Behind The Scenes – Color Mixing


A lot of prep work happens before you get to printing, here Shayna and Fuko are picking out the perfect shade of grey to mix up.


Getting the right ratio can be tricky! Shayna shares a few tips on how to get the color just right.

photo(32) We custom mix each of the colors we use, another part of the process that makes hand made products special!

Winter Reading List

Most people talk about summer reading lists, but if you live in Chicago, summer is the time to be outside, be active and social.  Winter, on the other hand is for hibernating, staying cozy inside watching movies, games nights with friends and hunkering down with a good book. With short days and long hours of darkness I always get so much more reading done during the long Chicago winters.

I thought I would share some of my all time favorite books from the last few years.

Reading List

Just Kids by Patti Smith
This autobiographical book by Patti Smith tells the story of her friendship with Robert Mapplethorpe before they were famous, trying to make it as artists in New York City in the 1970s and 1980s. They were struggling, broke, creative, and living in an amazing time for art and music.  A writer first, her style is poetic and beautiful while remaining accessible.  Coming from an art-school background I related to this book on many levels.  However this book is not just for former art students, it’s for anyone with an interest in the arts, new york city, or anyone who remembers being in their early 20s just trying to figure it all out.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Another autobiography, this one about a girl who looses her mother in her early 20s, then looses herself. Unable to deal with her grief she becomes promiscuous and gets involved with drugs.  At rock bottom, she makes the decision to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from Southern California all the way through to Northern Washington, and along the way she finds strength to live again.  This has recently been made into a movie starring Reece Witherspoon. I also saw the movie, but I would recommend the book first. The book is way better

The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
I read this book maybe 10 years ago, so I don’t remember all the details, but mostly how much it impacted me at the time.  It is the story of several couples with loosely intertwined lives, in Europe during WWII. Their lives and their loves are imperfect, flawed, human, sometimes painful and feel so real.  Beautifully written, it is a story about humanity and imperfection.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
A sci-fi, futuristic novel, this book is for anyone who remembers the 80s.  It’s a real page turner with so many great 80s pop culture references.  Set in 2044, the world is an over populated wasteland where people spend their time in a virtual reality game.  The protagonist is an outcast, teenaged boy living in grim circumstances.  There is a quest, there are enemies, friends, political systems to fight, and also hope.  I read this book in 3 days. Even if sci-fi isn’t your thing, you won’t be able to put this book down.
(apparently this is also being made into a movie)

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Wells
Yet another autobiography, this one is about Jeanette Wells’s extraordinary life circumstances growing up impoverished with an artist mother and alcoholic father.   From desert life in the American Southwest to a coal mining town in West Virginia, her life is chronicled in detail.  Its amazing how she finds her way out of poverty and into school in New York City.  This is another page turner, and a spectacular story.

– – – –

I’m reading “The Interestings” by Meg Wolitzer. It’s a book I picked up at the airport because I liked the title and the few blurbs I read while browsing. It’s about a group of friends that meet as teenagers at an arts summer camp in the 1970s.  The story follows their lives and their friendships into present day as they grow and evolve over time. So far I’ve really enjoyed it, but it’s not of those really memorable, completely engrossing books you can’t put down.

And on my shelf and waiting to be read is:

    • Woolgathering by Patti Smith – I just love her writing style
    • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – I’ve heard so many good things about this, and the move was amazing
    • Pushing the Envelope by Rob Fortier – This is a non-fiction stationery industry book about working with sales reps (I don’t just read for pleasure you know)
    • #GirlBoss by Sophia Amoruso

I’m always looking for the next great book and I would also LOVE to hear any suggestions from you!   What books have captivated you? What you recommend? What do I have to read next?

Behind The Scenes – Making Monograms

letterpress studio

More custom stationery on the press today! Shayna is teaching our intern Fuko all about typesetting.

letterpress studio

letterpress studio

Lots of measuring and testing before the final run.

letterpress studio

Shayna and the C&P in action!

custom letterpress stationery

And the final product- crisp and classic Monogram stationery!

2014 In Review

2014 Year in Review

I know I say this every year, but 2014 was another big year for Steel Petal Press!!  I usually like to start these posts by looking over the goals I set for myself the previous year (see recaps from 2013, 2012 and 2011) but it looks like I didn’t write those down last January, so I’ll just have to go by 3-5 year goals from 2012 (still totally applicable!)

Here are the highlights and milestones of 2014:

New Website
I started working on revamping my website in September of 2013. 6 months later, it finally went live in March of 2014!  Read my post about the experience HERE.

National Stationery Show
It was my second year exhibiting at the National Stationery Show. This year I had my own both, built my own hard walls and brought my husband with me.  You can read my recap of the experience HERE.


Paper Source
One of my card designs got picked up by Paper Source! Selling to a national chain has been fantastic. They place fairly large wholesale orders very regularly.

Other New Stockists
I added 20+ new retailers to my list of stockists in 2014. They are super awesome and I’m thankful to be working with each and every one of them.  You can see my full list HERE.

In August of 2014 I hired a lawyer and filed the paper work to officially become Steel Petal Press Inc. (Goodbye sole-proprietorship!)  When I made the decision to hire my first employee,  the first step of the process was to separate myself from my business. Hence Incorporation! Which leads me to my next big event..

Hired an Employee
In August, I posted an ad on craigslist, weeded through over 150 applications, went through the interview process and hired Maranda, as my part time administrative and studio assistant. It’s been a learning curve adjusting to someone new in the studio, but it’s definitely alleviated a lot of my workload.

I hosted 4 interns in 2014.  They all brought something a little different to the table and I enjoyed working with each of them. It’s also so fascinating to see how differently each of them works, their strengths and weaknesses.

Celebrity Wedding
I worked on one highly intense, celebrity wedding rush order.

Custom Orders
I worked on over 100+ custom orders including personalized stationery, business cards, holiday cards, save the dates and wedding invitations.   More than half my custom orders were wedding invitations.  I worked with couples all over the world from Chicago to Australia.  The state that wins for most clients? 12 couples from New York chose my services last year.

Gold Foil Wedding Invitation

I got some great press this year.  From Buzz Feed, Oh So Beautiful Paper, and more (see the full list here), but the most exciting was seeing my work and my studio featured in a Japanese book about letterpress: A New Trend In Letterpress Printing

And now on to my goals and plans for 2015

– get busy enough to hire another part-time employee (someone to help with packing and shipping)
– pick up 10-20 more wholesale accounts (at the National Stationery Show or elsewhere)
– be published in a major bridal publication, Brides Magazine, Martha Stewart Weddings etc.
– have more card designs picked up by Paper Source
– Find a Sales Rep

Longer term 3-5 year goals

– move into a new space, hopefully a storefront closer to home (the commute kills me)
– new space = more space, purchase a Windmill and learn how to print on it
– hire a full time employee


And now a few personal goals

Get finances together – buying a house has been expensive, and definitely an adjustment in terms of spending and money
Keep going to the gym – I was really good about working out regularly last year, and I want to keep that up in 2015
Read more books – Winter is the time for reading! I have 6 on my shelf ready to get into
Eat less sweets – I have a major sweet tooth, it is one of my vices that got out of hand over the holidays. I’ve found that if I allow myself to eat sweets on Sunday, it’s easier for me to resist for the rest of the week.
Personal relationships – Although there are still times that work can take over, over I felt good about my work-life balance last year. I want to continue to put energy into my friendships, my husband and my family while still working to improve and grow Steel Petal Press.


And that’s my 2014 in review!  You can also view 2013, 2012 and 2011 recaps on my blog. How was your 2014? Any big goals for 2015?

Meet Fuko the new letterpress intern!

Letterpress internship Chicago

Meet Fuko the newest intern at Steel Petal Press!   A recent graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, she is originally from Japan and has only lived in the states for the last few years.  You wouldn’t realize it when speaking to her though, she went to an English school and sounds like a native.

When not at Steel Petal Press she works in the print making studio for Tony Fitzpatrick, a Chicago based collage and mixed media artist.

She has been learning the ins and outs of a  letterpress stationery business from shipping orders, packaging cards, putting away type and printing on the Vandercook and the C&P.

Here are a few shots of Fuko in action.

Letterpress internship Chicago

We’re so happy to have her on the team!

Behind The Scenes – Snow Days

chicago letterpress studio

These cold, snowy days are perfect for hunkering down in the studio and getting things done. Shayna stayed busy (and warm) printing some lovely custom stationery and envelopes.

custom letterpress stationery

Our new intern, Fuko got a turn at the press too!

chicago letterpress studio

We hope everyone is staying safe and cozy!


NEW: Letterpress Valentines Day Cards

I’m so excited to finally reveal my newest Valentines Day Cards!  I had super busy fall and holiday season, which left me behind in getting these designed and printed.  Right before Christmas I spent a whirlwind day printing and they are finally available and up in the shop! You can find them in my online shop HERE and on ETSY.

I hope you enjoy!

Up next I plan on sharing my recap of 2014 and goals for 2015.  Happy New Year!

You Are Home Valentine Day Card Wife Valentine Day Card Letterpress Valentine Card Letterpress Valentine Day Card Hubby Valentine Day Card Girlfriend Valentine Card Boyfriend Valentine Card Single Valentine's Day Card

Letterpress Valentines Day Cards

Behind The Scenes – Winding Down

letterpress holiday card

The holiday rush is over!!


It’s starting to slow down in the studio, and we’re excited to take advantage of the quiet to spend some time with friends and family, and enjoy the season. And drink whiskey. Lots and lots of whiskey.



We hope you have a great holiday and we want to give a huge thank you to everyone that has supported us this season and this year, you guys are the best!!

Behind The Scenes – The One Of A Kind Show

Steel Petal Press booth at the One Of A Kind show

We set up at the One Of A Kind show last weekend (along with 600 other vendors!) for 4 days of handmade holiday shopping. This was our first time participating and we had such a great time!

Steel Petal Press booth at the One Of A Kind show

So many happy shoppers! One of the best parts about selling at craft shows is the chance to meet friendly new customers and other local makers face to face.

letterpress holiday cards

It was no surprise that holiday cards were selling fast, but the real star of the show was the “Holy Shit You’re Old”  card!

letterpress birthday card

Thanks to all our new and repeat customers that came out to support handmade! The show was a big success and a lot of fun. We’ve already signed up for next year, so we’ll see you in booth #1020 again!

Cyber Monday Sale

Cyber Monday Sale 2014

Cyber Monday Letterpress Stationery Sale

Join us for a Cyber Monday Sale!

25% off EVERYTHING *

with the coupon code: CYBERMONDAY2014

Monday, December 1st ONLY

From your cart
1 – Click “Check Out”
2 – Enter shipping info and “Continue to Next Step”
3- enter the code: “CYBERMONDAY2014″ for the 25% discount on the last page
(just before you insert your payment info.)