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Monthly ArchiveApril 2011



Studio projects Friday April 29 2011 11:51 am

Cover of Death at the Flea Circus by David Barker

Lead Graffiti is listed as the designer for the cover for a new book published by Bottle of Smoke Press, Death at the Flea Circus by David Barker. The Deluxe Bureau Edition copies are going to be amazing.

David Barker - Death at the Flea Circus, a Novel
Fiction (2011), 168pp. An amazing surreal novel.
Limited to an edition of 260 copies, 200 Paperback ($15),
50 signed hardcover copies ($40) and 10 Deluxe Bureau Edition copies ($650).
Email me for info on these three editions
Scheduled shipment date is May 15, 2011

Studio projects Thursday April 21 2011 03:13 pm

Erin & Ray lift a pint

Obviously, we had to wait for the invites to get to the guests before we could post an image of Erin & Ray’s wedding invitation to our site. We think this is the best wedding invitation we’ve designed. Ever. Major credit goes to Erin & Ray who let us have our way with it.

The invitation is 12 beer coasters (printed on 220# Crane Lettra) which we printed as one single 16″ x 12″ invitation. The stack of invitations were cut and each layer carefully kept together so they would fit together absolutely perfect. We were a little worried that someone might not get it so we put a card on top with the words “an invitation & an RSVP” with the RSVP envelope right under it. The 12 coasters were shuffled and rotated so there wasn’t much clue as to what the piece was about. The couple supplied us with a invitation list and whether they were a bride or groom invitee. We took the coaster with that person’s name and put it on top. Otherwise they were pretty random. The coasters were wrapped with a nice Irish green growgrain ribbon and packed into the box with some green and white shred. White tissue wrapped all of that and the card/envelope sat on top. The box also was wrapped with a second green ribbon.

We only do custom invitations and our typical procedure is to get the couple to tell us something about themselves that we could use as a theme. They are Irish and make beer. The wedding was going to be held at a Wilmington brewery. It wasn’t hard to make the leap to this idea.

They are even brewing beer for the wedding. We couldn’t wait for our bottle to take the photograph so we took the opportunity to buy a 6-pack of Stella and to celebrate taking the photo.

This one is going to be hard to beat.

You can see this in our online portfolio where you can click on the image and see a more detailed version.

Studio projects Tuesday April 19 2011 01:11 pm

Ah, to have money and the collecting spirit

A bunch of wonderful items by Eric Gill is going on the auction block today, Tuesday, April 19, 2011, in England. Eric Gill designed some of really wonderful sculpture along with a few exceptional typefaces (Gill Sans, Perpetua, and Joanna). So, that makes a pretty nice reason to talk about our visit to Eric Gill’s gravesite back in 2001.

One of the auction items is Gill’s handwritten description of his burial plans.

This from the auction description. 662. Gill (Eric, artist, craftsman, and social critic, 1882-1940) Memorandum re Funeral etc., autograph manuscript initialled “E.G.” & with a pencil addition by his wife, Mary Ethel, 1p., docket on verso, folds, framed and glazed, 290 x 235mm., 25th October 1940. *** Gill’s funeral instructions. “I desire that my body shall be brought from the place where I die & placed in a plain box of pine wood, not coffin shaped, in Pigott’s Chapel to await its burial. I desire that a Requiem Mass be said in Pigott’s Chapel on the day of my funeral and that my body be taken immediately thereafter to the place of burial. I desire that a simple headstone, like Charlie Baker’s with footstone to match be placed on my grave & that the natural grass mound be retained without kerbs. I desire that there shall be the following inscription on the headstone: PRAY FOR ME ERIC GILL STONE CARVER 1882-194… .” - Gill. “Through summer 1940 Gill was seriously ill, first with German measles, then with congestion of the lung. He had been (and remained) an inveterate smoker, demonstrating working-class solidarity by rolling his own cigarettes. Lung cancer was diagnosed in October 1940. He refused the proposal of a pneumectomy and died in Harefield Hospital, Uxbridge, in the middle of a heavy air raid in the early morning of 17 November 1940. The funeral was held four days later at Pigotts, in the Gill’s family chapel. Requiem mass was said according to the Roman rites. Gill’s body was then transported in a farm cart for burial in the churchyard of the Baptist church at Speen, a curious reconnection with his dissenting ancestors. He had left characteristically exact instructions for his gravestone, allowing space for Mary. The inscription was cut by Laurie Cribb.” - Fiona MacCarthy. Oxford DNB.

Estimated selling price. £4000 – £6000

Here is the story of Jill’s and my trip to Gill’s gravesite.

It was June, 2001 and I had gone to London a week ahead of the group to both attend a D&AD conference and to make sure everything was ready for our nearly two dozen students. One of my first days there I was walking the streets around Russell Square (which would be our neighborhood for the five years I was involved with the study abroad trips) and happened to walk by a used bookstore named Collinge & Clark. In the window was a display of books about Eric Gill. There was also a short typed manuscript of an unpublished manuscript by Gill for £200 which I didn’t buy, but that is a story for another day of self-flogging. Here is the front of Collinge & Clark.

I bought five books. I would pull up a chair by the window of my hotel window at night and read. One of the books, a biography of Gill by Fiona MacCarthy, showed a photo of Gill’s gravestone.

The students came and probably around the third weekend, Jill and I decided to try a bit of travel and test out the British train system. We looked up Speen (burial site) and made our best guess as to how to get there. Catch the train to High Wycombe and then take a taxi to the gravesite. It appeared that Speen was about 6 miles from High Wycombe so at the very least we could walk.

We stocked up on supplies. A variety of papers to do a gravestone rubbing bought at Paperchase, some rubbing crayons bought at St. Martin’s in the Fields (rubbing crayons aren’t the same as Crayolas), and a killer picnic lunch with lots of cheese and sandwiches. We figured out the train system and caught an early Saturday morning train (we thought Sunday might be a bit more crowded at a church) and rather naïvely set out to meet with Eric Gill. We were starting to see some potential problems in our plan while on the train ride. The 6 mile walk? Getting back? Roads? Actually finding the cemetery?

We arrived at High Wycombe and walked out to talk to a taxi driver. We told him our story and what we wanted to do. We promised a small tip for the ride out with a much larger tip if he would agree to come back and pick us up at a predetermined time. He agreed and we were off.

The road was incredibly narrow with lots of curves and overhanging brush. There was NO WAY we were going to have been able to walk that road and avoid being killed.

As we were driving to Speen we noticed a sign for Pigott’s where Gill had worked. He had printed his book “Essay on Typography” there, but that again is another story. We were on the right track. When we arrived at what appeared on the map to be Speen there was no town. There were no businesses. Just a corner.

We asked someone along the road if there was a church with a cemetery there. He pointed us back down the road we had just come up, so we turned around and headed back. We passed what might be a church and for a brief two seconds you could see a few gravestones. We turned back around and headed up a tiny road beside the church. We got out and immediately I could see Gill’s gravestone at the top of the hill. We agreed that the taxi driver was to come back at 2:30 to pick us up and that the tip would be four times his normal tip (they don’t tip well in England generally).

Here I am at Gill’s gravestone.

Above I’m doing a rubbing of the type on the gravestone. Below is one of the finished rubbings.

The taxi driver was about an hour late returning and we were just starting to seriously worry and thinking about asking some other visitors (historians who were recording all of the information on all of the gravestones) to the cemetery if we could catch a ride with them. It would have been awful to have him come back for us and us not be there. So, in the end the trip had none of the problems we were imagining. We tipped him £20.

Still one of the most fabulous days Jill and I have ever spent together.

Here is one of the other items for sale in the auction. How often do things like this ever even come up for sale?

It is an original woodblock “Raising of Lazarus” with the word ‘And’, incised with Gill’s monogram and used on p.244 of the Golden Cockerel Press Four Gospels.

Stop by the studio and see the rubbing.

Studio projects Saturday April 16 2011 11:49 am

Bradley 12 line

After a bit of a false start we got our first typeface, Bradley 12 line, out the door.

woodtype Bradley 12 line

One of the design issues now is, do we correct things that clearly seem to be design flaws in a typeface. Bradley is well designed, but we’ve come across two different capital Ls. In ours there is a top loop that is fairly small. We’ve seen another where that loop covers maybe 3 times the area.

One thing we added was a lowercase ampersand. The normal ampersand is quite large and we think it looks overpowering when set in with lowercase letters. So we reworked it a bit and added it to the set.

Now we need to work up a price list.

Our new batch of type high wood will be done soon and we have two other fonts we are starting work on. More about those later.

If any one out there that reads this has an idea of a full font they would be interested in purchasing that isn’t incredibly detailed, drop us a note.

Still some issues with doing any handwork that is necessary. Some interior corners are easy. Others are hard. Not sure how they cut those wonderfully long points on the interior of a condensed M in the old days. A serious touch with a blade for sure.

Want to try one or two. $7.50 for any capital or the ampersand and we’ll pay the shipping. Australia turned out to be a bit expensive for free shipping so those would have to be $10.

Studio projects Friday April 08 2011 06:13 am

Kalmar Nyckel crew training class keepsakes

We took on the Kalmar Nyckel, Delaware’s Tall Ship, as a pro bono client, without any particular interest or experience with sailing. Because of our interest in printing history we thought printing via letterpress connected to a 3-masted pennice that landed at Wilmington, Delaware in 1638 would provide an interesting creative outlet. At the same time we could help an organization that offers wonderful experiences (the chance to set and douse a sail on a tall ship isn’t your average experience for a fourth grader) to thousands each year. After starting our work with a volunteer recruiting poster, we decided that taking the Crew Training Classes would help us with our ideas along with having a few new experiences.

As we are progressed through the 10 weeks of training from January through April, 2011, to learn to sail the Kalmar Nyckel, Delaware’s tall ship, we produced a keepsake reflecting on each week’s experience. We let the topics ‘pour’ out of each training day. The layout was established fairly spontaneously, with little planning, except that generally we would like to do it in two runs.

The size of each piece is 5″ x 11″, so we get 10 out of a sheet of 22″ x 30″ American Masters and also gave us the deckle edge at the bottom. It is all handset in wood and metal type with a few other objects thrown in for good measure.

We took about 75 copies to the following week’s training session for classmates and the other volunteers. We set aside 50 copies of each that we are going to bundle into portfolios. We might try to sell them for $50 a set to help cover the cost of the paper or give them to letterpress friends or sailors.

Kalmar Nyckel training pieces 1 - 3

Saturday no. 1: In typography we’ve always been attracted to any interesting use of punctuation and you can often see this in our letterpress projects (N’t cards, Mother’s Day, Raven Press). When you like that stuff it is hard to ignore a word with two apostrophes in it (and sometimes you see it with 3). It is a shortened version of ‘forecastle’ which is at the front of the ship. Sheetbend is a knot we learned that connects the ends of two lines so the type layout should be obvious. It was nice that the name ends in end which added an extra touch. The rope image is printed directly from rope that had been glued to a thin board.

Saturday no. 2: The highlight of the day was a fire drill which made you wonder what a fire would be like out on the high seas. If you see a fire on board you yell it out three times. We had to do an extra run for this poster for each yell in order to get the overlaps. Muster is ‘collecting together’ after a fire warning has been given. The shape was an abstract image of fire cut from a piece of scrap plywood on our lead (as in the metal) saw which can cut in very accurate increments.

Saturday no. 3: It was 11 degrees when we started this morning, consequently the choice of pastel colors. Outside. Freezing. Learning how block & tackles (pronounced with a long A) work. We also starting learning to belay (tying off a line and the Kalmar Nyckel has LOTS of lines) which sometimes happens by wrapping the line back and forth between two pins. We cut a tall “zero” in half (removing most of the middle) to get those two Cs combined with an X to illustrate the belaying. Normally we wouldn’t want to be cutting wood type, but in this instance we now have two pieces. We were using one of our pieces of orphan type so it didn’t dig into one of our more complete wood fonts.

Kalmar Nyckel training pieces 1 - 3

Saturday no. 4: Knots, commands, belay points, man overboard drills, etc. were starting to all run together. Seemed like every time you learned something new you forgot two old things. And when you’re doing this when sailing you need to do it right AND QUICK. Hopefully, it will become more and more natural as we drive this information deeper into our brains. Anyway, the questions are starting to get the edge on answers.

Saturday no. 5: The highlight of the day was a low-key race to identify the belay points on the ship. We divided into two teams (yellow and blue). Each mentor had about 20 rings made from rope. They would hand a ring to one of the team members and they would run to put it on the belay point. Then the next one would be given out. Nice excuse to bring out a nice set of Os from our wood collection and our larger metal type (our largest is 96 point Caslon).

Saturday no. 6: Hmmm. More Os. The main focus was on doing a boat check, which while you are under sail, is done every 30 minutes. Look here. Look there. Water in the five bilges? Fire extinguishers in the right spots? Lines properly stowed? Propane leaking? Water running? Head pumps doing anything weird? While the ship is a very contained space, there are lots of nooks and crannies and during the night while you are checking there are lots of people trying to sleep.

Kalmar Nyckel training pieces 1 - 3

Saturday no. 7: We spent a good deal of the day setting (making the sail big so it can catch a lot of wind) and dousing (making the sail small) the fores’l (large bottom sail on the frontmost TALL mast and the mizzen (triangular sail at the back of the ship). It is going to be pretty amazing to be out on the high seas and to have a few people reorganize the sails and have the ship head off in a new direction.

Saturday no. 8: When you are doing “bow watch” (standing watch at the front of the ship) and you see something that needs someone’s attention (i.e. large tanker ship, a speed boat coming straight for you, an iceberg) you need to be able to tell them the direction. Straight in front of you is “dead ahead”, 3:00 is “starboard beam”, 10:30 is “broad on the port bow”, to name a few. The chart that explains this is called a Wind Rose, which is quite a nice name for it.

Saturday no. 9: This piece was designed a bit more around the week proceeding week 10 which included a written final exam and a test of practical seamanship. Jill and I would ask each other random questions, location of belay points, responses to various orders, sequence of events to set and douse various sails, location of fire extinguishers, job obligations in case of man overboard or fire or abandoning ship, names of sails, and how to tie the various knots used on the ship.

Kalmar Nyckel training pieces 1 - 3

Saturday no. 10: We had done keepsakes 1 - 9 using only handset wood & metal type and a few handmade graphics. We had designed the certificate (the first one they’ve given out) to be used for our class so we thought it would be appropriate to refer to it in the 10th piece. So, in this instance the piece also includes a corner of the certificate using photopolymer plates highlight the words “crew training class 26″.

While often a bit hectic trying to schedule a full Saturday, work in 40 hours of maintenance, make a few out-of-class talks & movies, and produce these keepsakes, in the end Jill and I easily passed our final exam and practical seamanship tests. It was a really nice experience, we got a ton of exercise, learned some interesting history, connected something else with our interest in printing & typographic history, and we made dozens of wonderful new friends.

Now to stand on the bow of the ship 60 miles off shore on a moonlit night and feel the wind through my hair. We are ready to sail.