Frequently Asked Questions


Questions? We have answers.

We’ve answered some common questions below. Click a category to jump to that content.

Commercial printing
Letterpress printing
Studio Rental

Commercial Printing

Do you do commercial printing?
Yes, sometimes. We are limiting our commercial work to just occasional, exciting jobs. Please feel free to email us with a request, If we can’t do it, we’ll point you to someone who can.

I need 1000 copies of a booklet printed for a conference. Can you do this?
No, sorry – you want someone with a digital print and bindery setup – that’s not us. Our favorites locally (in no particular order) are Work Printing, Alpha Graphics, and Indigo Ink.

Can you print my t-shirt design?
Sorry, no. But our friends at Sage Screenprinting do great work.

Do you print tote bags?
Probably not. See above.

Do you offer any digital or offset printing services?
No, sorry. But we do some commercial printing work on our Risograph, most notably menus for a couple of local bars. Riso printing is a little like offset, and a little like screenprinting, but not either. It’s great for long runs in one- or two-colors. Not sure if your job is right for Riso? Just ask!

I love the look of letterpress printed business cards, but I’m on a budget. How can I keep costs down?
One color, one sided is the cheapest way to go. You can print on colored paper stock for no extra cost, and that always sweetens the look a bit.

How large can you print?
For screenprinted posters we usually max-out at 18×24 for a production run. We can print a bit larger if you’re only wanting a few printed, but we pull every squeegee by hand, and our backs ache after long, large runs.

For letterpress, our machines usually max out at 18×24 as well, with some exceptions. Email us if you have a big idea.

Currently our Riso setup maxes out with an image size of about 8.5×14, but we know a few tricks to fake it bigger.

How few will you print?
We’ll print one if you really want it, but our price starts at $250. For a production run of posters, we recommend starting at 50 copies. For business cards, we recommend starting at 250 qty.

How MANY can you print? 
Right now, everything we do is 100% hand-printed, so super long runs can be problematic. Email us if you have a big project in mind, we’ll see what’s possible.


Can I print from wood and metal type at BPS?
Yes – we have about 50 fonts to pick from. Come in when we’re open and peruse our collection!

Can I print from my own wood or metal type?
Sure! Put that stuff to use! Just let us know when you’re bringing your own type so it doesn’t get mixed in with ours.

Can I print from polymer plates?
Absolutely. We have a number of bases that fit our presses, for printing from the KF95 or Jet 94 polymer plates. They are the “Standard Relief” plastic backed plates available from Boxcar. Be warned, if you bring a metal backed plate or a deep relief plate, you may have difficulty printing it.

Can I print from other things?
Vintage image blocks, linoleum blocks, wood blocks, and even legos have all been printed from on our presses. Let us know if you have an unusual piece in mind, we can probably make it work.

Does BPS make polymer plates for renter’s use?
No, but Boxcar Press does. Read their FAQ here before submitting!

What supplies does BPS provide for letterpress?
We provide solvents, inks, equipment, type, Boxcar Bases, misc. tools.

What supplies should I bring for letterpress?
Plates, paper, nitrile gloves, proofing paper.

What paper do you recommend for letterpress?
You can print on almost anything that is smooth and flat.

For the Vandercooks you need something that can bend through our presses, and is large enough to retrieve at the end of the press. Anything 4″x6″ and larger should feed ok. You must also remember to keep at least a 1″ margin of unprinted area on your card that the grippers of the Vandercook can grasp onto. This often precludes purchasing pre-cut cards for wedding invites. Purchase larger paper and trim it after if you have tight margins or bleeds.

The most common paper stocks we use in our shop are Neenah’s Lettra line and French Paper Co.

Lettra is a pillowy cotton paper stock that comes in 32lb (120gsm) text weight, and 90lb (245gsm), 110lb (300gsm), and 220lb (600gsm) cover stocks. Their most common weight is the 110lb weight, and all weights are available in 3 colors and with matching envelopes. Letterpress Paper has the best prices.

French Paper Co. makes great colored paper stock, cover and text weights, and has matching envelopes. All of this is great, but for most uses, you’ll want an 80lb or higher cover stock. is their site, and you can view their sample books in our studio.

We also have sample books for Colorplan, Mohawk, and many other brands.

We generally recommend buying the smallest commercially available size of paper you can fit your job on – the cost for you renting time on our cutter to chop down paper is generally more than just buying the smaller, slightly more expensive size.

For the Pilot Presses, you can print on almost any thickness of paper, and we use it most frequently for printing on coasters. You can buy your own pre-cut coasters from Katz Americas.


Does BPS print film positives for screenprinting?
Yes, some. We have a 24″ Epson printer and print on clear films. The cost is $1.25 per inch on the roll, so if you have a few small images, squeeze them the best you can into a 23.5″ wide document. Also Liz at Color Wheel Digital prints films, a little cheaper than we do.

What paper is good for screenprinting?
Any smooth flat paper will work. If you’re making posters, stick to an 80# paper or higher. French Paper Co. makes a great variety of colors and weights, but even a pad of drawing paper from the art supply store will work in a pinch.

What supplies does BPS provide for screenprinting?
We provide emulsion, emulsion remover, some ink additives, and access to the equipment and tools.

What supplies should I bring for screenprinting?
Film Positives, paper, water-based inks, proofing paper, and a screen if you have one.

What inks do you recommend?
Speedball works great, and is easy to find. All the art supply stores in the city stock it, and someone usually has it on sale. Other ink brands are nice too – check out our Resources Page for some more options.

Can we use plastisol inks in BPS?
Sorry, no. We don’t have ventilation, nor a proper way to clean it off of screens, so those aren’t allowed. Lacquer, oil based, or UV cured inks are also forbidden.

Can we bring our own screens?
Yes absolutely, in fact you can use BPS to expose your images, and do all your printing at home if you like! Just reserve time under the Pre / Post Press option.

Do you sell screens?
Sorry, no, but we’ll rent you one for $5 or $10 per day.

How big of a screen can I expose at BPS?
Our exposure unit is about 44″ wide as a maximum. The biggest screen you can shoot on it is about 42″ in either direction. 40″ is better still.

What mesh screen should I buy?
Generally, lower mesh counts are used for fabric printing, and higher mesh counts are used for paper printing. Higher still are used to print on slick surfaces like vinyl and silk. If you’re printing on fabric, 110 – 195 mesh counts are an ideal range, with 156 being a good middle. For printing on paper, 195 – 305 mesh counts are your range, with 230 being a good general purpose mesh count.

Can I expose all 20 of my screens in one day?
Yes, you can! And if you’re pretty efficient with your time, you’ll be done in just a few hours. Please note, however, that anyone coming in with many screens will be subject to a $2 per-screen surcharge for extra screens after the first 2. In other words, if you have 5 screens you’re reclaiming and/or exposing, we’ll charge you the hourly rate, plus $6 (3 screens at $2 ea). This helps to defray the costs of our emulsion and water bill.

Will BPS expose screens for me?
Absolutely. If you need a screen exposed, and plan on printing elsewhere, we’re happy to shoot it for you. The cost is $55, and you must provide the screen and digital file for the film positive. We’ll handle the rest. Email us for details.

Is the BPS t-shirt press available for rental?
It is! And it works great. Please note that if you’re renting that press and using the heated flash dryer, the hourly rental rate is $20 (instead of $15) to cover the electrical bill.

But I thought you just said BPS doesn’t print shirts.
We don’t. At least not commercially. We do a few for us to sell and wear, and we’ll teach you how to print your own, but we don’t print other people’s shirt designs. Sorry.

Do you sell blank t-shirts?
No, but there are many online stores that will sell wholesale shirts in small quantities.


Do you really have a Riso?!
Yes, we have two actually, but one is still broken.

Our good machine (which is actually really really good) is an EZ220. Its max image size is a legal sheet, 8.5″ x 14″ (but with tiny white margins around the edge), and it’s maximum sheet size is ~12×17″. We have Black, Bright Red, Fluo. Pink, Yellow, Green, Blue, Mint, and Metallic Gold drums for it. We teach monthly workshops on it.

Can we rent time on the Riso?
Yes, if you already know how to use one, or after taking a workshop with us. It rents at our standard hourly rate, plus a materials fee of $3 per master used, and $0.05 per page per color printed (these costs are slightly higher for the metallic gold.)

Do you teach classes on it?
Every month! Check out our online store to see upcoming workshops.

Studio Rental

How do I reserve studio time at BPS?
We have a calendar on our Reservations Page that will let you block out time for the equipment you want. It’ll even email you 24 hours in advance to remind you that you have a reservation with us. You must reserve studio time at least 24 hours in advance. Cancelations may also be made up to 24 hours in advance. Saturdays are walk-in days, though it is smart to check the calendar to be certain the studio isn’t super busy. And please arrive be on time, we will charge you based on when your reservation starts.

What if I reserve too much time?
No problem. If you sign up for 4 hours and finish in 3 hours, that’s fine. We won’t charge you the last hour. Please try not to sign up for 6 hours if you really only need 1.

What if I need to run over?
This is usually no problem as long as no one is signed up for your equipment after you, and you’re not running over after we’re closing. Let us know when you think you’re behind schedule and we’ll work something out.

Can I bring a friend to help me?
Definitely. It makes the day go faster, and more fun. They don’t need to have taken a workshop with us.

Can I cancel my reservation?
Things come up, it’s ok. If you can cancel it yourself at least 24 hours in advance, that’s great, please do. If it’s less than a day away, just email us, that’s probably fine too. Please note, if you miss your reservation and don’t tell us, we’ll charge you for it.

I’m getting married next year, and would like to print my own wedding invites. Can I do this at BPS?
Yes, absolutely. If you’ve never printed before, you’ll need to enroll in a workshop first (sign up for our email list to be notified of upcoming classes, they tend to fill quickly). After the workshop, you’ll have a solid basis for how to print, but it’s probably best to come back a few times to print smaller projects before you tackle the ever-important invitation suite. Print the thank you cards, table numbers Save the Dates, and everything else first. A few more hours of printing time on the Vandercooks BEFORE you get to the most important pieces will definitely show through in the quality of your printed invites.


Do you really make coffee too?
Yes! Well, sort of. We teamed up with Thread Coffee, located in Greenmount Coffee over in the Open Works space on Greenmount Ave. They’re the master roasters who actually produce it, we’re just the picky tasters. We went back and forth for a few months dialing in the flavor we wanted. The Printer’s Devil is easily our favorite coffee anywhere, and a bunch of other people seem to like it too, which is cool. If it came in decaf we’d drink it non-stop. It’s available for purchase in our online store if you’d like to try it.

Do you wholesale your own work?
We do, though we’re just getting started. We’ll be streamlining this process shortly, but if you’re interested in carrying our work, please get in touch!