L Letterpress Tips & Resources

L Letterpress Tips & Resources as seen on papercrave.com

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway to win two plates of your choice from Boxcar Press!

My Top 5 Tips for Getting Great Results with the L Letterpress

1. Invest in a soft rubber brayer.  Purchasing a 6″ Speedball Soft Rubber Brayer made a world of difference in my results, and it was more than worth the $10 investment.

2. Use roller bearers. Roller bearers ship with each set of Boxcar Press plates, and Lifestyle Crafts’ Ink Guide Stripes are available from their shop, as well as Amazon.com and Scrapbook.com. The bearers allow you to apply much more even pressure as you’re applying the ink to the plates and they, along with the brayer, made SUCH a difference in the quality of my prints.

3. Do a test run. I always run a piece of lighter weight cardstock through the platform, uninked, before I print on the higher quality (and much more expensive) paper to test placement of the plates and the paper. At this point, I’m not skilled enough to get it all right the first time, and this “test run” has saved me from ruining a lot of pricy paper.

4. Practice, practice, practice. Even with the new brayer and the roller bearers, my first prints weren’t that great because I didn’t have a good idea of how much ink I should apply, how much pressure I should apply to the brayer as I was inking the plates, and so on. With practice, I got (and continue to get) a better feel for what produces a great quality print, and I know that you will, too!

5. Have plenty of baby wipes on hand. Baby wipes work remarkably well in cleaning the ink off of the plates and roller bearers, so you’ll want to have plenty on hand as you practice and print. Lifestyle Crafts also carries cleaning cloths specially formulated to remove the L Letterpress ink.

Additional Tips & Techniques

L Letterpress Printing Techniques from Boxcar Press – I’ve used many of the tips from this post by Boxcar Press to improve my technique and results. A must read for anyone new to the L Letterpress.

The L Letterpress Revisited – Boxcar Press recently revisited the L Letterpress and offers additional tips and techniques to help you improve your results.

L Letterpress Tutorial : Let’s Make Gift Tags – Shows you my much improved results thanks to practice and incorporating the tips and techniques from the links above.

Paper Supplies

Letterpresspaper.com carries many of the top letterpress papers, including Crane Lettra, Arturo Cover, and Legion Bamboo. They offer smaller quantity packages, which are perfect for paper crafters and letterpress beginners.

The Paper Mill Store carries Crane Lettra, as well as pre-cut Arturo Cover flat and folded cards in several different colors.

Paper-Papers.com carries an assortment of letterpress-friendly papers, such as 100% cotton Savoy and Arturo Cover.

LCI Paper carries 100% cotton papers (three different weights) and envelopes under the LCI Cotton brand.

Lifestyle Crafts carries heavyweight, cotton-based envelopes and both uncut and pre-cut papers in a variety of sizes.

Letterpress Plates

Boxcar Press has a selection of pre-made plates, and they also offer custom plate making services.

Lifestyle Crafts also offers both pre-made and custom plates for L Letterpress users.

Studio Calico has a bunch of very cool plate sets made for use with the L Letterpress, and they also offer craft dies that coordinate with several of their letterpress plates.

Elum carries a variety of plates made especially for the L Letterpress.


Lifestyle Crafts has a spectrum of inks made specifically for use with the L Letterpress. You can find the inks in their shop and at Studio Calico.

Caligo Safe Wash Relief Ink (Boxcar Press recommends) is available at McClain’s and comes in a wide variety of colors and in smaller quantity tubes and larger cans.

If you have any resources that you would like me to add to this list, just let me know!

image by Kristen Magee

L Letterpress : Which Paper is Best?

I printed the letterpress gift tags from the tutorial on several different types of paper to see how the results would vary, and I’m happy to say that I had pretty good results with each. Keep in mind that I’m still trying to perfect my ink rolling technique, so I did experience a bit of feathering/muddiness here and there, probably because I had put a bit too much ink on the plates. But even with user error (mine), I’m very pleased and would be comfortable using any of these papers in L Letterpress projects.

Here’s a look at the results:

L Letterpress + Lifestyle Crafts White (330gsm) Result

Lifestyle Crafts White (330gsm) – the same paper that I used in the tutorial

L Letterpress + Crane Lettra Fluorescent White (300gsm) Result

Crane Lettra Fluorescent White (300gsm)

L Letterpress + Arturo Cover White (260gsm) Result

Arturo Cover White (260gsm)

L Letterpress + Legion Bamboo (265gsm) Result

Legion Bamboo (265gsm)

L Letterpress + American Crafts Smoke (216gsm) Result

American Crafts Smoke (216gsm)

Note about the American Crafts paper : I wanted to try this particular paper because it’s a popular one for paper crafters and scrapbookers. This was the most lightweight of the papers I tested, so I used two shims (pieces of scrap cardstock, in this case) when I ran it through the embossing machine. You can see that there’s some muddiness in the “For You” text, and I can’t be sure whether this was because I should’ve only used one shim (less downward pressure) or because I had too much ink on the plates. I still think the result isn’t bad, but I’ll need to do further testing to confirm the cause of the muddiness.

Crane Lettra, Arturo Cover, and Legion Bamboo papers courtesy of Letterpresspaper.com

images by Kristen Magee

L Letterpress Tutorial : Let’s Make Gift Tags

L Letterpress Tutorial : Let's Make Gift Tags as seen on papercrave.comIt’s funny how things work out sometimes. A little while back, I was thinking about breaking out my L Letterpress and giving it another try after my not-as-successful-as-I-hoped-they-would-be initial attempts. And, about a week later, the folks at Boxcar Press let me know about their new L Letterpress plates. What a happy coincidence! They kindly sent me the birthday-themed plate set, which gave me the perfect excuse to dust off the ol’ letterpress tool and give it another try. Be sure to check out the giveaway that’s going on right now and enter to win your choice of two plates that you can use to make your very own letterpress goodies, too!

Before we get started with the tutorial, I’ll point you in the direction of Boxcar Press’ intitial post about the L Letterpress here, as well as their follow up here. Their initial tips and techniques have helped me get what I think are some pretty nice results, and their recent follow up suggests several additional techniques that I know will help me achieve even better results in the future.

I made two key changes from my initial attempts that have made a world of difference. First, I took Boxcar’s suggestion to toss the brayer that came with the L Letterpress kit, and I purchased a 6″ Speedball Soft Rubber Brayer to roll the ink. Second, I used the roller bearers that come with Boxcar’s plate sets. These keep the brayer parallel with the plates and allow you to exert a much more even pressure during the inking process. The roller bearers helped me SO much!

Note : Lifestyle Crafts now offers roller bearers (aka Ink Guide Strips) that can be used with their plate sets. I haven’t tried them out yet, but I’ll bet that they go a long way in improving results with Lifestyle’s own plates.

 What You’ll Need

* L Letterpress Kit – As of this post, the kit was in stock at Studio Calico, but due to its current popularity, it’s out of stock at several other places. Keep an eye out for it to come back in stock at the following: Paper Source, Amazon, Scrapbook, and Lifestyle Crafts.

* Embossing Machine – The original kits were available bundled with the Epic Six, which seems to have been discontinued. However, the kit also works with other embossing machines like the Cuttlebug and Evolution. If you know of any other compatible machines, please let me know and I can add them here.

* Heavy Cardstock – I used the heavy cardstock (330gsm/120lb) sold by Lifestyle Crafts, and it worked very well. I also have a post coming up that shows results for several different types of cardstock, so stay tuned for that.

* Letterpress Plates + Roller Bearers – The plates from Boxcar Press are great, easy to cut with scissors, and they come backed with reusable adhesive so you can use them over and over. Just make sure not to use water to clean them, per Boxcar’s instructions, or they’ll break down more quickly and the adhesive won’t last as long.

* Scissors (to cut the plates)

* Letterpress Ink – Lifestyle Crafts offers a spectrum of ink colors in small quantities. That’s what I used, and I really liked working with them. Again, some of the colors are harder to come by due to the kit’s popularity right now, but you can still find several colors in stock at Lifestyle Crafts and Studio Calico.

* An Ink Knife (to spread the ink on the inking plate)

* A Soft Rubber Brayer (to roll the ink onto the plates)

* Position Guides – I used the foam guides that came with the letterpress kit, but in the future I think that I’m going to invest in the Henry Gage Pins that Boxcar recommends because the foam guides do allow the paper to wiggle around more than would be desirable if you’re printing more than a few copies.

* Baby Wipes / Vegetable Oil / Old Rags – The baby wipes were surprisingly good at cleaning the plates and roller bearings, but I needed something more heavy duty (the veg oil) to clean the brayer and ink plate. I also used liquid dish detergent and warm water on the brayer and ink plate to clean up any ink that was left after rubbing vegetable oil on them.

Making the Tags

L Letterpress Tutorial : Step 1

Step 1 : Cut the letterpress plate(s) of your choice. The Boxcar plates are easy to cut with regular craft scissors, and the roller bearings (yellow strips on the right) come packaged in the envelope with the plate.

L Letterpress Tutorial : Step 2

Step 2 : Adhere plate(s) and roller bearers to the lid of the platform, and position guides on the base. I used multiple plates – the “For You” sentiment and the chevron pattern – so it took me a few tries to line everything up properly. To test alignment, both of the plates and the guides, I ran lighter (read: not as expensive) cardstock through the machine sans ink. I only used foam guides on two sides to hold the cardstock and, in hindsight, I probably should’ve added a third (one on the left, one on the right, and one at the bottom of the cardstock) to keep the cardstock more snugly in place. As it was, I didn’t have any problems with the cardstock shifting (and it would’ve been my own fault if I had), but if I were making several copies at once, I may have had problems.

L Letterpress Tutorial : Step 3

Step 3 : Gather inking supplies. I purchased the 6″ Speedball Soft Rubber Brayer and got MUCH better results than I ever had with the brayer that shipped with the L Letterpress. A very good investment. I also went to the hardware store and bought a little putty knife that I used as an ink knife to spread the ink around the plate before running the brayer over it.

I used the inking plate that shipped with the kit, but having read Boxcar’s L Letterpress Revisited (point #3), I think that I might invest in a larger piece of plexiglass or glass in the future because I did feel like I didn’t quite have enough room to spread the ink as evenly as I would’ve liked. But if all you have is the inking plate that shipped with the kit, it should work fine. Just make sure not to put too much ink on it, or it won’t spread thinly enough.

L Letterpress Tutorial : Step 4

Step 4 : Ink the brayer, roll ink onto plate(s), and position cardstock for printing. It takes less ink than I originally thought to get good coverage, and I had to practice for a little while before I got a feel for the correct amount. So, if you find that you’re getting muddy prints or feathering on the outside edges, you’re probably using too much ink. Two or three passes with the brayer over the plates – with very light pressure applied – works for me, but you’ll want to experiment to find what works consistently for you. Finally, place the cardstock into position on the lid just before the next step.

L Letterpress Tutorial : Step 5

Step 5 : Close the platform lid, and run the platform through your embossing machine. This is pretty self-explanatory, and I’ve found that, once the lid is closed, everything stays in place very well.

L Letterpress Tutorial : Step 6

Step 6 : Voilà, a handmade letterpress gift tag! As I mentioned in the supplies area above, I used the cardstock from Lifestyle Crafts, and I was very happy with the results. Hmm, could this be the start of a diy letterpress addiction?

images by Kristen Magee

Giveaway : L Letterpress Plates from Boxcar Press

Giveaway : L Letterpress Plates from Boxcar Press at papercrave.com

The giveaway is now closed to new entries. Thanks to everyone who participated! The lucky winner is :


It’s giveaway time, and I was so excited to have an excuse to break out my L Letterpress again for this one! Boxcar Press is offering one lucky gal or guy their choice of two L Letterpress compatible plates*, which can be used to create scads of awesome, do-it-yourself letterpress goodies. For the next week, I’ll be featuring L Letterpress tutorials, tips, and project ideas that you can make with this cool little tool … and some very helpful recommendations from the letterpress pros at Boxcar Press.

The giveaway runs through Tuesday, September 10th at midnight eastern and to enter, simply comment on this post and let us know what you love about letterpress. Only one entry per person, please!

Here’s a peek at all of the fantastic plates in the Boxcar Press shop, including the birthday-themed plate that I’ll be using in my upcoming projects:

L Letterpress Plates | Boxcar Press

* The plates can be used on standard letterpress machines, but the Deep Relief Boxcar Base will be needed for compatibility. The L Letterpress kit + compatible embossing machine (Cuttlebug, Evolution etc.) are required to make use of the plates in the giveaway. Due to a recent surge in popularity, the kit is a challenge to find, but as of the time of this post, it was available from Studio Calico. If you don’t currently have the kit, you’ll also want to keep an eye out for it to come back in stock at the following: Paper Source, Amazon, Scrapbook, and Lifestyle Crafts.