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stories 2016


A "Swarm of Bees" book keepsake for a group of
dinner guests of the Mark Samuels Lasner Collection


We have a lot of students who pass through Lead Graffiti, either 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 for Mark Samuels Lasner, one of our studio's most important patrons. We've done a number of projects for or related to Mark or his wonderful collection of book-related items housed in the library at the University of Delaware.

Mark Samuels Lasner had offered a trip to visit 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.

↓The cover. We produced a total of 14 books as we didn't know how many people were coming to dinner. We added the date to the front of 10 of them and kept 4 without the date.
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 personally with our hosts) all with “B”s in them.

The cover is raw bookboard.

↓ This is the title page presented as a "swarm of Bs."
A Swarm of Bees / spread 1
The type was a combination of 3 “very” similar faces: Jefferson Gothic, Phoenix, and Tourist. Even using 3 faced we still didn't have enough Bs so it took a second run.

↓ The center spread.
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 had been wanting 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.

↓ Below is a photo of the lockup of the "departed" Bs. The fold will be horizontal through the center.

↓ The colophon page.
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 has a strong focus on association copies.
A Swarm of Bees / back cover

↓ We have a stack of black bookcloth that we often use for projects such as this. Jill used one of her rollers she often uses for making pastepaper which has wide rubberbands wrapped around it. The roller was run through some gold acrylic paint rather casually to make the irregular stripes. We thought it worked quite nicely in the end. The photo below shows a number of spines laid out for drying after they were rolled.

The book is bound in a flutter book format, much like our "Moments Carved in Paper" series.

The size is 5" x 9". We've decided that unless there is some logical reason for making a book a different size we will always use this size which we also use for "Moments.'

We are always looking for a nice reason to put ink on paper and this project was a nice reason.