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Category Archiveworkshops

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.

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.

workshops Friday December 05 2014 10:56 am

Lead Graffiti workshops January - June 2015

How about a gift certificate for a letterpress or bookmaking workshop which gets someone away from their iPad and into the handmade? You’ll pay $120 for the gift certificate and if they use it for a cheaper workshop we’ll return the difference at the workshop. Any gift certiciate is good for any workshop we offer that runs anytime during 2015.

Lead Graffiti workshop certificate


Metal Type Composition

. . . Saturday, January 3
. . . Sunday, February 15
. . . Sunday, March 29
. . . Saturday, June 27

Vandercook (technical)

. . . Sunday, January 18
. . . Saturday, February 28
. . . Sunday, April 12
. . . Saturday, May 23

Creative Letterpress

. . . Saturday, January 31
. . . Saturday, March 14
. . . Saturday, April 25
. . . Saturday, June 6

Chandler & Price floor-model platens (technical)

. . . Sunday, February 22
. . . Saturday, April 18


One Day, One Book / examples from previous workshops
. . . Sunday, January 4
. . . Sunday, March 7 (new date)
. . . Sunday, April 19

One day, one book illustration

Classic clamshell box / below shows examples for holding 2 family bibles (1 with enclosed ephemera) and a Star Wars book

. . . Saturday, January 24 (new date)
. . . Sunday, May 24

Clamshell illustration

Pastepaper primer / illustration shows 6 examples plus wrapped picture frames. The “One day, 1 book” workshop shows several hardback books wrapped with pastepaper
. . . Sunday, February 1
. . . Saturday, March 28
. . . Sunday, June 7

Clamshell illustration

Coptic stitch bindings / below are coptic stitch examples with the upper left one as a book made of envelopes, perhaps to record receipts from a trip
. . . Sunday, March 15

Coptic stitch illustration

personal & workshops Saturday October 11 2014 08:44 am

What would a good student do?

I’ve been thinking about writing this entry for a while as I often bring it up in Lead Graffiti’s workshops. It would be good if we could get students to read it before they came.

When I was teaching in the Visual Communications Group at the University of Delaware, to add a bit of pressure to my students, I would often raise the question “What would a good student do? Right here. Right now.” to turn a simple opportunity into a miracle.

Most all educational programs do a reasonable job of exposing their students to educational opportunities, but the question is often, what does the student do with that opportunity. Some teachers probably give better assignments. Some schools have more or better field trips & speakers. And they all have libraries. Everyone has access to almost every website, blog, tweet and photograph on the planet.

We’ve had some 850 students over the past 5 or so years who have interacted with Lead Graffiti through workshops, tours & shorternships. Sometimes professors through their classes drag their students through the experience and at other times it is a choice that the student has scheduled and paid for on their own.

We at lead Graffiti surely think that one of our workshop experiences has value, but we’d like for it to have 5 times the value. We give the studio tour. We show some of what we think is our best work and we show work from a number of other letterpress shops. But to really find a way to take the experience up a couple notches we need a bit of help from the student.

I’m writing this with the notion that you’ll find yourself sitting in a letterpress workshop in Lead Graffiti This is a different place than you’ve ever been, organized in a way you couldn’t possibly understand if you had a week, working in a technology (or maybe a non-technology) and a process you don’t know, probably using a measurement system you might barely know, and you are asked to do a creative project without sketches. You cannot possibly know  what to do.

Just ask yourself the question, “What would a good student do?” “Right now.” “Here.

My additional advice is to ask it 150 times that day.

I, for one, do not believe there are no bad questions. There are a gazillion bad questions. They are the ones that don’t move you anywhere. “Do you like working with letterpress?” Duh. “Why do you like working with letterpress?” may get the discussion to a place you need.

You need to find the time to ask a dozen good questions over the day. 10 of you will generate 120 good questions. Some will have good answers. And it is a good idea to ask them so the other students hear those answers. And for them to ask good questions so you can hear those answers. It needs to be a question that a good student would ask. One that moves their work forward and not sideways. It needs to be a question that gets the answers to a number of other questions and also setting up even better questions. Sometimes a good student will just stand close.

What would a good student do? Right here. Right now.

Take a look at our online portfolio and see the things we’ve done that interest you. Bring it up when we are showing work. If we don’t show it ask us to. “How did you get the work?” “Did it lead anywhere?” “What is it about that piece that would make you to want to put it in your portfolio?”

Lunch is a good time when things are calmer and everyone is within hearing range.

An interesting things about asking yourself “What would a good student do?” is that it doesn’t take any more time to do it than to not do it.

workshops Wednesday February 19 2014 01:19 pm

Clamshell box workshop

We love making things and clamshell boxes are way near the top of the list of those things. We recently did a clamshell box workshop and these are the results. While a complicated process it is hard to really blow it. A nice piece of paste paper really helps.

1) Ray’s prototype for a deluxe copies for a new book series (100?) to house books that are different thicknesses.

2) Rebecca’s clamshell to hold a set of important puzzle books from her childhood that she wants to protect.

3) Jill wanted to protect a family Bible which had a number of clippings, pressed flowers, photos and the like. She also built a folder to hold the miscellaneous objects and made a thick clamshell box to house both the Bible and the folder.

4) Steve chose a book printed via letterpress about typography. Nice touch.

We’ve also done some work to our board shears that we’ve wanted to do for 2 years. We finally put a new top on it We still need to do an inlayed ruler of some sort, but we cannot find a really good metal ruler that reads from the right to the left. We also bought a gizmo at Woodcraft so we could set a stop and could repeat the same cuts over and over. You can by multiple stops as each rotates out of position to allow you to by pass it. That is sometimes a strangely useful process in our studio.

Steve, one of the participants in the workshop turned out to be a wood worker. We had developed a stop-gap measure to help us measure the sizes of the books to be contained in the clamshell boxes and then to trim to that exact measurement. Generally, you are talking about accuracy to the thickness of a piece of book cloth, which is quite thin.

This was the first clamshell box workshop where we asked the people to bring in their own book to contain and cutting everthing, even though it was pretty easy to do, slowed us down enough that we couldn’t get the workshop finished in one day. So, everyone came back the next day for another couple of hours. Steve brought back a wonderful device to help us do the measuring quickly. Now I think I need 3 or 4 of them so different people could be measuring at the same time.

workshops Wednesday January 22 2014 12:01 pm

Lead Graffiti letterpress & bookmaking workshops

January - June 2014

Lead Graffiti announces its letterpress and bookbinding workshop schedule. Take a look. Put handmade back into your life.

Click any link to look at the details. Email us with questions.

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Creative letterpress (OPEN registration)
8 working hours + lunch, all materials included : $75 to $100
For a firsthand letterpress experience, this creative workshop is a group collaboration for students, designers, writers or others who would like a quick taste of handset type, printing & bookmaking.

  • . . . Sunday, January 12, 9am - 6pm
  • . . . Sunday, February 16, 9am - 6pm
  • Saturday, March 22, 9am - 6pm (restricted enrollment)
  • Sunday, April 5, 9am - 6pm (new workshop)
  • Sunday, April 27, 9am - 6pm
  • Sunday, June 1, 9am - 6pm

Vandercook (technical)

7 working hours + lunch, all materials included : $120
This is a technical workshop designed to teach you how to print with and maintain Vandercook proof presses. Required for Lead Graffiti press rental. Requires a minimum of 3.

  • . . . Sunday, January 19, 10am - 6pm
  • . . . Sunday, February 23, 10am - 6pm
  • Sunday, March 30, 10am - 6pm
  • Sunday, May 4, 10am - 6pm
  • Sunday, June 8, 10m - 6pm
    Samples from our portfolio: A haw haw haw haw | Wildman invite |

Metal type composition

7 working hours + lunch, all materials included : $120
Handset metal type using spacing & leading with a composing stick. Design & print a small edition of cards on a tabletop press.

  • . . . Saturday, February 1, 10am - 6pm
  • Sunday, April 13, 10am - 6pm
  • Sunday, June 22, 10am - 6pm
    Samples from our portfolio: How type writes poetry

Chandler & Price platen (technical)

7 working hours + lunch, all materials included : $120
Learn the technical basics of printing photopolymer and handset type, diecutting & scoring on both motorized and treadle style floor-model platen presses, one of the most widely available and accessible presses.

  • Sunday, March 9, 10am - 6pm
  • Sunday, May 18, 10am - 6pm

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One day, one book
7 working hours + lunch, all materials included : $120
This is bookbinding on caffeine. Get your hands on the basics from pastepaper to sewing a text block to attaching a hard cover. Take home the book you made from scratch all in a day’s work.

  • . . . Saturday, January 18, 10am - 6pm
  • . . . Saturday, February 22, 10am - 6pm
  • Saturday, March 29, 10am - 6pm
  • Saturday, May 10, 10am - 6pm
  • Saturday, June 14, 10am - 6pm

Coptic stitch binding (2 evenings)

7 working hours + lunch, all materials included : $120
Show off your handmade accomplishment with this exposed spine style producing two books with Coptic and Ethiopic binding techniques.

  • . . . Tuesday, January 7 - 8, 6pm - 9pm
  • Tuesday, May 13 - 14, 6pm - 9pm

Pamphlet-stitched books (2 evenings)

6 working hours, all materials included : $100
Two consecutive evenings from 6 - 9pm working with simple pamphlet stitching. Great for a parent and child to share together or for a younger person to learn some handskills and pride in craftsmanship

Pastepaper primer

3 working hours, all materials included : $70
Use classic bookbinders wheat paste to design colorful paper for book covers and other projects. A great workshop for creating a stack of sheets for use in a variety of personal future projects.

Classic clamshell box

7 hours + lunch, all materials included : $140.
Learn to measure and cover a custom-fitted library style box. Bring a book that is about 6” x 9” x 1” that you would like to protect with a box and let’s protect it.

workshops Sunday January 12 2014 06:00 am

Creative Letterpress workshop / January 12, 2014

This is the 2nd color lockup and complete broadside from a Lead Graffiti Creative Letterpress workshop workshop that had quite a nice outcome. A really fun group with lots of questions and we love lots of questions.

Every other row of pages in the printed image on the right has been rotated to make the pages easier to read. The lockup shows the second color (greenish brown). In this instance the number of people at the workshop allowed everyone to work on a spread. With more people they might be limited to a single page.

Participants got to cast their names for the colophon using our Intertype C4, which is usually a pretty thrilling surprise to see working.

Click the image to see it double sized.

Starting upper left on the broadside

  • Cover (not shown): Four Onces +2
  • Title page: The Stories Always Start
  • Spread 1: Once upon a time I wrote this rhyme
  • Spread 2: Once upon a time walk the line
  • Spread 3: Once upon a time I was a blank slate.
  • Spread 4: Once upon a time I woke up in bed
  • Spread 5: Once upon a time it all came… Once upon a time it all came… Once upon a time it all came together.
  • Spread 6: Once upon a time I yearned to kern type at Lead Graffiti (copperplate of logo).
  • Colophon

workshops Saturday May 04 2013 09:56 am

May the ‘Fourth’ Be With You

Happy Star Wars day.

Tray, a Lead Graffiti printer, is a member of the 501st Legion, a group of probably 6,000 members worldwide, who portray the nefarious or Dark Side characters of the Star Wars films and other media with some serious costuming effort.

Tray and fellow area colleagues built Emperor Palpatine’s throne and the window behind it for Celebration V and Celebration VI, two major Star Wars conventions. Today happens to also be the first Saturday in May which is Free Comic Book Day and about 6 of them always dress up for a few hours at Captain Bluehen, a Newark, Delaware, iconic comic book store. Throw into this mix, that today is Ann Lemon’s birthday. Ann is a former and seriously in the top tier of favorite students of Ray’s ever in Visual Communications at the University of Delaware.

Ann wanted to throw herself a birthday party and rented out Lead Graffiti for a Star Wars-related letterpress workshop. The result of the workshop will be a 16-page, hard cover, meander book printed 2 colors, all bound without the use of glue or sewing. You can see the look of the book here.

So, we put up the throne and window, the guys are coming dressed in costume for the start of the workshop.

The photo is of Emperor Nichols with his throne waiting for his new apprentices.

Now everyone needs to be cool with a bit of a photo session.

This should be a dark day for the dark side of the dark arts.

workshops Monday January 28 2013 12:00 am

Letterpress & bookmaking workshops through June 2013

Lead Graffiti letterpress & bookmaking workshops through June 2013.

A number of area schools schedule workshops for their students and we like to try and keep Saturdays open for them. If you can put together enough people for a specific workshop we will be happy to consider scheduling it.


Creative Letterpress (open registration)

  • Sunday, May 19
  • Sunday, June 16

VANDERCOOK / technical

  • None until after TdLG


Classic clamshell box

  • Sunday, June 9

honors, awards, media & news & workshops Tuesday June 05 2012 10:53 am

Workshop books donated to UD Special Collections

Lead Graffiti is pleased to announce that we’ve collected copies of all 24 caterpillar books created to date in our ‘creative letterpress’ workshop and donated them to Special Collections at the University of Delaware Library. As of June 1, 2012, we have had 229 people take this particular workshop, all of whom can now list inclusion in Special Collections on their résumés. The image below shows Ray and Jill with Tim Murray, head of Special Collections, with the books arrayed on the table.

Read on for more details about our creative letterpress workshops and how these books were made.

Special Collections / University of Delaware Library


PPSP workshop bookletThis particular creative letterpress workshop centers around a group of 6 to 14 participants who gather around a theme. Theme topics have included Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell Tale Heart, phobias, Valentine’s Day, quotes from Ben Franklin, and favorite lyrics from the Beatles. Past groups have included students from area design programs at schools such as Philadelphia University, Cabrini College, Art Institute of Philadelphia, Delaware College of Art and Design; and professionals from publication departments, designers organizations and societies, and university faculty members.


Philadelphia University lockupThe workshop encompasses a day-long group effort involving the creative handsetting of wood and metal type, printing book covers and a broadside/text block, and combining all the pieces together in a finished hardcover caterpillar book to take home. Having agreed on a theme, individual pages are divided among the attendees to be handset from our sizeable Lead Graffiti collection. Assembled and locked up in the press (see the lockup to the right), the pages are printed all at one time as a 16″ x 20″ broadside using our Vandercook Universal III. Each attendee prints the sheets that will make up their books. Through careful folding and tearing, the broadside is assembled into an accordion-fold format to serve as the book’s text block. The cover design is printed by each person on Lead Graffiti paste papers using our Vandercook SP-15 and then the entire book is bound without gluing or sewing. Each book also includes a colophon created on our Intertype C4 linecaster, which is typeset by and lists all participants.

Each person receives the materials to produce three books; one book is completed by the end of the workshop and the attendee takes enough materials home to produce two additional copies on their own for gifts or trading. We like this process because we think taking those pieces home, reliving the day and producing the other two books away from the workshop helps reinforce the process in their memory. We’ve often been told by faculty at area design schools that the book format starts to show up in other student projects, which we find to be an encouraging sign in this push-button computer age.


We already have workshops lined up for the fall 2012 semester. The results from future workshops focused on this book form will continue to be added to Special Collections. If you are a past Lead Graffiti ‘creative workshop’ attendee, be sure to visit the University of Delaware’s Special Collections to see your contribution and also consider listing it in your résumé.

workshops Sunday February 27 2011 01:11 pm

“Raining quotes” with the .918 Club

This was our second Creative Letterpress workshop in a week. This time it was with ten members of the .918 Club of Lancaster, PA. They operate a working letterpress museum at The Heritage Center Museum in Lancaster. We’ve volunteered a number of times, but lately have slacked off due to workload and Kalmar Nyckel obligations. To help pay them back we offered them one of our book workshops using letterpress.

This 16″ x 20″ piece is folded in quarters and torn along the folds to create an accordion-fold, caterpillar book. Here are their pages based on quotes related to printing.

In the printed piece every other row swaps top and bottom. We put everything in the same direction to make it easier to read.

We printed a few extras that maybe they can sell at their museum shop. It is a great example of letterpress.

Now to do some distributing of type.

workshops Monday February 21 2011 12:57 pm

“New Out / Old In” with the Art Institute of Philadelphia

Every design student in the country needs to do this letterpress workshop. They will forever feel the relationship between type and type size, understand what the word leading means, and should have their attention to detail nudged in the right direction. It isn’t bad that at the end of the day they walk out with a pretty impressive portfolio piece that gives them a good talking point at interviews.

This was an impressive effort by a group of second and third year typography students with Professor Diane Zatz at the Art Institute of Philadelphia on February 20th. We thought everyone did a great job of controlling the chaos of walking into our studio with 600 cases of wood & metal type, thousands of dingbats, learning about leading and spacing materials, composing sticks, California Job Cases and then pull this off in essentially 10 hours.

We’ve always wanted to count all of the pieces that go into making up one of these. So, wood & metal type, spacing, and leading totaled 1,422 pieces. This 16″ x 20″ piece is folded in quarters and torn along the folds to create an accordion-fold, caterpillar book. Here are their pages based on quotes related to creativity.

In the actual printed piece every other row is rotated 180 degrees We thought it would be better to let you read it so we’ve put all the bottoms at the bottom.

This is how the lockup looked.

Studio projects & workshops Monday September 20 2010 12:46 pm

AIGA / Baltimore creative letterpress workshop

We enjoyed the company of six members of AIGA / Baltimore who spent a nice day at Lead Graffiti on a joint book project hand setting wood and metal type. The whole story.

It is a wonderful group project where a 16″ x 20″ broadside (printed one side only) is produced collectively using wood and metal type. The piece is printed via letterpress in two colors, and through some careful folding and tearing, is bound into an accordion-folded book. Without gluing or sewing, the book is made with bookboard covered in Lead Graffiti pastepaper.

It makes quite a nice group project and the results of this particular workshop displayed especially creative uses of typography. But then you might expect that from a group of professional designers.

Click here to see images of each page of this project and more information on how the workshop operates.

workshops Tuesday March 09 2010 09:42 am

‘Workshops’ category in ‘Portfolio’

We’ve been doing a number of Lead Graffiti Creative Letterpress workshops for professional designers and students which have a creative result.

We try to do each of them at least a bit differently from each other. Some have results nice enough to be put into the spotlight.

A link to the workshop portfolio main page.

This is the link to the page describing our Creative Workshop.

Studio projects & events & workshops Wednesday January 20 2010 07:12 am

Philadelphia University creative letterpress workshop

Six wonderfully aggressive graphic design seniors from Philadelphia University took it upon themselves to set up a Creative Letterpress workshop with Lead Graffiti on Saturday, January 9. We wanted to set up a group project that really let them see how letterpress worked and also might provide them with a piece they could use in their portfolio.

Each student was let loose in our wood and metal type collection to develop a spread about typography or design. They also each set their name in large metal type. These pages were printed on three different colors along with a cover called “Textiments.” After the workshop Lead Graffiti bound the three signatures together. Each student got three copies of the book with their spread as the center of the opening signature.

Philadelphia University workshop

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