I don’t know about you, but the first thing I do when I get a printed piece is to run my hand across it. It doesn’t matter what the piece is – a menu, an invitation or a book cover – an involuntary reaction occurs. Much like taking a breath, I do it without even realizing it. Well, that is until I realize I’m in a restaurant or some other public place feeling up a menu and that probably looks really odd to non-industry people. When I got a copy of the book, Design to Touch Engraving: History, Process, Concepts, & Creativity, I lost complete sense of space, time and decorum.
When it comes to print, few techniques convey such an intense sense of artistry and craftsmanship as engraving. Did you know engraving’s modest beginning produced a system enabling mass communication and the spread of priceless art? It was actually the first way to enlighten the masses. It’s a tradition steeped in history and the website from Neenah Paper, The Beauty of Engraving, is dedicated to the craft. Detailing the milestones of engraving’s history, the site also showcases the work of contemporary designers using the medium today in a series of prints. The newest addition to the series was created by lettering artist, Kevin Cantrell, and we’re super excited to be able to giveaway 10 of these limited edition prints to our audience.
Sunday night most of America will be watching as those words are said before announcing the Oscar winner. While we’ll be watching the Academy Awards along with the rest of the country to see who wins, we’ll also be paying particular attention to the details – the envelope.
Believe it or not, up until four years ago the most coveted announcement in film making was enclosed in a plain white wove envelope, the kind you’d find at Staples. All that changed when L.A. stationer, Marc Friedland, founder and creative director of Los Angeles-based Marc Friedland Couture Communications persuaded the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science to let him design an envelope that not only visually reflects the tone of the event and looks elegant on television, but be constructed in a way that made it simple for the presenters to open. Leave it to a designer to put the emphasis on utility, with design reinforcing the product’s message.
Each envelope is handcrafted out of four different papers stocks produced in Bavaria. Friedland’s 10-member Oscar team does everything by hand, with over 100 hours of labor including 10 different processes : custom-made paper, hand-tooled die-making, laminating, hand-folding, hand-gluing, hand-wrapping, sheeting, hand-fed gold-leaf stamping, hand-fed embossing, printing and using at least 40 yards of red ribbon.
Inside the envelope, the creators note, is a heavyweight ecru card featuring deco gold foil and accented with a gold-leaf embossed Oscar statuette along with the gold engraved phrase, “And the Oscar goes to…” The winner is printed in charcoal ink and mounted onto a matching red lacquer hand-wrapped frame. The back of the card introduces a new feature, indicating the specific award category visible to the audience and viewers, they add.
While creating the design, Friedland said it was important to make sure the card and envelope were not trendy or subject to fashion. He and his team looked to the ceremony itself for inspiration. “We took our cues from old Hollywood. The colors of gold and burgundy are the statuette and the red carpet,” Friedland says. “With that in mind, we really felt that this was the most simple, but brilliant-looking, because it also has to look great on stage.”
Friedland emphasizes the importance of the printed envelopes, even as new technologies continue to transform media. “Hopefully the envelope will never become digital because it’s a keepsake,” he said. “It’s the least-tech, most-emotional keepsake I know, and it’s perhaps the most-famous envelope in the world.” We couldn’t agree more.
Images Via Marc Friedland
Developed around the 16th century, engraving or intaglio printing, is a method of printing an image from lines cut below the surface of a metal plate. The feel of an engraved piece happens when the paper is pressed into a metal plate. If you are a fan of engraving or thinking about using engraving on your next project, you’ll want to check out this amazing site from Neenah Paper dedicated to the craft: The Beauty of Engraving. The site has a comprehensive gallery including curated collections – the current featured gallery is curated by Jessica Hische.
Paper is meant to be touched, to see these techniques first hand, sign up to receive The Parcel. In the meantime, here are a few things to keep in mind the next time your working on a project using engraving.
- Engraving will give the sharpest image, the die is cut by hand, either chemically etched or burned via laser.
- Photos and continuous tone illustrations are etched into a plate, image reproduction is as clear as lithography.
- Engraving is not inexpensive, so it limits its applications – but plate sizes are small (limited to 5″ x 7″) and can maximize impact on a project.
- Engravers use special inks for copper and steel dies; steel is often used for the longest print runs and higest quality. Limited quantities can be done with copper dies, up to about 5,000.
- Know your paper stocks, coated papers tend to crack – so make sure you test the paper you’re using. Caution should also be taken if using laid papers as they can cause feathering. The engraver can compensate for this by adjusting the ink flow or pressure on the die.
- The quality of the paper is critical, because of the craftsmanship and sharpness, engraving requires fine papers – cotton or wove stocks offer the most beautiful results.
- Always use match colors for engraving, four color process in not suitable with this technique – it uses different inks than litho inks.
- The technique lends itself to using lighter inks on darker papers due to the high opacity of the engravers inks.
- Be careful is using gloss inks, they can take on a metallic appearance.
- Avoid trying to reproduce large areas of color – they can appear mottled or uneven. Instead, think about an outline of the image with a screen tint.
- To eliminate the debossed impression engraving leaves on the back of envelopes, convert the envelopes after they’ve been engraved. Be sure the engraver prints the envelopes with the flaps open to avoid debossing.
One of the things we love about our work is that we have access to tons of beautiful papers – but sometimes it can get a little overwhelming. I mean there’s ALL those colors and textures, then add in the finish techniques and the possibilities are endless. Lucky for us we found this little gem of video that employs SIX different print techniques on one sheet: Engraving, Letterpress, Embossing, Foil Stamping, Thermography and Offset – just think we may have to try them all. Produced by Aldine Printing this short is like viewing a slow-mo hi-def press – could just be the best video of the week!
If you’re looking to try something on for size, make sure to join parse & parcel and check out our sample studio that’s coming soon.
If you are a fan of paper and print you will love this site from Neenah, thebeautyofengraving.com. The site showcases beautifully designed works featuring – engraving. Obviously the choice of paper plays a crucial role with this type of print technique – you’ll want use a highly tactile sheet, some would say go for one with a “toothy” feel to really play up the beauty of engraving.
In case you need more convincing, check out this video – it reminds us why this centuries old print technique is truly an art form.[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=fjeA5lgjCK4]