The art of printing by hand

Hand-print your own cards, wrapping paper, and party invitations
Miranda Jones

Get the look of exquisite hand-printed invitations and placecards—without a spendy custom design.

The cofounder of the San Francisco studio Yellow Owl Workshop, printmaker Christine Schmidt, shows a simple way to create your own—and wrapping paper too—using the graphics pictured here that she designed especially for Sunset readers.

Hungry for more? Check out Christine’s new book, Print Workshop: Hand-Printing Techniques and Truly Original Projects (Potter Craft; $20), out next month.

Materials

  • 8- by 10-in. transparency sheets
  • Color laser printout of 1 of these design templates:
  1. Placecard template
  2. Invitation template
  3. Wrapping paper template
  • Painter’s tape
  • Fine-tip permanent marker
  • Scissors
  • Paper (use watercolor paper for invitations/placecards)
  • Chartpak Ad Marker
  • Colorless Blender (a “clear” marker to bleed/ transfer a design)
  • Bone folder or spoon for burnishing (rubbing)

Directions

1. For invitations, place 1 transparency sheet over a printout of this invitation design; tape them down and write your text on the transparency with a fine-tip marker. Untape, flip the transparency over (text will be reversed), and re-tape it to the printout.

2. After ensuring tape won’t show, make as many color photocopies of the invitation as you need finished pieces, plus extra for practice. Trim to desired size.

3. Lay 1 sheet of watercolor paper on a flat work surface. Place photocopies face down on watercolor paper. Hold down firmly (or tape down).

4. Working quickly, saturate an entire photocopy with the colorless-blender marker and burnish with bone folder.

5. Gently peel back the photocopy, checking that the design has transferred.

6. Trim, if necessary; for placecards, write in individual names.

Tips 

  • Color photocopiers tend to not reproduce color vividly on the “auto” setting; increase the color-saturation level to get a brighter print.
  • If the design is not transferring, re-saturate and rub harder.
  • If the design looks murky, saturate less and rub more gently. Make sure the photocopy and watercolor paper are not moving while you work.
  • The colorless-blender marker is a bit smelly, so crack a window.