I love letterpress, don’t you? I just love how it combines the visual and tactile into something that feels really special – almost from another time. It’s magic lies in the slow, artisanal, by-hand process, which is hard to recreate at home. There are DIY letterpress methods, but most involve buying pre-made (aka pre-designed) or custom (aka more expensive) plates. Those options can produce beautiful pieces, but I love having options and have a hard time spending money on a design I will only use once or twice.
So, when Silhouette offered to send me one of their new Curio machines that can emboss, stipple, and etch, I said yes please! I hoped I could harness the Curio’s embossing powers to capture the look of letterpress, and I was not disappointed. After a bit of experimenting, I came up with a process to get a look similar to letterpress that I really love. I hope you will too!
Let me show you how I did it so you can re-create my designs or make your own unique letterpress-look projects.
Supplies (affiliate links included below):
- Silhouette Curio
- Color Printer
- A2 Blank Cards and Envelopes
- 90 lb. Watercolor Paper
- Copy Paper
- Paper Trimmer (optional, but nice to have)
- My Card Designs Studio Files (“High 5” in pink and blue and “You Rock” in pink and green)
To create this look, I used two of the Curio’s embossing features – the score and emboss and the print and emboss (although since letterpress is actually impressed into the paper I actually used score and deboss and print and deboss). The studio files I shared above are all ready to go, but to recreate this look in your own designs, you need to follow these steps to set up your document.
One you have the project design set, you need to tell the program you want to score and deboss each piece of the design.
- Click on a design element to select it, and then click on “Score and Emboss” in the embossing tab.
- Select fine embossing tip and two passes.
- Click “Apply Score & Emboss Lines.”
- The program will create a red score line around the outside of this design element and a blue emboss line just inside that red line. The Curio can use two tools at once so it will first score along the red line with a blade and then deboss along the blue line with the embossing tip.
- Group these new shapes together.
- Select the line color tab and set the color to none. For some reason, I found that I had to do this to prevent the cut lines from printing.
Once you have completed this for each element you want to score and deboss, you are ready for the next step – print and deboss!
First, make sure you have “Deboss” selected at the top of the embossing tab. This is important to make sure the Curio reads the registration marks read properly.
Next, make sure the registration marks are showing on your project and that your entire design fits within the margins. (To turn on the registration marks, click on the print and emboss tab or the registration marks tab at the top of Studio.)
Now it’s time to select your paper. Different kinds of paper score and emboss differently. Silhouette makes an beautiful score and emboss paper that is nice and soft and embosses beautifully. You can see the difference between plain smooth cardstock on top and the score and emboss paper on bottom in the image below.
Unfortunately, the score and emboss paper is too small to work with the print and emboss feature, so I chose to use watercolor paper. It is a nice soft paper with a great texture that I thought worked really nicely with the debossing. You may need to trim your watercolor paper down to 8.5 x 11 before feeding it into your printer.
Finally, send your piece to the printer! When it is done printing, you will need to trim it down to 8.5″ x 6″ (which is the size of the Curio’s working area. There is a larger base that provides a 8.5″ x 12 ” working area that is available separately). Next place the printed design on the embossing mat on top of two #2 platforms (to emboss you need a platform height of 5, and 2 + 2 + 1 = 5). Finally, feed the Curio platform into the machine.
It’s time to let the Curio work it’s magic! Make sure the tools in your machine match the tools listed on the cut settings. You should have a ratchet blade set to a 1 in the red slot and the fine embossing tip in the blue slot.
And that’s it! Send it to the Curio to score and deboss. The machine will read the registration marks to perfectly line up the scoring and embossing tools with the printed design – it’s so cool! (P.S. I love that this machine can use two tools at once! It makes it so much easier to create complex designs.)
When the machine is done doing it’s thing, this pull the piece off the embossing mat, and check out that perfectly aligned debossing!
Finally, finish up your card by trimming down the debossed design and attaching it to the front of the blank notecard.
I also print and cut some matching envelope liners using my Cameo to make the cards even a little more special. If you have the same envelopes, you can download my studio file for the liners HERE. Just change the color to match your design.
I can’t stop running my fingers over these cards! I love the texture and how it matches up perfectly with the printed design. It’s really pretty cool.
Anyone else have a Curio? What have you made with it? I’m looking for more ideas for my new toy, so leave them in the comments below.
Check out more Silhouette fun here: