So, it’s time to choose wedding stationery and all things gorgeous for your day! But, do you know your laser cut from your letterpress? No? Don’t worry, you aren’t expected to unless stationery and printing is your business! But, when it comes to your wedding, you want to be able to make the right choice. Read on for Ananya’s essential guide to wedding stationery types.
Let’s start with Letterpress. It's the ‘Grand Dame’ of printing in that it’s one of the oldest stationery printing techniques in use. Essentially, letterpress is a ‘relief printing’ technique, in which the design is ‘raised’ on a metal plate. Using a printing press, an impression is made into the paper by pressing into it from one side. It’s usually done with ink but can also be without ink. If you run your hand across the finished print you can usually feel the indentations in the paper.
Letterpress printing is high in quality but is slower than other printing methods. For example, the printer has to place each letter of type into a special holder that they also have to place ‘mirror image’ to what the finished print will be. In other words the type for the press has to be set left to right and upside down. Wow, that’s a lot of work!
Taking letterpress from assembly to proof and then to print is time consuming without a doubt. But, on the upside, it is lovely for a vintage style or traditional wedding.
Screen printing is one of our favourite mediums of printing at Ananya. We love it! Many of our favourite designs, especially using metallics such as gold or silver, use the screen printing technique, including Mandala Love and Trio of Life.
In screen printing, ink is pressed through a mesh screen using a rubber blade or ‘squeegee’ to move across it and fill the open ‘windows’ with ink. When the blade is reversed back across, the screen touches the paper (or media) that’s being printed on to create your design.
For Mandala Love, the screen printing for the delicate hand printed mandala motif required an exceptional level of technical skill. Ananya’s craftsmen had to print each piece four times no less; a single colour printed each time. Deep blue and gold are the feature colours of this design, with the deep blue printed first, followed by the gold elements of the mandala. Yellow was applied after that and finally cyan. Accurate positioning without overlap or gaps was critical to ensuring that each element of this intricate design printed perfectly. The design really pops with its vibrant colours and juxtaposition of matt and metallic elements. Only hand printed silk screen in our opinion at least gives that level of covetable artisanal quality.
In comparison to letterpress printing, offset printing is a more indirect print technique. It’s popular for big volume production, and is also known as ‘flat printing’ or ‘litho printing’. Offset, by the way, is just another way of saying ‘transferred’. So, essentially, images on metal plates are ‘offset’ to rollers (or rubber blankets). Once that’s done, the image is printed onto the paper or print media that you've chosen. The metal plates and paper (or other media) don’t come directly into contact with each other during the process.
Modern, fast and accurate, digital printing is almost the polar opposite of letterpress! Digital printing uses tiny dots (a lot of them of course!) to create text and images. Digital printing is good for smaller quantities and is cost effective. What are the disadvantages? It’s likely that there'll be limits to the type of paper that you can use. This technique tends to suit thinner paper styles and quality can be variable dependant on the printer. Digital printing is also not suitable for accurately printing metallics – for example, you will not get a shiny bright gold or silver but instead a duller brown gold or grey silver.
When it comes to Laser cutting it’s a whole different world of precision and design. Creating and cutting out paper into different shapes isn’t new of course. In China they create ‘Jianzhi’, intricate symmetrical designs created with knives and scissors. And who hasn’t created their very own ‘origami garland’ as a child? Laser cutting definitely moves those hand created designs on a few millennia! Fast and accurate, laser cutting enables the production of intricate designs on an industrial scale.
How is laser cutting done? It’s a non-contact process utilising a laser to cut the material i.e. paper. Directing the laser beam through a nozzle to the media or material, a combination of heat and pressure creates the cutting action. Laser cutting is popular for the modern and vintage bride. It's good for delicate lace designs and works well with 3D designs such as cityscapes or representations of your wedding venue.
Embossing and Debossing
Embossing produces a raised textured image or text. But, unlike letterpress, it uses two engraved metal moulds to create your chosen design. The moulds used are often copper or brass, designed to fit into each other. During printing, the raised mould forces the paper into the recessed mould and creates the embossed impression of your design, as you can see on our envelopes for our notecards and personal stationery.
Debossing creates an indent in the paper rather than a raised design. Both of these techniques work well with a personal monogram design. Another of Ananya’s favourites!
And finally, we must mention engraving. It’s perhaps the most formal and classic of the printing styles for wedding stationery. It’s also one of the most expensive! During engraving an etched metal plate is used to create the design. When pressed into the back of the paper it creates raised lettering on the front which you can feel and leaves a slight indent on the back. The printer will apply ink to the raised lettering afterwards. Impressive to receive, we love luxurious engraved stationery at Ananya.