Letterpress Experiment {part 2}

After playing with my homemade letterpress the other day I was thinking of other things I might make printing/debossing plates with when a lady on the SCAL/Cricut yahoo group suggested that I try magnet sheets. It just so happened I have a bunch of sheet magnet scraps given to me by the local sign shop so I gave it a whirl and guess what? It worked!

The green swirls were done with my magnet sheets.

I cut the magnet sheet with my Cricut. I used the Accent Essentials cartridge and the multi cut feature on my Expression. I made sure to tape the magnet sheet down on all 4 sides to my mat to make sure it didn’t move while cutting and I used a deep cut blade depth 6, pressure max, speed low. You need to cut it twice to make sure it goes through the magnet (probably 3 times would be better because it still didn’t go all the way through but I was able to pop the design out of the sheet.) This was the first time I used the multi cut feature on my Expression 😉 Here is a look at the debossing without ink:

The magnet gives a clean crisp debossed image when run through the home-made letterpress.

Here is a detail of the card. I kinda go overboard with my brayer and ink but you can still see the pretty design.

The damask and text plates are from Lifestyle Crafts (L) the swil is my magnet plate.

Since my homemade letterpress worked so well I decided to make a prettier one with a grid for lining up and measuring. Here is what I did. I used a new Big Shot cutting pad (I bought 2 new cutting pad sets at JoAnns today as they were on sale for 40% off as was all of the cricut and sizzix products so ou may want to stock up…I’m such an enabler) 😉 and a piece of masonite cut to 6″x9″ (it was a scrap of wall paneling board I cut to size with a craft knife, you can get discontinued paneling samples from the hardware store for free if you ask or use 1/8″ masonite or a spare cutting pad.) I printed graph paper off the internet from this site, trimmed it to 6″x9″ and glued it to the masonite then covered the whole grid with a laminating sheet so any stray ink could be wiped off. I taped around the edges with clear packing tape overlapping 1″ on the top and bottom of the masonite board on all 4 sides. I place the clear cutting pad and masonite board end to end leaving a 1/4″ gap between them and taped them together with duct tape to make a hinge. Be sure to wrap the duct tape all the way around for a sturdy hinge. Then I used a ruler and a purple sharpie to make lines on top of the clear pad and the grid paper to make it easy to line up my paper. Here is a look at the pretty version:

I used a new cutting pad and added a grid on my revamped letterpress gizmo.
here is the letterpress open, see how easy it is to line up the plates and paper using the grid.
I place the letterpress on the spacer with two sheets of cardstock to shim (or pack) it.
Here is the debossed image using the letterpress plates from Lifestyle Crafts, if you want a colored debossed (letterpressed) image ink up the plate first. see my ink recipe and instuctions below.

Here is a recipe for homemade printing ink:

1 part Prang Tempera Paint (I like the metallic and the dollar tree sometimes has it) mixed with 1 part Reeves brand Gauche Paint (you can get a set of 18 colors at AC Moore for $10 or cheaper on-line. Mix together and place a bit on a ceramic tile then roll a rubber brayer over it until it is evenly inked and you are ready to use the brayer to ink up the printing plates! If the ink seems too wet add more gauche, if it is too dry add more tempera. You could use acrylic paint however you need to clean your brayer and plates meticulously and quickly after using because if the paint dries on the plates or brayer they will be ruined. Gauche and tempera are like opaque watercolors and can be washed off even when dry.

If you don’t have a clue what I am talking about in this post you can read part 1 of my letterpress article here. Thanks for stopping by and til next time happy crafting!

9 thoughts on “Letterpress Experiment {part 2}

  1. Thank you so much, Lindsay. This is a great explanation and I understand much better now what the process is! I just got a big roll of magnet material w. the 40% coupon at Js last week, so you can bet I’ll be trying this. I just wish we had ACM around here anymore….J’s bought ours. Oh well. With this technique we don’t really need them for this project anymore! 😉


  2. Wow! You are a genius! I have to try this. I just purchased the L Letterpress and so far I am not pleased with the results (plates cracking). Just out of curiosity, how thick is the magnet material you used to create your plates. I actually read your post yesterday and went out to buy sheet magnet but what I found at Michaels seemed really thin.


    1. Hi Jamie, I’d say it is about 1/8th of an inch thick, it was a scrap from a sign shop, the stuff they make the magnetic car signs from. It cuts really easily too! If your stuff is thinner try doubling it up:)


  3. Hi, loved your homemade letterpress. I like the look but also didn’t want to invest in yet another thing. The design with Thank You looks like clear stamps, are they? Can you use stamps as your design or are you cutting the designs from magnet? I’m confused.


    1. Hi Doreen,
      I tried at first with clear stamps and unmounted rubber stanps but they are too squishy, the letterpress plates are hard plastic. I bought mine at AC moore with 50% off coupons. You get many plates in a set. You can cut them from stencil plastic as well, you just need something that will hold its shape when run through the pressure of the machine;) Magnets are nice because I get loads from a local sign shop and they cut well in the cricut but experiment with what you have. It is a lot of fun! Also thick printmaking paper works best because it is soft and takes the impression well.


  4. Many thanks My task for the Xmas holidays. Hope you and your family have a great time over the holiday period. The London craft addict Paul


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