finally! it's time for me to share what i think about the L letterpress.
i met with michelle rasmussen, director of product development for quickutz & lifestyle crafts, back in november, who graciously agreed to give me a personal tutorial of this awesome new machine. i had heard buzz about the L way back during the summer and couldn't wait to get a closer look at the home-crafter's answer to letterpress.
michelle sent me home with my own L letterpress combo kit to play around with, and i gotta say it was a lot less easy than it looks. but, with a little patience and finesse [qualities i know every crafter needs], i got the hang of it.
to start out, you apply the printing plates to the lid of the device with adhesive-backed paper. you can buy plates from lifestyle crafts, or you can also have them custom-designed from a letterpress shop [as long as they'll fit in the confines of the press].
on the bottom side of the press, you place the paper. i used foam spacers to make sure i lined it up correctly. lifestyle crafts sells 110# paper in all different shapes and sizes for use with the L, but you can buy your own paper up to 220# to use.
next you roll the paint onto your plate. THIS was the tricky part. you learn very quickly that a tiny dab will do it with this paint, but it's kind of tacky so it's hard to get it to spread correctly. you want a THIN, even layer -- but accomplishing both objectives took me some time to master.
the paint also seemed a little tricky to clean up due to its sticky nature, but lifestyle crafts sells specially-formulated cleaning cloths that make clean up a breeze. for real, it took less than a minute to clean up my huge mess.
my first few attempts all came out looking like this -- you can see that it's easy to use too much paint and get it splotched all over the place:
but, once i mastered the trick [rolling the paint on with a very light hand, making sure to cover all the areas] it was easy and fun! this is one of my best looking cards:
the L comes with some really cool, intricate patterns to use. they all look amazing with a blind emboss [which would eliminate the paint issues and still look classy], but my fave was this fun pattern that i painted turquoise:
i played around with it for the whole afternoon and had a blast [though nothing i churned out looked quite as cool as this].
so what's the bottom line?
i think the L letterpress is awesome. it opens up the beautiful art of letterpress to a whole new group of DIY crafters, who get to learn a little about this amazing skill at their kitchen table.
i have heard lots of negative talk about the L from professional letterpress printers who think it might threaten or cheapen their craft, but i couldn't disagree more. obviously the L can never replace the charm and sophistication of stationery printed on century-old printing presses, but it does spread the letterpress love by creating new fans of the art who might not have otherwise paid attention.
plus, it's fun to play around with for creating personal stationery or shower invitations or whatever -- opening up a new world to those of us who like to play around at home. i love that with the L you can still get important details like your wedding invitations professionally printed, but be able to still add a homemade touch to centerpieces or favors by doing a little printing at home by yourself.
if you need more info, there's a helpful FAQ sheet on their web site [complete with demo videos]. i also like the lifestyle crafts blog, which is full of fun project ideas and examples.
have you tried the L? what did you think?