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          Tour de Lead Graffiti 2015
T H E   P R O J E C T :
          Endurance letterpress


the project | preliminary | clamshell | title page | descriptions | colophon | postcards | composite

Stage 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | Rest | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | Rest | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21

2011 edition | 2012 edition | 2013 edition | 2014 edition

2011 - 2015 posters grouped by topic


Ray and Jill in Liege, Belgium at the opening day prologue of the 2004 Tour de France




The project had been banging around in our head since the summer of 2004. It was then that Jill and Ray took a 4-day break during the middle of a study abroad trip to London with 24 of Ray's Visual Communications students from the University of Delaware. It was also the time when they were starting to really fall in love with the craft of letterpress printing, always looking for an excuse to put ink on paper with interesting, and different, projects.

This is the 5th edition of our Tour de Lead Graffiti. You can link the 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 editions in the links above.

It started when Ray was walking from their London flat on Tavistock to the Russell Square Tube station. Glancing through the window of Student Travel Associates he saw a number of his students making travel reservations for various trips during the upcoming 4-day break in our schedule. Ray decided to ask about his own trip which just happened to be over the opening weekend of the 2004 Tour de France that would start in Liége, Belgium. Some things just seem to be meant to connect together.

Hmmm. Honestly, it was as simple and as random as that. Ray didn't ask Jill for her thoughts or permission beforehand. If you know Jill you know how willing she is to go with the flow.

We were just starting to get obsessed with letterpress and its history, so Ray bought tickets from London to Frankfurt, Germany and then from Antwerp, Belgium back to London. There were only three definitely pieces to the plan. We wanted to

1) visit the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz, Germany,

2) watch the opening day Prologue of the Tour de France in Liége, Belgium,

3) and a tour the Plantin-Moretus Museum in Antwerp, Belgium.

No hotel reservations. No train reservations. No understanding of what the layout of the Prologue was. Just tickets going and coming. We hadn't done a trip with so little planning in decades. Ray would probaby have threatened to send one of his students home if they explained the same similar plan. We took the plane to Frankfurt and caught the train to Mainz. We found a good nearby small hotel to stay the night and we were off. It was like being a student again and our plan acted like it.

What could possibly go wrong with that? The summary is, "The trip was far better than anything we could have ever planned." Hotels that were hard to reserve on short notice ended up being in better places than we originally wanted. We have plans to write it up and print a small, fine press, limited edition book to record the experience as part of our Moments Carved in Paper project.

The Tour first hand

The photo above shows us standing on the street right against the police barrier at the one kilometer marker from the start / finish line. We could see every racer in both directions along that nice, long curve. The news that night said there were 650,000 people along the 6.1 kilometer course. When we got to the train station to head over to Antwerp we think all 650,000 of them were at the train station. Seriously, there were thousands of people stalled at the doors. We had a tickets, but getting inside looked about as likely as getting in NORAD. But that is another long, but really interesting, story that will be explained in the book.

Tour de Lead Graffiti Stage 3A bit of salt for flavoring

To explain a bit of how we like to work, we like spontaneous projects where you are planning the piece on the press, often locking up for one color and not always knowing what you are going to be doing for the next color. Ray always gets up every morning of the Tour and watches it live now on NBCSports. Every year. Every stage. Every day. That pretty much explains the planning.

We watch each stage of the Tour de France live on NBCSports from about 8:00 until noon, looking for usable moments or incidents or comments. After we know the results and watch at least a bit of the awards presentation it is off to lunch, always at the Glass Kitchen, always with dessert (usually Coconut Cream Pie or Carrot Cake. We try to keep the discussion at lunch on the tour and the upcoming poster.

Then it is to our 2,200 square foot studio to get started on how to represent the stage using wood & metal type, wood or linoleum cuts, and objects related to cycling that are usable for the 14.5" x 22.5" poster.

This year we have guest contributors on 20 of the 23 days. In the past we've had them drive the 378 miles from Middlebury, Vermont to Newark, and fly in from Indianapolis and Dallas.

All who are involved will sign in each day for their poster, just like they do in the Tour de France. We print the posters on Somerset Textured White 300 gsm which we got from Legion Paper where we buy most of our letterpress paper.

The Tour de France has 21 stages and 2 rest days that form the basis for the posters. In addition, we produce a portfolio title page, a page that describes what we used from the race for each poster, colophon page listing the physical elements of the project, who did what, etc., and a composite print with all runs overprinted onto a single sheet (we did 109 runs in 2014).

Above is the opening day 2014 poster we did with collaborator Megan Zottlemeyer, a fellow letterpress printer who has collaborated each year on our project. You can read the whole story about this poster by clicking here.