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Monthly ArchiveMarch 2015

Studio projects & workshops Tuesday March 24 2015 01:30 pm

Creative Letterpress workshop / University of Delaware / Art Conservation

We’ve been trying to schedule a workshop with the Art Conservation / Winterthur Program at the University of Delaware for about a year and we finally made it happen. Art Conservation at UD is simply a world-class program, universally listed as one of the top few in the world. They didn’t disappoint. We added a bit of a twist to our standard start with “All I know is…” and finish the line. So they would be more experienced with the old ways of composing they added “Designed & handset by…” using a composing stick. Tray was involved in Galactic Con with his Star Wars costuming group which slowed us down being able to help people through the process.

In the end, quite a nice effort with some very nice lockups and twists on words & typography.

Below is the main lockup and broadside. Below that we’ve pulled out a couple of the lockups to show more detail. Not sure we can promise to do this for each workshop, but we’ll give it a try this time.

You can click on the image below to see it double sized.

We’ve been wanting to pick out some closeups to show for a while, but honestly it is pretty time consuming to do that image above, cleaning up the type, reinking with white ink, getting out the photo lights, balancing on top of the press, stretching the image digitally to match the scanned broadside and putting together in a 512 pixel-wide format for the blog and then a 1000 pixel-wide format for the enlarged image. But for a first run at it, here are the lockups of 3 individual pages with the final printed version. You an often see the filling of the hole where the initial letter went when the first color was printed. This was the title page so it didn’t have to follow the “All I know is…” and start with an “A.”

“All I know is that I prefer books”

In this workshop we are trying to work as fast as possible to get a cover designed, a title page designed, 12 interior pages, and then make the covers (lot of steps) and then fold and tear the broadside to get it into the accordion fold format, an then get them put together (which is also a surprising number of steps) without using glue or sewing. This was a really nice effort for the inside title page.

“All I know is here and now”

Quite a simple page, but with the “ON:OW” being written in “time” style (09:44) it is just a great idea for adding a twist to writing the words. The 3s replacing the Es add a bit of numbering to the typography, throwing the visual off kilter just a bit. Nicely done using a very solid grouping of wood type.

“All I know is that someday I will do what I love”

Always fun to work with people who are completely new to letterpress. Anyone that knows what they are doing would avoid curving those 2 lines like the black plague. We just need to do a better job of explaining that the space taken up by that wonderful A could be filled with only a couple pieces of furniture and a few pieces of leading. Oh, well. We’ll put that in at the next workshop. Still a wonderful elegance to go with that fancy copperplate initial cap.

Studio projects Wednesday March 18 2015 12:22 pm

Moments Carved in Paper: Book No. 1


Bound by hand and printed slowly & patiently via letterpress, Book No. 1 in the Moments Carved in Paper series has turned out quite nicely, we think.

Our story begins in 1999 with Craig Cutler’s photo of a Gutenberg Bible for the cover of Life Magazine’s 100 Incredible Discoveries, Cataclysmic Events, & Magnificent Moments of the past 1,000 years. Amazing to even shoot for Life Magazine, much less the cover, Craig’s moment in the sun (one of many in his career) turned out to be a foreshadowing of the journey our creative lives were about to make.

The timing was right to give VCUK, our Visual Communications / United Kingdom study abroad a try. The next omen occurred on a VC field trip to Ogilvy where Nigel Kent, their Director of Typography, pointed us in the direction of Alan Kitching who taught letterpress at the Royal College of Art. A visit in VCUK’01 took us to Kitching’s studio, where there seemed to be some interest on the part of the students. Our first letterpress workshop came the next summer in 2002, when the student interest perked up considerably.

A visit to St. Bride Printing Library in 2002 clinched the aha! moment. Seeing the original tissues from Eric Gill’s Gill Sans typeface was a perfect setup. And then “Ornamented Types,” a book of outside-the-box type specimens exquisitely printed via letterpress by Ian Mortimer, was the tipping point. We fell for every hook, line and ink.

In addition to Craig Cutler, names mentioned in book No. 1 include Karla Burger Cushman, Bill Deering, Alan Fletcher, Ari Garber, Nigel Kent, Alan Kitching, Mark Samuels Lasner, Ian Mortimer, Nowlan Nichols, Raymond Nichols, Nigel Roche, David Rose, and Ben Thoma.

All the books in our Moments series are in the flutter book format. This means each spread is printed on one side only and the foredges are glued together to form the text block. The paper is a sexy Somerset Textured White, 300 gsm. By printing on only one side we can push the type into the paper quite deeply. Book No. 1 has two photos and some colorful Lead Graffiti elements that give a nod to Eric Gill and wormholes.

No. 1’s cover is St. Armand Colours Caribou #190, made in Canada. Very nice to hold in your hands.

Regarding future books in this series, we hope to get a number of student perspectives on many of the moments that involved my teaching or VC. Most of the stories connect in some way with that part of my life.

In a future book we will revisit Raven Press. We have to tell Ben Thoma and Karla Burger Cushman’s story about getting the illustrious Alan Fletcher to design the Raven Press logo. And at least one of the posters we did with Alan Kitching during his workshops needs to make an appearance.

If you have some favorite stories about your days in those first years at Raven Press, I want to hear from you. And even if you don’t have Raven Press stories, please keep in touch.

workshops Tuesday March 03 2015 03:05 pm

Arcadia University and a meander book Creative Letterpress workshop

Spent a slushy Sunday with an active group of graphic design students from Arcadia University and their professor Davie Copestakes working in one of our Lead Graffiti Creative Letterpress workshops. It was nice that they had a lot of good questions. We are always disappointed when students don’t have questions.

Below shows the final broadside on the right with the lockup for the 2nd color (red) on the left. On the broadside rows 1 and 3 have been rotated so the top / bottom orientation is the same for all pages.

You can click on the image to see the image double-sized.

Just in case you look at it really closely, the participants’ names have been taken out of the lockup with the colophon as they took them as souvenirs of the day. We took the photo of the lockup the next morning after we cleaned all of the type and then rolled it with white ink to help the printing surface show.

We are always taking photos to try and find better ones to show various aspects of this very complicated workshop. Here is a nice one of part of half of the group folding their covers together prior to inserting their text block.