Paper Elephant is a little boutique letterpress printing studio in the upper Blue Mountains of NSW. We design, print and package (all in-house): sweet and cheeky greeting cards, stationery and custom paper goods from our little mountain studio. Together we are a husband and wife team with a goal to create well-priced, unique and luxurious stationery. Together we share a passion for beautiful design, good wine and fabulous food (not necessarily in that order). We use beautiful old printing equipment to create luxurious stationery the old fashioned way: one colour at a time.
Nykke is a designer with over 15 years experience in the world of advertising agencies, publishing houses and boutique design studios. After many years of running her own design studio she yearned for something more tangible, something to call her own. Stumbling across other letterpress printers many years ago led to a search for the right equipment to make it all a reality. Also a designer, Troy is the pen behind some of our quirky illustrations. He’s also the human muscle for all the demanding work that goes on. (Trust us, some of this is pretty heavy stuff.) He finds the old fashioned moveable type the most appealing and is constantly on the search for more to add to our collection.
We share our little mountain world with two small and noisy children, one neurotic cocker spaniel and a crotchety old moggie. (There is also one older child who, in mid-2015, left us behind to find his own dream.)
Our Nellie is an original 1963 Heidelberg Windmill Platen Press, a letterpress workhorse (or elephant). But in layman’s terms she is one huge hunk of cast iron. Nellie is a trooper, she keeps the ink flowing and delicately feeds the paper through. But like any girl, she has her ‘bad-hair’ days when she just needs that little extra love and attention (ie. more oil, a few tweaks and a good rub).
Rusty is our faithful antique Chandler & Price guillotine who keeps Nellie company. He’s old and grumpy, but super sharp, so we keep our fingers to ourselves.
Curtis is our beautiful new addition, an antique Chandler & Price old style foot treadle press. Another finger chomper if you aren’t careful. But he’s just stunning and gives you a feeling for the classic origins of the printing industry.
Now for a little history lesson if you are interested. Letterpress printing originated in the mid 15th Century where moveable type was used to create books, newsletters and posters among many others. Ink is applied to the raised surface and paper is then pressed to the type which transfers the ink and creates a delicate impression on the paper. It was a form of printing that remained in use for over 400 years but saw a decline with the introduction of larger offset printers, and later digital printing, that enabled a faster turnaround and higher quantities.
In recent years letterpress printing has begun to regain its popularity through small boutique print studios around the world. Some remain faithful to the original form using only moveable type, some have embraced the wonders of modern technology and use photopolymer plates, while others use a bit of both. The process remains as it did hundreds of years ago. Each colour is printed individually before the press is cleaned down and the process begins again. The result is delightful.