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Studio projects Thursday June 23 2016 02:06 pm

“A Swarm of Bs” keepsake

For one reason or another we have a lot of students who pass through Lead Graffiti.

Perhaps they attend a workshop, field trip and tour with a class, or just hear about us and want to drop by.

One of the things I always say to them is that if they are interested in letterpress (or honestly just interested in design), they need to find real projects they can do for real people.

This is one we produced over the past two days.

Mark Samuels Lasner, a good friend and long-time patron of Lead Graffiti who extends back into our Raven Press at the University of Delaware days, had offered a trip (to see his magnificent collection of Victorian books he has on loan to the University of Delaware Library) in a benefit auction for the Center for Book Arts in New York City. Book artist, Liz, won the auction and invited her friend Lynne, a letterpress printer, to join her. As part of their trip Mark set up a tour of our Lead Graffiti studio. That evening Mark hosted dinner at a tasty Italian restaurant, Cafe Mezzanotte in Wilmington, where 10 of us enjoyed good company and conversation, mostly swarming around books in some way.

We thought it would be a treat to offer a keepsake for everyone attending, always looking for reasons to put ink on paper. Sized 5″ x 9″, the keepsake was produced in a flutter-book format (spreads are printed individually and glued  along the foredges) in alternating colors of French Paper. We produced it in an edition of 10 with the cover date to celebrate the moment, and another 8 copies without dates.
A Swarm of Bees / cover

Jill came up with a wonderful idea for the bookcloth spine. She has a paint roller with wide rubberbands stretched around it that she often uses when making pastepaper. This time she just squirted out some gold acrylic paint and rolled directly on the black bookcloth. The look worked perfectly with the combination gold / black inks and our bee theme as you can see below.

We though “swarm” was a nice reference to the dinner gathering where we would give out the books. The keepsake was also an excuse to find a lot of book-related words (and a couple of choice animals that connect with our hosts) all with “B”s in them.

The cover is raw bookboard.
A Swarm of Bees / spread 1

The type was a combination of 3 “very” similar faces: Jefferson Gothic, Phoenix, and Tourist.
A Swarm of Bees / spread 2

Lead Graffiti recently received a gift of type from the Hagley Museum & Library, which also included a complete set of dotted-line brass rule that we wanted to play with. So, we included a bit of a “speed line” to represent the movement of the Bs to the title page of the book.

A nice touch was centering the word “bonefolder” along the fold.
A Swarm of Bees / spread 3

At the end of dinner, Mark said he wanted everyone to sign his copy and so we passed around all of the books for everyone’s signature.

That turned out to be a nice touch to the whole memory as Mark’s collection is focused on association copies.
A Swarm of Bees / back cover

A nice reason to put ink on paper

Studio projects Tuesday June 14 2016 02:03 pm

Tour de France 2016

We’ve decided that doing 5 of our Tour de Lead Graffiti projects is a nice place to end.


  • 115 posters of stages & rest days.
  • 15 additional title, story, and colophon pages.
  • 5 composite prints.


  • Ray spent a total of 1799 hours 48 minutes of documented time on the stage & rest day posters.
  • Everyone else’s time is on top of that.


  • Total of 537 separate ink runs through the press and we are counting simultaneous, handrolled runs no matter how many colors or number of people working on it as 1.
  • Total number of prints was about 9,775.
  • Total impressions was about 45,645 for the stage & rest day posters.
  • If all paper was in one stack it would be about 8 feet 3 inches high.


  • Overall we included a total of approximately 125 collaborators in the project.
  • 3 collaborators did all 5 years (Kieran Francke, Rebecca Johnson Melvin, Bill Roberts)
  • Kieran was the youngest collaborator when he was 11 during Tour de Lead Graffiti 2011
  • Longest distances to collaborate was from Indianapolis, Indiana and Dallas, Texas (twice)
  • Many started with no experience in letterpress and few with any interest in the Tour de France (both of those showed significant changes after the experience, several of which have actually attended the Tour in person).


  • We, along with collaborators, watched approximately 420 hours of live Tour de France Coverage.
  • We ate lunch every stage & rest day at the Glass Kitchen in Glasgow, Delaware and approximately 90% had dessert. Lead Graffiti staff had dessert 100% of the time.


  • 4-month exhibition of stage posters at The British Library
  • 2-month exhibition at the Hamilton Wood Type Museum
  • 1-month exhibition at AIGA / Philadelphia
  • Article in Sports Illustrated’s “Year in Media” on TdLG’13
  • WHYY-TV story about Lead Graffiti and the Tour
  • WHYY-TV listed their story on us as best of 2014
  • The book Adventures in Letterpress had a full page showing TdLG
  • Article in Bicycling Magazine
  • Talks at Library of Congress, George Mason University, AIGA

Studio projects Sunday May 08 2016 08:06 am

Saul Bass, Masters of Design exhibition at SVA - October 1995

Today would have been Saul Bass’ 96th birthday.

It was the 1st of 2 Visual Communications fall semester field trips we took to New York City back in October of 1995. On these trips we would visit design studios or advertising agencies, exhibitions and talks, but this trip we wanted everyone to visit the Saul Bass exhibition at the School of Visual Arts. Saul Bass, a designer in the Art Directors Club of New York’s Hall of Fame, was the subject of a “Masters of Design” exhibition, part of a regular series SVA sponsored. Bass is particularly well known for his feature movie opening credits and posters. We had 2 buses full of students which we dropped off near the 23rd Street gallery site.

If you don’t know who Saul Bass is, you should. Take a moment and catch up a little.

When I got inside, “Nothing.” No exhibition at all. I stood at the door warning all of the students off. It turned out that Saul Bass hadn’t had time to gather the work for the exhibition and it was going to be postponed until some later date. All my life I’ve been the kind of person that loves a challenge, so not getting to seeing the show might just be turned into a real positive moment.

That idea came in the form of a blueprint poster I produced for the Visual Communications Group specifically targeted to Saul Bass. As we had gone to a fair amount of trouble and expense to take our students to see his exhibition, maybe we could get him to meet with us when he did come up to hang the exhibition. Maybe he could meet us when he was up or maybe he could even come down to UD. Seriously, how cool would that be.

Here is one of the most well-known of Bass’ posters for the movie “Exodus” which will show up in our poster / invitation below.

To produce posters back in the day we would design it on a Macintosh, utilize the University’s print shop to produce a large-format positive film image which would be contact-printed and run through a blueprint machine, like architects use to produce architectural blueprints. We just used a paper called blackline which gave us a black & white print.

The New York chapter of AIGA (American Institute of the Graphic Arts) had an exhibition each year of the best design and would receive hundreds of entries of great design. AIGA would give us all of their rejects which we would throw on the bus and bring back to drool over. Several rejects one year were a series of posters designed by Stephen Frykholm of Herman Miller which used blueprints. Seemed like a great way of being able to do fairly large posters with the students. We bought one of the machines and produced most of our posters promoting the program, field trips, speakers, etc, in that manner for at least 12 years.

Back to the Saul Bass poster. His logo can be seen in the center of the poster shown below. The hands were obviously taken from the Exodus poster above. I’ve always liked to find a way to get others involved in my design projects and including a photo of everyone in the program in the form of a fishing license was a great way to get all of the students and other faculty involved.

You can click on the poster to see it double-sized for some more detail. Here is the text to the poster.

“Eighty Visual Communications students at the Art Department in the University of Delaware had been assigned “The Age of Innocence” just to watch the credits (and the movie was incredible). On our first pilgrimage of the year to New York to visit ad agencies, design studios, exhibitions and sometimes even drift into the camp of the enemy (i.e. School of Visual Arts) we schedule to take in the Saul Bass “Masters of Design” exhibition.

What? No show?

So there we stood. Wondering what to do. Some went to the Village to watch Wood Allen filming his new movie. Some to Rizzoli’s to buy Pentagram’s new book. Some to the Society of Illustrators. Cooper Union. Parsons. AIGA. Shopping. Bar hopping. Scattered all over Manhattan.

But alas, no good Bass fishing to be found anywhere.

Now the question. We think you are going to do this show sometime and we really want to be there to see it. Is it reasonable to think that you will travel to New York to oversee the installation? And near the end of the installation when there isn’t much to do, what about letting 80 of us sit on the floor and listen to you talk about your work. Seems like a pretty good trade on our part and, we hope, on yours.

How about a call (302-831-1198) and for you to say “Yes” to the idea? You could say “no” and agree to just talk to us on the phone for half an hour. We would call and gather around our speaker phone to talk and listen about Scorsese. Anatomy. Exodus. Girl Scouts. Life as a design master.

We are hot to fish or cut bait.

Also, if we could pull this event off, this might just be the catch of the year.”

About 2 weeks later, while I was sitting quietly in my Recitation Annex office, Saul Bass called. He said he would be happy to meet with us and walk us through the exhibition for an entire morning, talking, answering questions, etc.

But Saul Bass died the following April, before he could find the time to mount the exhibition.

A side story: When my daughter, Terre, graduated high school and knowing she was headed toward a life in design, my graduation present was for her and I to attend the Aspen Design Conference. I flew out to Kansas where she was living and we drove over to Aspen. Of a week of amazing talks and events, one of the best moments for the two of us was meeting and talking with Saul Bass and his wife, Elaine, just the 4 of us, talking about a future in design.

Ah, the one that got away.

At Lead Graffiti, we are currently working on a series of autobiographical, fine press, limited edition books. The most recent one just finished in March was about the grading systems I developed at UD in my teaching. Upcoming there will be 3 more of these books each focusing on a half-dozen of my favorite design projects for each—1) related to VC, 2) related to Cypher + Nichols + Design, and 3) related to Lead Graffiti. This poster for Saul Bass is most definitely one of my VC favorites. It was run in an edition of 2. One for him and one for me.

Studio projects Tuesday March 15 2016 12:47 pm

Reprinting the Irish 1916 Proclamation

We were asked to print a fantastic project for Special Collections at the University of Delaware Library to commemorate their exhibition on the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland. Lead Graffiti attempted to reproduce an accurate representation via letterpress of the original proclamation poster, of which only a few are known.

Click on the image to link to our “stories” to read about the typography of the poster and more information about the Irish uprising.

Below is a photo of Ray printing the proclamation.

Studio projects Friday March 04 2016 01:58 pm

I went down to the crossroad…

We started this afternoon diversion on November 23, 2014. At this time I cannot remember who it was that worked on it with me. We got that cross of type done at the top, but he never came back to finish.

When we do workshops we offer the attendees to come back and do an afternoon diversion, working on some poster that we want to do. A recent Vandercook (technical) workshop was attended by Aaron Morris and he seems pretty committed to doing some letterpress. He agreed to help finish “Crossroads” and let us get it off of our “in progress” shelf.

I loved his willingness to push the window of readability. Even doing the rest of the poster took us an additional two days of several hours each.

That “y” in “my” is the only one we have in the typeface and the bottom of it is broken off. I actually kind of liked the fact that it avoids the problem of having a descender in that narrow space. Nice of the typography gods to look after us with that. It would have been fun adjusting things so that descender could fit right in between the two words. The problem with doing the posters that we do is that the top and bottom edges are deckled and you just cannot get tight registering. We need to work on a system that will allow at least fairly tight registration and keep the deckle. Hell, we’ve only done about 160 posters so far like that.

Clicking on the image will show it to you about 50% larger.

Studio projects Thursday January 28 2016 02:01 am

Unknown printing technique

Above: Title page to “The Frick Collection” catalog printed at Laboratory Press in 1949. The black is printed on an iron handpress.

Below: Closeup of the red.

Question: How was the red printed and why does it have that texture?

Suggestions have been that the red plate is halftoned. Question: Why would you halftone the element and not just make it a solid area? Notice that the entire area of the red has color to it and not the result of a reasonably well-printed halftone. And notice the squeeze that happens just to the right of center. Ink looks quite thin. By this time it is Bruce Rogers overseeing the catalog and it seems oddly printed for the title page.

Someone also explained that both colors could have been rolled separately and printed together, but the proof I looked at in Illinois is only the black. I know that isn’t absolute evidence they were printed separately.

Studio projects Thursday January 21 2016 10:34 am

Porter Garnett 10 commandments for craftsmen

After finding our Harrild & Sons Albion iron handpress had been part of Laboratory Press at the Carnegie Institute of Technology back in the 1920s, we recently visit the Hunt Library at Carnegie Mellon University to see some of the things printed back in the day.

Porter Garnett who initiated the fine press program at CIT wrote out these 10 commandments.

. . .

by Porter Garnett of the Laboratory Press

1    Thou shalt not imitate.
2    Thou shalt not cater.
3    Thou shalt not seek effectiveness for its own sake
4    Thou shalt not seek novelty for its own sake.
5    Thou shalt not employ expedients.
6    Thou shalt not exploit thyself nor suffer thyself to be exploited by others.
7    Thou shalt not concern thyself with the opinions of any but the sensitive and the informed.
8    Thou shalt not give to anyone the thing he wants, unless for thyself the thing that he wants is right.
9    Thou shalt not compromise with popular taste or with fashion nor with machinery nor with the desire of gain.
10    Thou shalt not be satisfied — ever.

Printed at the New Laboratory Press, College of Fine Arts, Carnegie Institute of Technology. Handset in Hunt Roman, a type designed by Hermann Zapf, 18 June 1963.

Studio projects Wednesday January 06 2016 09:00 am

Lead Graffiti workshops / January thru May 2016

Lead Graffiti announces its letterpress and bookbinding workshop schedule. Take a look. Put handmade back into your life.

We are willing to consider alterations or additions to the schedule. Just email us with your thoughts. Often workshops don’t fill, and dropping one and replace it with another, isn’t much of a problem.

We get a number of mother / daughter attendees. A workshop gift certificate also works as a birthday gift. The technical workshops allow the participant to rent the same equipment for personal projects.

Click any link to look at the details. Email us with questions.

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Creative letterpress (meander book edition)
8 working hours + lunch, all materials included : $75 to $100
For a firsthand letterpress experience, this creative workshop is a group collaboration for students, designers, writers or others who would like a quick taste of handset type, printing & bookmaking. Requires a minimum of 6 and a maximum of 14.

  • Sunday, February 7, 9am - 6pm
  • Sunday, February 28, 9am - 6pm (Dickinson College only)
  • Saturday, March 12, 9am - 6pm (AIGA mentees only)
  • Sunday, April 24, 9am - 6pm
  • Saturday, May 21, 9am - 6pm (AIGA Feedback only)

Creative letterpress
(H.N. Werkman edition)

3 working hours + lunch, all materials included : $50
This is a rather odd letterpress experience based on the work of Dutch printer H.N. Werkman. You produce individual prints versus editions and the printing process is upside-down. This workshop can have a very playful quality and it seems to work quite well down to at least the age of 8. A good parent / child creative bonding experience. Be warned that we ask parents to leave their kids alone. Requires a minimum of 6 and a maximum of 14.

  • Sunday, February 27, 10am - 1pm
  • Saturday, April 16, 10am - 1pm
  • Saturday, May 14, 10am - 1pm

Vandercook (technical)

7 working hours + lunch, all materials included : $120
This is a technical workshop designed to teach you how to print with and maintain Vandercook proof presses. Required for Lead Graffiti press rental. Requires a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 6.

  • Sunday, January 24, 10am - 6pm
  • Saturday, February 20, 10am - 6pm
  • Saturday, May 7, 10am - 6pm
  • Sunday, May 29, 10am - 6pm
    Samples from our portfolio: A haw haw haw haw | Wildman invite |

Metal type composition

7 working hours + lunch, all materials included : $120
Handset metal type using spacing & leading with a composing stick. Design & print a small edition of cards on a tabletop press. Requires a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 6.

  • Saturday, January 30, 10am - 6pm (focus on Valentine’s cards)
  • Sunday, February 28, 10am - 6pm (focus on St. Patrick’s coasters)
  • Saturday, April 23, 10am - 6pm
    Samples from our portfolio: How type writes poetry

Chandler & Price platen (technical)

7 working hours + lunch, all materials included : $120
Learn the technical basics of printing photopolymer and handset type, diecutting & scoring on both motorized and treadle style floor-model platen presses, one of the most widely available and accessible presses. Requires a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 6.

  • Saturday, February 13, 10am - 6pm

Iron Handpress (technical)

7 working hours + lunch, all materials included : $120
Describe the workshop. Requires a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 6.

  • Sunday, March 27, 10am - 6pm
  • Sunday, May 22, 10am - 6pm

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One day, one book
7 working hours + lunch, all materials included : $120
This is bookbinding on caffeine. Get your hands on the basics from pastepaper to sewing a text block to attaching a hard cover. Take home the book you made from scratch all in a day’s work. Requires a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 6.

  • Sunday, February 6, 10am - 6pm
  • Sunday, March 6, 10am - 6pm
  • Sunday, April 10, 10am - 6pm
  • Saturday, April 30, 10am - 6pm
    Samples from our portfolio: Multifaceted Mr. Morris

Coptic stitch binding

7 working hours + lunch, all materials included : $120
Show off your handmade accomplishment with this exposed spine style producing two books with Coptic and Ethiopic binding techniques. Requires a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 6.

  • Sunday, January 31, 10am - 6pm
  • Sunday, April 17, 10am - 6pm

Simple books

3 working hours, all materials included : $50
We still need to write this up. From a grouping of 4 book forms we will do these workshops in groups of 2 methods. Each full day will cover all 4 methods. Great for a parent and child to share together or for a younger person to learn some handskills and pride in craftsmanship. Requires a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 8.

  • Saturday, March 5, 10am - 1pm
  • Saturday, March 5, 2am - 5pm
  • Sunday, April 3, 10am - 1pm
  • Sunday, April 3, 2am - 5pm
  • Sunday, May 15, 10am - 1pm
  • Sunday, May 15, 2am - 5pm
    Samples from our portfolio: Leonard Baskin | Thunder Road | Cushman invite

Pastepaper primer

3 working hours, all materials included : $70
Use classic bookbinders wheat paste to design colorful paper for book covers and other projects. A great workshop for creating a stack of sheets for use in a variety of personal future projects. Requires a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 8.

Classic clamshell box

7 hours + lunch, all materials included : $140.
Learn to measure and cover a custom-fitted library style box. Bring a book that is about 6” x 9” x 1” that you would like to protect with a box and let’s protect it. Requires a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 6.

Studio projects Sunday December 27 2015 10:49 pm

Top 10 Lead Graffiti moments of 2015

These are the top 10 events relating to Lead Graffiti & letterpress that happened during 2015 in chronological order.

Not a single event, but we had 155 workshop participants this year, bringing our total to 1,184. New groups included Art Conservation at the University of Delaware, Arcadia University, and James Mason University (where we also did a talk).

. . . O N E : March & April

First 2 books of our personal story series, “Moments Carved in Paper,” were published. The Librarian Made Us Do It (Ray’s “moment of clarity” for letterpress) and eifleS!, the original idea for the series with Ray’s 2 favorite stories about his parents that started us on the project.

. . . T W O : April

We participated in the Manhattan Book Fair through the Fine Press Book Association. We were hoping to do enough business to pay for the booth, the drive up, a nice hotel room, and an intimate Italian dinner. Dinner ended up being Dopo East. We did 4 times that well. It is great fun telling our stories to anyone that would stop for a moment and look. We will also be doing the fair in April 2016. We may try to do the same hotel and restaurant.

. . . T H R E E : May

Jill took two long-desired, leather binding workshops from Don Rash. She ended up with 3 nice books. Don was the bookbinder that did the 12 leather-covered versions of our Histories of Newark: 1758 - 2008 back in 2007. He did an amazing job embedding a coin minted in 1758 with the head of King George II (he signed the charter for the city) so that you could see both sides of the coin. Don does really amazing work German style.

. . . F O U R : June

We were invited to exhibit 35 Tour de Lead Graffiti posters from 2011 - 2014 at the AIGA / SPACE Gallery in Philadelphia. Met some great new friends and, from the opening, pulled 7 great new collaborators in for stages in our Tour de Lead Graffiti 2015.

. . . F I V E : July

Tour de Lead Graffiti 2015 - our 5th edition of our 23 posters in 23 days while following the Tour de France. We had 35 collaborators spread over 21 of the 23 days who shared the Tour, the letterpress, and the dessert experience with us. Ray’s total time over the 23 days was 383 hours 28 minutes. There were 92 runs averaging 4 per poster, but some of them were doozies. “Endurance letterpress” at its most fun.

. . . S I X : July & August

We were invited to be the inaugural exhibition at the new gallery of the Hamilton Wood Type Museum in their new space. The 2-month exhibition included 48 of our Tour de Lead Graffiti posters from 2011 thru 2014. Special thanks to Jim Moran, director of the museum, for the invitation. I’m pretty sure Lead Graffiti got some new followers from the event.

. . . S E V E N : August

After watching it flounder along, Ray added some much needed energy into the VC/UD - Then & Now Facebook group for former students from the Graphic and Advertising Group and the Visual Communications Group, 1968 to the present. Not exactly letterpress, but an important part of Ray’s life, and we’ll sneak some letterpress in every so often.

. . . E I G H T : October

The national conference of the American Printing History Association, which both Ray & Jill attended, was focused on printing on the iron handpress. The conference injected some energy into our efforts to get our 2 iron handpresses finished. We bought one in 2007 and one in 2008, and had to have missing parts fabricated and things like bent bolts straightened or replaced. At the conference we experienced a new letterpress workshop based on the work of H.N. Werkmen (shorter time frame, for a good number of people, and loads of colorful, typographic fun). We used the workshop for our first VC homecoming reunion in November, which we’ve been wanting to do for a while. Everyone’s kids loved it and so did the adults. This also provoked a nice iron handpress workshop run by printer Steve Heaver from Baltimore. Also, see entry T E N.

. . . N I N E : October

From Crooked Crow Press, Rockville, Maryland, and on extended loan, we received a full 36-line Gutenberg Bible page composed of a reissue of Gutenberg D-K metal type cast by Mike Anderson. Additionally there are 2 job cases of the recast Gutenberg D-K type that we can use to set new pieces. We are hoping to start a new series of workshops on our iron handpresses with the type.

. . . T E N : December

In the process of renovating our Harrild & Sons Albion, bought from the Museum of Printing in North Andover, Massachusetts, we’ve discovered it has a significant provenance as part of the first fine press program at a major U.S. university, Carnegie Institute of Technology, back in the 1920s. One of a pair, it was purchased to print a significant 12-volume catalog for The Frick Collection.

Things still seem to be happening that are very exciting to us.

Studio projects Monday December 21 2015 03:24 pm

16″ handrolled, framed, letterpress monograms

We think this is a pretty nice idea that we got much to close to the time for holiday gift giving.

We’ve been wanting some big letters in Lead Graffiti, so we’ve been making 16-inch, linocut letters in the typeface Onyx and printing them as monograms.

The letters have been handrolled in black (Ray) and silver (Jill) with a bit of vigor, with some areas left open that blind deboss. They are printed on the same 300 gsm Somerset White Textured paper we use for our Tour de Lead Graffiti posters (our favorite and most used paper for our personal projects). The image above shows 8 letters in the 9.75″ x 20.5″ black frame version (also comes in white).

Offered on our Etsy site with the following description.

This lively, handrolled initial is ideal for injecting a bit of personalized energy into any gift-giving occasion.

Large scale, 16″ monogram printed slowly & patiently via letterpress. Prints are individually handrolled at our Lead Graffiti studio in black & silver ink on thick, acid-free, heavily textured paper.

Due to the handcrafted nature of these prints, there are slight variations between letters. The photograph is a general guide as to how your letterpress print will look.

Available in your choice of black or white wood frame with glass. Not available unframed.Outer frame dimensions are 9.75″ wide x 20.5″ tall x 1.375″ deep. Great one-size-fits-all gift for birthdays, weddings, children’s room, bedroom, mantle, office wall, etc.

$45 framed + shipping.

The K, M, W are wider than the others and require a wider frame (same price).

Studio projects Friday December 04 2015 07:43 am

Drawing with caulk : printing via letterpress

I’ve always liked techniques that have some lack-of-control built into them.

I had been thinking for a while about alternative ways to do large scale drawings without having to resort to large plates, wood cuts, etc. In our Tour de Lead Graffiti posters we’ve often printed from bicycle chains so I was thinking about ways you could get a line drawing that was cheap and pretty easy to do. I suspect the better you can draw the more you might be able to use this technique.

I tried the first test (shown below) about a year ago. I needed our 4th piece for this year’s requirements for APA (Amalgamated Printers Association), so I printed it up with a description of the process.

The image below shows the caulk drawing (about 5″ wide) on the left and the resulting print on the right.

Over the year the caulk had dried a bit and perhaps has been beat up, being moved around a couple dozen times. You can see on the left that part of the caulk at the top has broken away. The print on the right shows it with about half of it broken away. I don’t think this would have happened if I had printed it fairly soon after doing the drawing.

Materials: tube of caulk (different caulks may produce different results), caulk gun, 0.75″ plywood base (MDF would work also), pane of 0.25″ plate glass (the bigger your image the more important that thickness is), WD40, & 4 pieces of large, new metal type

The Process: The metal type, places at the corners of the plywood base, acts as “glass bearers” to flatten the caulk to 0.918″. the trick is to balance the thickness of packing under the base and the bead thickness of the caulk (most often pretty difficult to control) to achieve the desired line width. We sprayed some WD40 on the glass as a release agent. Let the caulk dry completely before separating from the glass.

You can see from the print that the caulk tends to sage a bit in the middle of a line. I think it actually provides more dimension to the line. Right after I had done the original the caulk was dried, but softer. At this point a year later it was really had an I think I got more texture in the centers of the lines now than I did back within a day or two of laying the caulk down.

Worth noting that unless you use the right caulk that will literally never get hard (like bathroom caulk) I don’t think these drawings would last a while. I don’t remember the kind of caulk I used with this test. It was probably something that was just laying around.

Studio projects Friday November 27 2015 11:54 am

Setting up our Harrild & Sons Albion

Looking for advice setting up an Albion: | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3: reconstruction order | Part 4: naming the Albion pieces

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We’ve been doing some work on our Harrild & Sons Albion. We’ve been trying to explain the problems we are having and trying to get suggestions for correcting them from other handpress owners. If you would like to see the process you can take a look.

An interesting new development is that we think 2 photos from Richard-Gabriel Rummonds’ book Printing on the Iron Handpress” are of our press and/or its brother.

We originally bought ours from the Museum of Printing in North Andover, MA back in 2008. There were two identical presses. The serial number of ours is 8112. As best I can tell from the one photo that shows it on the other one ended in “113″ (cannot read the 8).

Here are the two photos.

Above: This one shows the press feet/legs to the cheeks so we have a much better idea that the photo matches our press. The caption in Rummonds’ book reads…

Photo 13: Pressmen printing The Catalogue of the Frick Collection on two Albion presses back to back. Laboratory Press, Carnegie Institute of Technology, Pittsburgh, PA, 1949. (Photo courtesy of Cary Graphic Arts Collection, RIT.)

Above: Photo 14: Pressmen printing The Catalogue of the Frick Collection on a Harrild Albion Press. Laboratory Press, Carnegie Institute of Technology, Pittsburgh, PA, 1949. (Reprinted, by permission, from American Printer, March 1950.)

Paul Ritscher of Devil’s Tail Press, through the iron handpress listserv where we’ve been getting the advice for our Albion setup, offered this bit of information about the presses.

“In a glance at Porter Garnett: Philosophical Writings on the Ideal Book, Book Club of California 1994 (a book that should be in every hand-press library), Porter Garnett describes the purchase of the two presses specifically for the purpose of printing the Catalogue of the Frick Collection for the Museum of Modern Art, a project begun in 1928, and not completed until after he left Carnegie in 1935 by Bruce Rogers.”

After bit of online searching we found that the University of Delaware (just down the street) has a copy of the catalog of the Frick Collection. The colophon from volume 1, “The printing … was begun in 1929 by Porter Garnett who designed the basic format of the text, and who printed the sheets through page 168 … The work was laid aside in 1932. Printing was begun again in the spring of 1949 under the direction of Bruce Rogers, who designed the two volumes of illustrations, and the title page, section headings, and accessory pages for the volume of text. The sheets of text were completed on the hand-presses of the University of Pittsburgh … One hundred and seventy-five sets have been made”–Colophon of v. 1.

The story just keeps getting better.”

Information on PORTER GARNETT who may have been the first purchaser of our press (until we know better we are going to start giving the date of construction of our press as the 1920s)

Variously a playwright, critic, editor, librarian, teacher, and printer, Porter Garnett (1871-1951) was born in San Francisco and was for many years an active figure in the Bay Area literary scene. A member of the Bohemian Club for many years beginning in the 1890s, he wrote and produced plays and masques for the Club, whose members included his good friends Jack London and George Sterling. Like many members of the Club, he was involved in journalism, working as a newspaper critic and editor. With Gelett Burgess, he founded the magazine The Lark in 1895. From 1907 to 1912, he served as an assistant curator at the Bancroft Library at the University of California at Berkeley. In 1922, he became professor of graphic arts at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. There, he founded the Laboratory Press, where he taught and practiced fine printing until the press closed in 1935.

Studio projects Friday November 13 2015 04:23 pm

The Society of Typographic Arts / keynote address

Jill and I have been invited by The Society of Typographic Arts in Chicago to deliver the keynote address at their 23rd annual Design Inspiration Weekend, entitled “Dearly Discarded,” a retreat and forum on design. Our talk will be on Friday, January 12, 2016. We’ve been asked to talk about our Tour de Lead Graffiti project. Sounds like a fun weekend.

We think we are going to be able to do 2 workshops on Thursday. One will involved our recent interest in the work of H.N. Werkman and the other would be a bookmaking workshop. Hopefully one in the morning and one in the afternoon will work into the schedule.

Worth noting to any of our Chicago friends that the talk is not open to the public.

Studio projects Tuesday November 10 2015 01:33 pm

Letterpress workshop based on the work of H.N. Werkman

At the 2015 national conference of the American Printing History Association, Ray took part in a design-on-the-fly letterpress workshop at the Rochester Arts Center. The hands-on activity was centered around the pre-WWII work of H.N. Werkman.

The conference workshop suggested some interesting possibilities, so we’ve started working on our own Lead Graffiti version. You can read the description of our two Werkman workshop events and see photos of the final results. One of the nice things is that it seems to work well with children, at least down to the age of 8. Could be a great experience for mothers/daughters or fathers/sons.

View the descriptions and photos below. Email Ray if you’d like to join in a future Werkman workshop.

Studio projects Tuesday November 10 2015 12:54 pm

Recast D-K type for the 36-line Bible ready for handsetting at Lead Graffiti

A number of years ago, a letterpress and typography friend, Mike Anderson, was researching the typographic history of the Bible. Mike had the casting equipment and know-how to produce his own metal type for printing via letterpress. Working from the 36-line Bamberg Bible, he produced what I believe is a full character set of approximately 250 characters.

Gutenberg type from 36-line Bamberg Bible

Another good friend, Chris Manson, has come into possession of all of the Bamberg Bible type Mike cast. It includes a full-page lock-up of a page of the 36-line Bible, plus 2 full California job cases of additional characters. Chris has placed the type on indefinite loan to Lead Graffiti. We are keeping the lock-up intact, but plan on trying to do some composing with the extra type.

We are developing a workshop utilizing the type that would interest librarians, historians, writers, designers, and typographers. A somewhat major problem is the vast number of characters, many with subtle differences in design and spacing and then distributing them back into the job cases. Keeping the sorts organized is both difficult and a critical must.

. . .

The Bamberg Bible is the second printed Bible and it was created with what was probably the earliest moveable type produced by Johann Gutenberg. Larger and somewhat cruder than the type used in the more famous 42-line Bible of c. 1455, this type was first used to print a Latin grammar book, called a “Donatus” (c. 1452-1453), and a pamphlet called the “Turken Kalendar” (c. 1455). This Bamberg Bible type is known as the “D-K” or “36-line Bible” type.

This was possibly the only type left in Gutenberg’s possession after the lawsuit by his business partner, Johann Fust, in 1455, and it is not known if he sold the type to another printer, who then went on to produce the 36-line Bible, or if he was involved in the printing of that work himself.

To get more of the story and a really nice photo of the type, please click here.

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