Find answers to your questions about letterpress printing, wedding invitation suites, and Birdwalk Press itself.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Letterpress?
Of all the multitudes of print methods, letterpress is absolutely one of the coolest. At the most basic level, it is the process of using a raised plate to physically press a design into paper. Using hulking, multi-thousand pound presses, we squeeze enormous amounts of pressure into each print, leaving behind not only the ink applied to the plate but a distinctive impression in the paper itself. If you've ever felt this unforgettable tactile effect on a business card or wedding invitation, it had to have been letterpress.
Though the core of what we do is ink pressed on paper, there are lots of ways to spruce things up even further- using metallic foils instead of ink, swapping the plate for a specially shaped razor sharp blade to die-cut custom shapes, and even combining letterpress with more modern techniques like digital printing to produce stunning hybrid pieces. The opportunities for customization in letterpress printing is huge, and is totally unparalleled by flat-printed methods like digital or offset.
How old is letterpress printing?
Six hundred years ago Johannes Gutenberg invented the first printing press in all of history, and kicked off centuries of not only letterpress, but the widespread dissemination of information via print. Since then letterpress has numerous evolutions form initially using hand-carved wood type, to developing much more crisp lead lettering, to eventually transforming into today's process using photopolymer plates on motorized, fully automatic exquisitely engineered German presses. Though the materials and tools may have changed, letterpress is an age-old process that has not only survived to be one of the most elegant print methods available, but catalyzed written communication as a whole. Pretty neat stuff.
Woah- So how old are your presses?
Old. Not quite 600 years old, but still older than us! Our youngest press was built in 1960, and our oldest is from the late 1800's. And we love every one of them.
What other print methods do you offer?
We offer hot-foiling and digital printing in addition to letterpress. For fully custom suites we also work with other printers if you require a technique not offered in house.
Why do you print on cotton paper?
A huge majority of the paper we use is 100% cotton. We absolutely love it for a number of reasons- first, the quality. Cotton paper is soft and fluffy, making it much more elegant than standard wood pulp paper. Because of this, it takes an impression beautifully. Even the most highly detailed, intricate designs look amazing on cotton, sinking deep into the fibers and giving a fascinating pillowy quality to the print.
But it's not just pretty. Cotton papers are tree-free, produced from byproducts of the cotton industry that are recognized by the EPA as recovered fiber. It's also less chemically-laden than wood pulp paper. And it's fully recyclable!
What is your typical turnaround time for custom orders?
Turnaround time can vary greatly depending on the design process, but we typically offer 2-4 week turnarounds after proof approval. The reason it takes this long is because of the numerous phases of production required for each and every printed element. Everything from prepping the digital file to producing photographic film with which to expose the photo-sensitive plate, to hardening and hand-washing the plate, cutting down giant sheets of paper, printing each color, trimming, and quality checking is done in house. It's an intricate process that require meticulous attention in order to achieve our signature polished, elegant print quality.
Do You collaborate with others?
We absolutely do. We've worked with artists, graphic designers, and product packaging engineers to collaboratively develop some darn cool projects. If you'd like to work with us, just send us an email!
What are your minimums for custom orders?
Our minimum for custom letterpress and foil wedding suites is 50 pieces. Digital wedding suites have a 25-piece minimum. Other custom products such as business cards and event invites have no minimums, though we always recommend ordering at least 100 pieces and more than you think you'll need as quantity increases dramatically reduce per-unit pricing.
How did Birdwalk Press Start?
We started in 2011 with the purchase of our first printing press. A treadle-operated 1200lb Old-Style Gordon platen press was the perfect way to get hooked on the craft, allowing us to get a feel for the basics before getting too deep in the technical aspects. In 2014 after three years of mentoring and guidance, the same printer to sell us our first press retired and offered Mina the rare chance to take over the rest of his shop. She jumped on the opportunity, and grew Birdwalk Press to what it is today.
What does the name Birdwalk Press mean?
"Bird walking" is when a conversation flows from easily one topic to another, often ending with unpredicted reflections or realizations. Our philosophy is that bird walking is a fundamental element of the creative process, leading us to organic ideation that just can't be planned. We believe that solid design stems from the subconscious, and pursuing those tangents during brainstorming is our opportunity to tap into that remarkably crafty asset.
HOW MANY INVITES SHOULD I ORDER?
You should order one invitation per household (not person), plus around 25-50 extra. It's easy and affordable to add a few extra invitations to your order up front, but having to order more down the road is be quite expensive due to the setup costs for each print run.
What is the typical turnaround for a wedding suite?
Invitation suites from our Collection take 4-6 weeks to print after final proof approval. Custom suites can take up to a few months to print after proof approval, depending on the specially ordered materials and processes involved.
Do you print Fully custom invitation Suites?
Of course! We love working directly with couples to build fully custom suites from the ground up. We only take on a limited number of custom clients each year however, so please inquire as soon as possible to reserve yours. Fully custom pricing starts at $3500.
What if there's a typo?
Because unfortunately we don't know the correct spelling of your lovely aunt Giuliana's name or the exact time of your reception speeches, it is your responsibility to make sure that your proofs are completely free and clear of typos, grammatical errors, formatting issues, etc. If somehow an error survives through the design process and isn't caught before you approve your final proof, it is your choice whether to reprint the affected element. You are responsible for the full price of the element to be re-printed.
Can I see (and feel) samples?
Get in touch with us if you'd like to see something in particular. We currently don't stock all of our designs in large quantities, but we may have an extra one laying around that we can send your way.
Do you offer budget invitation options?
We offer digitally printed wedding invitation suites at a lower price point than other printing methods. See our Pricing page for more information.
How do I start working with you?
If you haven't already, take a look at The Process page to get a feel for what the wedding suite process is like. If you're curious about a particular design from our Collection, use the inquire button to reach out with any questions. Or if you're ready to reserve your suite, click Reserve Now to provide us your information and place a deposit. On the other hand, if you're looking for a fully custom suite just reach out to us directly to set up an in person or virtual meeting.
How much will my wedding suite cost?
Wedding suite pricing can vary dramatically depending on your quantity, printing method, and design needs. Refer to our Pricing page to get an idea of what your dream suite will cost.