Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Fusion :: Watercolor and Letterpress Wedding Invites

My client asked me for an illustration of roses on her wedding invitation with more nuance than I felt letterpress was able to do. We decided watercolor was the best direction to take. I discovered letterpress even more wonderful when fused together with watercolor.

I set out to find the right materials from watercolor to paper. The first question I had to tackle was whether to use watercolor or gouache. The color red had to stand out on the invitations, and at first gouache was the obvious choice, but later watercolor had the advantage of layering color and having a more luminous quality.


Deciding which product of watercolor was just as important as paper choice. I found Officina delle Arti Cuneo, a small well supplied art shop, whose enthusiastic owner also dabbles in producing handmade watercolor too. I decided on Schmincke watercolor pans rather than tubes after a conversation with the shop owner. This definitely made a world of difference that I could not have entirely understood solo on on-line forums.

Paper was particularly important as I needed to choose not one but two types for the project. There were a couple of questions in my start with if whether to use paper with tooth for the watercolor. I chose not to, as the tooth would have been apparent when scanned and digitally printed onto the paper then used for the final letterpress print. Another consideration was that the watercolor and digital/lettepress papers were coming from two different mills. Variations in color were sure to exist and in particular since I needed natural not white. Some watercolor papers had a slightly more rose tint, like Fabriano, while Arches better matched the pearl envelopes already chosen.

The watercolor was a joy to do and I will certainly pickup a journal to do more of it in my free time. Watercolor, like letterpress, is a technique that allows me to layer and build and play with paper in unexpected ways.


Once the illustration was done, the digital print of it was next. The hunt for digital/letterpress paper was an eye opener. Lettra and Mohawk do have digital/letterpress papers, but they were either not the thickness or color I was looking for. Reich is another producer of this type of paper (family owned and headquartered in Brooklyn, NY). The weight and color were spot on, and so I took it to my local printer to have a chat and digital test print.

At last when the digital prints were back at the studio it was time for a final print onto my letterpress machine. The watercolor illustration together with letterpress gave these wedding invitations a richness I completely attribute to the entirety of the project and not just one aspect of it.