Wistful Wedding Bells – Haute Papier Invitation Combines Culture and Class

by Lara Copeland, assistant editor, PostPress

The greater Washington, D.C., area, a popular international and domestic tourist destination and home to a multitude of historical treasures, is a continually evolving metropolis. Following the flight of the middle class during the last half of the previous century, today’s young professionals have been lured back to the city over the last 10 to 15 years. Enticed by job opportunities, new condos, hip restaurants and 80 miles of dedicated bike lanes, millennials are flocking to this urban center.

In the midst of this influx, Sarah Meyer Walsh and Erin Miller opened their custom design and letterpress print studio business, Haute Papier. Over a decade ago, the pair adopted their first press, Pearl. Since then, the duo’s products have been offered in big-name retailers, like Anthropologie and Banana Republic, and featured in several publications, such as Martha Stewart and Southern Living. The company draws clients as prominent as The White House, as close as personal friends and everything in between.

Haute Papier recently designed an invitation suite for a local wedding planner. A combination of gray and copper colors was carefully chosen to reflect the wedding’s locale. “The bride’s family is from Portugal – which was where the wedding was held – so we wanted to pull in lots of little details to get the guests excited to visit for the special day,” Walsh said. “The copper colors and foils were chosen to represent the Portuguese pots that are traditionally used to cook over fire,” she added.

The suite contains five cards/invitations. A Heidelberg Windmill was used for the foil stamping and letterpress work. The edge of the wedding invitation was beveled and painted a metallic copper. The calligraphy was hand drawn and written by Written Word Calligraphy for the couple’s names, the location of the wedding and a few of the titles on the tops of the cards. The copper calligraphy was foil stamped with Owosso Graphic Arts magnesium dies on foil provided by Infinity Foils and Crown Roll Leaf. The other lettering on the cards was created with letterpress – a process similar to foiling but without the use of heat. “We used polymer plates for the letterpress work,” Walsh noted. “In this process, the ink is applied via a cylinder and rollers that move up and down over the base where the plates are attached, and then the paper is fed through the Windmill via suckers (air).”

In total, there are six envelopes – gray and copper-colored – within the suite. The largest envelope shape was custom diecut on a Kluge diecutter. The underside of the envelope’s flap features a unique design foil stamped in a metallic copper. Walsh explained how the team designed the pattern “to recall the olive trees and the tiling you see all over the countryside.”

While the creators admit that they didn’t do anything that hasn’t been done before, “almost everything was custom created for this customer – from the shape we used for the actual envelope flaps to the sizing of each of the pieces,” Walsh elaborated. “We love working with clients to help bring their visions to life like we did with the tiny details of the copper color and the tiles.”

Though the team didn’t encounter any challenges or issues in the production stage, their “biggest concern was that everything would fit thickness-wise into the custom-made envelope.” Their expertise was on target. The suite not only won a 2017 Foil & Specialty Effects Association (FSEA) Gold Leaf Award for “Most Creative Use of Foil & Embossing – Announcement/Invitation,” it also left their client feeling elated with the detailed work. “It was remarkable to see such a beautiful design come to life,” bride Jeannette Tavares exclaimed. “It is a true representation of the symbolism that inspired the design – the copper reminds me of my grandmother’s pots and the tiles of my father’s town – and it is a tangible item that now hangs in our home.”