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<i>diploma:</i><b>Waldorf School of Philadelphia 8th grade class</b>

diploma:Waldorf School of Philadelphia 8th grade class


One of our absolute favorite projects we've ever worked on.

Click photo for a larger image.

On our website, we list several projects we would love to do via letterpress. One of those projects was a diploma. We were thinking that it might be for a high school for the creative arts like Cab Calloway in Wilmington, Delaware.

Well, Cristina Shiffman, a teacher at the Waldorf School of Philadelphia, was searching the web last spring thinking about diplomas for her 8th-grade class which would graduate in June 2012 and Google connected her to us. We exchanged a few emails, talked on the phone, sent samples of letterpress, and she came to visit our studio.

Cristina's rotation as the 8th-grade teacher came back around in 2017 which is the image shown here. 


Nobel Prize CertificateWe’ve long been fans of the design for the Nobel Prize certificates (an international award given yearly for achievements in Physics, Chemistry, Medicine, Literature, Economics, and Peace) which includes a piece of original artwork along with the certificate produced completely in calligraphy. The one shown to the right was for Elinor Ostrom who won for Economics in 2009.

While it has been a few years since either of us was in the 8th grade, it seems surprising how few names we can actually remember. We wanted to contribute to changing that for this group and, at the same time, celebrate this milestone as these students start their high school years. It needed to be special, both for the students, as well as for Lead Graffiti. And just maybe in the process, we could provide an Aha! moment for the students.


We took our portfolio and met with the students for an hour presentation about letterpress, us, and keepsakes. We do a lot of workshops with college students. These ten 8th graders asked 3 times as many questions (and good ones), interacting with us about the work and how it might connect to the diplomas, design, and lots of other topics. The students were great clients. We walked out of that visit buzzing with excitement that we had found a great group to try out this project.


We established a few guidelines that we thought were important:

• The Waldorf School of Philadelphia has a very hands-on style of teaching, so we wanted the various elements to reflect an emphasis on handcrafted work.

• The students would have a strong involvement in the design of the diploma which we would try to follow. It was also important to us to produce a piece that would provide our portfolio with a good example for possible future projects.

• There would be original artwork by the students included with the diploma / keepsake.

• It would be enclosed in a handmade folio to be wrapped in a sheet of paste paper produced by each student in a Lead Graffiti workshop.

• To make all this happen, they would come to Lead Graffiti and participate in making and printing at least some of the actual piece, along with hand setting their name in metal type and printing it on THEIR diploma.

Here are four of the 2017 drawings in pastel.

4 nice pastel