4 Ways to Drive Your Printer Crazy


By Sabine Lenz

It can hit you anywhere. In the shower. At the gym. While waiting in line for your much-needed morning coffee. Inspiration is everywhere, but it can also be a fickle thing. Sometimes it just seems to elude us.

Yes, you can browse through countless design magazines, waiting for the muse to strike. But there are some places that just might help you get your much needed spark.

One of these is a little store in Berkeley. While it may be little in size, the inspiration that oozes out of here is one of a kind. Suzie McKig and Serge Vigeant, owners of Twig & Fig Couture (and we are talking paper couture), are taking invitation design to a new level. (You will remember Suzie as one of the guest speakers at our recent free webinar “High-end Invitations”.)


But as we do not all have the ability to flock to Berkeley when needed (and I am sure Suzie, above, would not appreciate the line forming around the corner ;-)) – and even though we do not all dabble in the kind of high-end invitations this team is known for – we can meander to the places where Suzie and Serge find their inspirations.

Warning: Even though not all of these ideas are paper related, they can be borrowed and transcended with paper and some creative techniques. They might drive your printer crazy, but what else is new ;-))

Interior utopia
High-end interior design shops are a great source for inspiration. The current trend on display is metal. Observe the shine and reflection of light and see how you can utilize this effect on your next printed piece.

twigNfig2 In the invitation above, Serge printed the thick stripes with a double hit of white. As they are so big and bold, your eye at first thinks that this is the background color of the sheet. And, as most printing inks are not 100% opaque by nature, a little bit of the metallic sparkle still shines through.

Or use the full sheen of the metallic sheet and set it off with a bold contrasting color. Regarding the piece below, this is indeed a real metal plate, laser die cut and then mounted on an orange backing… but you do not have to wonder where to source metal plates – die cut (or laser die cut) any metallic paper and back it with a contrasting sheet. You can also duplex laminate it with the contrasting paper and let the bright inside of your invitation shine through.


Fabric stores
One of your must-do stops on every New York trip has to be Mood, the fabric store. Rarely will you find a tame piece of cloth here. The variety of real and fake leathers and other simulated effects is amazing.


For this envelope liner, Serge mounted thin suede fabric onto a paper backing (so it could then be run through his press) and letterpress imprinted it with the motorcycle pattern.

If real suede is not in your budget, pick one of the fabulous papers that give you a similar unique feel. There are papers on offer that feel like suede, rose petals, cashmere…

Wall coverings
My mother has a yen for rose-patterned wallpapers, and as a result I am a bit allergic to the thought of wallpaper in general. But you just have to explore what is available these days and get inspired.

Some of the coverings on offer oh-so-closely resemble the look and feel of leather, and their patterns give them an even more awe-inspiring effect. While Twig & Fig uses actual wallpaper, this might not be an option for you and me as a lot of hand assembly is required.

Borrow the idea and emboss or deboss your choice of paper with a unique pattern. Then add one of the exciting “touch and feel” varnishes and voila…


From forests to beaches
What might look like pieces of driftwood hammered onto a plank (above) is indeed meticulously thought out and executed. Serge created templates to hold the pieces in place – again, a lot of manual labor goes into these – and the final board is then foil stamped and laser engraved.

If you do not have time – or are too remotely located to meander along the beach – utilize some of the real wood substrates on offer. These are thinly sliced sheets of veneer that come directly from trees. There is no substitute for the actual look and feel of these sheets and they come in various wood types (walnut, cherry, maple) and grain directions. You can foil stamp and even digitally imprint these sheets.


Now push your wallpaper aversion aside (note to self) and head off to get your personal fix of inspiration at any of the suggested places above. And please, let me know where you get your best inspiring sparks.


sabine_120Seeing designers worldwide struggle to stay current with new papers and paper trends inspired Sabine Lenz to create PaperSpecs, an independent and comprehensive Web-based paper selection tool and weekly e-newsletter. Growing up in Germany, she started her design career in Frankfurt, before moving on to Australia and the United States. Lenz worked on design projects ranging from corporate identities to major road shows and product launches. From start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, her list of clients included Oracle, Sun Microsystems, Deutsche Bank, IBM, and KPMG. Lenz is a noted speaker and author on paper issues and educational topics related to the paper industry.


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