Get Inspired: Make Your Own Christmas Cards!

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There’s something special about a handmade card. You get to add all your own personal touches, whether you enjoy drawing, lettering, or decorating with stickers and stamps. It also allows you to get creative, and make each one unique! 

 Our favourite blank cards are brought in from Italy. They have a beautiful texture and gorgeous deckled edges. There are matching envelopes to go with them, and a choice of the white and cream colours. We also have a variety of coloured envelopes and card stock paper to help you make any kind of card!

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With thicker paper, you don’t need to worry about what kind of pen you’re going to use. You can choose any type of pen you'd like!

One of the most fun parts is, of course, decorating your cards! 

We also have so many different papers that you can use to collage your card! Go nuts with shapes and layers and textures of paper. You can make little winter scenes or keep it simple and classic. The choices are endless!

Our favourite way to finish up our cards is, of course, to seal it with sealing wax! With a whole rainbow of wax colours to choose from, you can put a different colour on each envelope!

Whether it’s for Christmas or birthdays or just to send a bit of love, handmade cards are sure to convey your sincerest feelings.

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Just don’t forget to get your cards out nice and early so that they arrive in time for Christmas!

Handmade cards by @Recchiaprints.
Blog by Christine Wiebe

Why We Love Bellroy at Paper-Ya

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”Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” - Leonardo da Vinci

Bellroy’s innovation is based on the beauty of simplicity, form, and function. They have perfected this art to create lasting pieces for your every day needs.

Materials

Bellroy uses environmentally sustainable leathers that only get better with age. Their woven fabrics are also sustainably produced, and are both lightweight and durable.

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Their products are made to last, and their hope is that this will also help reduce waste, as there is less need to discard older products. 

Bellroy's B Corp status proves their dedication to making and using environmentally sustainable products. From source to final product, they strive to ensure that their actions promote a greener world and give back to the environment. 

Wallets

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Bellroy’s wallets embody their goal of simplicity. Having removed any extraneous flaps and folds, their wallets are beautifully slim. They carry a range of sizes to suit everyone’s needs - from the more minimalistic to the more forgiving size.

Card wallets for those who rarely carry cash.

Larger wallet for those who need to carry a bit more.

Accessories

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Bellroy's passport cover is a multi-purpose wallet that allows you to carry your passport and wallet in one, with the addition of a small pen that adds no extra bulk.

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In partnership with Fieldnotes, Bellroy has also made a leather cover that fits these pocket sized journals.

The magnetic closure keeps the journal securely shut while it's tucked away in your bag or pocket. Perfect for those who still love the good ol' pen and paper (like us!).

Bags

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Bellroy’s recent venture into bags is one that has resulted in wearable works of modern art. There is beauty in simplicity, and Bellroy has worked this into all of their pieces. From backpacks to work bags, these pieces are versatile and elegant, and incredibly well organized.

We carry both their regular and water resistant styles. Both are able to fit a fifteen inch laptop, and come in horizontal and vertical forms. 

The various compartments of the internal organization promotes a tidy bag even on the busiest days, and the beautiful, professional colours allow for versatile use of the bags, whether for work or personal use.

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We love Bellroy for their quality, style, and sustainability, and we are proud to carry their products. If you haven't yet, come on in and check out the styles that we carry! They make a great gift for a loved one - or for yourself!

Blog by Christine Wiebe

How To Start Writing

There are so many different types of writing. Some people like to write just for themselves, and some people like to write to share their words. Some people want to create a world of fantasy, and some people want to explore reality. 

Whether typing on a laptop or writing with a pen and paper, the process starts in your mind and flows to your fingertips. But how do you start?

Creative Writing

How do you start a story? An empty page is daunting. You might find yourself staring at your screen or paper for ages with a world of adventure in your head, but no idea how to translate it into words.

Here are a few ways to jump start your creativity:

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Reading: Okay, you're not actually writing, but you're boosting your creativity by exposing yourself to the creativity of others. A great way to start your writing sessions is by reading for 20 minutes and getting those creative juices flowing!

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Writing Prompts: You can find writing prompts that encourage you to expand your ideas and take your mind to places you might not have expected! This is a great way to exercise your brain and warm it up before you try and dive into your own story.

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Point Form Outline: Having a very structured outline can help you figure out your plot and characters and organize everything ahead of time. This lets you solve any inconsistencies that might evolve as you’re planning.

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Winging It: It does not work for everyone, but some people just like to wing it. Just type a word, then another word, then another word after that, and see where the story takes you. It might not be the most practical way, but it can be fun to see how it turns out!

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If you're up for the challenge, November is National Novel Writing Month! It's a great way to push yourself and get your story written with the support of hundreds of other people! 

Daily Journals

Sometimes the best way to wind down at the end of a busy day is to take some time to write. Writing things down can help alleviate the stress they create in your life. Writing down moments of happiness can also help you appreciate the joys of life!

Guided Journals: For those who find themselves unable to focus when it comes to writing, these journals have prompts and layouts that are conducive to letting your thoughts flow. 

Journal photos by @aashishmanov

Blank Journals: For the DIY lovers, try buying a blank journal and decorating it yourself! Grab some Washi Tapes, stamps, and coloured felts to make beautiful pages that will be a pleasure to use!

Non-Fiction

Whether you're writing an autobiography or an article for a newspaper, you can still use many of the tips previously mentioned. After all, you'll be including your own brand of creativity into your writing! You can still use the above suggestions to warm up your brain before you write!

Even if you type your article on the computer, taking notes by hand is a great way to help you remember what you've been researching. 

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The more you write, the more you'll find your rhythm, and what does and does not work for you. Most importantly, enjoy the process! 

Blog by Christine Wiebe

How to Use a Dip Pen

If you've been to our store, you've probably seen our giant shelf of dip pens and inks. If you've been curious but hesitant about trying out dip pens, now is a great time to get familiarized with the basic techniques!

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At first glance, dip pens can be daunting. From choosing your nibs to experimenting with bottles of liquid ink, it seems like a lot to dive into. 

And that's why we are here to help you! We are always happy to recommend different nibs as well as inks and paper and any other accessories to help you get started.

Dip pens are not limited to writing. While they are certainly very popular for calligraphy and letter-writing, they can also be used for drawing and illustrating. 

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In our video below, we demonstrate the basic techniques for writing and drawing with a dipping pen.

Thank you for watching!

Blog and video by Christine Wiebe

All about Letterpress Part 2: An Interview with Dogwood Letterpress

Welcome to the second part of our interview with Dogwood Letterpress! In case you missed it, you can find part one here!

What is the process of making a letterpress print?

Our concepts always start with hand-drawn sketches: pencil, pen & paper! Depending on the project aim, a sketch might be transferred to a linoleum block, and carved. When you carve in lino, you must think in reverse: carve away the area that does not print. Sounds easy, right? It takes a little practice. [SIDE NOTE: If you feel inspired to try it out, please do remember the cardinal rule is to always carve AWAY from yourself, and never put your free hand in the way of the tools!] Linocuts tend to flatten & wear rather quickly with deep impression work, so we often do a clean black print from the linocut that can be scanned & turned into a photopolymer (UV-exposed plastic resin) plate, allowing for longer print runs.

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In the case of type, we love hand-setting metal type whenever possible. The type case is opened, and we create the text letter by letter using a composing stick, furniture and quoins to hold it all together. On metal type runs, we reduce the impression to preserve our type, or, sometimes we will set type digitally and have a photopolymer plate made, as described earlier with respect to linocuts. The beauty of the letterpress process is that you can combine a variety of plate types (metal type, or photopolymer, or lino, or wood type) into one print job.

Once your plate is ready, you must make sure that the form (the assembly of relief surfaces that are to print) is even, flat, and locked into a chase (a metal frame that holds all of it together), and ready to be put on press. Makeready includes a variety of preparations to make sure the form prints evenly with appropriate pressure, the ink is applied, and guides are in place to position where the paper is fed.

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The actual printing of the piece with the press running takes less time than the creative, preparation, makeready & clean-up involved with a particular print job! But once everything is in place, you can begin the print run. Multiple colour pieces will involve a set up & print run for each colour that you print.

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How do you choose your materials?
 

We choose based on the quality of the material, and concern for waste & sustainable production. Paper mills are surprisingly mindful of environmentally-sensitive practices these days. We buy only from mills that use certified, sustainable processes, and we buy Canadian as often as possible. Our materials & parts suppliers are based in Canada & the USA.  

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What vision do you have when you create your designs?

We imagine the end user of our stationery products penning a hand-written message to a colleague, friend, or family member. We try to create designs worthy of a message that will be appreciated & saved by the recipient for possibly years to come. We hope the enjoyment is two-part: the physical process of the pen gliding across cotton paper, and the opening of an envelope and reading of a message. Hopefully the texture and design details add something special to the exchange of handwritten notes that’s becoming increasingly unique in our digital world!
 

Tell us more about Dogwood Letterpress. How did it start? What is it like to work there? Where do you see yourselves in the future?

Dogwood Letterpress started out of passion for the texture of letterpress printing, and love of written communication. There’s quite a movement to keep the written word alive & vibrant, with all sorts of thriving pen-pal networks, greeting card sections in all sizes of stores across the country, and lots of great Canadian companies producing products that encourage people to WRITE! We are passionate about how the texture of letterpress printing and written communication provide a welcome break from the digital world.

We are a small company, but growing. At the moment, our cards can be found in shops across the country, as far East as Saint John. Recently, we created our first French greeting card for a Montréal stockist. I think what we relish most is the relationships that evolve out of running a growing creative business that specializes in human communication: we love meeting new people.

My day at Dogwood Letterpress is likely typical of that of the Canadian small business entrepreneur: lots of hats to wear! A little business-building; some design; some production (printing, finishing, packing); some shipping; a bit of accounting; some email; a dash of social media; and an effort to keep the big picture in mind, which is that our product must be worthy of people’s time & money. We want our product to be of the finest quality we can possibly offer: you’ve decided to make somebody else’s day with a hand-written note, so our product should be worthy of your effort.

We are hoping our future includes more of the kind of creative and printing that we do today, with more Canadians writing notes on letterpress cards made by Canadian printers in an industry that is alive and well!

Thank you, Dogwood Letterpress, for your insight into the world of letterpress!
 

Blog by Christine Wiebe

All about Letterpress Part 1: An Interview with Dogwood Letterpress

Dogwood Letterpress is a local Vancouver company that we proudly carry at Paper-Ya. Read on to learn more about the beautiful Letterpress technique in Part 1 of our interview!

Dogwood Letterpress Studio

Dogwood Letterpress Studio

What is letterpress?

Letterpress is the use of a relief (a raised surface) to transfer ink from that surface onto paper in order to create text. Though often credited to Johann Gutenburg (c.1450), the roots of relief-printed communication are in Asia. These early methods often employed carved wood for printing

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Contemporary letterpress is noted for the deboss (impression) created in the paper: a lovely textural effect that so many of us have fallen in love with in this age of the flat, digital screen. Ironically, master printers originally aimed for an impression-free print on the paper, termed  the “kiss impression” — a very difficult thing to achieve. Imagine heavy machinery, metal and wood hurtling at high speed toward a thin piece of paper, and hitting it perfectly level so that the ink is even, and the paper has no indentations! No small feat.

Letterpress shops like ours, however, are often asked for deep-impression printing on soft (often cotton) paper that people can feel, and see. Admittedly, we generally aim for deep-impression results. It’s worth noting that, not surprisingly, deep-impression printing has an impact on the old machines and on the relief materials (it can flatten your metal type). This is the dilemma of contemporary letterpress. We want to preserve the old machines & media, but we also want to produce results that keep people passionate about letterpress.

*Maravelas, Paul. Letterpress Printing, A manual for modern fine press printers
[photo of Chandler & Price press c. 1912]
 

How long have you been doing letterpress? What got you into doing letterpress?  

 

As a teenager I first became acquainted with printing and graphic designers while working in our small family offset print & copy shop. I have a memory of my Dad explaining how to convert a drawing into two printing plates (red & black) for a family holiday card when I was nine years old. Apparently family involvement in the printing industry goes back four (possibly five) generations in my family – something I don’t think I appreciated early on.

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The graphic design path took me to New York, and as an intern at Print Magazine, I lucked into mentors there who were passionate about the written word, design & typography. The late Andy Kner, an accomplished art director (and very patient, generous teacher), was art director at Print at the time; he had his own press, along with a selection of beautiful old Hungarian blocks and type that he would use to print personal projects — often cards. The letterpress process was still mysterious to me as a computer-based graphic designer, but like so many of us when we first see letterpress, I wanted to learn more.

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Several years later I took a workshop in Marcham, UK and that was a turning point for me. Shortly after the workshop, I bought a small desktop platen press (C&P Pilot) and about 300lbs of lead type from Don Black Linecasting in Toronto! In 2015, my husband & I bought our first large press, (a 1,000lb 10x15 Chandler & Price platen press) and since then we’ve acquired a few other pieces of vintage printing equipment that we’ve put to work, including a C&P from the century-old Vancouver Chinatown print shop Ho Sung Hing, which closed in 2014. The old machinery is a joy to work with, and the pleasure that the textural printing seems to bring to others keeps me completely in love with this medium.

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What is the most unique aspect of letterpress?
 

It’s hard to pick just one aspect! I think the easy answer would be the resulting print (each one is unique as it comes off of a hand-fed platen press). But where it concerns the process of printing this way — I’d have to say it’s the dimensional problem-solving.

With letterpress, the designer/printer is strategizing how to physically create a dimensional structure (the relief) that will print, often using disparate media: wood, metal, resin, ink, cotton, etc. There are many moving parts that must fit together, lock into the press, transfer ink from rollers to paper in a symbiotic way. The process of design, assembly, leading up to your ideal print is filled with intriguing puzzles that are of the three-dimensional, physical world. This is a special, tactile treat, both in process & result, compared to the contemporary digital realm where we spend so much of our time.

To be quite honest, there are days when it's frustrating having so many moving parts when a particularly sticky printing problem occurs! I don't want to imply that it's all unicorns and rainbows of inspiration!

It’s important to note that we here at Dogwood Letterpress are far from being masters of this medium. It’s a process! I think you could print for a lifetime and still have so much to learn. For an example of some of Canada’s most experienced and finest letterpress printing right here in our backyard on Granville Island, look no further than Blackstone Press! Granville Island is also host to many other printers, some of whom can be found at Dundarave, where you can take workshops, and learn about the wide variety of relief printing that’s out there (not just letterpress).  Emily Carr has a room full of press equipment, and hosts letterpress workshops from time to time.

Thank you for reading Part 1 of our interview with Dogwood Letterpress. Stay tuned for Part 2!

Blog by Christine Wiebe

Back to School at Paper-Ya

School is just around the corner! Whether you're excited or dreading it, we've found everything you need to make your school days just a little bit brighter.

Agendas 

If you have to look at an agenda every day, you might as well make sure it's one that you love! 

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Agendas come in all types of sizes, covers, and designs. You can choose larger ones that stay on your desk, or little ones that fit in your pocket.

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Once you've decided on the size that you want, the next step is to choose what type of interior layout you want. Monthly, weekly, and daily agenda allow for various levels of detail in your planning. 

The most fun part is, of course, choosing the cover! 

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Notebooks 

There are hundreds of notebooks out there, but we've narrowed down our in store selection to some of the best.  We carry blank, lined, dot-grid, and gridded notebooks in all different sizes!

Decomposition books offer fun covers and plenty of pages for all your notes. 

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If you prefer to use gel or fountain pens, we recommend notebooks with thicker paper such as our Rollbahn journals.

Pens and Pencils 

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We all have our favourite pens and pencils. If you ask any of us who work here, we will happily point ours out.

We have so many different kinds that we recommend simply coming in and testing them out to find your favourite! 

Pencil cases 

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Do you carry just a couple basics or a whole assortment of pens? We have all different sizes that allow you to carry as many - or as few as you would like!

 Organization 

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Binders, folders, and desktop accessories help keep all your notes and ideas in one spot. Because there's no such thing as being too organized!

And finally, we have bags to help you carry everything from your lunch to your textbooks!

We wish you all a very happy back to school! And if you're not going back to school... well, one can never have too much stationery... 

Blog by Christine Wiebe