The ChaseDesign holiday mailer starts its journey a year or more before it arrives in your home. In 2016, the mailer was the collaborative effort of designers and production specialists who took the idea from a simple paper prototype, studied how it would fold and open, hand-cut refined prototypes, did type studies, chose paper stock, and designed an envelope to carry the finished piece around the world.
Early, hand-cut prototypes
Not the least of the designers’ tasks was to shepherd the piece through the printing process, which included printing, embossing, debossing, hot foil stamping and die cutting. In short, the project called for an abundance of “old school” printers’ skills, for which we called upon Jeff Schoenfeld and his staff at Ansun Graphics in Syracuse, N.Y.
An Akiyama Offset Press was used for the printing. Because the chosen paper – a pearlescent sheet with a synthetic substrate – does not absorb ink, a fully-oxidizing ink had to be used and the paper left to air dry for 48 hours after printing on each side.
Embossing die for petals
The embossing on the white petals – the raised portions of the paper – and the debossing on the green leaves – the depressions in the paper -- were done on a Kluge embossing press, using photo-engraved plates. Because the embossing in the five petals had to be precisely centered, transparencies with register marks were created and fingers were crossed. The initial results were perfect.
Embossing die for hot-foil stamping of berries
The hot-foil stamping of the red poinsettia berries was done on a Kluge hot foil press, with an etched, photoengraved plate, to do the embossing and red foil printing simultaneously.
The mighty Heidelberg
Once the piece was printed, embossed/debossed and foil stamped, the white petals had to be cut to create the three-dimensional effect. The die cutting was done on a vintage Heidelberg Press, “The Prince of Presses,” a German machine that has not changed significantly since 1933. The Heidelberg has an “impressional strength” of 60 tons which makes it ideal for die cutting.
Board built for die cutting
A die was created with a laser, cutting the card shapes into a wooden die board; steel cutting rules were then bent to set into the card shapes on the board; ejection rubber was cut and glued between the rules to keep the paper from tearing under the pressure of the impression. And each petal took on a depth and dimension that has delighted the piece’s recipients.
In all, the production time was three weeks. That’s a lot of time these days, and called for a lot of patience. But the designers’ vision was fully, completely, perfectly realized. And now, we only have to top this one in 2017.
After a year of development and three weeks of production, the 2016 Holiday Mailer.
* * *
Note: The poinsettia’s “petals” are actually leaves, called “bracts,” and the “berries” are actually clusters of bulbs called “cyathium,” but these are not household words, so we sacrificed a bit of botanical accuracy to tell the story more clearly.