Helloooooo, Seattle!

Update: Hello, Cityhopper facebook friends! The contest over here ended yesterday, but we’ve got one more box of cards to give away. Head back over to the comment thread on facebook, and tell us what city you’d like to see next. We’ll randomly pick a winner from the comments next Thursday, March 31st. Good luck, and thanks for stopping by!

space needle letterpress cardGoooooood morning, Seattle! We are thrilled to announce our new line of Seattle Landmarks Letterpress Note Cards, hot off the presses. We’ve got a set of 5 gorgeous drawings of Seattle architecture done especially for us by artist Erin Auses of Cityhopper Studios (go check out her Facebook page – she’s got even more great drawings there!) These 5 drawings are available as single cards and in boxed sets, and we’re printing each design in a different color, as well as in a stunning all-black version. We’re hoping to be selling the cards in stores around Seattle soon, but in the meantime you can find them all in our online shop.

seattle letterpress notecardTo celebrate our first venture outside of Pittsburgh, we’re also having our very first giveaway contest! We’ve got two boxes of First Edition Space Needle cards, which are not for sale anywhere – the only way to get them is by winning this giveaway. We printed these lovely cards in copper and pale blue from an early drawing that Erin did of the Space Needle, when we were doing our first test prints and considering whether to embark on this crazy letterpress adventure together. We printed about two dozen of them, and I only have 10 left – and I want to give them to you, our lovely readers!

So here’s the deal:

I’m giving away one box of 5 cards here, and Erin is giving away the other box on the Cityhopper Studios facebook page, so head over there and enter to win those too! (Note: The Cityhopper giveaway isn’t posted yet, but it will be soon – check back later today!) There are three ways to enter here – feel free to do all three for extra entries!

  1. Visit our Etsy shop, then come back here and leave a comment telling us what your favorite item is.
  2. If you’re from Seattle, leave a comment with the name of your favorite local stationery/gift/museum shop (yes, we’re using you for market research). If you’re not from Seattle, tell us what city you’d like us to come to next!
  3. Tweet a link to this giveaway with the hashtag #seattlecards, and then leave a comment here telling us you did. (If you want, you can just retweet this: I just entered the giveaway @CardamomPress. You should enter too! http://bit.ly/hSBFbF #seattlecards )

The contest ends next Wednesday, March 23rd, at 11:59pm EST, and we’ll randomly choose and announce the winner sometime Thursday afternoon. Good luck, and thanks for being a part of our very first contest – we can’t wait to read your comments!

One Year

letterpress calendarThe annual Sapling Press Valentine’s Day Studio Tour is coming up, and that means that this weekend marks one year since the first time I ever touched a letterpress. When I saw the announcement about the studio tour last year, I had never even seen a letterpress. I decided to go because I love all kinds of printmaking (I took printmaking classes at the museum and Carnegie Mellon all the way through middle and high school), and I thought it’d be kinda cool to see another kind of printing I knew nothing about. Little did I know, that day was going to change my life.

The tour was fabulous. Down in the depths of The Design Center, a gray Bloomfield office building I had never even noticed before, Lisa and Lisa showed us around the studio, explained the whole printing process, and showed us some samples of letterpress invitations. Then we got to print. Our own valentines. On the letterpress. I printed four valentines that day, two of them with 2 colors (I know, pretty cool, right?), and by the time I had finished them, I was in love. The feel of the paper, the texture of the impression, the sheer amazingness (is that a word?) of using this big, old, antique piece of machinery to create something so delicate and beautiful. I had to learn more.

I went home after the studio tour and showed my treasured letterpress valentines to everyone I knew. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. For weeks. Finally, I tweeted Lisa to see if she could use some help around the studio, in exchange for teaching me a bit more about her craft. That was late February.

In the last 11 months, Lisa has taught me a tremendous amount about the craft of letterpress printing, although I have a million times more that I still need to learn. I’ve started a business, launched a line of Pittsburgh cards and prints designed by a dear friend, and designed my very own line of holiday cards. I’ve started selling in shops all over Pittsburgh, sent a little piece of home to ‘Burghers all over the country through my Etsy shop, and met dozens of amazing new friends. We’re working on new lines for Seattle and Chicago, and we’ve got plans in the works to expand our Pittsburgh line with 5 new designs. All in 11 months.

Sometimes, I sit down and think about all the things that have happened in the last year, and I can’t wrap my brain around it. How did this happen? A year ago, I was just a former-stage-manager-turned-personal-assistant-but-not-really-working-’cause-we’d-just-moved-and-bought-a-house. Now I’m a letterpress printer. With a business. And people want to buy the things I make. Amazing. It’s been quite a year, and I couldn’t have done it without a huge amount of support and encouragement from my family and friends and tweeps and blog-readers and letterpress-lovers, so thank you all. Here’s to many more great years ahead!

Sapling Press Studio Tour

pittsburgh craft collectiveI’ve been terrible about blogging since the holidays – there’s just so much exciting new stuff that we’re working on, I don’t have time to get it all done, let alone write about it! I’ll be better with the blog posts in the future (I hope), but I just wanted to post a quick link to the Valentine’s Day Studio Tour taking place at Sapling Press on January 30th.

This fabulous event, hosted by the Pittsburgh Craft Collective, is a great way to learn a little more about letterpress printing, and you’ll even go home with some hand-printed (by you!) valentines! Last year’s tour was where I met the lovely Lisa (mastermind behind Sapling Press), and the first time I had ever touched a letterpress. I fell in love with letterpress printing on the spot, and the more I learn about it, the more I love it.

The studio tour is happening next Sunday, January 30th (don’t worry, no Steelers game that weekend!) from 1-4pm. You can click the link above for more information, or email Lisa directly to RSVP. Hope to see you there!

Praise from The Redneck Mommy

And another quick thanks to The Redneck Mommy for featuring our thanks notes in her fabulous Guide to All Things Etsy! She’s assembled a great collection of handmade gift ideas for all of your loved ones (including your dog!), plus a few things that you’ll want to keep all for yourself.

Thanks for including us, Tanis!

Workergnome Business Cards

I love the craft of letterpress, but I don’t do a lot of design work myself – something simple like our holiday cards is about as design-y as I can handle. That’s why I work with amazing artists like Erin Auses, and why I don’t actively seek out custom jobs, the way many letterpress printers do – I love to print beautiful designs, but I’m not very good at creating those designs myself!

When an artist or designer comes along with their own design that they want to have printed, though, I’m always happy to work with them – which is why I was thrilled when David Newbury at Workergnome Studios contacted me about printing his business cards. David is a web, UI and motion graphics designer, and he was interested in having letterpress business cards printed with his fabulous gnome logo. We talked through how the elements of his design would work with letterpress, he adapted things a bit and sent me his final design. I’ve been meaning to post photos of the final results for weeks, and I keep forgetting – but now, here they are!

workergnome business card
workergnome business cardworkergnome business card
workergnome business card

David’s cards are printed on 140 lb. Holyoke premium 100% cotton, natural in color, with chocolatey brown and rust orange ink – and a blind impression for the fabulous gnome.

Hanukkah Love

Hanukkah is swiftly approaching – I can’t believe it’s almost December already! If it’s snuck up on you too, check out this lovely Hanukkah card roundup from Pushing Papers. Molly has collected a great assortment of fun, sweet and elegant cards (we’re flattered that she included our warmth and love notes!), so you’re guaranteed to find the perfect thing for your last-minute Hanukkah card shopping.

Also, if you like what you see there, check out Molly’s other blog, Charlotte’s Fancy, for all of her fabulous non-paper-related finds. I’m a little bit addicted to both of her blogs – there’s just so much good stuff, I barely have time to read it all!

Small Business Swoon

Want to get in on the post-Thanksgiving shopping, without all the Black Friday insanity? Check out ClumberKim’s great Small Business Saturday post – she’s got the scoop on some great local businesses with online shops, so you can start your Christmas shopping from the comfort of your couch! (Plus, she calls our cards “swoon-worthy” – thanks, Kim!)

Constant Comment Spice Cake

I love tea. And I love spices. So it stands to reason that spice teas would be my favorite. I love the way they smell, the way they taste, the way they make me think of fall and winter and Christmas and home. My favorite tea by far is Bigelow’s Constant Comment, a soft, rich blend of orange and “sweet spice” (or so the back of the box tells me). I drink Constant Comment all year round, but as soon as the cold, rainy weather really kicks in, my consumption goes up to at least 2 or 3 cups a day. I can’t get enough of the stuff. I buy it from Amazon by the case, and I’ve actually considered setting up an Amazon subscription, to make sure I never forget to order more. Because a day without my tea? Disaster.

I love to bake too, but since learning I was gluten intolerant a few years ago, my baking has been leaning more towards the buy-a-good-gluten-free-mix-and-add-things-to-it style. I get most of my mixes from Gluuteny – they’re leaps and bounds better than anything else I’ve tried – and then mix in anything from fruit to nuts to spices, to add a little variety. I’ve had a bag of Gluuteny’s Vanilla Pound Cake mix sitting on the kitchen counter for a week, and I was suddenly inspired while making my tea the other day – if the spices in Constant Comment are so good in tea, why wouldn’t the same combination work for a cake?

So, without further ado, here is my latest creation. I used a GF pound cake mix, but for all you gluten-eaters out there, just mix it into your favorite pound cake or yellow cake recipe – as long as it’s something with a relatively delicate flavor, it shouldn’t overpower the spice mix too much. If you don’t have a favorite cake recipe, I’d recommend you consult the Joy of Cooking, or try Alton Brown’s recipe – I haven’t tried it myself, but his recipes are simple, and they’ve never failed me.

Constant Comment Spice Cake:

Prepare cake batter per your favorite recipe or mix (pound cake or yellow cake will work). Then mix in:

1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/8 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. orange extract
1 tsp. fresh orange zest

Bake according to recipe. Enjoy! (I’m enjoying some right now, with a glass of eggnog. Yum!)

A Little Mention on jCraft

Big thanks to Elisha at the jCraft blog for including our new “warmth and love” cards in her Hanukkah roundup!

You can see her whole list here. And check out the rest of her blog while you’re there – she’s got some great Hanukkah craft and gift ideas!

Mix and Match Holidays

mix-and-match letterpress holiday cardsI’ve always had really hard time buying holiday cards. My dad’s family is Jewish. My mom’s family is Catholic. I grew up in a primarily Jewish neighborhood, celebrated Hanukkah and Christmas at home, and had friends who celebrated everything from Christmas to Hanukkah to Winter Solstice to Nothing At All. I spent many long hours scouring the stores for cards that weren’t red and green or blue and silver, with lovely snow scenes and vague wishes like “Season’s Greetings” and “Happy Holidays,” before I finally gave in and just started buying three or four different boxes of cards every year. But with 18 or 20 cards in a box, I always ended up with extras of everything, which led to the inevitable “did I send Aunt Susie this same card last year?” 12 months later.

That’s what I had in mind when I designed our new holiday cards. We’ve got three designs – Christmas, Hanukkah, and Let it Snow – which should cover almost all the bases. You can buy each design on its own in a box of 8, or you can mix and match your own assortment, to get just the right combination for you.
mix and match letterpress holiday cards
Need mostly Christmas cards, except for that one friend who celebrates Hanukkah? Done. Got a family that’s a 50/50 split, except for your atheist cousin? No problem. Just order a box, and let us know in your order comments what assortment of cards you’d like. Then revel in the fact that you won’t have boxes and boxes of leftover cards to put away after the holidays!