H.N. Werkman druksels :

Creative letterpress workshop

TAKE THE LID OFF of your jar of creative juices and get ready to have some colorful fun in a hurry. Kids, adults, students, and professionals all love this workshop. You're printing in the steps of H.N. Werkman, a WWII Dutch designer, and publisher who used an unusual approach to making letterpress prints, which he dubbed "druksels."

Put your imagination into high gear and start with some playful hand rolling of wooden type. Set your students' brains on fire early in the semester with this visual vs. verbal design approach. Rather than spelling, think shapes, repetition, a kaleidoscope of colors, overlap and strategic placement—all done about as fast as you can ink.

We ran 2 sold-out sessions of our H.N. Werkman Creative Letterpress workshop at the Hamilton Wood Type Museum's 2017 Wayzgoose

We ran 2 sold-out sessions of our H.N. Werkman Creative Letterpress
workshop at the Hamilton Wood Type Museum's 2017 Wayzgoose

Instead of printing an edition of many of the same idea, you make 1 artistic print of lots of ideas. There's no tedious measuring or letterpress lock up—just lots of doing, playing, and being creative.

Good to know

  • For 6 to 15 people, age 8 and better
  • $60 each
  • 3 to 4 hours with snacks
  • For your workshop, wear comfy shoes (our concrete floor is hard) and work clothes (you will get dirty). Dress for the weather—we are not air-conditioned, and in winter the heat rises to the ceiling 20 feet up.
  • Lead Graffiti supplies all tools and materials. Be sure to bring questions, your camera, and a notebook to record your process.

Getting started

AFTER A BRIEF INTRO to Werkman the man and a look at some printed samples for kickstarting your creative flow, you're on your way. As you hand roll ink on the wood type, try to look at the letters as shapes for constructing your image, instead of seeing them only as parts of words. Lead Graffiti staff will demo the simple operation of each of the 5 presses that are available for this type of printing, and then it's time for fun. Working as quickly as you can ink, you can print on any open press as you assemble the different shapes of each of your druksel compositions.

The Werkman druksels make an off-beat and stimulating event as part of any professional business retreat. The physical act of handling dimensional type and working with it as you compose with shape and color gets those gray cells firing off in new directions. Taking this experience back to the workplace gives you a fresh perspective on handling the tough jobs, as well as the daily grind.

To get the juices flowing, these students take a look at some different inking possibilities.

To get the juices flowing, these students take a look at some different inking possibilities.

We like to provide a variety of ink color choices and combinations.

We like to provide a variety of ink color choices and combinations.

A young participant puts her best Michael Jordan english on her inking-the-type technique.

A young participant puts her best Michael Jordan english on her inking-the-type technique.

Every added shape and fresh bit of color suggest a new path to explore that wasn't there a moment ago.

Every added shape and fresh bit of color suggest a new path to explore that wasn't there a moment ago.

Hanging your druksel so you can jump onto the next one.

Hanging your druksel so you can jump onto the next one.

Below are a couple of images showing younger participants. Kids will spend hours making Werkman druksels. No phones. No iPad. No videos. Just H.N. Werkman, type, ink, and paper.

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Click on the image below for a few of our favorite druksels