Three things to keep in mind when working with handmade paper



Handmade paper is lovely and many stationers want to use it for their client’s invitations. Though most stationers have used it for a styled shoot here or there, it can be different when you are working with handmade product for a client project that will be reproduced in large quantities.

Here are three things that are important to keep in mind when working with handmade paper in order to save you from unanticipated issues.



NO. 1

How the design will be printed



How you will be printing will most likely determine the type of designs and artwork that you will want to offer to your clients.  Most often, handmade paper is best suited to letterpress, foil stamping, or screen printing and all of these methods require a design that is completely one color, with no gradient. That means that watercolor or other varied-color mediums are out and that you need to create elements that can be vectorized to solid black in order to create the print files. Although digital printing on handmade paper is possible, most commercial printers will not take on this type of job.



Handmade paper is lovely, but it is not always the most cooperative for stationers who do their own printing in-house. If you are planning to digitally print in-house, you will want to make sure that your printer can take the specific type of paper that you are recommending to your client.  Not only that it is able print on it, but how well it takes the paper in terms of the amount of ink scuffing and the number of jams.

There are some printers that will do a fine job with handmade paper without too much of a headache, however expect it to be a high maintenance printing project and plan accordingly as far as time and how much you need to charge.


NO. 2

The turnaround time when ordering product

Depending upon where you source your paper, there can be issues of certain sizes and colors being on back-order – especially during wedding season.  Many brands of handmade paper are produced by smaller artisan makers and, given the increase in demand for the product, this can often result in specific pieces being unavailable or having a much longer fullfilment time.

If you are working far ahead of your client’s wedding date, it may not be an issue to wait four weeks for your paper to arrive.  However, If you are working within a tight timeline, you could find yourself having designed a suite with the perfect blush paper only to discover upon ordering your product, that it will not even be available until after your mail date.

That is never a position that you want to find yourself in so always check with your vendor to find out about product availability.


NO. 3

Have the paper in hand to test before suggesting it to a client

Almost all handmade paper looks beautiful, but the surfaces can vary significantly.  This may not prove to be a problem, however you always want to have a sample of the exact paper that you will be using before you make your final recommendations to your client to make sure that all elements of your design will work the way that you think they will.  That way, if you run in to a problem, you have the time to figure out an alternative plan.

You may run into handmade envelopes that are extremely fibrous and difficult to calligraph or that have flaps that vary so much in shape and size that it is nearly impossible to do envelope liners; perhaps the vintage postage stamps or wax seals do not want to adhere to the rough paper.  You could also be sourcing paper from different places and you did not realize that the sizes were slightly off and your invitations do not fit in the envelopes that you ordered from another company.  Handmade papers tend to be slightly different sizes than the standard a9, a7, a6 sizes.



Of course, there can always be exceptions, but these are a few things that I always consider when working with handmade paper.  What have you learned when working with handmade paper? Have you experienced anything with handmade paper that surprised you?  I would love to hear.