Visiting Bella Figura

Our guest blogger today is Cyd. Cyd’s Matron of Honor/FSIL had entered her into our Bella Figura Letterpress STD/Invitation contest about a year ago, and won! Cyd not only got letterpress invites, but had the opportunity to tour Bella Figura. Today she’s sharing an inside look at the letterpress shop with us!

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One of my favorite 2009 Bella Figura designs, Lexington.

Photo from Bella Figura’s Flickr Photostream

A little over six months or so ago now, I was home one night in the middle of the week carrying on with life as usual. My then roommate and I had a thing for watching Antiques Roadshow and taking long walks with our adopted dogs, a rescued greyhound and a frisky black lab, so I imagine our evening likely involved some of both. At some point in the evening my phone rang. It was my best friend/Matron of Honor/future sister in-law calling, presumably to talk about our upcoming plans for that weekend. However, instead of rambling on about dinner that Saturday night, she promptly asked me if I was sitting down.

Why, no. No, I was not. Should I have been?

So I sat down. At this point it’s important to mention that I had become an avid Weddingbee reader/stalker in the last several months and although she was recently married, I had inevitably passed along the addiction to my best friend as she had become so very involved in helping me plan and daydream. So, after she was assured I was safely seated, she asked me if I remembered seeing the Weddingbee/Bella Figura contest. Of course I remembered the contest. I was a huge Bella Figura fan and was completely jealous that some lucky dog was going to win beautiful letterpress invitations. And that’s when she told me that she had nominated me and I was that lucky dog. Let’s just say it’s a good thing she made sure I was sitting down, because I’m pretty sure my legs would have given out from underneath me. Me?! Bella Figura invitations? No way! To this day I am just as excited and shocked by having won this incredible opportunity as I was that first night upon hearing the news.

Bella Figura is an eco-friendly artisan letterpress shop located in Syracuse, NY, and in a strange coincidence, they are located only five blocks from where my best friend works in downtown Syracuse. My fiancé and I recently relocated to my hometown, only 45 minutes or so from Syracuse (Go, Cuse!), affording me the rare opportunity to visit the fine folks of Bella Figura live and in person. A couple of weeks ago, I scooped up my best friend one afternoon and we hopped over to check out all of the letterpress goodness. Miss Lemonade posted a great letterpress introduction last week giving a good idea of what letterpress is all about. In short, letterpress printing uses plates and ink to press a design into paper, causing the design to appear in relief. The result is a really beautiful finished product where your design changes continually in changing light as the impressions cast little shadows and make it look so very rich. I am completely smitten.

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Up close and personal during the printing process

Photo from Bella Figura’s Flickr Photostream

The Bella Figura difference is their eco approach to things. Everything printed in the shop is tree-free using 100% cotton papers, or in the case of their sister company Smock, 100% bamboo papers. Starting with Bella Figura and Smock’s parent company, Boxcar Press, this difference is a part of everything they do. Even envelopes and envelope liners are crafted in-house to ensure the finest of quality and to reduce waste. What other companies might classify as scraps are carefully contained in big bins, and are then offered to local teachers for use in underfunded art programs, a practice that has made them heroes among local art teachers. Employees are afforded bus passes to encourage the use of public transit to help reduce emissions and a portion of proceeds are donated to environmental causes, all of which you can read much more about here.

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An overview of the print shop.

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Plates being inked and tested for accuracy before printing.

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An Original Heidelberg press in action. We got to see invitations as they were being printed and then inspected for quality by the press operator. I might be a geek, but this was totally awesome.

Above photos by yours truly.

Visiting Bella Figura, we got to witness all of the magic first hand. From our initial meeting with the client coordinator to meeting the owners, Debbie and Harold, to seeing invitations coming straight off the press, it was absolutely thrilling to see things live as they were happening. What was best? Everyone there is truly passionate about what they do and they were just as excited to meet us as we were to meet them. For a company that largely does business with brides around the globe remotely, it was a somewhat unusual experience to have a camera-happy bride running around with glee.

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Letterpress heaven! Boxes of samples organized and waiting to be shipped.

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Who doesn’t love personalized letterpress coasters?

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The gorgeous box of samples that now resides in my house.

All photos above by yours truly.

Leaving Bella Figura that day, I walked away with a gorgeous box of letterpress samples, including these ingenious ink color fan books with perforated edges that allow you to tear out your favorites and then swap out ink and paper colors until you find the perfect combination. Deciding on a design is proving extremely difficult, made even more so by the launch of Bella Figura’s new website and the introduction of dozens of new designs by some of the nation’s leading graphic designers at the beginning of 2009. I can’t wait to share the final design with all of my fellow Weddingbee readers, but in the meantime, here are a few that I absolutely love. Is it wrong to send every guest a different invitation? I’m thinking it could be a great solution to my problem… and what a problem to have, right?

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Urbanity

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Keswick

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Sailboat

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Provenance

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Lovebirds

All photos above from Bella Figura’s Flickr Photostream

Once again, my sincerest thanks and appreciation to Debbie, Harold, Bee, and all of the fine folks of Bella Figura and Weddingbee for making my little girl letterpress dreams come true!

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Check Cyd’s adventures out at her blog!  Thank you for sharing your trip with us and we can’t wait to see your invitations!

If you have a great DIY or guest post that you’d like to share with the hive, submit it to guest (at) weddingbee.com!

BLOGGER

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comments

  1. Member
    shibaby 202 posts, Helper bee @ 3:52 pm

    I live in Syracuse! I definitely would love to check this place out!!!! :)

  2. Member
    deviledegg 1250 posts, Bumble bee @ 4:03 pm

    Sounds like a fun visit! I would probably geek out a little to while watching this process. Great post!

  3. Guest Icon Guest
    What Liz Said, Guest @ 4:05 pm

    I adore the second to last one. The boldness of it is staggering. :-)

  4. Member
    glitter 986 posts, Busy bee @ 4:09 pm

    Yay Cyd!!! You are such a lucky gal to have this opportunity and it couldn’t have happened to a better person. I am so in awe of Bella Figura’s work. Congrats!

  5. Member
    bruschetta 5565 posts, Bee Keeper @ 4:14 pm

    What a great behind-the-scenes post. I love the texture of letterpress — yummy!

  6. Member
    purpleHaze79 874 posts, Busy bee @ 4:16 pm

    SIGH…. I love letterpress! Thanks for this awesome post!

  7. Member
    Vic004 804 posts, Busy bee @ 4:21 pm

    Amazing, Urbanity made me drool for a second…

  8. Member
    Gilneas 1393 posts, Bumble bee @ 4:58 pm

    This made me a little weak in the knees. Letter pressing is fabulous. What an interesting process!

  9. Member
    renaissancetrophywife 262 posts, Helper bee @ 5:31 pm

    swoon. Love their invitations AND their eco-conscious way of doing business! your photos are fab.

  10. Member
    happywife 75 posts, Worker bee @ 10:49 pm

    I wish I had letterpressed tags! lovely!

  11. Guest Icon Guest
    Bluebell, Guest @ 11:02 pm

    Err…. would it be better to blur out the info details of the invites? I’m sure the couples would appreciate it :)

  12. Member
    PeachandPearl 278 posts, Helper bee @ 12:55 am

    How fun! I love that Weddingbee and the great companies you partner with gives readers the chance to have such awesome adventures!

  13. Guest Icon Guest
    Kat, Guest @ 6:43 am

    love the letterpress but am now totally freaking out that couples getting married more than a YEAR after me have their invitations already!! I’m May 30, 2009! Acccck! (About to finalize stuff but totally freaking out.)

  14. Member
    doublemint921 499 posts, Helper bee @ 1:14 pm

    oooo I’m so jealous that sounded like so much fun! congrats and I’m glad you loved it!

  15. Member
    Cyd 123 posts, Blushing bee @ 8:05 pm

    Thanks, everyone for chiming in! It was such fun, I wish everyone could do it!

    No worries regarding these invitations. These are samples that are used as example only so these are not real couples or dates, just an idea as to how the invites will look when finished.

  16. Guest Icon Guest
    Bluebell, Guest @ 9:35 am

    @Cyd: Ohhh!! Well that explains :) Thanks for letting me know. That’s pretty cute! I had no idea some companies fake couples/dates for samples haha…

    @Kat: apparently you can breathe easier now regarding the deadline *grin*

  17. Member
    pvaulter718 2116 posts, Buzzing bee @ 11:55 am

    OMG… and now I’m drooling and daydreaming at work. Shoot!

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