reinventing the windmill

Here at Creative Emporium we do more than just design. We are a studio dedicated to Letterpress in Brisbane.  We live to integrate modern design with traditional print techniques and bring a renewed passion and perspective to high quality printing. Where the project brief allows we print both our own work, client work and artwork by our design peers by hand on our collection of antique printing presses. 

meet the press


Victor is a British Autovic, circa 1940s. He is a fabulous old hand fed beast that weighs 1.2 tonne and prints up to A3 size. He still needs his refurbishment finished but we use him for limited edition poster prints.

Creative Emporium Heidelberg Platen

The Heidelberg is circa 1970s, we also have another 1960s press under wraps. Also known as ‘the windmill’ due to the design of their gripper arms that carry paper in and out of the platen, they weigh in at 1.2 tonne and are powered by air suction. With an impressional strength of 40 tonnes, these presses are a faster, newer platen designed for higher turnover of work allowing us to print larger quantities of stationery and invitations up to A4 size. It is a wonderful example of German engineering.

Creative Emporium 1890s Sigwalt Desktop Press

Sigwalt is a beautiful and historic piece of early printing history. Made in the 1890s this press is small and compact but is made from cast iron weighing 30kg. It has been lovingly restored and has found a home in our reception but occasionally we still use it for printing type and small graphics on A6 card.

ink, polymer and paper

Plates: We custom make plates from photo- polymer and metal for the majority of our print work but sometimes we still play with our wooden type collection for a bit of fun. Designing for letterpress involves vector graphics and making sure that lines and type are not too fine so that plates can be exposed without losing the detail.

Ink: We use two types of ink on our presses – rubber based ink which is traditional and alcohol free/vegetable based inks for those who are more environmentally conscious. They come in a range of colours and Pantone colours are custom mixed by hand using a formula. We are lucky to be able to work with such fabulous ink products.

Paper: For letterpress, the majority of the papers we use are 100% cotton imported from overseas and made from recycled remnants of the textile industry. We also use a variety of other environmentally friendly papers that we source from our local paper merchants. We recycle and reuse both sides of our paper wherever possible.

letterpress past

This history of letterpress dates back to 1450 with the invention of the printing press and moveable type by Johannes Gutenberg. Each letter that made up a word was a different wooden carving or lead casting that was typeset and positioned differently for every page in every book. The printing press was based on the design of a wine press with a base where the type would be inset and inked. Traditionally books and manuscripts were printed on ‘paper’ known as vellum which was made from cow hide. The paper would be carefully placed on top of the type and under a padded surface and pressure would be applied to the top by a large threaded screw rotated laboriously by hand. The raised relief surface of the type would directly press into the paper creating a beautiful impression known as letterpress which we know and still love today.

Brisbane Graphic Design | Branding | Letterpress | Creative Emporium ©2012