Kevin Sprouls’ (Wall Street Journal) ‘Hedcuts’

camel hedcut (WSJ)

camel hedcut (WSJ)

Carl Reiner Hedcut

Carl Reiner hedcut (WSJ)

I’ve long been fascinated by the WSJ’s occasional head shots. I figured, given their precision and quality that they were individually hand-rendered in some manner. I was correct and today, I learned something more about the distinctive art and the originator’s impressive dedication to the creation of these images.

This background article explains that creator Kevin Sprouls introduced the technique around 1979 at the Journal and over the years was involved in training and directing as many as six artists in the daily creation of these images. Kevin has a blog and this post gives a short-hand explanation of his step-by-step process.

Here’s a nice history of the process at the WSJ and the artists who have taken up and sustained the craft of creating them.

The Grommet

Grommet Logo


A friend recently told me about The Grommet. Watching their frequent posts (for the last month or so) listing their product offerings, I’m really impressed with the unique, inventive and high quality nature of the products they showcase. Give ’em a look. The Grommet.

Here’s an example – the $16 grab opener … what beer-drinking gadgeteer doesn’t want to find one of these in his Christmas stocking.

Hatching and Protecting Creativity

Ran across the following article/interview with Ed Catmull (President of Pixar) in Fast Company magazine. The article is a reprint from his book ‘Creativity, Inc.’. I enjoyed it immensively and found it to be the best treatment I’ve ever encountered on the tension between encouraging and protecting creativity (by actors within an organization appropriately termed ‘creatives’) and living within the constraints of the other normal/necessary managerial dynamics that operate within an organization.  Click on ‘Creativity’

Love Is In The Air

wedding day - ringsIt’s spring and as young love’s thoughts turn to marriage and the associated wedding event (did I really just type that?!) and inevitably they come to the realization that some sort of invitation might be required. I won’t attempt to make a case in this post for letterpress invitations (it’s kind of obvious anyway) but I want to draw your attention to the Wedding Set Price Sheet that I placed on our ‘Press Room’ page earlier this week.

And if you’re design-inclined and feel capable of producing your own designs – I’ve added Letterpress File Prep Guidelines sheet as well.

Please share these (or this post) with anyone you know who has entered the ‘marriage pipeline’.

And while we’re on the subject of marriage – The Meaning of Marriage (Timothy Keller) is an outstanding and insightful treatment of the subject.



dyn-o-myte RATING

I take it all back, the Apple superdrive is an awesome device and I’m glad we’ve got it. Like my experience with most/all Apple appliances – it works perfectly. And because it’s used less than frequently – I can now see the rationale for making it an ‘auxilliary’ device (not part of the mini casework).  In fact – I’m gonna give it a ‘DYN-O-MYTE’ rating.

(Henry) Gage Pins

Ran across the following sweet little alternative to a more costly Kort pins I’ve been using (realize too, this may be way more letterpress geek than the average reader is keen on) gage pins_close. This little invention is a sticky-back piece of foam that is placed on the tympan (or draw) sheet and has a little clear plastic hood on it to keep your sheet from falling or pulling off during the moment of impression. And because it’s foam – no permanent damage can be done to it or the aluminum base. Looks like $12 for a pack of 12.

mac mini (version 2013)

The old Dell Inspiron DT, purchased in spring of 2008 (for $399) and trapped in the fog of (admittedly non-updated Service Packs) Windows Vista OS – has been showing signs of wear/tear. It’s time to let it go to a better place – especially as it’s absorbed more than its share of my cursing about Vista and Microsoft in general.

mac mini ($599)

mac mini

So, we took another small bite out of the Apple and bought a Mac Mini (i5 processor, 500 GByte drive) and connected it to our existing Samsung HD monitor. It’s a pretty nice solution. But first there was the initial challenge of finding (Apple Store in Tacoma) the DVI to HDMI converter, which at $29 was a superior alternative to the Radio Shack hack assembly costing $69.

Next problem to solve is how to get my Creative Suite 6 (for Illustrator layout work for the letterpress) onto this little device as the mini is no longer configured with a built-in optical drive and won’t acknowledge my non-Apple LG drive. I don’t really have a convenient opportunity for utilizing the wireless ‘Remote Disc’ utility to read a shared optical drive. Looking therefore like we must buy the USB Superdrive from Apple which stings a little for obvious reason.

Still, it’s rather amazing to me that with this solution you bring a full Mac experience (including a nice 2.5 GHz dual-core Intel i5 processor, 4 GByte RAM and a more than adequate 500 GB drive) to your work space for $599. Not to misrepresent the costs- there’s also, though optional, the $69 bluetooth keyboard and $150 for Apple

Fresh Meat

Wow, been awhile – I know. I love new posts as much as the next person but man, getting to it can be a lot of work. The ‘new post’ is like fresh meat to the wild cat that’s in all of us blog readers.tiger Lately, I’ve been searching for an improved ‘gallery’ tool within WP (WordPress).  Am looking currently for a better display method (plugin) for my gallery of printed sample photos.  Friend Ryan Sorgnard has pointed me at a nice review of ‘repsonsive image galleries‘ – you see it’s good to have an informed understanding of even the proper name of something when you’re trying to accomplish an intelligent (or semi-intelligent in this case) search for something. So, watch for an improved gallery of photos (and by the way – those awesome photos don’t happen by themselves and it’s not me shooting them with my iPhone, good as that device is – they are the handi-work of Tad Craig, photographer).

Vacation Post

Taking MacBook Pro to the beach (Friday) and will do some Illustrator design work for variety of little ‘projects’. But no press work next week – the letterpress is ‘closed’ for week :-).  Kathy and I have a very structured schedule in mind … working on the deck (in back) framing and installing 5/4″ x 4″ cedar deck boards – till about 1pm each day – then on bikes to the beach each day with books + beverages + nosh. I’m all for that schedule!

This weekend the Hudson Bay Eagles will flock at the beach for an assortment of fun and catching up (coming from as far as Maine – Pete/Jackie).

The beach deck project, at the moment, looks like this …will complete the rest of the framing and then install the deck boards (with Kathy’s expert assistance). Then there’s re-shingling of the walls, painting, horizontal 1×4 cedar on the property line fence. Then margaritas on the deck.

Press Arrives Its Destination Safely (re-post)

(I’ll be re-posting several of my old ‘blogspot/ entries … as it is content I don’t want to lose.)
When it comes to moving things – my friend Jerry is the best choice. He’s a good thinker, good risk assessor, still has most of his limbs and most importantly  – he usually says yes when I ask for help.

We started Saturday morning with pancakes at my house, then drove our Ryder truck with the 2,000 lb lift gate over to LarkPress to pick up ‘Red’. I won’t go into the all the details of trying to get a 1,050 lb object onto the lift gate (which had, in my judgement, a bit too steep a transition incline). Suffice it to say – there were some challenges and we would probably still be there ‘shuving’ without the welcome assistance of a commercial painter (read ‘angel’) who was working on the building next door.

Our litte red press is a Chandler & Price 8 x 12 – also affectionately known in the trade as a C&P 8 x 12.  One of the bonuses of a new craft (not sure where craft leaves off and technology begins) is that you get to acquire a whole new vocabulary. While I’m working on repairing or replacing the 1/4 hp variable speed motor, I also need to order some trucks (that go on either side of the inking rollers), some tympan parchment, a handful of guage pins, two qouins and qouin key to secure the bed to the chase. And like that.

Chandler & Price 8 x 12 (safely in its new home)