Kinetic Gear Wedding Invitation

Dec 31, 2011

The project began with a time crunch.  One week ( it actually turned out to be 8 days ) from first meeting to final delivery.  However, they were willing to let us go a little nuts, so we signed up.

While it’s not the most complex piece we’ve done, this is easily one of the most popular and well received.

The couple is holding their wedding at The Joule, a high end downtown hotel with a 25 foot kinetic gear sculture as a center piece.  They were looking for something distinctive to suit their personal style, and the uniqueness of the venue.  The bride was already a steampunk fan, so playing on the gear theme was a natural.

We kicked around some printing ideas, but a plain old wedding invitation just was not our speed (and the client was willing), so we started playing with kinetic designs.

We went through a number of designs, but none of them seemed to be quite right until Donna who was brainstorming with us suggested making it a fully functional part of the design instead of just decorative.  With that decision, things came together quickly.  Meshed gears with symmetric openings in the large gear to hide and reveal information about the services and the reception following.

One of the big practical challenges about kinetic cards – and meshed gears in particular – is getting the piece rigid enough to make all the moving parts mesh and move correctly.  To that end, the gears are a metallic Bronze cover laminated to 50pt black chip board.  The bronze had a black core that made for a nearly seamless lamination when cut.


To maintain the period/steampunk aesthetic, the back sheet is a brown columned cover stock, and the printed piece is a columned vellum cover laminated to 25pt black cover for rigidity.

The client really wanted letterpress printing, but since we only had a week to do the project from start to finish, there just was not enough time to make the arrangements.  However, we were able to meet her half way and have it thermographically printed.

Even though the chipboard segments were added for purely practical considerations, they also ended up giving the card a weight and substance that was very pleasing, and worked well with the theme.

Finally, a big thank you to Donna Hawk for helping us get to the final design in world record time.  We could not have done it without you.

The technical stuff:

The Bronze cover is Cordenons Stardream Bronze.

The back sheet is Neenah Classic Columns Canyon Brown cover laminated to 25pt black chip board.

The printed sheet is Neenah Ultra II Columns vellum cover, also laminated to 25pt black chipboard. This had the happy side benefit of of rendering the vellum opaque, so that we did not have to obsess over keeping the columns aligned on the base and printed stock.

The vellum was printed with photo registration dots, and cut down in house on our laser to permit precision placement of the gear mounting holes.  The columned back sheets were also laser cut to size with the mounting holes.  To prevent marking and discoloration, the chipboard backers were cut separately from the same files and assembled later.

Final assembly used a pin table jig to properly align the pieces.  Since time was short, we used distressed bronze colored metal brads to affix the gears.