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Studio projects & Tour de Lead Graffiti 2015 & events Tuesday April 14 2015 09:23 am

Tour de Lead Graffiti 2015 stage schedule

Stage 1, Saturday, July 4th - Utrecht > Utrecht / 14 km (individual time trial)
. . . Collaborator: Rebecca Johnson Melvin / manuscript librarian | 2011, 2012, 2012, 2013, 2014

Stage 2, Sunday, July 5th - Utrecht > Zélande / 166 km   

Stage 3, Monday, July 6th - Anvers > Huy / 154 km   

Stage 4, Tuesday, July 7th - Seraing > Cambrai / 221 km   

Stage 5, Wednesday, July 8th - Arras > Amiens Métropole / 189 km   

Stage 6, Thursday, July 9th - Abbeville > Le Havre / 191 km   

Stage 7, Friday, July 10th - Livarot > Fougères / 190 km   

Stage 8, Saturday, July 11th - Rennes > Mûr de Bretagne / 179 km   

Stage 9, Sunday, July 12th - Vannes > Plumelec / 28 km (team time trial)  

Rest day, Monday, July 13th - Pau       

Stage 10, Tuesday, July 14th - Tarbes > La Pierre-Saint-Martin / 167 km / mountains

Stage 11, Wednesday, July 15th - Pau > Cauterets - Vallée de Saint-Savin / 188 km / mountains

Stage 12, Thursday, July 16th - Lannemezan > Plateau de Beille / 195 km / mountains

Stage 13,  Friday, July 17th - Muret > Rodez / 200 km   

Stage 14, Saturday, July 18th - Rodez > Mende / 178 km
. . . Collaborator: Bill Roberts / letterpress printer | 2011, 2011, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

Stage 15, Sunday, July 19th - Mende > Valence / 182 km   

Stage 16, Monday, July 20th - Bourg-de-Péage > Gap / 201 km   

Rest day, Tuesday, July 21st - Gap       

Stage 17, Wednesday, July 22nd - Digne-les-Bains > Pra-Loup / 161 km / mountains

Stage 18, Thursday, July 23rd - Gap > Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne / 185 km / mountains

Stage 19, Friday, July 24th - Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne > La Toussuire - Les Sybelles / 138 km / mountains

Stage 20, Saturday, July 25th - Modane Valfréjus > Alpe-d’Huez / 110 km (high mountain) / mountains

Stage 21, Sunday, July 26th - Sèvres - Grand Paris Seine Ouest > Paris Champs-Élysées / 107 km

Studio projects Thursday April 09 2015 01:16 pm

Book no. 2: Moments Carved in Paper


Book no. 2: Selfie!

I do like the typographic treatment to the title of this book, EIFLES! I hope I can do things like this with every book.

This is the idea that actually started this whole Moments Carved in Paper book series thing rolling. Book no. 2 captures my favorite story about each of my parents. I got the chance to use my favorite photo showing them absolutely in love. I’ve got no idea when the photo was taken, but doing a book like this has shown me that I needed to have spent 500 hours more than I did asking questions of my parents.

As an aside, in doing some genealogy work on our family’s history, an uncle told me that my father once revealed that he had painted the artist’s concept of the atomic bomb. My father was in the military at the right time. He was stationed in about the right place. He was an artist. But he never told me that story. What a story to know! And yet I’ve not been able to find out any more about it from the government or several museums devoted to the history of the Manhattan Project. The moral of this story is that you should start thinking about how you would do this book with your parents.

Anyway, that atomic bomb story isn’t even part of this book, but I thought it might make a good point about getting things down on paper before it is too late.

One good question to ask your own parents is, “Tell me 2 dozen things about you that I don’t know.” Might be nice to get a small recorder and record it. Throw the tape in a box so you can pull it out some later time.

. . .

Back to you VC graduates and a list of topics to think about: our Bulldog day with Peter Woods or how about our 2-day sit-in at Peter Woods’ office at Ogilvy working on the One Club’s “Vietnam as a destination” ad campaign, the day every sophomore made a white (the horror!) T-shirt that said something on it (cannot remember right now, but I’m sure I can find a photo), junior parties for the seniors after the Year End Shows, lustful acts on a seamless in the photo studio, breaking into the building when it was locked so you could get to the good desks to do some work for class, most interesting speakers or field trips, maybe you were a grad that hosted a group of us at some design studio or advertising agency. . . .

See? I’ve kind of run out so I need some new things to think about. Help jog my memory and send me an email before I forget anything else.

Studio projects Thursday April 09 2015 12:34 pm

Book no. 1: Moments Carved in Paper

The Librarian Made Us Do It!

Book no. 1: Moments Carved in Paper

I’ve always had lots of stories to tell. After years of thinking & talking about it, Jill & I are going to be giving a run to a series of small books entitled Moments Carved in Paper. Each book connects various stories that lead to a “moment” that we carve in paper via letterpress. The title of our first book is “The Librarian Made Us Do It!” The title page reads “Librarian?” I love the idea that the inside page would question the outside page.

Book no. 1 opens with a photo of the millennium issue of Life Magazine which listed the printing of the Gutenberg Bible as the #1 moment of the past 1,000 years. Former student Craig Cutler shot the photo. “The Librarian Made Us Do It!” details the path that ended up with us working in Lead Graffiti with about 20 tons of presses & metal type, making books and other things by printing via letterpress, and having a blast doing it.

A few stepping stones mentioned in book no. 1 include:

• • • Life Magazine’s premonition.

• • • Starting VCUK and our study abroad trips to London.

• • • Connecting the dots from Nigel Kent to Alan Kitching, and then Nigel Roche to Ian Mortimer.

We were hooked.

Printed via letterpress & bound by hand as a flutter book (printed as spreads on thick, lush paper and then glued only along the fore-edge of the sheets), the books, while short, are also nicely thick. Each book will have a wrap-around cover. There will be pages that center on a photograph, often with tip-ins to help show the story, maybe some handrolled ink and probably some playing with type.

. . .

IF YOU ARE A FORMER VC STUDENT DURING MY TIME, there may be a number of occasions in these books you could have something to add that will help tell these stories. Stay up-to-date with the books we have planned. Lead Graffiti is attempting to do about 1 a month for a year to start. Then we’ll see what happens.

The next book will likely be about some of my favorite projects in the VC program, but not always ones I gave. Another important topic to me is the three different grading systems I designed and used over the years–dots, shelves & tennis tournament grading. I don’t remember exactly when I started using those and would love to know if it was during your time. I would also be interested in your positive opinions and how you feel they may have impacted your career or creative experiences since then.

Help me add to my list: DEViCes, VC Family Album pages, 9-foot invitation to the Year End Show, best field trips & site visits, Alans Kitching & Fletcher, portfolio review at Fallon in Minneapolis, William Caslon & Eric Gill’s grave sites, our overnight stay at the Hope & Glory with Bill Westbrook, the day of the London bombing, sandcasting at the Type Museum, Eric Michelson’s talk, Stephen Frykholm’s talk, banners hanging on the Annex, catching up to missed bus trips to NYC, Helmut Krone, Art Directors Club portfolio reviews, important exhibitions, One Club student shows, my 60th birthday party and Doves Press present, “Think Small. Again.” poster, other Year End Show posters, Friday sessions, working with the Advertising Club of Delaware, Bob Gill, Wimbledon, Michael Johnson. That should be enough to get you started thinking.

If you have a great memory about your time in VC PLEASE drop me an email. I’d like to try to merge the collection into a larger story. I’ve got dozens of them jotted down, but there must be hundreds more and different viewpoints would add more wonderful and personal detail.

Help spread the word about these books to other VC grads and people we connected with back in the day. Thanks!

Studio projects Wednesday April 08 2015 12:00 pm

Book no. 0: Moments Carved in Paper

The Prospectus

This is a photo of the prospectus we did for our upcoming series of autobiographical books related to Ray’s teaching, family, and our printing slowly & patiently via letterpress.

The books were intended to show the flutter book format we were going to use for the book series. Each spread is printed individually, scored & folded, and then glued along the fore-edge. Each book will have a wrap-around cover.

The intent of the series is to get some of Ray’s stories in print and to help celebrate some wonderful moments in our lives. The prospect was sent to approximately 130 major libraries to promote interest in the series. We hope to have some typographic fun along with some letterpress experimentation over the course of what we hope to be at least 10 books. Each book will come out roughly every month. We’ll see how it goes.

Studio projects & workshops Tuesday March 24 2015 01:30 pm

Creative Letterpress workshop / University of Delaware / Art Conservation

We’ve been trying to schedule a workshop with the Art Conservation / Winterthur Program at the University of Delaware for about a year and we finally made it happen. Art Conservation at UD is simply a world-class program, universally listed as one of the top few in the world. They didn’t disappoint. We added a bit of a twist to our standard start with “All I know is…” and finish the line. So they would be more experienced with the old ways of composing they added “Designed & handset by…” using a composing stick. Tray was involved in Galactic Con with his Star Wars costuming group which slowed us down being able to help people through the process.

In the end, quite a nice effort with some very nice lockups and twists on words & typography.

Below is the main lockup and broadside. Below that we’ve pulled out a couple of the lockups to show more detail. Not sure we can promise to do this for each workshop, but we’ll give it a try this time.

You can click on the image below to see it double sized.

We’ve been wanting to pick out some closeups to show for a while, but honestly it is pretty time consuming to do that image above, cleaning up the type, reinking with white ink, getting out the photo lights, balancing on top of the press, stretching the image digitally to match the scanned broadside and putting together in a 512 pixel-wide format for the blog and then a 1000 pixel-wide format for the enlarged image. But for a first run at it, here are the lockups of 3 individual pages with the final printed version. You an often see the filling of the hole where the initial letter went when the first color was printed. This was the title page so it didn’t have to follow the “All I know is…” and start with an “A.”

“All I know is that I prefer books”

In this workshop we are trying to work as fast as possible to get a cover designed, a title page designed, 12 interior pages, and then make the covers (lot of steps) and then fold and tear the broadside to get it into the accordion fold format, an then get them put together (which is also a surprising number of steps) without using glue or sewing. This was a really nice effort for the inside title page.

“All I know is here and now”

Quite a simple page, but with the “ON:OW” being written in “time” style (09:44) it is just a great idea for adding a twist to writing the words. The 3s replacing the Es add a bit of numbering to the typography, throwing the visual off kilter just a bit. Nicely done using a very solid grouping of wood type.

“All I know is that someday I will do what I love”

Always fun to work with people who are completely new to letterpress. Anyone that knows what they are doing would avoid curving those 2 lines like the black plague. We just need to do a better job of explaining that the space taken up by that wonderful A could be filled with only a couple pieces of furniture and a few pieces of leading. Oh, well. We’ll put that in at the next workshop. Still a wonderful elegance to go with that fancy copperplate initial cap.

Studio projects Wednesday March 18 2015 12:22 pm

Moments Carved in Paper: Book No. 1


Bound by hand and printed slowly & patiently via letterpress, Book No. 1 in the Moments Carved in Paper series has turned out quite nicely, we think.

Our story begins in 1999 with Craig Cutler’s photo of a Gutenberg Bible for the cover of Life Magazine’s 100 Incredible Discoveries, Cataclysmic Events, & Magnificent Moments of the past 1,000 years. Amazing to even shoot for Life Magazine, much less the cover, Craig’s moment in the sun (one of many in his career) turned out to be a foreshadowing of the journey our creative lives were about to make.

The timing was right to give VCUK, our Visual Communications / United Kingdom study abroad a try. The next omen occurred on a VC field trip to Ogilvy where Nigel Kent, their Director of Typography, pointed us in the direction of Alan Kitching who taught letterpress at the Royal College of Art. A visit in VCUK’01 took us to Kitching’s studio, where there seemed to be some interest on the part of the students. Our first letterpress workshop came the next summer in 2002, when the student interest perked up considerably.

A visit to St. Bride Printing Library in 2002 clinched the aha! moment. Seeing the original tissues from Eric Gill’s Gill Sans typeface was a perfect setup. And then “Ornamented Types,” a book of outside-the-box type specimens exquisitely printed via letterpress by Ian Mortimer, was the tipping point. We fell for every hook, line and ink.

In addition to Craig Cutler, names mentioned in book No. 1 include Karla Burger Cushman, Bill Deering, Alan Fletcher, Ari Garber, Nigel Kent, Alan Kitching, Mark Samuels Lasner, Ian Mortimer, Nowlan Nichols, Raymond Nichols, Nigel Roche, David Rose, and Ben Thoma.

All the books in our Moments series are in the flutter book format. This means each spread is printed on one side only and the foredges are glued together to form the text block. The paper is a sexy Somerset Textured White, 300 gsm. By printing on only one side we can push the type into the paper quite deeply. Book No. 1 has two photos and some colorful Lead Graffiti elements that give a nod to Eric Gill and wormholes.

No. 1’s cover is St. Armand Colours Caribou #190, made in Canada. Very nice to hold in your hands.

Regarding future books in this series, we hope to get a number of student perspectives on many of the moments that involved my teaching or VC. Most of the stories connect in some way with that part of my life.

In a future book we will revisit Raven Press. We have to tell Ben Thoma and Karla Burger Cushman’s story about getting the illustrious Alan Fletcher to design the Raven Press logo. And at least one of the posters we did with Alan Kitching during his workshops needs to make an appearance.

If you have some favorite stories about your days in those first years at Raven Press, I want to hear from you. And even if you don’t have Raven Press stories, please keep in touch.

events Thursday March 12 2015 07:05 am

Upcoming Lead Graffiti events

MARCH 2015

    Happy to have the Winterthur Program and Art Conservation in the studio for Creative Letterpress workshop.

APRIL 2015

    Lead Graffiti will have a table at the Manhattan Fine Press Book Fair on Saturday, April 11 from 8am - 4pm at The Church of St. Vincent Ferrer, 869 Lexington Avenue at 66th Street, NYC. We will be showing our newest series of books of autobiographical stories entitled Moments Carved in Paper, Tour de Lead Graffiti clamshells from 2011 thru 2014, other books we’ve printed and bound (The Multifaceted Mr. Morris and Boxcar Poems 1 - 12 by John Dorsey), and Jill’s pastepapers.
    Ray will be talking to AIGA / Philadelphia’s Night Caps, a podcast distributed to all AIGA chapters. The topic is about the value of graduate school for design students. I honestly have mixed feelings about it, but a lot of that depends on the program the student is attending. I don’t feel very good about too many design programs and the things they accomplish for their students.

MAY 2015

    Participating in AIGA / Philadelphia’s annual Feedback, the annual portfolio review for Philadelphia area students. This will be the third in a row. We will be offering a free workshop to 14 students we will pick at random for those attending.


    Tour de Lead Graffiti, 2-month long exhibition of posters from Tour de Lead Graffiti 2011 - 2014, at the AIGA Philadelphia SPACE Gallery. The SPACE Gallery is located at 72 North 2nd Street (at Arch Street).

JULY 2015

    Tour de Lead Graffiti, a visual journal following the Tour de France which runs from July 4 - July 26.

FUTURE EXHIBITIONS that are still in the planning stages.

    Special Collections Reading Room at the University of Delaware

workshops Tuesday March 03 2015 03:05 pm

Arcadia University and a meander book Creative Letterpress workshop

Spent a slushy Sunday with an active group of graphic design students from Arcadia University and their professor Davie Copestakes working in one of our Lead Graffiti Creative Letterpress workshops. It was nice that they had a lot of good questions. We are always disappointed when students don’t have questions.

Below shows the final broadside on the right with the lockup for the 2nd color (red) on the left. On the broadside rows 1 and 3 have been rotated so the top / bottom orientation is the same for all pages.

You can click on the image to see the image double-sized.

Just in case you look at it really closely, the participants’ names have been taken out of the lockup with the colophon as they took them as souvenirs of the day. We took the photo of the lockup the next morning after we cleaned all of the type and then rolled it with white ink to help the printing surface show.

We are always taking photos to try and find better ones to show various aspects of this very complicated workshop. Here is a nice one of part of half of the group folding their covers together prior to inserting their text block.

events Saturday January 31 2015 02:39 pm

Thoughts from our talk at George Mason University

Lead Graffiti was invited to speak about our work as part of the George Mason UniversityVisual Voices Lecture Series” in a talk we entitled “A coloured letter at the bottom of a ditch.” The title was taken from a quote by the British type designer & sculptor, Eric Gill.

We started our day in Don Starr’s 2nd-year graphic design class, which happened to be working with calligraphy. They watched the film “Typeface” for the first half of class then the instructor asked us to talk with them. The students didn’t know us at all, probably only grasping most of what they knew about letterpress from the film

Talking to the students reminded me of the start of each year when I would walk into a class of new students. I had learned a year of new stuff and those students had forgotten a year of stuff (all of the stuff I had taught the previous year’s class). Today we were showing some of our work printed via letterpress and trying to make some connection to the students that might stick. We were trying to bring up anything that had calligraphy in it, like how letterpress and calligraphy are connected. I told them about us stumbling into working with letterpress because we wanted to take our Visual Communications students to London to help them get the feeling that “type had weight.” Like how a word in a poem that makes a very important point usually is a more weighty (significant) word than one in a newspaper article. I’m not at all sure we made the point, but it seemed like a good one so I said, “you’ll likely never do anything with digital type in the next two years that is more deliberate than what you will do working with calligraphy.

For any of the calligraphy students from the George Mason class who are reading this, here are 4 links to important online pages relating to calligraphy.

  • Saint John’s Bible - links to a Google search of largish images from the Bible. Jill and I saw an exhibition at the Walters Gallery in Baltimore on the book when it was about 50% done and it was really a fabulous exhibition. The bible is a recent manuscript Bible with wonderful illustrations. Click on a couple images.
  • APHA books of hours meeting - American Printing History Association meeting held at the Library of Congress to look over 2 dozen Books of Hours.
  • Grandmasters award - calligraphy by a friend, Satwinder Sehmi, from London.

I mentioned Stefan Sagmeister to make a point, but no one knew him. Yet, anyway, they will before they are done.

A bit later I took a shot at wanting to compare something about Shepard Fairey, a street artist, with a project some friends from “Grand Army” did in our studio one weekend a couple of years ago. No one knew him either. In my favorite photo of me, I’m wearing one of his “Obey Propaganda” t-shirts. So…

Thought #1: Seniors cannot know everything by the time they are sophomores.

A young lady sitting close by seemed to be starting to drift away, sitting quietly with her eyes closed. I kept talking for a moment and looked back at her and her eyes were still closed. I made a note to myself to not look back at her as it was going to make me want to stop the conversation all together.

I thought I would end with one of our favorite pieces which we love to show design students. It demonstrates the power of design to alter the thinking of your client. Our piece is a book with an essay written by British Author Nick Hornby and it is coupled with the lyrics of Bruce Springsteen’s “Thunder Road.”

It turns out Ann, the one with her eyes closed, wasn’t sleeping at all, but just choosing darkness over classroom light. Ann blurted out, “Nick Hornby. I know who that is!” She was familiar with Nick who had written the lyrics for an album with American singer-songwriter Ben Folds back in 2010.

It is worth mentioning that much of my teaching was based on trying to do a lot of things in a lot of ways, figuring that I had a better chance to connect with more of the students in a hopefully, significant way.

Ann was then my favorite student at George Mason University. So…

Thought #2: If you throw enough stuff at a group of students, something almost always will stick.

During our talk that evening I introduced Ann as my favorite student at George Mason University to the 250 students in attendance. It was hard not to think that the other 249 students were asking, “What the hell does that mean?” It was nice that she walked up front and talked to us some afterwards. I would have hated remembering her back in that dark corner.

For anybody from the Visual Voices talk reading this far and headed into design, I apologize for that typographic fiasco during the presentation. I really love the typeface I was trying to use. I often use it in its italic form which is quite calligraphic. The typeface is called Rialto (by DF Type) not the crappy typeface of the same name by Linotype or Letraset. My version doesn’t have italic capitals, but the lowercase has some wonderful expression.

Below is the italic lowercase which might give you some nice ideas for calligraphy. Sweet. We often use it as our house face for our personal work.

Now Ann needs to email me so I can send her something to celebrate the connection.

Studio projects Sunday January 18 2015 07:03 am

Portrait with Vandercook Universal III

We’ve been needing an in-shop portrait for a while. Applying to a magazine for inclusion in an article forced our hand.

Studio projects Saturday January 10 2015 10:05 pm

Art Directors Club “Grandmasters” article

I’m not sure I ever saw the Art Directors Club of New York annual which announced the inaugural awarding of the title of Grandmasters to design instructors. At this point I had retired and had quit adding the books to my collection. I was Googling something and the article suddenly appeared. I looked up the book on and there were copies easily available, so I bought two of them—one was for DCAD, who received a good number of the design books from my library, and the other was for Lead Graffiti’s library. I thought I would share the wonderful page designed for ADC88 back in 2009.

You can click on the image to see it double size.

Nine of my absolute favorite projects ever along with my favorite portrait were shown on the double-page spread. Truly a great honor.

From upper left clockwise:

1 Rethinking 2009 — This was the first notion we had of doing our Boxcards using recycled boxes as the stock.
2 Histories of Newark: 1758-2008 — A 300-page hardback which we designed. We took hundreds of photos for the book, most notably the “citizens band” that runs through every page and includes more than 3,700 townspeople.
3 All preservation is merely theoretical if you can’t keep the roof from leaking. poster for the American Printing History Association’s national conference at Columbia University. A copy was given to every attendee. The type is from our orphan wood type collection.
4 Can you have too much good typography — The poster celebrated a visit and talk by Justin Howes from London about his digitizing Caslon from original printings. The image is a single piece of 18″ x 24″ wood type that we made for the poster.
5 Think Small. Again. — Poster for a Visual Communications year-end exhibition reflecting back on the 25th anniversary of Volkswagen’s “Think small” ad. It was included in an exhibition of Volkswagen advertising at The One Club in New York.
6 Don’t let another art director beat you to the punch — This poster was the tipping point for my own feeling that I could complete on an equal level with other people and schools which I had envied from afar. Mounted in the Art Directors Club of New York exhibition on the same panel as one of Stephen Frykholm’s Herman Miller barbeque chicken picnic poster.
7 Yes 2005 — Poster printed via letterpress for a Visual Communications year-end exhibition. There are 11 pieces cut with a laser from a 1/4″ sheet of Plexiglas.
8 On October 5 we fished all day but didn’t catch the big one — Poster directed toward Saul Bass who called us about the piece.
9 The whole world is talking — The 3 versions of an 8-foot poster silkscreened in 2′ segments of voice bubbles for a Visual Communications year-end exhibition. Printed on a roll of paper 0.7 of a mile long. The stacked posters were handcut (total length was 2.8 miles). There were 36,000 rubberstamp impressions. Yes, it was a job, but a killer piece that won us a bunch of design awards.

Everyone of those is a nice moment in my life and reminds me how good a run I had with a bunch of amazing students, friends, and design professionals.

Studio projects Tuesday December 23 2014 02:58 am

WHYY-TV’s Best of 2014

Back in June 2014 WHYY-TV in Philadelphia, who does a weekly show on goings-on in Delaware, did a nice segment on Lead Graffiti.

They’ve just listed their WHYY’s Best of 2014 entitledFirst for Friday, December 19, 2014.” Quite nicely and totally unexpected, we are listed first and are the opening segment. Seriously, how nice is all of that.

Below you can see an image of Jill from the segment. They interviewed the 3 of us, filming every corner of our studio. I think we came off pretty well, even mentioning goosebumps twice. Take a look and let us know what you think.

Link to WHYY-TV Best of Delaware 2014.

Our segment starts at 00:44 and runs through 4:23. You can also see our link to our original blog post about the segment which links to a standalone version of the video.

Studio projects Wednesday December 17 2014 10:51 am

Lead Graffiti Young Bookmaker Awards

Back in October 2014 our granddaughter, 7-year-old Attie Blu, was enjoying drawing in one of Jill’s mini “mantle books” which we often sell at craft fairs. We thought it might be interesting for Attie Blu to make one of the accordion-bold books for each of her 25 2nd grade classmates to give out at their annual Halloween party. As Attie Blu working in the studio is a fairly common event around here we didn’t even document it with photographs except for this one photo of the “Pumpkin” covers and Attie Blu’s finger point to hers. The letterpress typography comes from rubber stamps bought at AC Moore.

We’ve decided to declare this event the 1st Lead Graffiti Young Bookmakers Award and Attie Blu as the first Lead Graffiti Young Bookmakers Award winner.

Fast forward 2 months when James’ father, Adam, a former student for a semester about 2 decades ago, called us about his son’s newfound interest in “making books.” We love the idea that a parent will show interest in supporting whatever their kids are interested in and, if it happens to be books, you can double our interest.

At the end of the conversation I asked, “How old is James?”

“Five.” Hmmm.

We invited the two of them to visit the studio. After meeting James and listening to his story we decided on a repeat of our first award winner’s project. James would make books for all of his kindergarten classmates at the Newark Charter School.

Above we see James printing “This gift book for” covers via letterpress on our Vandercook Universal III. We printed an edition of 40 to cover his classmates, a few close family as it was approaching the holidays, a couple for the keepsake box, a couple for us, and a couple for mistakes.

The classmate’s names were rubberstamped in white ink and James developed quite a repeatable method for getting the pressure right while inking the rubberstamps. The “nose scrunch” method turned out to be the best measure of pressure in foot-pounds per letter.

Then the problem was getting the pressure just right to get each of the letters to print as well as possible.

And this is James, the Lead Graffiti’s Young Bookmakers Award 2nd winner for 2014. It is never to early to start working on that résumé or a killer smile you can call up when showing off your portfolio.

A seriously fun afternoon diversion at Lead Graffiti. Thanks to James and Adam for bringing it to us.

This from an email from Adam.

I can’t say enough about our time spent with Lead Graffiti! Both my son & I got so much out of experience. I was amazed at how well Ray, Jill, Tray & Terre set up demonstrations & activities that engaged my five year old. I won’t forget the look on my son’s face when he pressed the button & saw the Vandercook’s cylinder go back & forth for the first time. As strange as it sounds to have a five year old interested in bookmaking, I’m just as glad that Lead Graffiti is around help him explore his interest. Thank you!

workshops Friday December 05 2014 10:56 am

Lead Graffiti workshops January - June 2015

How about a gift certificate for a letterpress or bookmaking workshop which gets someone away from their iPad and into the handmade? You’ll pay $120 for the gift certificate and if they use it for a cheaper workshop we’ll return the difference at the workshop. Any gift certiciate is good for any workshop we offer that runs anytime during 2015.

Lead Graffiti workshop certificate


Metal Type Composition

. . . Saturday, January 3
. . . Sunday, February 15
. . . Sunday, March 29
. . . Saturday, June 27

Vandercook (technical)

. . . Sunday, January 18
. . . Saturday, February 28
. . . Sunday, April 12
. . . Saturday, May 23

Creative Letterpress

. . . Saturday, January 31
. . . Saturday, March 14
. . . Saturday, April 25
. . . Saturday, June 6

Chandler & Price floor-model platens (technical)

. . . Sunday, February 22
. . . Saturday, April 18


One Day, One Book / examples from previous workshops
. . . Sunday, January 4
. . . Sunday, March 7 (new date)
. . . Sunday, April 19

One day, one book illustration

Classic clamshell box / below shows examples for holding 2 family bibles (1 with enclosed ephemera) and a Star Wars book

. . . Saturday, January 24 (new date)
. . . Sunday, May 24

Clamshell illustration

Pastepaper primer / illustration shows 6 examples plus wrapped picture frames. The “One day, 1 book” workshop shows several hardback books wrapped with pastepaper
. . . Sunday, February 1
. . . Saturday, March 28
. . . Sunday, June 7

Clamshell illustration

Coptic stitch bindings / below are coptic stitch examples with the upper left one as a book made of envelopes, perhaps to record receipts from a trip
. . . Sunday, March 15

Coptic stitch illustration

Studio projects Friday November 07 2014 11:08 am

Trade you! Your personal time for our press time.

There is always a lot of work to do around Lead Graffiti that, while necessary or at least useful in helping us be more efficient or presentable, isn’t a very productive use of our time. If you’ll help us do those tasks we’ll trade you for press time for your letterpress projects or workshops we offer.

NOTE: Use of our equipment requires the completion of a technical workshop using that equipment. You’ll have to pay for that workshop in cash or traded time.

Our Creative Letterpress workshops are not accepted as the prerequisite for renting.

. . .

After you’ve taken the technical workshop and are trained to use and maintain the equipment in a professional manner you can use our equipment based on our ability to be in the studio with you.

Our tabletop presses rent for $10 an hour. Maximum printing area of 6″ x 8″.

Our Vandercook SP15 rents for $25 an hour. It is handcranked with maximum printing area of 14″ x 18″.

Our Vandercook Universal III rents for $35 an hour. It is automatic with maximum printing area of 18″ x 24″.

. . .

So, give us 1 hour of your time to help with our work and we will give you

1.25 hours of tabletop press time (works out to $12.50 an hour) or

30 minutes of Vandercook SP15 time ($12.50 an hour) or

20 minutes of Vandercook Universal III time ($11.67 an hour)

. . .

Additionally, you can give us 10 hours and we’ll give you the Vandercook Technical workshop ($12.00 an hour) after which you can do the rental thing with our Vandercooks.

. . .

You have to provide your own paper and photopolymer plates. We might have enough paper we buy in bulk in our inventory to offer at least some of our papers with a markup of 50% over our costs. You must pay for paper with money, typically paid with a credit card through Square at the studio. Clearly you have to make sure we have the paper you need above any paper we need for our own projects. You may also buy paper online and have it shipped to Lead Graffiti. The shipping is often cheaper because we are in an industrial versus a residential area.

A few examples:

Somerset Textured White - I need to figure this out
Crane Lettra Fluorescent White - I need to figure this out
Mohawk Superfine White Eggshell 80# text - I need to figure this out
Mohawk Superfine White Smooth 120# cover - I need to figure this out
French Paper - I need to figure this out
Canson or … - I need to figure this out

We’ll provide ink, access to our type inventory, and makeready / cleaning materials. When using our metal and wood type you CANNOT do deep impression worky—you’ll need photopolymer plates for that.

. . .

Here are a few of tasks we need done on a fairly regular basis.

1 - redistribute type from our Creative Letterpress workshops (takes us about 6 - 8 hours).

2 - generally clean up; straighten paper & bookboard offcuts; sweep around the studio, Intertype, & lead saw; make spider webs disappear, sort leading & furniture, sort spacing material

3 - fold and bind Creative Letterpress workshop meander books

4 - help with binding books related to our projects

5 - sort printed samples, portfolio and TdLG cards into sleeves

6 - wrap things for mailings

7 - transfer metal type between galleys & job cases

8 - we might even consider help with our Creative Letterpress workshops

9 - help us track down our unknown wood & metal typefaces

We can also trade your time for our letterpress or bookmaking workshops.

. . .

A few additional thoughts or bridges we may have to cross:

1) It may be that if even a small number of students take us up on this there won’t be anything we need done

2) You have to do your part first and build up a savings account of time to trade.

3) We will have a fairly intolerant attitude toward anyone that violates our trust or our equipment or our type and that violation will surely end in stopping your relationship with Lead Graffiti.

. . .

We will be happy to offer an estimate of how long it should take you for your project so you can plan accordingly. If you need more time to finish a project you MAY have to pay for that time or work out a deal for trading additional time which must be done in a reasonable amount of time.

Use of our equipment can be for personal, classwork or commercial projects. We do not expect money or credit for any of your projects. You can even operate under a name of your choosing for your press. When you are using our equipment you can even bring a friend with you either as a helper (may help you get more done in less time) or to just introduce them to letterpress.

Interested? Drop Ray an email with an expression of interest or questions.

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