interior space allowance was increased because of the 3 sheet thickness required to be inserted.

The full Stunning Package



Spot UV on Business Cards

July 30, 2011

We just completed some Spot UV on business cards and are very happy with the result. The process is unique as we use a combination of Varnish and Gloss Coating together in one press pass. The high gloss is achieved by using a special coating that cures / dries by exposure to UltraViolet lamps. Basically some nice tanning bed lights built right into the printing press. Done right, the effect is super hot!
Contact us for file building specifications.  Costs: 1,000 cards for only $180

The Geometric Lines Pop right off the page with the Spot UV


May 10, 2011

Craftsmanship is important to me. That’s one of the reasons I put “Journeyman” on my business card. I want clients to understand that I take pride in my craft, and using my years of earned skill adds value to their project.
Emma on the Beach was a unique project that allowed me to use my Craftsmanship in an unbridled fashion.
The project came about when St. Patrick’s School was looking for donations to their major annual fundraiser. So I thought about what a printer could contribute. Free letterhead / Free Business Cards? Boring… How about a custom, one off keepsake book. Of course it really helps if your wife is a successful children’s author. So I excitedly pitched the idea, and after some convincing, Sandra agreed to write the story.

Northstar Bindery graciously donated the bindery for Emma on the Beach as well as a leather covered 9×12″ mock-up to use on the auction table. The winning bidder met with us and we brainstormed about a story idea. The ‘client’ requested a keepsake to remember a family vacation in Florida.

The story weaves through some heartfelt memories of special moments from the vacation and touches on Emma’s experiences as an 8mo old girl. Sandra put a beautiful story together. Illustrations were provided by one of the teachers at St. Pat’s. Then once it was all together I created the layout and special look to the keepsake book.

We used an fully recycled uncoated paper on the inside with a bit of ‘tooth’ to it for a nice feel.  The sheets were digitally printed single sided. The 2 page spreads were laminated together back to back, kind of accordion style. and case bound (hard cover). I choose a sand coloured genuine linen cover that would reflect the beach theme. For the front cover we used a debossing technique to highlite where the title plaque was to be inset into the front cover to finish it all off.

When we presented the keepsake, we were rewarded with the best payment ever; tears of joy.

Having a vision and seeing it through to completion makes Craftsmanship come alive – an Ahh moment for a true Journeyman. If you have a project that needs some special attention, we’d love to hear from you.