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Monthly ArchiveApril 2010

Studio projects Monday April 19 2010 08:41 am

AAUW and the young ladies

Here is a great example of something I really like about letterpress.

We have a friend who is currently the president of the Newark, Delaware branch of the AAUW (American Association of University Women). She showed us the certificates they had been giving out for an award to young women who were high school juniors and excelled at science and mathematics. The certificates were the same as about 99.5% of all certificates given out at schools. Laser printed, awful design, poor typography, poorly written, mediocre paper…

Could we help?


We provided what we thought was a cleaner design (plus we got to throw in a few moustaches), giving credit to AAUW Delaware, and printing on a nice thick paper with plenty of impression for the 52 individual certificates.

AAUW Delaware certificates

We used grey and AAUW teal for the certificate and black for the handset name (42pt Garamond), high school, and date (24pt Garamond).

The snag in the process what that even though we had a great system to doing the handsetting it took us about three times longer for that part than we thought. We have a very thorough run of Garamond foundry type with a lot of each size so we set about 40 of the certificates before we ran out of the first sort.

The certificate itself was printed from photopolymer plates.

Even though we proofed all of the handset text beforehand (in full galleys) we thought it might be important to lock the type in place and just print it individually one more time so we could look for small details like broken serifs, etc. We took some wine colored French Paper and cut it double size and printed the text on it for the proof and then used that as a folder to hold the certificates. That worked out very well with only the added cost of 30 sheets (20 x 26 cut in half worked perfectly) for the folders.

Here is what the folders looked like. It helped keep the certificates free from fingerprints and they could also be shown easily to others without having to drag it out of an envelope.

AAUW Delaware certificates

There seemed to be a lot of smiles in the photos our friend took at the ceremony. We hope we added to a few of them.

AAUW Delaware certificates

A fun way to spend a couple of mornings with our Vandercook Universal III.

Might be nice next time to get in some help (high school students or AAUW members) who could set the type. Might help them connect to the project even better. It would also be a great project for an intern, but we’ll worry about that next March or April.

type & Lettering Saturday April 10 2010 07:39 am

Half justification of type

I have a design book somewhere I believed mentioned a technique for justifying type that was called something like half justification. This is from at least 20 years ago and I’ve never been able to find the reference again. As I remember the piece was from England. The idea was that if the length of the text was within some predetermined distance of the maximum possible width the line would be justified. If it fell short of that it would remain ragged right.

The first example below is 12 point Rialto on a 20 pica measure set flush left / ragged right.

justification flush left ragged right

Below is the same text, but if the text length was 19 picas or more the line was force justified.

justification half justified

I like the way that looks and was thinking about trying it on an upcoming project.

Especially from British readers of this post, does anyone know what this is called or if it is even something compositors actually did? Have an example?

Studio projects Wednesday April 07 2010 05:12 am

Second Heidelberg Windmill

Lead Graffiti has added a second Heidelberg Windmill to its collection of presses. Our first one (middle of the image above and made in 1956) had a ‘clank’ deep down inside that has always worried us. Probably just beat to death, but then we got it for free, and it has printed well for us and will now serve as a backup. The second one (on the right and made in 1952) we just brought back from Maine.

Moving it into place was work even with our nice concrete floors (we have to get a pallet jack), but the move went smooth. We had to move our Garamond metal type (1950 pounds), our largest galley rack (probably 900 pounds), another type case (maybe 500 pounds), a C & P 10 x15 (1500 pounds), our Washington #5 iron handpress (1800 pounds), a Golding 8 x 12, and all of our spacing / wood furniture / tool box and a bit of other extraneous stuff. About 3.5 tons I would guess. Well, the new press is all in place, but needing some electrical work.

Now to move everything back into place.