When it comes to print we’re already a bit obsessed with paper and card stock. We’ve got more samples than one studio ought to have and when you add letterpress into the mix it takes things to the next level.

Holding your letterpress print in your hand and run your finger over the embossed print brings a whole new dimension to your design. The deep relief “hit” or impression of your design and letters into a thick paper stock is what makes the resurgence of letterpress unique.

Letterpress is one of the oldest mass printing techniques, invented by Johann Gutenberg in the 15th century with a mission to bring books to the common people. Prior to this printing of required craftsmen to carve entire pages of text into wooden blocks. Once the text was carved, the space around the letters had to be whittled away so the text was the only surface that would touch the page. Gutenberg also initially used wood blocked letters before using lead to give a more even print and clarity. It’s interesting to note that traditional letterpress printing did not reveal the impression of the letters as that was considered bad printing.

Designers are now able to use software to combine the text and designs to be printed. They can then produce a digital page and create a photopolymer plate of the page’s design. The design can then be pressed into the paper, creating a colorful, tactile work of art.

Here are five Scottish letterpress specialists, you can find them listed on Make Works.

1. Hunter Press, West Lothian

Founded in 2013 by Lyndsey Hunter, Hunter Press combines a passion for Scottish design with both traditional and modern printing techniques, the work is designed and printed in a private farm workshop shared with metalworking business Linwater Forge. She typically works with graphic design agencies, architects, makers, small businesses and wedding customers. 

2. Piccolo Press, Nairn

Piccolo use the finest paper, inks and blocks in the trade and are one of Britain's leading producers of high quality stationery. They produce business cards, invitations, letterheads, envelopes and correspondence cards with traditional print processes including letterpress, die-stamping thermography and hot foil through to digital production. Their client list includes The British Embassy, The Victoria and Albert Museum and National Galleries of Scotland. 

3. Glasgow Press, Glasgow

Printing since 1870, the company was originally 'The Govan Printing Company' and has been owned by the same family since 1962. In the 1970s, the company moved from Govan, and became the Glasgow Press continue to offer fine letterpress printing to firms and individuals throughout the UK and beyond. 

4. Stoneberry Press, Edinburgh

A new kid on the block, Stoneberry press was founded in 2013 by Evgenia Kochkina. They specialise in letterpress printing, combining the use of an Original Heidelberg T-Platen 1965 with modern letterpress techniques to make their work look crisp and vibrant.

5. Kingscroft Logistics, Irvine

Specialising in custom handmade packaging, Kingscroft can deliver short runs from as little as 10 at a time. The don't print, but do use techniques such as foiling, embossing and magnetic clasps to finish the boxes. Their clients cover a whole range of interesting people from high street retailers to boutiques, and designer-makers to design houses. 

You might also be interested in our Guide to Production for Illustrators  

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