Days Like These...

Hard to believe, but it's nearly time to think about 2015 calendars. For the last few years, we've created two different wall versions, and 2015's are ready to go! The first features a checkerboard pattern made of reversed wood type, along with another pattern created from wood borders. 20151You can see the lovely texture and overlapping effects in this close up. The inks are all translucent enough to show the different layers of print.

201542015 is set in Gothic Round, a typeface we have in limited quantities and that doesn't often see the light of day. Here it is coupled with the borders.

20152The calendar pages are not letterpress printed (sorry), though they are built from scans of the type in our collection. Printed on text weight paper, there's room for writing little notes before tearing off the page as the month comes to an end.

20155The second calendar features a Superchunk quote that often pops into my brain when driving the Starshaped Fiat. So it combines both of those things (though the Fiat here is an original 500....someday).

dayslike1The image started as a sketch that was then resized and transferred to linoleum to be cut. This was a tiny one!


fiatlinocutHere you can see it sneaking through the wood type city on its way out of town! This calendar also features tear off months.

dayslike3Both calendars measure 8x18" and are printed on heavy gray chipboard in four colors. They are currently available in our etsy shop. We printed a limited run of both, so get one while you can... no reprints on these!

A Calendar Year

Every year, Starshaped is asked to create a calendar in any form, and while we all love the idea of putting together such a piece, the timing has never gelled with the custom print schedule. This year we've done it ahead of schedule and have two great calendars to offer! I loved the idea of a wall calendar that can hang to display one large image throughout the year. One of the other driving forces for this decision was to be able to use a complete font of calendar type, purchased last year from Virgin Wood Type, meaning that even the individual pages of the calendar would be printed. Tcalendartype

As you can see, each date is cut to be on the same size block of wood so that it's easy to interchange them and keep the same form when you move from one month to the next. Their beauty is that they aren't perfect; there are many quirks from the routing and carving process which gives them more character than if the pages were to be output digitally. I added the month and ornamentation at the top to round out the print, also leaving a bit of room at the bottom on which users could write notes.

One of our most popular prints has always been one titled The Stars All Lead Me Home, which is currently sold out with no plans for reprints. So I took that theme and recreated the city and stars for the first calendar which you can see here:starscalendar

Each calendar was printed in four colors. The first for this one was a white linoleum cut to provide a base for the rest of the colors. Then came the cityscape in a bright, happy blue.



The star setup was a bit tricky; I had the drawing for the linoleum cut done, so I used that as a base for laying out the stars in their various size. Then spacing and leading needed to be filled in around them to keep the block solid and easily locked up for printing.


They are printed in a soft champagne metallic ink and finish off with a little moon in the corner.


One of the hazards of the trade is the presence of work ups in a type form. You can see below that one of the thin spaces between the R and S has literally worked its way up to printing between the two letters. We all have to be vigilant in checking prints to keep this from happening on multiple prints.


Here's that pesky little space:


Because one is never enough, there's a second calendar as well, in the same format as the first. This one is a mash up of various wood types to spell the months of the year, coupled with a beautiful '2014' and corner elements, all printed in four colors.


Here are the forms for the months as well as the '2014'. Some really incredible wood type all in one place!




The detail shows a little more of the great effects of overlapping and subtle colors. The corner pieces are printed in both dark brown and gold.



Printing the calendar pages was no small task, given that we did an initial run of 100 of each calendar and there are 12 months in the year (you do the math, and allow for the overrun of misprints!). These were done on the platen press for speed and the corners were rounded afterwards.



The final step is collating the months and assembling them with padding compound at the top. Then they are attached to the calendar and are set to go! If you're feeling like an early bird this year, we've got them for sale on our etsy site now: here for The Stars All Lead Me Home and here for 2014. And cheers to a new year!


City of Wind

If you want to get an idea of what's going on in gig posters, urban prints and street art, head straight to Logan Square and Galerie F. I was pleased to be invited to contribute to their collection of exclusive prints, and the poster is now available on their site. Here it is: chicago1

Chicago is always a popular theme and one I love. For this one, I wanted to create a large cityscape to represent downtown, but also something that was indicative of the smaller skylines of the neighborhoods. The first two layers were printed with wood type (and the back side of wood type), and linoleum blocks in very pale dirty gray to give depth and texture to the image. The wind image is a pressure print, which is created by adding a shape or cutout to the makeready of the press which affects how evenly the paper will roll over type.

Here's a shot of the wood type as well as the linoleum blocks.



You can see the texture created by multiple layers, as well as the hints that came through the pressure print to keep the wind shapes subtle and soft.


After those two runs, it was time for the type and the small cityscape. To create the type with a larger first and last letter, you actually have to have two separate fonts of the same thing. This also features the Chicago wood stars we commissioned from Moore Wood Type. There's a small representation of a CTA train car, as well as an ash tree, in defiance of the emerald ash borers that are destroying the ash trees of the city.



You can get a copy of the print directly from Galerie F for the next month, as well as a number of our other prints if you pop by the gallery. It's definitely worth a stop if you're in the neighborhood... so much great stuff to look at and take home with you!

Partners in Crime

This year has seen many specialty prints in the studio, including ketubahs, or Jewish marriage certificates, and this was one of our favorites. Michelle and John wanted something that was very typographic for their ketubah, and if it could reference their location and love of the ocean, all the better. Here's the final piece: michellejohn1

The very pale clouds were printed with a hand carved linoleum cut and add just a soft touch of sky behind the text.



Typographic enough?


The form for this piece was particularly impressive. Their names and the ampersand are wood, while the rest is metal, with a hint of deco to it. Force justified type presents a few challenges, given that the spacing has to be done by hand. There are hundreds of little brass and copper thin spaces in between most of the letters in this form.



Cityscapes are always fun, and San Francisco is no exception. We've had a little experience with the Golden Gate Bridge, so it was a bit easier this time around. The city and text are printed in steel gray, with a red that mimics the bridge alongside the pale blue sky and ocean.



Congrats to Michelle and John! Enjoy your new life together in your beautiful city.

At Last!

We've been printing a number of posters and large prints lately, many celebrating weddings and anniversaries in a novel way. This poster invitation for Orin and Cliff is no exception. They were looking for a colorful poster to share with their friends and family announcing their upcoming wedding. This one features a few sweet elements to give it a breezy, vintage Florida feel. The little 8 pointed stars are actually new wood ornaments from Moore Wood Type, and it's such a delight to get brand new wood type! The large yellow block around their names is a linoleum cut, purposefully offset a bit to make the names pop. The ampersand is printed in the blue color, but is transparent enough to look green and create other shapes and colors via overprinting.

Orin and Cliff also liked many of the cityscapes we create, so the poster features a little section of Jacksonville, complete with a water line and sun-like ornament. And surely the wedding will be just as bright and sunny!