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Monthly ArchiveDecember 2015



Studio projects Sunday December 27 2015 10:49 pm

Top 10 Lead Graffiti moments of 2015

These are the top 10 events relating to Lead Graffiti & letterpress that happened during 2015 in chronological order.

Not a single event, but we had 155 workshop participants this year, bringing our total to 1,184. New groups included Art Conservation at the University of Delaware, Arcadia University, and James Mason University (where we also did a talk).

. . . O N E : March & April

First 2 books of our personal story series, “Moments Carved in Paper,” were published. The Librarian Made Us Do It (Ray’s “moment of clarity” for letterpress) and eifleS!, the original idea for the series with Ray’s 2 favorite stories about his parents that started us on the project.

. . . T W O : April

We participated in the Manhattan Book Fair through the Fine Press Book Association. We were hoping to do enough business to pay for the booth, the drive up, a nice hotel room, and an intimate Italian dinner. Dinner ended up being Dopo East. We did 4 times that well. It is great fun telling our stories to anyone that would stop for a moment and look. We will also be doing the fair in April 2016. We may try to do the same hotel and restaurant.

. . . T H R E E : May

Jill took two long-desired, leather binding workshops from Don Rash. She ended up with 3 nice books. Don was the bookbinder that did the 12 leather-covered versions of our Histories of Newark: 1758 - 2008 back in 2007. He did an amazing job embedding a coin minted in 1758 with the head of King George II (he signed the charter for the city) so that you could see both sides of the coin. Don does really amazing work German style.

. . . F O U R : June

We were invited to exhibit 35 Tour de Lead Graffiti posters from 2011 - 2014 at the AIGA / SPACE Gallery in Philadelphia. Met some great new friends and, from the opening, pulled 7 great new collaborators in for stages in our Tour de Lead Graffiti 2015.

. . . F I V E : July

Tour de Lead Graffiti 2015 - our 5th edition of our 23 posters in 23 days while following the Tour de France. We had 35 collaborators spread over 21 of the 23 days who shared the Tour, the letterpress, and the dessert experience with us. Ray’s total time over the 23 days was 383 hours 28 minutes. There were 92 runs averaging 4 per poster, but some of them were doozies. “Endurance letterpress” at its most fun.

. . . S I X : July & August

We were invited to be the inaugural exhibition at the new gallery of the Hamilton Wood Type Museum in their new space. The 2-month exhibition included 48 of our Tour de Lead Graffiti posters from 2011 thru 2014. Special thanks to Jim Moran, director of the museum, for the invitation. I’m pretty sure Lead Graffiti got some new followers from the event.

. . . S E V E N : August

After watching it flounder along, Ray added some much needed energy into the VC/UD - Then & Now Facebook group for former students from the Graphic and Advertising Group and the Visual Communications Group, 1968 to the present. Not exactly letterpress, but an important part of Ray’s life, and we’ll sneak some letterpress in every so often.

. . . E I G H T : October

The national conference of the American Printing History Association, which both Ray & Jill attended, was focused on printing on the iron handpress. The conference injected some energy into our efforts to get our 2 iron handpresses finished. We bought one in 2007 and one in 2008, and had to have missing parts fabricated and things like bent bolts straightened or replaced. At the conference we experienced a new letterpress workshop based on the work of H.N. Werkmen (shorter time frame, for a good number of people, and loads of colorful, typographic fun). We used the workshop for our first VC homecoming reunion in November, which we’ve been wanting to do for a while. Everyone’s kids loved it and so did the adults. This also provoked a nice iron handpress workshop run by printer Steve Heaver from Baltimore. Also, see entry T E N.

. . . N I N E : October

From Crooked Crow Press, Rockville, Maryland, and on extended loan, we received a full 36-line Gutenberg Bible page composed of a reissue of Gutenberg D-K metal type cast by Mike Anderson. Additionally there are 2 job cases of the recast Gutenberg D-K type that we can use to set new pieces. We are hoping to start a new series of workshops on our iron handpresses with the type.

. . . T E N : December

In the process of renovating our Harrild & Sons Albion, bought from the Museum of Printing in North Andover, Massachusetts, we’ve discovered it has a significant provenance as part of the first fine press program at a major U.S. university, Carnegie Institute of Technology, back in the 1920s. One of a pair, it was purchased to print a significant 12-volume catalog for The Frick Collection.

Things still seem to be happening that are very exciting to us.

Studio projects Monday December 21 2015 03:24 pm

16″ handrolled, framed, letterpress monograms

We think this is a pretty nice idea that we got much to close to the time for holiday gift giving.

We’ve been wanting some big letters in Lead Graffiti, so we’ve been making 16-inch, linocut letters in the typeface Onyx and printing them as monograms.

The letters have been handrolled in black (Ray) and silver (Jill) with a bit of vigor, with some areas left open that blind deboss. They are printed on the same 300 gsm Somerset White Textured paper we use for our Tour de Lead Graffiti posters (our favorite and most used paper for our personal projects). The image above shows 8 letters in the 9.75″ x 20.5″ black frame version (also comes in white).

Offered on our Etsy site with the following description.

This lively, handrolled initial is ideal for injecting a bit of personalized energy into any gift-giving occasion.

Large scale, 16″ monogram printed slowly & patiently via letterpress. Prints are individually handrolled at our Lead Graffiti studio in black & silver ink on thick, acid-free, heavily textured paper.

Due to the handcrafted nature of these prints, there are slight variations between letters. The photograph is a general guide as to how your letterpress print will look.

Available in your choice of black or white wood frame with glass. Not available unframed.Outer frame dimensions are 9.75″ wide x 20.5″ tall x 1.375″ deep. Great one-size-fits-all gift for birthdays, weddings, children’s room, bedroom, mantle, office wall, etc.

$45 framed + shipping.

The K, M, W are wider than the others and require a wider frame (same price).

Studio projects Friday December 04 2015 07:43 am

Drawing with caulk : printing via letterpress

I’ve always liked techniques that have some lack-of-control built into them.

I had been thinking for a while about alternative ways to do large scale drawings without having to resort to large plates, wood cuts, etc. In our Tour de Lead Graffiti posters we’ve often printed from bicycle chains so I was thinking about ways you could get a line drawing that was cheap and pretty easy to do. I suspect the better you can draw the more you might be able to use this technique.

I tried the first test (shown below) about a year ago. I needed our 4th piece for this year’s requirements for APA (Amalgamated Printers Association), so I printed it up with a description of the process.

The image below shows the caulk drawing (about 5″ wide) on the left and the resulting print on the right.

Over the year the caulk had dried a bit and perhaps has been beat up, being moved around a couple dozen times. You can see on the left that part of the caulk at the top has broken away. The print on the right shows it with about half of it broken away. I don’t think this would have happened if I had printed it fairly soon after doing the drawing.

Materials: tube of caulk (different caulks may produce different results), caulk gun, 0.75″ plywood base (MDF would work also), pane of 0.25″ plate glass (the bigger your image the more important that thickness is), WD40, & 4 pieces of large, new metal type

The Process: The metal type, places at the corners of the plywood base, acts as “glass bearers” to flatten the caulk to 0.918″. the trick is to balance the thickness of packing under the base and the bead thickness of the caulk (most often pretty difficult to control) to achieve the desired line width. We sprayed some WD40 on the glass as a release agent. Let the caulk dry completely before separating from the glass.

You can see from the print that the caulk tends to sage a bit in the middle of a line. I think it actually provides more dimension to the line. Right after I had done the original the caulk was dried, but softer. At this point a year later it was really had an I think I got more texture in the centers of the lines now than I did back within a day or two of laying the caulk down.

Worth noting that unless you use the right caulk that will literally never get hard (like bathroom caulk) I don’t think these drawings would last a while. I don’t remember the kind of caulk I used with this test. It was probably something that was just laying around.