Printing Napkins with Cindy Iverson of Letterpress Central in Chandler

Forget decorations and placecards, and bring some handmade creativity on your next party or gathering with unique letterpress napkins. Cindy Iverson of Letterpress Central in Chandler shows us how to spell out words, personalize table settings, and incorporate images onto ordinary napkins as an easy way to add some character to any event.

Iverson is busy gearing up for the Phoenix Wayzgoose, a letterpress conference from Wednesday, June 5, through Sunday, June 9. But she took a break to guide us through the process of printing these custom napkins.

See also: The Phoenix Wayzgoose: A Celebration of Letterpress (and Swap Meet/Auction of Goods!) Painting Plaid Walls with Kenny Barrett of GROWop Boutique in Phoenix DIY Glass Etching: A Semi-Dangerous How-To with Laurie Notaro

How to LetterPress from Voice Media Group on Vimeo.

Materials -Printing ink (available at art supply store) -Glass/plastic flat surface for spreading ink -Brayer (roller for ink -- available at art supply stores) -Assorted paper napkins -Small piece of craft foam -Plastic knife -Letter/image letterpress stamps (easy to find at flea markets, antique stores, Etsy, or eBay)

Method 1. Use the plastic knife to scoop a portion of printing ink onto the glass. Then use the brayer to roll the ink into a thin layer on the glass, approximately as wide as the roller itself.

2. Next, choose the napkin and stamps you will use. Place the napkin on top of the foam instead of a hard surface (this will help with the application of the ink). Organize the stamps on the napkin so that you can decide on spacing and ensure that you won't run out of room for your design.

3. Roll the brayer in the ink and then onto the stamp. Be careful, though -- remember that letter stamps are made backward and must be applied in the correct direction. Make sure you consider this before applying the stamps in the next step.

4. Press the inked stamp onto the napkin in your desired space. Wiggle the stamp slightly to ensure the whole print is applied (the foam underneath the napkin allows you to do this). Continue with every other stamp you are using.

5. Let the napkins dry before using. If you are making a series of napkins, repeat the steps with each one, but be sure to avoid stacking them until each is thoroughly dry. Iverson assures that "once the ink is on there, it's on" -- so no worries about it coming off after drying.

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