Paper Goods

Letterpress Madness!

by sarahenni on April 25, 2012

So, I’m sort of into letterpress cards. You may have noticed—I mean, it’s right there in my bio. And, though I’ve had as much fun as anyone trying out the small, personal-sized letterpress machines they sell at the Paper Source, I wanted to see how a genuine, for-real letterpress operation went down.

Thankfully, very near to my new apartment is very near Fifteen/Eleven, a stationery shop that also serves as the retail home for SimpleSong designs, a custom letterpress design company run by Suann Song. (She’s also a fellow University of Washington grad! Go Huskies!) And Suann offers beginners classes to introduce newbies to the art of letterpress. I signed up for a class earlier this month, and it was so fun!

Behind the lovely retail shop was the SimpleSong office, where the real work is done. Suann showed us this great video about how nutty letterpress enthusiasts can be:

The typography! The care taken to hand-stamp each envelope, card, sign! The weird, obscure terminology that has seeped into everyday discourse and somehow lost the connection to original meaning (being “out of sorts”)! It’s not hard, really, to see how letterpress as a medium for design can become something of an obsession to nitpicky visual artist types. (My people.)

What’s fascinating about letterpress is there are no new machines being made. Every letterpress card that’s produced now is done with machines that are antiques—some built as recently as the 1950s, and some from the 19th century. Suann has two letterpress machines: a large Pearl one that was built in the late 1800s, and a smaller one from about five decades ago that she calls “Chip.” The machines are huge, and watching Suann operate one felt like living a Steampunk novel.

We watched the video and talked to Suann about how she designs things for her letterpress, what products they make in-house and what things they find other letterpress houses to do. We discussed the elements of design that are trickiest in letterpress, and how to know when you’re looking at the work of a master.

(Also, to answer your unasked question, Suann said she got that dress at The Gap. She is so stylish!)

Then we got the chance to elbow-grease up and make some cards of our own! Each letter had to be placed in this wooden holding block individually, backwards and reversed. That was a bit of a mind warp. Then you loaded the block into the machine, placed some cardstock, and cranked the letters right in. I made about 20 cards that say “dirrty south” to send out as new address cards. (We moved to a suburb south of D.C., and I will tell you it feels MUCH more like the south! I’m not quite at the sweet tea stage but I’ll keep you posted.)

Anyway, it was a really fun morning, and the girls I met in the class were fantastic. It was awesome to hear how Susan stumbled on something she was passionate about, and how she’s making her business work while raising a family. If you enjoy letterpress specifically, or simple, beautiful design work generally, you should definitely check out SimpleSong, and Suann’s blog.

What have you been up to?? Done anything fun and creative that’s totally separate from writing lately? I recommend it :)


Go Away I’m Reading: The Hunger Version

by sarahenni on March 21, 2012

Not too long ago, Erin Bowman, Tracey Neithercott and I took a fun Twitter conversation and turned it into a series of snarky book covers that made the message clear: Go away! I’m reading!

The positive response to those covers has us saying, “Real or not real?”* It has the three of us wondering how to move forward and create more fun goodies. Right now, we’re seriously considering offering new book covers, and possibly e-reader covers as well. Maybe even other things, who knows!

But first, we want to hear from you, and better understand what you’d be interested in from our “Go Away” series. Please help us out and take two minutes to fill out this survey (it’s SUPER short, swears)! And, if you want to get updates when/if we do open a shop with snarky book paraphernalia, please add yourself to our e-mail list!

Though we’re still in the brainstorming phase of opening a shop, we didn’t want this awesome week of The Hunger Games excitement to go by without something cool to celebrate! So we’ve made three more Hunger Games-specific book covers to get your copies all snazzy before the premiere on Friday:

Download “BRB, Drinking with Haymitch” right here! (pdf)

And check out Erin’s blog for “At the Reaping, BRB (Unless the Odds Aren’t in My Favor)”

And Tracey’s blog for “Warning: Girl on Fire”

I hope everyone has an incredible weekend seeing the movie and/or rereading all the books, and I’m so excited to share our plans once they’re more official.

* I could not resist it, NO I COULD NOT.


A Valentine Post

by sarahenni on February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine’s Day! I’m posting as part of YA Highway’s Blog Circus Lovefest, and I couldn’t decide on just one object of affection to send a Valentine’s Card to. So I gathered a few of my favorite characters, and scoured Etsy for cards that would perfectly capture my love. It was a tough job but … okay, fine, it was totally fun. I had a blast finding the cards, and casting the characters—so here they are, my Valentines!


I’d send the dreamily odd Cricket Bell (from Stephanie Perkins’ Lola and the Boy Next Door and cast here as Nicholas Hoult) this fun, funky card—appropriately made in San Francisco! The polar opposite of moody, broody rocker Max, Cricket Bell was smart and a bit silly. But his loyalty and genuine nature made him one of my absolute favorite YA boys… next to Etienne, of course!

Warner from Tahereh Mafi’s Shatter Me is a lot of things: controlling, manipulative, demanding, ruthless… a touch psycho? But as the book goes on it’s clear there’s a whole lot more to Warner than meets the eye. The promise of a heart-wrenching backstory and surprising plot twist or two is enough to get me hooked for Unravel Me, and to keep me on Team Mysterious and Tortured. But you can’t just give a man like that a box of candy hearts, so Warner (played here, per the author’s suggestion, by an extraordinarily smoldering fox in a tux whose name I don’t even care to know because it’d ruin the mystique) would get this simple card with a complicated message by Fifi Du Vie.

Oh hi, Love Interest in the forthcoming Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore. I don’t know you. Not even your name—seriously, there’s no hint of anything on Goodreads even. But I’m prepared, nay, predetermined to fall madly, wildly, foolishly in love with you. And every minute we are apart? Every day that the elusive ARC of Bitterblue passes hands and I remain clueless about each of its 500+ pages? I miss you more. Happy freaking Valentine’s Day, mystery dude.

Oh, Gale. Pretty, helpless, moping-in-a-meadow Gale. Get back in the coal mines, buddy—Peeta got your girl by painting himself into dirt. I know,  it sucks. But take the advice of this apt, and awesome, print (also by Fifi Du Vie) and don’t get too bogged down with, you know. Thoughts.

I was also dying to give away this Valentine to a fictional studmuffin:

But I couldn’t think of just the right guy (or gal!). Who would you send it to?

For other Valentine’s awesomeness, check out the other Blog Lovefest posts, and rock out to my collection of non-romantic Valentine’s Dance Break songs!


Go Away, I’m Reading

by sarahenni on February 10, 2012

I’m so excited today to bring you something very, extremely cool that was—once again—made possible through the magic of Twitter! I shared this recently, an accessory that I’m fairly certain all of my friends absolutely need:


My friend Tracey Neithercott commented that it would make a great Kindle or book cover, and we commiserated that – to our knowledge – the internet had not yet created this. Enter Erin Bowman, organizer of awesome things and designer extraordinaire, who said, “Challenge accepted!”

After some brainstorming of what other great covers would fit in the “Go Away, I’m Reading” vein, Tracey, Erin, and I had some fantastic ideas. Just days later, Erin had an amazing design that was custom-made for (slightly smaller) YA books.

There are three sets of designs, all of which will allow you to silently warn everyone at the coffee shop that Reading TIme ≠ Social Time.

To get Set #1, go here:

For Set #2, go here:

And you can download Set #3 below!

At Hogwarts // In Narnia // Mt. Doom (LotR) // In the Arena (Hunger Games) // In Forks (Twilight)

Printing Instructions:

These covers will fit the traditionally-sized YA book.* Take the PDFs to your local FedEx or Staples and get them printed on tabloid paper (11x17in). We suggest a matte cardstock  (you could print on something glossy, but sometimes that causes light glares at certain angles and you want people to be able to read that Go Away message without incident). Choose a weight between 60-80lb for the paper. Anything lighter and the page will be too thin, anything heavier and folding it around your book will be difficult. You can have the store cut the printer-outs for you (it will cost a little more), or you can handle it on your own when you get home (there are crop marks in the files).

Erin also has a great tutorial up on her blog about how she puts the dust jackets on her books. I have a little different method, so here’s a video where I show an alternative dust jacketing method:

Let us know what you think, and of course we’d love to see pictures of the dust jackets in action!

* There are, of course, exceptions.

Creative Commons License
“Go Away” Dust Jacket Series by Erin Bowman, Sarah Enni, and Tracey Neithercott is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at


Love and Letters

by sarahenni on February 3, 2012

It’s February! Usually I love this month because it kicks off with the Superbowl, but I can’t really get jazzed about this year’s matchup. So I’m skipping right past that to my next favorite thing—Valentine’s Day! It gets a bad rap, but I’ve always appreciated a day that’s meant to celebrate a powerful, positive thing. A best friend or even a pet can be a Valentine, technically. Love is love, it doens’t just have to be romantic!

And, in that spirit, and because I use this blog to feed my Etsy addiction care, I gathered some of the best literary Valentine’s cards and gifts I’ve seen lately. It’s not too late to get your beta reader, writing mentor, agent, editor, or muse a little reminder of your unending love and admiration!

Not quite a card, not exactly a pillow, this notebook-inspired keepsake from CornFlowerBlue Studio is unique, fun, and frameable. It’s the note I always wished someone would pass me in study hall!

Feel like letting your beau know you think of them whilst brooding on misty moors? No better way than sending them one of these Valentines from Presse du Four with words from The Original Emo Crew—Shelley, Byron, or Keats.

Love a techie bibliophile? They’ll delight over Rich Neely Designs‘ incredible array of iPhone-charging tomes. (And hey, don’t flinch at the idea of drilling into a hardback Harry Potter edition. This one was a horcrux anyway.)

Decoration? Inspiration? Command? This lovely print from coniLab can be whatever they need it to be, and that’s the beauty of it!

If making saucy innuendos about libraries is wrong, Constellation & Co. doesn’t want to be right.

This and so many more Ex Libris Journal prints are clever and beautiful and begging to be framed in any self-respecting literati’s office!

What about you?? Are you a V Day lover or a hater? Have you found any great writerly gifts lately? Has Etsy warped your brain as much as it has mine??