Scaled-Down Letterpress Bookmark

As we mind our social distance during the unique times in which we find ourselves, many have rediscovered the joy and satisfaction of two habits that were part of our parents’ and grandparents’ lives: reading and writing letters.

Today’s letterpress printing project at The Norlu Press combines both of those practices in a timely bookmark…and you can find the Blank DIY White 2.25X6 Inch Discount Bookmarks for these attractive gifts on sale now at CutCardStock.

Bookmarks have been popular with home-based printshops and hobbyists for many years. The 2.25″ x 6″ size and classic scalloped end of these ready-to-print blank bookmarks make them a great choice for almost everyone. For this project, however, I want to combine a bookmark with a smaller A1-size note card that I have already printed. The bookmark is too long to fit in the envelope, and simpling lopping an inch off the end of the bookmark leaves a less than appealing size and shape.

The solution is to trim an inch off of the bottom of the diecut bookmark, and to also trim approximately one third of an inch (two picas) along the length of each side. This trims off some of the scallop, but leaves enough of it to give just enough character to the printed piece (see below.)

Photo on left shows the bookmark being too long to fit in an A1 envelope. Photo on right shows how to trim the bookmark for fit and design.

Once I made the cut to shorten the bookmark, the remaining stock lost the rounded corners, so I used a tabletop corner rounder that has been part of The Norlu Press’ bindery since the 1960s to add some curve to the bottom edge of the bookmark (see below.)

Rounding the corners after trimming the bookmark to length. An underlay of paper keeps any dust, ink or grease that may be on the device from transferring onto the stock.

Using the revised format of the bookmark stock, I placed a nine pica slug in my composing stick to allow for a little white space on either side of the printed text and set the metal types on this measure. I chose 18 point and 14 point Invitation Shaded and 8 point Bookman Oldstyle because they evoke the early 20th Century theme I am trying to achieve with this project (see below.)

Composing antique metal types on 9 pica measure.

I chose a few 36 point pieces of metal border for the top and bottom of the design and an antique lead candle cut for a graphic element. Since these will print in blue, I composed them as a separate form from the text, which will print in black (see below.)

The black form on the left, with spacing added to accommodate the cut of a candle
and the blue form on the right. The blank bookmark is in approximate position to help with the vertical spacing of the text and graphic elements.

The presswork wasn’t too difficult for this project. Since I built the blue and black forms on the same nine pica measure and then vertically aligned the elements of both forms, I only needed to get position on the press once. I printed the black form first, then washed the press, locked up the blue form in the exact same position, and printed it (see below.)

Printing the blue form on my circa 1863 Gordon Oldstyle Jobber press. Position was exactly the same as it was for the black form because of the composition technique described above.

One thing to consider when printing any shaded fonts, especially when you are using metal types like the 90-year-old Invitation Shaded in this project, is the amount of ink you are running. As a general rule, however, much ink you usually use for a job should be halved when printing with these types to get the effect shown in the close-up below. (Mind your impression too-these soft lead types were not designed for deep impression.)

Use less ink and keep the impression to a minimum when printing types with shading, like this 90-year-old Invitation Shaded font.

The Blank DIY White 2.25X6 Inch Discount Bookmarks are a great way to print on die-cut stock without having to purchase dies. This post has shown how to modify these handsome bookmarks for use in a smaller format. I wanted a bookmark to fit in an A1 envelope, but home-based print shops with small-format presses may also find this technique helpful when you need a bookmark that will fit on a smaller size desktop press.

What projects are you working on while you #stayhome ? Please leave a comment and don’t forget to follow cutcardstock.blog!

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