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Monthly ArchiveJune 2016

Studio projects Thursday June 23 2016 02:06 pm

“A Swarm of Bs” keepsake

For one reason or another we have a lot of students who pass through Lead Graffiti.

Perhaps they attend a workshop, field trip and tour with a class, or just hear about us and want to drop by.

One of the things I always say to them is that if they are interested in letterpress (or honestly just interested in design), they need to find real projects they can do for real people.

This is one we produced over the past two days.

Mark Samuels Lasner, a good friend and long-time patron of Lead Graffiti who extends back into our Raven Press at the University of Delaware days, had offered a trip (to see his magnificent collection of Victorian books he has on loan to the University of Delaware Library) in a benefit auction for the Center for Book Arts in New York City. Book artist, Liz, won the auction and invited her friend Lynne, a letterpress printer, to join her. As part of their trip Mark set up a tour of our Lead Graffiti studio. That evening Mark hosted dinner at a tasty Italian restaurant, Cafe Mezzanotte in Wilmington, where 10 of us enjoyed good company and conversation, mostly swarming around books in some way.

We thought it would be a treat to offer a keepsake for everyone attending, always looking for reasons to put ink on paper. Sized 5″ x 9″, the keepsake was produced in a flutter-book format (spreads are printed individually and glued  along the foredges) in alternating colors of French Paper. We produced it in an edition of 10 with the cover date to celebrate the moment, and another 8 copies without dates.
A Swarm of Bees / cover

Jill came up with a wonderful idea for the bookcloth spine. She has a paint roller with wide rubberbands stretched around it that she often uses when making pastepaper. This time she just squirted out some gold acrylic paint and rolled directly on the black bookcloth. The look worked perfectly with the combination gold / black inks and our bee theme as you can see below.

We though “swarm” was a nice reference to the dinner gathering where we would give out the books. The keepsake was also an excuse to find a lot of book-related words (and a couple of choice animals that connect with our hosts) all with “B”s in them.

The cover is raw bookboard.
A Swarm of Bees / spread 1

The type was a combination of 3 “very” similar faces: Jefferson Gothic, Phoenix, and Tourist.
A Swarm of Bees / spread 2

Lead Graffiti recently received a gift of type from the Hagley Museum & Library, which also included a complete set of dotted-line brass rule that we wanted to play with. So, we included a bit of a “speed line” to represent the movement of the Bs to the title page of the book.

A nice touch was centering the word “bonefolder” along the fold.
A Swarm of Bees / spread 3

At the end of dinner, Mark said he wanted everyone to sign his copy and so we passed around all of the books for everyone’s signature.

That turned out to be a nice touch to the whole memory as Mark’s collection is focused on association copies.
A Swarm of Bees / back cover

A nice reason to put ink on paper

Studio projects Tuesday June 14 2016 02:03 pm

Tour de France 2016

We’ve decided that doing 5 of our Tour de Lead Graffiti projects is a nice place to end.


  • 115 posters of stages & rest days.
  • 15 additional title, story, and colophon pages.
  • 5 composite prints.


  • Ray spent a total of 1799 hours 48 minutes of documented time on the stage & rest day posters.
  • Everyone else’s time is on top of that.


  • Total of 537 separate ink runs through the press and we are counting simultaneous, handrolled runs no matter how many colors or number of people working on it as 1.
  • Total number of prints was about 9,775.
  • Total impressions was about 45,645 for the stage & rest day posters.
  • If all paper was in one stack it would be about 8 feet 3 inches high.


  • Overall we included a total of approximately 125 collaborators in the project.
  • 3 collaborators did all 5 years (Kieran Francke, Rebecca Johnson Melvin, Bill Roberts)
  • Kieran was the youngest collaborator when he was 10 during Tour de Lead Graffiti 2011
  • Longest distances to collaborate was from Indianapolis, Vermont and Dallas (twice)
  • Many started with no experience in letterpress and few with any interest in the Tour de France (both of those showed significant changes after the experience, several of which have actually attended the Tour in person).


  • We, along with collaborators, watched approximately 420 hours of live Tour de France Coverage.
  • We ate lunch every stage & rest day at the Glass Kitchen in Glasgow, Delaware and approximately 90% had dessert. Lead Graffiti staff had dessert 100% of the time.


  • 4-month exhibition of stage posters at The British Library
  • 2-month exhibition at the Hamilton Wood Type Museum
  • 1-month exhibition at AIGA / Philadelphia
  • Article in Sports Illustrated’s “Year in Media” on TdLG’13
  • WHYY-TV story about Lead Graffiti and the Tour
  • WHYY-TV listed their story on us as best of 2014
  • Keynote address to the Society of Typographic Arts / Chicago
  • The book Adventures in Letterpress had a full page showing TdLG
  • Article in Bicycling Magazine by Ethan Wolff-Mann (collaborator)
  • Article in Printeresting / Tour de Lead Graffiti by Lauren Emeritz (collaborator)
  • Talks at Library of Congress, George Mason University, AIGA