Matt Heindl and Breck Hostetter
of Sesame Letterpress
Letterpress printing is enjoying newfound popularity, even though almost all of the machines involved are antiques.
We bought our first press—a Victorian-era model called the Golding Jobber—from an old man who’d used it to make dry-cleaning tags, church raffle tickets, and garage-sale signs for himself and his friends. It had probably never seen anything besides navy or black ink. It’s funny that we’re always using pale blue and chartreuse.
Why are people so interested in such an analog process?
It may be some sort of backlash to all the digital everything—when you hold a letterpress invitation, you can feel that it was made by hand. It costs a bit more than flat printing, but there’s no comparison: We use really beautiful, thick card stock, and the way that the ink bites into the paper produces very rich colors.
But your invites don’t look like throwbacks.
Most of the people we work with are in creative fields, and they like to use interesting imagery and designs, in unusual color combinations. There needs to be a balance between old and new—we’ve had couples come to us who have really alternative lifestyles, and then the mother of the bride wants a traditional fancy invitation.
Is the mother of the bride often present? Or is it just her spirit hovering over the proceedings?
Ordinarily, she’s only there in spirit. But pleasing all parties is part of the challenge and part of the fun. For one couple, we came up with a very formal invitation, black text on off-white paper, but then we did a blind embossing of a peony with these little bugs and bright-green edging. It was subtle but unusual—a good compromise.
Did you make your own wedding invitations?
We did. We couldn’t commit to a design and procrastinated until the last possible moment. We ended up having to print them, assemble everything, and address the envelopes all in one very long day.
What did they look like?
We were married in Marblehead, Massachusetts, which has a rich maritime history, so we used a wavy script border, a ship, and seafaring birds. We work a lot with nature, animals, and botanical prints.
Do most couples take design cues from their reception sites?
People do tend to want to reflect the place where they’re getting married. The invitation is the first thing the couple does that really gets the message out about the feel of their wedding; it’s the first indication of what kind of party it’s going to be. Some people pick from our pre-existing designs, which is a little bit more affordable, but others want very specific images. We understand when a couple doesn’t have a huge budget. When we got married, we couldn’t have afforded our own invitations if we hadn’t been able to make them ourselves
diy calligraphy “If you address the envelopes yourself, practice first. Placing a lined index card inside the envelope will help you keep your writing straight.”