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…off cuts or new project?…

If there is one thing I do better than buying beautiful papers, it’s hoarding said papers and not using them in case I “waste” them on an inferior project, which really is a wastefulness in and of itself. The other thing that I am learning to be better with, is scraps, and deciding what I will realistically use, and what I can let go of without guilt… I’m not always perfect at it, but I am trying.

This past week, I’ve been blessed to be part of the #buyfromthebush and One Day Closer cottage crafts movement, and sold off the last of my letterpress Christmas cards that I had in stock, and then some, which meant… printing time! I haven’t had my letterpress gear out in such a long time, and I had forgotten how much fun it is and how much I enjoy it, even the frustrating parts, like getting the plates warmed up, getting the ink loading just right, getting the pressure through the press how I want it. I enjoyed so much I’ve been busy trawling through gumtree and eBay looking for a table top press.

Part of the process, though, is knowing the first few runs will be less than ideal while I find the sweet spot of all the variables. Inevitably there is an area that will get missed every pass of the ink roller, or won’t get quite enough, or will get too much. The ink can take a few goes to work out exactly how much to apply, depending on the temperature that day, and the mood of the ink (I remained convinced that ink is indeed sentient and has moods and feelings and will not be dissuades from this theory). That bit is fun, and I generally use the one piece of paper to minimise the wastage during this process. I can deal with that, it’s just par of the consumables of printing.

The frustration comes in when I get all those variables tweaked and sorted into line, and start my print run, and wastage comes into he process in the form of my clumsiness. A smudged print where I accidentally touch the wet ink as I move the print from press to drying area. A random finger print where I miss a bit of ink still left on my finger. A bit of dirt on the guillotine. A cut not quite right. And so I end up with a pile of cards that have a perfect print but are unusable. Sometimes I can salvage the back of the card to print flat note cards, but the thought of throwing out these otherwise perfect prints makes me so sad and annoyed. Sometimes I keep them on hand with the thought of trimming the print for journalling.

This time, however, they were perfect for upcycling. the thought hit me in a random 2am overthinking session (I do some of my best work at 2am!), that these gorgeous off-casts could be trimmed, the blank part saved for future flat projects, and the printed part trimmed to a shipping label shape to create over-sized gift tags.

It was the work of 2 minutes to trim the prints off during the week while the children crafted, and not much long to fiddle around a bit and work out the best way to easily and efficiently trim the corners. I do think I will invest in a shipping tag punch for future projects, but for this time, a template and the guillotine worked fine. A quick snap of the cropadile to add a hole to the top, and they were complete. I will confess I considered adding eyelets and may mix in some washi decoration as well, but if I don’t get time for that, well, they are fabulous in their current simple, understated form.

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