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Monthly ArchiveJanuary 2011

Studio projects Friday January 21 2011 11:35 am

Making Lead Graffiti wood type

After about two years of testing out how to make wood type that would rival any of the early manufacturers we are about there. For our first complete test of our system we chose a 12 line Bradley as our first “put it in the case” font of wood type.

We found a way to get the wood made as well as we think it can be made from endgrain Rock Maple using random sized blocks which helps counter any warping and with as accurate a type height as is achievable in wood (which shrinks and expands based on humidity and temperature). The routing is as smooth as we could have expected it to be. The surface is 3 handsanded layers of polyurethane and as smooth as you could hope for.

We printed our first piece last night using the type and it was amazing and flawless.

While we love the history you can sense from using old wood type that has been banged around in some print shop for a hundred years, it is also nice to add your own history to new wood type.

There are a number of other places that are making wood type for sale, which we would like to do. We think that our wood type is going to be as well made as it can be.

One of the other things that we want to do is to also make individual replacements for those who print via letterpress that have letters that are missing or have serious damage problems. We expect to even do custom work where you supply a proof and we will supply it in wood.

Interested in trying a character in Bradley? Pick one capital letter or the ampersand. $7.50 each and we’ll pick up the mailing. We are working on figuring how much to charge, but if you might be interested, let us know.

Also, if you have those missing characters we mentioned above, you should start looking around to see if you can find someone that does have it and perhaps scan a proof of any letters that would help build its image. We would need as much information about what it looks like and how it fits on the block.

Studio projects Sunday January 09 2011 02:51 am

Kalmar Nyckel ‘tall ship sailing’ training / week 1

Not exactly about letterpress, but we have taken on Delaware’s tall ship, the Kalmar Nyckel, as a pro bono client, so we want to both share our experiences and talk her up a bit. We did our first of 10 Saturday training sessions today.

It was a great day to start. About 2″ of snow fell on us as you can see from the photo below of the ship’s stern. Lyle (with six layers of clothing and a pipe to keep warm) will be our guiding light mentor for the first half of the 10 Saturday training sessions. It was cold, wet, and wonderful.

Knots taught today: square, figure eight, square, clove hitch, cow hitch, slippery cow hitch, rolling hitch, sheet bend, and bowline.

A few of the gazillion ship areas or parts mentioned today: fo’c’sle (is that a cool word or what?), quarterdeck, galley, spars, yards, masts (sprit, fore, main, & mizzen), sails (main topsail, main course, fore topsail, fore course), rigging (mizzen topmast stay, fore futtock shrouds, sprit topmast backstay), and don’t forget the fighting top. Now I have to figure out how to be able to do one chin holding onto a single vertical rope and then hold it for 15 seconds so they’ll let me climb up to the fighting top (crow’s nest to your landlubbers).

More next week.

When the 60 or so of us were called on to introduce ourselves, we mentioned that we had done the Kalmar Nyckel recruiting poster for this class (or this one) and got a nice round of applause.

I’m thinking of trying to print a tall, thin (maybe 6″ x 22″) broadside that would highlight some element of each week training information and give them to each of the 60 in this year’s class. Ten of those hanging side by side might be kind of nice. The first one has to be about ropes. Would be fun to buy some rope and print directly from it. Hmmm, OK. There’s the idea for the first one. And also typeset the word fo’c’sle. Stay tuned.

Studio projects Thursday January 06 2011 10:00 am

Ray Nichols, President of the Chesapeake Chapter of the American Printing History Association

Our own Ray Nichols has been elected as president of the Chesapeake Chapter of the American Printing History Association. His term will last through 2012. Ray and Jill have both been members of the chapter since 2003 when we first got involved with letterpress printing. Ray has served as the vice president for the past four years along with previous work on the program committee. He has also been the chapter’s webmaster, designing and maintaining the website since 2006.

Ray Nichols & Roland Hoover

To the left is Ray presenting a Certificate honoring a lifetime of achievement to Roland Hoover at the National Conference of the American Printing History Association in October, 2010.

The Chapter, with about 65 members out of a national membership of about 800, is a very active group with monthly meetings at important area institutions, print shops and other venues. Recent meetings have been held at the Government Printing Office, Walters Art Museum, Oak Knoll Fest, the Library of Congress, the library of the National Institute of Health, to mention but a few. There is a strong group of practicing letterpress printers who recently exhibited about 90 pieces of work at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C.

For established printers it is nice to have the support group. For younger printers it is even more important to have that support group as well as to build on your résumé. Non-members can usually attend these monthly meetings although the size of some of gathering spots are quite small and are limited to members. We also always have lunch or dinner afterwards for some additional collegiality. Our gatherings are also a nice way to search out equipment and type as you can have more people searching for you. Several people have bought presses because of our chapter associations and Lead Graffiti purchased 1,950 pounds of incredible foundry type (Garamond from 14 to 72 point and Caslon to from 72 to 96 point and you don’t find that kind of metal on eBay) from one of our members.

Additionally, Val Lucas of Bowerbox Press was elected vice president, Greg Robison of the Peregrinus Press was elected Treasurer, and Greg Barnum of the Government Printing Office was elected Secretary.

Ray has been working on a blog entry to argue the value of belonging to an organization such as APHA while being a letterpress printer which will be posted in the near future. It is worth pointing out that the direct connection of that history that has been letterpress printing is heighened when you are really immersed in that history. It adds a nice dimension to the experience.

The Chesapeake Chapter is centered at Washington, DC and extends outwards about 100 miles. If anyone follows this blog and has at least an interest in discussing membership Ray would love to talk and/or put yourself on our chapter mailing list.

Studio projects Saturday January 01 2011 12:00 am

Happy Birthday

Typographic illustration by Dan Lisowski
originally printed slowly & patiently via letterpress
by Lead Graffiti, Newark, Delaware

and a few words from a few of our British friends

You say it’s your birthday
It’s my birthday too–yeah
They say it’s your birthday
We’re gonna have a good time
I’m glad it’s your birthday
Happy birthday to you.

Yes we’re going to a party party
Yes we’re going to a party party
Yes we’re going to a party party.

I would like you to dance–Birthday
Take a cha-cha-cha-chance-Birthday
I would like you to dance–Birthday

You say it’s your birthday
Well it’s my birthday too–yeah
You say it’s your birthday
We’re gonna have a good time
I’m glad it’s your birthday
Happy birthday to you.

Studio projects Saturday January 01 2011 12:00 am

A good day to start things off

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There’s a nice symmetry to it without it being symmetrical.

May your ink and your equipment run smooth.
May your creativity and your type edges be sharp.
May your type only fall on soft floors and wonderful paper.
May clients and those with good things to say do so promptly.

We at Lead Graffiti wish you a good year and especially to Lauren & Chris.

Lauren & Chris wedding invitation