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Studio projects Saturday April 12 2014 09:28 am

Creative Letterpress workshop with Delaware College of Art & Design / April 8, 2014

The image below shows the lock-up for the 2nd color and the resulting broadside from the Creative Letterpress workshop. The broadside, which was printed by the students on our automatic Vandercook Universal III, was folded and torn to fold into an accordion-style meander book. The students also printed a hardback cover on Lead Graffiti paste papers using our hand-cranked Vandercook SP15.

Delaware College of Art & Design

The top and third rows in the broadside image to the right have been rotated so all of the pages are right-side up. The lock-up to the left is exactly as it was printed, except that the students took souvenirs of their hot metal names used in the colophon they cast on our Intertype C4. We’ve rolled all of the type with white ink to even it out visually.

You can click on the image above and see it double sized and with a lot more detail.

You can click here to see an image of a similar, finished book showing the folding and the final look of the books with finished copies.

This lockup composed by the 12 DCAD students participating in the workshop worked especially well. Given the hundreds of pieces of wood & metal type that can be swollen, worn, dinged, etc., we had to adjust only 2 or 3 of them for the final prints.

A particularly hardcore part of the group kept the conversation going well past the workshop. The “after the workshop” conversation is almost always the best of the whole day. This day was no exception.

Each student took home a finished book and the materials to finish two more at home to relive the process and to better help commit the process to memory.

A copy of this book will be housed in the Lead Graffiti Archive at the Rare Book and Special Collections Division of the Library of Congress and in Special Collections at the University of Delaware, both of which maintain a complete collection of our Creative Letterpress workshop books.

That, and the fact that they took this Lead Graffiti workshop, should look quite nice on these young designer’s résumés.

Studio projects Friday March 21 2014 10:06 am

“Adventures in Letterpress” included 3 Lead Graffiti projects

Brandon Mise curated a nice book entitled “Adventures in Letterpress” that included images of three projects from Lead Graffiti. The book was published in 2014 by Lawrence King Publishing Ltd. of London, England. The book was 240 pages with a wide variety of letterpress printers we’ve never heard of. Nice to see it. The Post-It Notes are for printers we want to send a note to about how much we like one of their projects. Jill has been printing a “seen & noted” card for us to send.

Under the heading of products & packaging we had our 2011 Tour de Lead Graffiti clamshell box edition.

Under unique materials and tricky techniques we had our Boxcard greeting cards.

Under posters & broadsides we had our ZZ Top “a haw haw haw” afternoon’s diversion poster we did with Ben Thoma.

Overall a nice job except a bit of over-inclusion of his own work and fellow Ashville, NC colleagues there was some very inventive work. Nice to see some work outside of the mainstream of what people think letterpress is.

Studio projects Wednesday March 05 2014 02:15 am

Lead Graffiti workshop books & the Library of Congress

Lead Graffiti has been working with the Rare Book and Special Collections Division of the Library of Congress who asked to start a collection of Lead Graffiti creative work printed via letterpress. This will include books, posters, work designed by us for clients, and other ephemera.

The first major component of that collection is a complete set of our ‘meander’ books (shown below) we’ve produced during our Creative Letterpress workshops. We’ve been running these workshops since 2010 and are a regular part of many typography classes in area design schools.

In all there are 41 books from these workshops often with 10 - 14 participants. Each participant in those workshops can now include their creative letterpress work the Lead Graffiti Collection in the Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress on their résumé. Collectively that is approximately 300 participants. We will constantly update the Library of Congress with new books.

In addition the Library of Congress has taken possession of our 2011 Tour de Lead Graffiti clamshell box edition and will be adding the 2012 and 2013 editions in the near future.

Special Collections at the University of Delaware also maintains the only other full set of workshop books along with a complete set of our Tour de Lead Graffiti clamshell box editions.

Inventory / presses Thursday February 27 2014 10:00 pm

Frisket/tympan for #5 Washington iron handpress

We are starting to build the frisket/tympan frame four our 1868 Washington #5 iron handpress.

I’m putting scans of the drawings from Rummonds “Printing on the Iron Handpress” to help show where we are headed. When we get the finish done we’ll put up nice photos of the results.

We need someone with a GOOD frisket frame that is willing to take good closeup photos of all of the important places and to provide us with some basic measurements.

We need good photos of all of the corners, pins, things that hold pieces together etc. Images can be mailed to Might be better if you emailed us first to make sure we don’t already have them.

A question:

Is #59 in the top image metal?

Workshops Wednesday February 19 2014 01:19 pm

Clamshell box workshop

We love making things and clamshell boxes are way near the top of the list of those things. We recently did a clamshell box workshop and these are the results. While a complicated process it is hard to really blow it. A nice piece of paste paper really helps.

1) Ray’s prototype for a deluxe copies for a new book series (100?) to house books that are different thicknesses.

2) Rebecca’s clamshell to hold a set of important puzzle books from her childhood that she wants to protect.

3) Jill wanted to protect a family Bible which had a number of clippings, pressed flowers, photos and the like. She also built a folder to hold the miscellaneous objects and made a thick clamshell box to house both the Bible and the folder.

4) Steve chose a book printed via letterpress about typography. Nice touch.

We’ve also done some work to our board shears that we’ve wanted to do for 2 years. We finally put a new top on it We still need to do an inlayed ruler of some sort, but we cannot find a really good metal ruler that reads from the right to the left. We also bought a gizmo at Woodcraft so we could set a stop and could repeat the same cuts over and over. You can by multiple stops as each rotates out of position to allow you to by pass it. That is sometimes a strangely useful process in our studio.

Steve, one of the participants in the workshop turned out to be a wood worker. We had developed a stop-gap measure to help us measure the sizes of the books to be contained in the clamshell boxes and then to trim to that exact measurement. Generally, you are talking about accuracy to the thickness of a piece of book cloth, which is quite thin.

This was the first clamshell box workshop where we asked the people to bring in their own book to contain and cutting everthing, even though it was pretty easy to do, slowed us down enough that we couldn’t get the workshop finished in one day. So, everyone came back the next day for another couple of hours. Steve brought back a wonderful device to help us do the measuring quickly. Now I think I need 3 or 4 of them so different people could be measuring at the same time.

Studio projects Sunday February 02 2014 07:19 pm

SHARP review of “The Multifaceted Mr. Morris”

We designed & printed via letterpress a book entitled the The Multifaceted Mr. Morris (see our original blog announcement), a catalogue of the William Morris exhibition mounted in the Mark Samuels Lasner Collection at the University of Delaware for the “Useful & Beautiful” conference held in October 2010. Highlighting more than 30 books, manuscripts, drawings, and other works the introduction tells the story of how the collector came to collect Morris and the Pre-Raphaelites. The book was recently reviewed by John Buchtel, Head of Special Collections at Georgetown University in the Winter 2014 issue of SHARP (Society for the History of Authorship, reading & Publishing) News.

        Our online portfolio entry | online store entry

It is wonderful when someone actually grasps and has the ability to articulate your creative intent that actually matches your intent. Below are a few quotes from the review focused on Lead Graffiti’s contribution to the book.

The colophon to this elegantly designed exhibition catalog declares it to have been  “printed slowly & patiently,” Lead Graffiti’s flawless letterpress placing it squarely in the ARts and Crafts tradition tht its subject set in motion more than 100 years ago. The catalog achieves its ai of presenting a lively sense of the multiplicity of William Morris’s interests and efforts, and of his contributions in each of those realms, from his early fasination with Icelandic saga to his Socialists activism to his engagement in the details of textile production and book design.

. . .

The catalog’s charming “visual nuggets” (as the printer’s promotional literature describes its graphic elements) taken from items in the Samuels Lasner collection include a detail from Burne-Jones’s delightful caricature of William Morris takimg a constitutional. This alone is worth the price of admission for fans of either figure.

. . .

The only complaints one might be tempted to raise have to do with the catalog’s crisp inkjet plates. Their number is limited to eight, and while this is understandable given the added cost of full color, it is too bad that they depict neither the catalog’s additional items nor the wood engraving by Edmund News of the library at Kelmscott House. Moreover, the photographs present the objects in their entirety, from above and at an angle. This design decision produces an illusion of three-dimensionality that serves as a good reminder that the catalog stands in for an exhibition; nonetheless, one may not be able to help wishing for a little more
close-up detail of Burne-Jones’s caricatures or Morris’s calligraphy.

. . .

For those on the other hand who fall in love wth the notion of the hand-crafter book, the catalog embodies what it describes, providing a beautiful and actually affordable (albeit not inconsiderably priced) entré into the world of letterpress printing, replete with the tactile pleasure of a pronounced “bite.” Like the books produced by its namesake, the catalog is quietly evangelistic: may it succeed in winning converts to the collecting and patronage, and perhaps even to the practice, of fine press printing.

Studio projects Friday January 31 2014 01:22 pm

Jill has started an Etsy site

Jill has started an Etsy site. The plan is to make things for which she is the main producer available there that are not available on our Lead Graffiti online store. To start she will have Lead Graffiti paste papers, picture frames covered with paste papers and handmade books. All things she can spend the better part of a day doing.

Link to the main Lead Graffiti Etsy site.

Link to paste papers.

Link to picture frames.

Workshops Wednesday January 22 2014 12:01 pm

Lead Graffiti letterpress & bookmaking workshops

January - June 2014

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

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

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Creative letterpress (OPEN registration)
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.

  • . . . Sunday, January 12, 9am - 6pm
  • . . . Sunday, February 16, 9am - 6pm
  • Saturday, March 22, 9am - 6pm (restricted enrollment)
  • Sunday, April 5, 9am - 6pm (new workshop)
  • Sunday, April 27, 9am - 6pm
  • Sunday, June 1, 9am - 6pm

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.

  • . . . Sunday, January 19, 10am - 6pm
  • . . . Sunday, February 23, 10am - 6pm
  • Sunday, March 30, 10am - 6pm
  • Sunday, May 4, 10am - 6pm
  • Sunday, June 8, 10m - 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.

  • . . . Saturday, February 1, 10am - 6pm
  • Sunday, April 13, 10am - 6pm
  • Sunday, June 22, 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.

  • Sunday, March 9, 10am - 6pm
  • Sunday, May 18, 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.

  • . . . Saturday, January 18, 10am - 6pm
  • . . . Saturday, February 22, 10am - 6pm
  • Saturday, March 29, 10am - 6pm
  • Saturday, May 10, 10am - 6pm
  • Saturday, June 14, 10am - 6pm

Coptic stitch binding (2 evenings)

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.

  • . . . Tuesday, January 7 - 8, 6pm - 9pm
  • Tuesday, May 13 - 14, 6pm - 9pm

Pamphlet-stitched books (2 evenings)

6 working hours, all materials included : $100
Two consecutive evenings from 6 - 9pm working with simple pamphlet stitching. Great for a parent and child to share together or for a younger person to learn some handskills and pride in craftsmanship

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.

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.

Studio projects Saturday January 18 2014 08:42 am

Afternoon diversion / Edgar Allan Poe’s 165th birthday / January 19th

Edgar Allan Poe birthday 'Nevermore'






Back when Ray was working with Raven Press at the University of Delaware, we produced a small book of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven in 2004 and a broadside of his poem El Dorado in 2006. We would give about 200 copies to the Deer Park Tavern who would distribute them to all that ate there on January 19th, Poe’s birthday. We liked that printing via letterpress gave us the ability to produce something in multiples that had a keepsake value.

Meredith Langer emailed us about doing an ‘afternoon’s diversion’ on the 17th it seemed appropriate to do it for Poe. Meredith had taken one of our Creative Letterpress workshops the previous weekend and we offer these ‘afternoon diversions’ to workshop participants to help us on Lead Graffiti personal projects and to give them a bit more information about printing via letterpress.

Ray had been wanting to try something he remembered seeing by letterpress printer Alan Kitching for a wine label. Ray couldn’t find the image and in the end misremembered what it actually looked like. Fortunately, we couldn’t find the image before we started whih was all the better as we were forced to experiment more.

The idea for the diversion was to produce the word ‘nevermore’ in 6 runs, each progressively darker, while hiding, but not destroying the readability of the word. The other letters were constantly being printed to completely fill the area under the word ‘more.’

Here is Kitching’s wonderful work for Matallana that we finally found, fortunately after the diversion.

One problem we need to solve is how to register accurately when the gripper edge is the deckled edge of the paper. We think we could put down a couple pieces of removable Scotch tape to protect the soft surface of the Somerset Textured White 300 gsm stock we were using. Then tape a new leading edge of some kind of other paper with a cut edge to that removable tape to fit in the grippers. May run out to the studio today and give it a try. It caused a bit of jiggle, which Meredith quite liked, to the 6 layers of ink.

One more point, it was nice to bring the poster home and have Jill look at it for about 5 seconds and say, “I like the backwards E.” The second E was lost in the overlaping letters. What started as a mistake, ended up being a nice bit of typographic play.

We’ll run out to State Line Liquors today to see if they have the wine for our letterpress label collection. We currently have two done by Hatch Show Print. We would love to do a wine label (or a dozen), so if you are reading this and own a vineyard or know someone who does, get in touch with us.

Workshops Sunday January 12 2014 06:00 am

Creative Letterpress workshop / January 12, 2014

This is the 2nd color lockup and complete broadside from a Lead Graffiti Creative Letterpress workshop workshop that had quite a nice outcome. A really fun group with lots of questions and we love lots of questions.

Every other row of pages in the printed image on the right has been rotated to make the pages easier to read. The lockup shows the second color (greenish brown). In this instance the number of people at the workshop allowed everyone to work on a spread. With more people they might be limited to a single page.

Participants got to cast their names for the colophon using our Intertype C4, which is usually a pretty thrilling surprise to see working.

Click the image to see it double sized.

Starting upper left on the broadside

  • Cover (not shown): Four Onces +2
  • Title page: The Stories Always Start
  • Spread 1: Once upon a time I wrote this rhyme
  • Spread 2: Once upon a time walk the line
  • Spread 3: Once upon a time I was a blank slate.
  • Spread 4: Once upon a time I woke up in bed
  • Spread 5: Once upon a time it all came… Once upon a time it all came… Once upon a time it all came together.
  • Spread 6: Once upon a time I yearned to kern type at Lead Graffiti (copperplate of logo).
  • Colophon

Studio & Studio projects & events Wednesday January 01 2014 12:01 pm

Top 10 moments of 2013 at Lead Graffiti

Several of our top 10 moments (though some stretch way past moments) of 2013 are annual events, which is quite nice.

Tour de Lead Graffiti, our month-long ‘endurance letterpress’ project, followed and translated the daily events of the 2013 Tour de France into ink on soft, sexy paper. This, our 3rd year, had us wondering if we could find new ways to visually talk about similar kinds of moments. After 23 more new posters it appears that there are indeed different ways to handle them.

This year’s event was highlighted in the December 16th issue of Sports Illustrated’s “Year in Media” issue. How cool is that?

. . .

Lead Graffiti was approached about contributing the binding of a remembrance folio for the family of our good friend and fellow letterpress printer, Mike Denker, who passed away. Mike collected wood type, so we did the cover with an alphabet made up of 26 different wood type faces. Chris Manson supplied the printing on the inside pages and a wonderful woodcut illustration of Mike.


. . .

We’ve long admired the work of Henry Morris of Bird & Bull Press. We heard he was giving up his precious studio and were asked to join local letterpress newbie Lindsay Schmittle to go with her to talk about buying his type and C&P 10 x 15 press. Henry made us an offer to buy his Miehle V50, which we couldn’t refuse. He threw in a most wonderful turtle (a massive cart on wheels). Here are Tray and Henry  helping us understand the press. Stop by and see the turtle and get a demo on the Miehle. They are really cool and seriously industrial.

. . .

The Waldorf School of Philadelphia invited us to develop diplomas for their 8th grade class in 2012. This is one of those “Now that you started, how could you possibly quit?” We are already scheduled for a repeat in 2014. What we need now is another Sierra. This is the photo of the first year’s diplomas.

. . .

So many things that end up being some of our best creative work stem from a tiny spark of interest. Daily, early morning RSS feeds, awoke us to the fact that it was Shakespeare’s birthday. The national news was still caught up with the Boston Marathon bombing, so the notion of joining those 2 events started things off for an ‘afternoon diversion.’ It was also our first shot at our ‘offprinting’ technique you can see in the word Shakespeare.

. . .

We love doing our Creative Letterpress workshops with design students. We can show them so much first hand about the history of typography and printing in a technology that has all but passed away. The chance to handset and lock-up wood and metal type, to sit at our Intertype C4 and push molten type metal into typographic molds, and print a wonderful collaborative book in one day is wonderful. On top of that the books end up in Special Collections at the University of Delaware and the Library of Congress. It is so nice to see teachers who will push their students beyond the classroom into what was 3 workshops covering all of their Advanced Typography students. We wish we had a dozen schools like Philadelphia University. Here is one of the smiling groups at the end of the day.

. . .

We wanted to produce a Lead Graffiti version of the meander book form (same as in the photo above) we use in our Creative Letterpress workshops. Bill Roberts of Bottle of Smoke Press, another Delaware letterpress printer, introduced us to John Dorsey, an Ohio-based poet. John wrote 12 autobiographical poems for Boxcar Poems 1 - 12. Simply a blast working via letterpress with his words.

The clamshell version shown above also includes the metal slug of the first line of the Boxcar Poem bearing that same number designation. The slugs were cast on our Intertype C4 and the clamshell also includes one of Ray’s photos of a seriously old boxcar.

. . .

We were invited to give the keynote address on our Tour de Lead Graffiti project during the AIGA of Central Pennsylvania Annual Portfolio Review. It was wonderful to look out into the dark and not see faces aglow with the light from cellphones. Thanks to Adam Delmarcelle for the invitation. This is a photo of students signing the Lead Graffiti poster we printed via letterpress to promote the portfolio review. The poster was given to us as a thank you which was a very nice touch and you can see it hanging on the wall of our studio.

. . .

We love it when things seem to just flow together. Ann Lemon’s birthday is ‘May the Fourth’ and she wanted to do a Star Wars-based Creative Letterpress workshop for a group of special friends. As fortune would have it, our son, Tray, is heavily involved with a Star Wars professional costuming group. The day just worked out perfect like a Tatoouine sunrise.

Just for the record the photo was shot in our studio. Tray is the Stormtrooper on the right. Yes, that is Darth Vader. And of course Ann Lemon as the Emperor (without nearly the wrinkles and a much nicer smile).

. . .

We had a great workshop with our first Boy Scout troop. They came for the day, did our Creative Letterpress workshop, and ended up with a nice book of the 12 rules of scouting to remind them to help make this a better world. Below is the group gathered around Tray and our Intertype C4 linecaster. They even got to cast their names, which we used to print the colophon for the book.

And they got their Graphic Arts Merit Badge for the effort.

Studio projects Tuesday December 24 2013 03:16 pm

Letterpress portraits

We are trying to collect together our favorite portraits we’ve taken of people who print via letterpress. We’ll keep adding to this over time.

Alan Kitching giving talk at London College of Communication - June 23, 2004

Alan Kitching in the dining room at the Royal College of Art

Mike Kaylor with Walt Whitman at the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC - February 17, 2007

This might be more of a portrait of the early iron handpress, but it is Mike Kaylor with Justin Howes at his home in Dulwich, England with Justin’s Stanhope press - June 21, 2004

Henry Morris, Bird & Bull Press, talking with Lindsay Schmittle, Gingerly Press, just after she bought his C & P 10 x 15. Both seem happy.

Henry Morris, Bird & Bull Press, talking details with Tray Nichols, Lead Graffiti, about his Miehle V50 that we just bought for Lead Graffiti.

Studio projects Monday December 23 2013 01:24 pm

Holiday card workshop

We’ve had the idea for this workshop for a while, but just never seemed to get it worked into our schedule. We finally gave it a try and not without a couple nuts and bolts coming loose. You can think out something this complicated as much as you want, but there is nothing like running it to show the kinks.

The ideas for the cards were great and the participants were troopers.

It was a one day (9am - 6pm, actually closer to 7 when everything was said and done) workshop with 8 participants. Everyone was designing a holiday card. Collectively the group had to choose two colors that everyone would use. They chose a light blue and silver as you can see from the card image below.

We were using our Vandercook Universal III to print the cards 4-up on Crane Lettra, 20″ x 13″. We could therefore get 8 cards from a full 20″ x 26″ sheet. Everyone cast a colophon for the backs of their cards on our Intertype C4, along with their address for their envelopes.

We have nice way of locking up the multiple images that we’ve developed from our Creative Letterpress workshops resulting in a 12-page book that we’ve done about 40 times. We would lock-up the first set of four cards for their first color run (silver), print 50 sheets, remove the form, lockup the second set of 4 cards, print 50 more sheets and remove and start getting ready for the second color (blue). Everyone chose to print the colophon on the card backs in color so that text from the intertype was locked in at the same time.

Then everyone went back to form their second color. Some people utilized a lot of the first color as you can see in Joy and Attitude. Some would generally compose both colors at the same time and then just separate them out (the two on the right). The others tended to do two separate designs. Here is a better look at the individual cards.

During lulls in the composing we would get individuals to print their address on the flaps of 50 envelopes.

After all of this was done, Tray gave a demo on trimming the cards and as he got them done, Ray was scoring them on Lead Graffiti’s Chandler & Price 10″ x 15″ floor model platen press.

So, except for a few bumps in the road early on, we got done. We think everyone had a good time.

Keep in mind 8 people did 8 A2 cards in two colors in an edition of 50 with matching envelopes, trimmed and scored all in one day starting from scratch. Here’s a look at the 8 cards.

We are going to give it another try for Valentine’s Day cards. I wonder what colors we’ll use.

Honors, awards & news & Studio projects Friday December 13 2013 01:45 pm

Sports Illustrated - December 16, 2013

If you want to see the complete edition of our 2013 Tour de Lead Graffiti project of 23 posters printed via letterpress on our website, click here. From there, click on the poster image to advance to the next day’s poster. Each stage has a thorough story about the day and how they helped impact the poster along with photos of the studio and lockups. From any of those pages you can also view the 2011 and 2012 editions.

. . .

Now, a gran fondo starts this story in motion, so let’s define that first. It is the Italian term used in the U.S. and some other English-speaking countries for an organized, short-to-long distance, mass-participation, cycling event, typically held annually.

Alexander Wolff, a senior writer for Sports Illustrated, is working on starting a gran fondo in Middlebury, Vermont, this coming summer. One element of the event is an exhibition related to cycling. His sister, a book artist, said he should look at Lead Graffiti. She had seen our Tour de Lead Graffiti project on the Book Arts listserv.

He does and then asks, “How about an exhibition?”

As it turns out, the June weekend they want to do the gran fondo is an active wedding weekend and all of the local hotels are booked. So, we get an email saying the exhibition is off. Bummer. (As it turns out it may be back on, just on a different weekend. We’ll keep you posted.)

About 4 days later we get an email from Sports Illustrated (we are talking about the magazine with a 3,150,000 subscriber base). They want to do a small article in their print and iPad editions on Tour de Lead Graffiti for their “Year in Media” issue and ask if we can send some images. Oh, baby! It was so exciting to have a personal project produced in a centuries old process get noticed by a major national magazine.

We fire off a half dozen high-resolution images of our favorite broadsides from 2013 and then start checking out all of the local newsstands.

The suspense was killing us. Which image(s) would they use? How large? Who will write it? What would they say? Would people understand it? Where would it be in the issue? Honestly, would it even happen?

Now jump to yesterday.

We were holding off announcing the article until we’d seen it firsthand. We broke down and posted an announcement on Lead Graffiti’s Facebook page. Later in the day we get a call from Mark Deshon, a designer and former student of Ray’s, who lives just down the street from us and was a collaborator on Stage 5. He had gotten his daily mail, including his subscription to SI. He opened the mail, dealt with bills, and sat back to peruse SI. He says he has a ritual way of looking through the magazine—always front to back, sitting calmly and comfortably with minimum distractions. Just for the record, he hadn’t yet seen our Facebook post.

Page 25. Out of absolutely nowhere, there is the Stage 5 broadside. We cannot even imagine the neuron burst that would be happening in his brain, seeing the oh-so familiar image and it being so far out of its normal, everyday context.

Below is the December 16 article from Sports Illustrated highlighting Stage 5, written by none other than Alexander Wolff himself. The broadside, focused on a the 24th Tour stage win by Mark Cavendish (a Lead Graffiti favorite) was designed and printed by guest collaborator Mark Deshon, working with Ray Nichols, Jill Cypher, and Tray Nichols, at Lead Graffiti.

Personal & Trips & events Monday December 02 2013 11:39 am

A lot of people have done letterpress at one time or another

Lead Graffiti does a few crafts shows and we love talking up letterpress. It is strange how many people or their family members who were connected to the printing trade at some point. Lots of times it is specifically letterpress.

So, Bill Roberts, of Bottle of Smoke Press, and I are in New York City for the JFK/NYC/OMG poetry reading on the anniversary of JFK’s death. Bill printed a nice keepsake book via letterpress containing Allen Ginsberg’s poem Nov 23, 1963: Alone to be given away to the attendees to celebrate and remember the evening. One of the readers at the event was Grant Hart. Grant was the former drummer and co-songwriter in the influential 1980’s punk band, Hüsker Dü, and then singer and guitar for the alternative rock trio, Nova Mob. Anyway, at the post party at the event organizers’ Greenwich Village apartment, I took the shot of Grant below.

I like shooting photos holding the camera at waist level to give the image a different perspective. Having a more spontaneous feel, this photo has jumped into my top five favorite letterpress portraits that I’ve ever taken, which brings us to the important part of this story.

I’m guessing that life in an 80’s punk band was a somewhat different than the life I was having during some of my most memorable days teaching in the Visual Communications Group at the University of Delaware.

Bill and I were talking with Grant about music when he mentioned liking the letterpress keepsake. Then out of nowhere, he starts grilling Bill and me about the order of the cells in a California job case. Huh? “What are the top row cells?” and we would stammer a bit and start reciting the list. Then Grant would fire another question.

Grant told us, “Let Me Now Help Out Your Punctuation With Commas,” which is a mnemonic for the middle row of lowercase cells in a California job case. It is strange that after almost 12 years of letterpress, I don’t think I’ve ever heard one of these memory aids until Grant blasted us with them. So, sometime in Grant’s life he had done some letterpress.

Also, how can you not like a guy who was in a band that had two umlauts in the name? According to Wikipedia, the term without the umlauts means, “Do you remember?” in Danish and Norwegian. The group added the heavy metal umlauts for effect. I could love Hüsker Dü for the umlauts alone.

Grant was playing a solo performance at the Cake Shop later in the evening, which Bill and I wanted to check out. When we got there, Grant was standing right at the door. He grabbed us and we headed for the stairs. He told the cashier who was taking money that we were friends and to just let us through. The three of us, connected by letterpress, headed down into the basement theater for an hour of great Grant Hart music. Most definitely a night to remember.

I do really love this portrait. Now to figure out how to get Grant to want us to print his next CD cover via letterpress.

It seems like I should show Bill’s Bottle of Smoke Press keepsake book (shown below) that was given away free to those in attendance. Some days I like letterpress more than other days. This was definitely one of the good days.

I should throw in a mention of meeting Meagan who will be the subject of an upcoming Lead Graffiti book.

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