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Monthly ArchiveMarch 2009



Studio projects Wednesday March 25 2009 11:33 am

Ella cards

The sun coming in through our studio’s front door was falling across these cards and seemed to deserve a bit of fanfare.

One of the things we like about the personal part of letterpress having come from design backgrounds is making gifts for friends. Ella was celebrating her birthday so a few cards is always a nice way to spend a calm morning. We like using brackets (and we have a pretty fair collection) to frame an image—in this case debossed Es from wood and metal type in our collection.

Jill then gently handrolled a few soft colors across the debossed letterforms to help bring them out a bit more. They were a hit at the birthday lunch.

We are going to experiment with doing something like this or each letter of the alphabet that we could offer as boxed sets. They aren’t exactly fast to make, but they are fun.

Studio projects Wednesday March 25 2009 11:19 am

Intertype news: our first book

We seem to have gotten over a bit of a hump and can be reasonably confident that we can cast type with our Intertype C4 without spewing too much molten type metal. We just produced the text for a small book being printed by Mike Kaylor at the Lit Press at Washington College, Chestertown, MD.

The book will be ten poems by poet Robert Day.

Below shows Tray madly typing away at the first poem.

Tray at the Lead Graffiti Intertype

This is most of the job with corrected proofs.

the type metal

Felt good to get it done. Making the corrections after Jill’s proofreading was interesting given the number of times we needed to correct 12 on 14 but cast 12 on 12. You could throw in some 2 point leading, cut we wanted to have it come from us right. We were using it as a learning experience.

Now we need some more type metal.

After this the next job will be to take the 12 point Garamond magazine (one we used on Mike’s book), empty it of mats, clean both the magazine and mats, and see if things would work any smoother. We had lots of trouble getting the thin spaces to fall. Most often took two or three key strokes which was bothersome.

Then job #2 after that is emptying a dozen Linotype magazines so we can see what is in them as they are generally unmarked.

Job #3 will be trying to organize the pi mats so we can include them into future linecasting.

Studio projects Tuesday March 24 2009 11:34 am

Letter to Matthew Carter

Two of my earliest design heroes were Bob Gill and Alan Fletcher (two of the three original founders of Pentagram). Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to sit and talk with each of them for an extended time a total of maybe a dozen times. One of the things that always struck me about their work is how ‘inevitable’ their solutions were. Once you saw their solution it somehow seemed to be the only possible solution.

Bob Gill summed his goal of problem solving like this. “Surprising. Inevitable. Original.”

This is a project from my time at the University of Delaware with the letterpress studio we had started called “Raven Press at the University of Delaware” and we think this is one of those kinds of solutions.

Letter to Matthew Carter

Click here for a larger version.

Instead of an email (which still to this day seems rude when you are asking for a favor like someone giving up two days of their life), we decided to print it via letterpress, Duh? The piece is 18″ x 30″ and all handset with wood and metal type. The large type is 30 line Clarendon (5″ high) and the body copy is 36 point Baskerville foundry metal type. It was too large for our press and we didn’t have enough of the Baskerville, so we printed “THANKS” and half of the text in a second pass after turning the paper around. There is a bit of handrolling on the wood type that you can see on the Es.

While Matthew was at Delaware, one of the students asked about his reaction to the letter. He said, “Well, I couldn’t say no, now could I?” We liked that response.

As an added bit of information, we were in London for five weeks in 2003 with two dozen of our design students and were visiting the studio of Alan Fletcher. A couple of the students sneaked Alan off to the side and said they were looking for a present for the faculty for setting up the trip and wondered if he would design a logo as that gift. Some students do have nerve. The brief they provided was the logo was for Raven Press and it was a new letterpress studio. This was Alan’s logo.

The next year we were in London we got Alan to add the text in his killer handwriting.

Studio projects Wednesday March 11 2009 02:21 pm

Facebook-inspired notecards #2

Click here for the Facebook-inspired cards story

This is the second in the Facebook series.

Jessica Koman Facebook-inspired cards

The photograph had little contrast so we used the fact that her initials were consecutive in the alphabet and handrolling in subtle color differences as our concept. We used our 30 line (5″) condensed wood face. It took four runs printing every other letter in yellow and then ever other letter in orange. By making each letter overlape 1 pica the width of H-M was exactly 5.5″ which is the width of an A2 card.