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Monthly ArchiveFebruary 2010

Studio projects Monday February 22 2010 12:06 pm

AIGA / Philadelphia & V Day

We had a great time in a Creative Letterpress workshop for six members of AIGA / Philadelphia on Valentine’s Day.

We had ten copperplate ‘V’s made of Victorian letterforms and each participant brought a quote related to Valentine’s Day. Using our Vandercook Universal III, we produced a 2-color book that prints like a broadside (one side only) and with creative scoring and tearing, everyone ended up with an accordion-fold book by the end of the day.

We printed the cover in silver on Lead Graffiti pastepaper (made beforehand). Each of the participants got to cast their name in hot metal using our Intertype C4 for the colophon.

Here is the result.

AIGA Philadelphia

The binding we employed doesn’t require sewing or use any glue. In the end we folded and bound one copy each and everyone took materials home to make two additional copies, perhaps for a Valentine.

For the full story and more photos, click here.

Studio projects & events Thursday February 18 2010 12:31 pm

House in the house

Ben Kiel and Rich Roat of House Industries, the wonderful & nearby digital type foundry, spent a late night at Lead Graffiti working on a poster Ben had designed for Richard Sachs Cycles. The posters are going to be sold at the Shimano North American Handmade Bicycle Show in Richmond, VA at the end of February.

As it turned out, it was the largest photopolymer plate (about 17″ square) we had ever printed. Luckily we have been experimenting with a new base material for photopolymer plates to fill the beds of our Vandercooks. Up until now we didn’t have enough bases to cover the space required for this project and at the same time fit within the form size on our Vandercook Universal III.

The poster was a first time use of a beautiful new stencil type from from their forthcoming Eames Century Modern collection that is scheduled to premiere in March 2010.

Here is one more photo of ink hitting paper.

house industries

Other blog hits on the project.

inventory / collection Tuesday February 16 2010 11:39 am

Wallpaper printing rolls

My daughter gave us two lamps she found at a yard sale (if you can call it that) in Manhattan that had been made from what we think are printing rolls for making wallpaper. They might work for fabric.

wallpaper rolls

The one above is 5″ in diameter and 18 1/2″ long.

They are cylinders made of wood with an outline drawing of the image for the colors. I cannot tell how the drawing is applied, but it seems that this would need to be quite accuracte for each roll depending on how many colors are being used. I’ve noticed that many older wallpapers are at best only close when it comes to registration and the design works around the need.

There is a thin metal line that is driven into the wood that essentially forms the outline. When there is a solid area it is filled with some kind of mortar or grout. The mortar works really well as there isn’t any area broken out over the whole piece. Below is the other roll which is 6 1/4″ x 20 1/4″.

wallpaper rolls

wallpaper rolls

A few questions we have are “How do they drive that outline in and get it so evenly “type high”? Maybe it is ground.

What are those dots? Some are circles with dots inside and some are solid which may indicate ones that are filled in and maybe others that are reversed out.

What is the use of those nails you can see in the middle photo in the upper right? Do they represent some kind of registration system?

What kind of press are they printed on?

inventory / important type Tuesday February 16 2010 11:32 am

Handcut ampersand

This is our favorite single piece of wood type that we have in our collection.

handcut ampersand

Sometime if I get a serious bit of energy it would be wonderful to try and develop a typeface based on this one ampersand.

When you look at it you can just see the wheels turning in the person-that-made-it’s mind as he has a general idea of a way to make shadow type.

Anyone out there got another that looks like it might be part of this face?

Studio projects Tuesday February 09 2010 11:46 pm

Bravo cards

Several of the greeting card designs we sell are handrolled coupled with standard letterpress printing, most notably the Monogram cards designed and handrolled by Jill.

Ray has been working on a set of handrolled Thank You cards and you can see a sample from the first run below.

Bravo card

Because of the handwork, these cards take a lot more time than the normal letterpress printed greeting card. This one uses a handrolled background of burgundy and black. The gold text, at least for this first run, was printed on our Vandercook SP-15. The thin lines in the reversed out white type are quite difficult to keep clean when you are handrolling, but we are getting our technique and speed down.

We were trying to keep the cards generally in the same tonal range and the angle of the handrolling the same. Below are two more cards from the set to show some of the differences in the cards. We sort them before we put them in boxed sets to make sure they aren’t radically different as they can often be over a couple hundred cards.

Bravo card

We produced this first set with this color scheme to target a specific retailer, but will be experimenting with other options. If there is a call for it, we could offer specific color combinations with a minimum order.

We haven’t set a suggested retail price yet, but will likely be around $6 a card or $45 for a box of 8. While not cheap they are nicely individual with each card being a bit different from the ones even printed right before and after it.

We’ll have these for the National Stationery Show in New York City, May 16-19. We’re in booth 2767 for anyone visiting the show.

type & Lettering Tuesday February 09 2010 11:31 pm

Fallen type

fallen type

We’re intrigued by the lack of knowledge about the processes of the earliest printers using movable type. Little is known of how Gutenberg accomplished the printing of his Bible except for the Bible itself, but the quality and permanence of the printing is quite amazing. A bit of evidence that can be seen in some early printing is something known as “fallen type.” When these printers were using inking balls, the sticky ink would pull out individual pieces of type if not locked up well. Above is an example owned by Lenore Rouse, Curator of Rare Books at the Catholic University of American in Washington, DC. from a Bible printed in 1480. The character sort was accidentally left on the form as it was printed and gives us a visual impression of the physical form of the type.

That hole in the type, which is almost always evident in the earliest fallen type samples, is quite interesting and has conjured much speculation.

If you would like to know more about why that hole might be there (or are interested in the history of typography) we would suggest a great blog, Typefoundry: documents for the history of type and letterforms by James Mosley. James wrote a nice article about just such type. Here is the link to his article on Fallen & Threaded Types.

Studio projects Monday February 08 2010 09:13 am

The end of the alphabet: the J, U, and W

One discussion that comes up during our Metal Type Composition workshop is the placement of the capital J and U which fall at the end of the alphabet in the job case. The explanation is that they are late-comers to the alphabet we know today.

California job case

James Mosley in his blog Typefoundry lists that the J and U appear in the first quarter of the 17th century. The W came into existence in the mid-17th century, bringing us to our current total of 26.

Given those dates, we wonder why the W isn’t at the very end except that the W originally was a double V (VV) and that keeping the V and W together was just too logical. It is interesting to note that of the 2,000 job cases containing type we’ve bought over the years, we’ve never found one of the California job cases where the previous owner rearranged them in complete A - Z sequence. Actually, that’s pretty nice.