Modern Hand-Lettered Ensemble

Modern black and white letterpress invitation with custom calligraphy

Recently, we had the pleasure of working on a very special project with local calligrapher Kelle McCarter of DesignsGirl. I nearly melted when this man, Christopher, walked in the studio and said he was throwing a surprise 20th anniversary party for his wife. How sweet is that?! He was looking for a loose, even messy, hand-written style to be incorporated into an otherwise minimalistic design. We had so much fun collaborating with Kelle and Christopher to create this bold ensemble — save the dates, invitations and thank you notes – featuring jet black ink, chipboard and charcoal gray envelopes lined with a vintage wedding photo of the couple!


Custom calligraphy on chipboard save the date and vintage wedding photo envelope liner

Letterpress save the dates on chipboard, anniversary party, custom calligraphy

Tis the Season

Let it snow holiday photo card

Tired of the same old holiday cards?

Yep, us too. That’s why we’ve been on a mission for several years now to make holiday cards as beautiful and unique as possible. Browse our new holiday card collection for designs that will definitely stand out from the Christmas card crowd.

An Elegant New Spin on the Holiday Photo Card

This year we’ve launched something new: a high-end hybrid  photo card with a letterpress printed design that is customizable through added digital printing. You can use your favorite photo and print your own unique message on the card, just choose from our choices of colors and fonts to match your tastes. Now you can enjoy the unique texture and old world charm of letterpress with the ease and affordability of modern photographic printing –– for a better holiday photo card. Browse custom photo card designs.

Love peace joy holiday photo card with snowflake

You’ll also find folded Christmas card sets, garlands, ornaments and DIY “photo-ready” cards. Browse our entire holiday collection here.

Enjoy 20% Off

We’re offering Facebook fans 20% off all holiday cards (custom and ready-made) through November 20th. Click here to like us on Facebook and get the promo code.

Getting Married?

Holiday cards are also a great way to show off your engagement photos and start assembling your address list. Fall is a really beautiful time of year for an outdoor photo shoot, so if you haven’t taken your engagement photos yet now would be a good time!

And if you’re interested in exploring our wedding invitations, working on holiday cards is a  great way to get to know us and our process so you know what to expect when it’s time to order your save-the-dates, invitation suite and day-of stationery.

Getting married this winter? We just compiled a lovely Pinterest board full of winter wonderland wedding inspiration with hand-crafted touches for every little wedding detail.

Real Weddings: Natasha and Rory, A Modern Woodland Wedding in the Mountains

Wedding vows on the banks of Hallam Lake

Natasha and Rory first came to us for a custom letterpress save the date. Rory’s mom had illustrated a pair of owls which they wanted to incorporate into the piece and they knew they wanted to use the colors orange and grey. They also wanted to convey a woodsy feel because their autumn wedding was set to take place in the mountains of Aspen, Colorado surrounded by golden trees.

To compliment their vision, we created an original design that included the hand-drawn owls along with their signature phrase “Let’s fly away”.  The save the dates were letterpress printed on a gray chipboard paper with bold typography to create a rustic and modern feel. The save the dates were so well received that Natasha and Rory came back and asked us to create their invitations as well.

orange and gray woodgrain wedding invitations with illustrated owls and rustic fonts

We designed the ensemble to introduce the modern, whimsical feel to their event. We echoed the orange and grey hues of the save the date but on a crisp white paper, textured with a faux bois (wood grain) pattern. The long horizontal format and bold fonts gave it a modern feel while the whimsical brackets, vibrant orange and tear away RSVP card kept it  fun and playful. Our goal was to ensure that when guests opened the envelope, they would know that the wedding would be fun, modern, non-traditional and woodsy. These invitations were so much fun to create and perfectly captured the vision Natasha and Rory had for their wedding.

Log with illustrated owls

On their big day, owls were everywhere and the whole event was full of cute, modern details worthy of some serious DIY credentials. There were owls on woodcut tree slices, sewn into miniature pillows, printed onto favor labels, accenting the drink menu and there was even a real taxidermy owl at the reception! A giant orange wine cork heart was created with the couple’s initials to accent a side table, and the bouquets were full of orange and white sculptural flowers, succulents and grey-green leaves. Orange and grey paint chips served as escort cards and were hung from twine for guests to pin to their clothing (how fun, right?). A vintage typewriter was available for everyone to write notes to the bride and groom.

Name tags made with paint chips

Their vows were spoken on the shore of Hallam Lake, with the fall trees reflecting on the water. Natasha’s dress and the wedding rings were all of modern design. As the night wound down, even more sweet touches became apparent. Miniature painted wooden pegs served as the cake topper for a simple, minimal white cake and test tubes with loose leaf tea were given out as favors.

Natasha and Rory’s wedding was a beautiful and unique take on the rustic theme.  The personal touches were completely true to the couple, starting with the Save the Dates and carrying all the way through to the favors. We loved working with  Natasha and Rory and are so grateful to have been a part of their big day!

The details…

Photography | Ashleigh Miller Photography
Ceremony Venue | Hallam Lake
Reception Venue | The Sky Hotel
Music | The Parlor Pickers
Florals | Zephyros Farms
Cake | Kim and Jakes
Invitations | SWEET letterpress & design

Boulder’s 100 Year Flood

Almost exactly 3 years ago, we were praying for rain as the Four Mile Canyon Fire raged on the mountain side. Now we pray for continued dryness and receding flood waters. These forces of nature are incredibly humbling.

The last few days in Boulder have been surreal, to say the least. Shock and sadness at the suffering of those around us is mixed with relief and gratitude to have a dry house and studio, though the flood waters and debris came all the way up to our door.

SWEET letterpress studio after Boulder 100 year flood

The sun is bright and the sky a beautiful blue, but the National Guard helicopters flying over head are a constant reminder of our friends and neighbors in Lyons and other communities that are still in need.

After the threat to personal safety has passed, there is an overwhelming desire to help. And a helplessness in not knowing how we might go about doing that. We’ve offered our home to friends and offered to help neighbors with raw sewage clean up, but would love to do more.

Financial donations as well as donations of specific material things are being accepted by the following organizations:

Some people have even suggested going to certain neighborhoods with a shovel and offering a hand. I think we’ll be cleaning up for a long, long while.

There is also a wonderful organization that popped up on facebook called Save My Colorado Wedding – a group of dedicated wedding vendors, helping couples whose weddings are displaced by the Colorado floods. Their volunteers are ready to help save the wedding day by  finding alternate venues and wedding vendors.

It is amazing to see our community coming together to help each other through this disaster. Stay safe. Stay dry. Much love.


Green Practices for Letterpress Printing


Rubber based ink cans

Photo Credit: Sullivan Studios

Happy Summer! As the weather heats up we’re reminded of simple ways we can help the environment through things like turning off lights, using less water and being mindful of how we impact ecosystems. This inspired our topic for this post: eco-friendly elements of letterpress.

Here at SWEET letterpress & design we present our studio as eco-friendly, but what exactly does that mean? In an industry where the very methods used are antiquated and somewhat mysterious to the layperson, how do we try to respect the Earth? Let’s dive into the details.

Being environmentally friendly is definitely a trend, but we prefer to think of it as a series of ongoing decisions. Some of these decisions are simple and easy while others require some research and a little more effort. Here are some of the choices we have made to consciously reduce our impact on the environment.

Ink being applied to letterpress ink plate

Ink Choices

We hand-mix all of our inks for custom colors. Bridal suites, birth announcements, greeting cards, business cards, personal stationery… you name it and we have probably mixed a custom color for it. There are a few primary types of ink that letterpress printers use: oil-based, rubber-based and acrylic based ink. With few exceptions (metallics only come in an oil-base for example), we use rubber and acrylic inks for our pieces. Rubber based ink dries by absorbing into the paper, while oil based ink dries primarily through oxidation (air drying) so we try to reduce the VOCs in the atmosphere by minimizing our use of oil based inks.

Envelopes and paper supplies

Photo Credit: Sullivan Studios

Paper Choices

We print on sustainable paper whenever possible. Most of our jobs use 100% cotton tree-free paper but we also print on recycled papers, source FSC-certified paper products, and favor envelopes from vendors that have similar preferences. That’s just for finished pieces though, we also care about the paper that doesn’t get printed on. We donate our cotton scraps to a local paper-maker so they are reused. Finally, we compost or recycle every scrap we can no longer reuse.

Using Boxcar polymer letterpress plates

Photo Credit: Sullivan Studios

Plate Choices

Letterpress printing uses either handset type or printing plates. We print our projects by designing them and having plates made for us. There are two main options: plates made of magnesium mounted on wood or polymer plates that mount onto an aluminum base. We print primarily using our Boxcar Press base and  have our polymer plates made through Boxcar as well. We toured their facility and were impressed with the friendly people, their professionalism and their commitment to the environment. They have a wind powered facility and recycle polymer leftovers. In general, polymer plates are more eco-friendly because they are recyclable, use less material and the registration process is easier so it requires less make ready (practice paper used to adjust everything on the press until you start printing final versions)

Letterpress work bench with ink and cleaning supplies

Photo Credit: Sullivan Studios

Cleaning Product Choices

To clean the ink off a press after printing, most printers use solutions that have high VOCs. This is difficult to avoid entirely, because getting all traces of ink off the press and the rollers is critical to print quality but there are ways to reduce the use of high VOC cleaners. Solvents such as paint thinner and California Wash are commonly used, but as a general rule we clean initially with vegetable oil and then we go back over the press and rollers with solvent last. This allows us to maintain a clean printing press but significantly reduce the VOCs involved in our press cleaning process.

Biodegradeable packaging

Photo Credit: Sullivan Studios

General Practice Choices

In addition to the detailed elements of letterpress, we also adhere to some eco-friendly principles for the studio. We reuse, recycle and compost to the fullest extent possible (and cart everything  home to dispose of since our landlord doesn’t offer recycling or composting) and package our greeting cards in biodegradeable sleeves. We use repurposed packaging materials for our orders and always ship carbon neutral. Additionally, we have something called the “Sweet Tree” program. For every order over $1000, we plant a tree through American Forests.

There are lots of little ways people can be more environmentally conscious at home, but we extend that idea to our studio too. Letterpress is an eco-chic process with some adjustments to the standard workflow, and we plan to continue doing what we can to keep that up.

Do you have any eco-friendly practices for stationery or do you have a letterpress-specific tip that we could put into practice? We would love it if you would let us know in the comments below.

We would like to thank Sullivan Studios for the awesome studio photographs featured in this post.