"A Swarm of Bs" book & 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 to see for themselves. 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.

We produced this keepsake 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.

Jill came up with a creative idea for the book cloth spine you can see in the top image. She has a paint roller with wide rubber bands stretched around it that she often uses when making paste paper. This time she just squirted out some gold acrylic paint and rolled directly on the black book cloth. The look worked perfectly with the combination gold / black inks and our bee theme as you can see below.

We thought “swarm” was a perfect 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 book board.

The type was a combination of 3 “very” similar faces: Jefferson Gothic, Phoenix, and Tourist.

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've wanted to use. 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 “bone folder” along the fold.

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 great evening and a wonderful excuse to put ink on paper.