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Words in Progress : Workshops, Seminars & Travel Courses

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Peter Fraterdeus by Tim Olson (Dubuque)

Peter in the original Slow Print Letterpress Studio, Millwork District, Dubuque, 2012 – Photo by Tim Olson, used with permission

Upcoming Windmill Master Classes in Dallas and San Antonio, September 2015

These classes are now filled.  These are semi-private seminars hosted by letterpress studios in the two cities. Each workshop will be three full days, Sept 14-16 and 17-19.

Upcoming Windmill Master Classes in Dubuque, October 2015

The next Windmill Class will be at SlowPrint Letterpress, in Dubuque, Iowa, October 7-9 

With a maximum of four students, the workshop is hands-on, full immersion!


Here's a comment from a student in our May workshop:

I was searching for a pro.  An artist.  Someone who could help start me on my new creative journey in the beautiful world of Letterpress.  I searched and searched and stumbled upon Peter's site - and work!  I was very impressed and, needless to say, pleased to find he was offering courses in just that!  With a new printing press and no experience, I was feeling daunted...what have I gotten myself into?!?!?!  No worries.  Attending the Master's Class quelled all of my fears.  His patient instruction was everything I was looking for!  After my lovely visit to his AMAZING studio in Dubuque, IA, I left feeling confident.  Ready.  Inspired.  I know I've not only made a quality connection in the industry, but a new friend away from Colorado as well...a memorable experience gained!

Please get in touch for details!

RIP Dr Prof Hermann Zapf  1918–2015

His name will live with Garamond, Baskerville and Bodoni. I am honored to have been his student. The lessons I learned in his classes at RIT (Rochester NY) in the summer of 1985 will stay with me always.


Offerings : High-Touch & Hands-On!

Words in Progress : Workshops, Seminars & Travel Courses

Our Mission: High-Touch & Hands-On, with good scents!

I'm offering a number of workshops or seminars designed to bring touch and smell back to the practice of design.

With the evolving explosion of inter-networked technologies unimaginable a few years back, designers and students of design are finding to their dismay that there's something important missing from their practice! The eye and mind may work exquisitely together in digital media, but it's a strange turn of events when the hands, our original digits, are left unloved, mere pointers, as is the nose, completely ignored, that most fundamental sensor of love and disgust! (If you smell your computer, it's time to grab the fire-extinguisher!)


Thus, there's an enormous interest in letterpress printing today, not only for its wood type rough-and-tumble visual aesthetic, or the exquisite impression in fine papers, but in the process, the touch and smell of actually making something with ones hands.

The smell of the ink, and the paper; the touch of the impression, of the cold steel bed of the press—there is nothing—nothing—that designing websites can offer to match this. With the success of the "Sign Painters" documentary, we see the same thing coming to hand-lettering. Sensei Kaz Tanahashi travels the globe teaching East Asian Calligraphy, or The Way of the Brush... Again, bringing the hand and body back to the present place and the present moment.

For example, in Wood Type Experimental Printmaking with dampened paper which I taught at the 2014 Hamilton Woodtype and Printing Museum Wayzgoose, we dig into the history of the passionate menage a trois between ink, type and paper. There is physics and chemistry, there is water and cellulose, there is touch, and smell. In Accentuate the Positive! we bring the smell of the freshly sharpened pencil, and the haptic sense of touch together where the piercing eye can not go...

And so each helps engage the body and the senses in the design process. On the Heidelberg Windmill, the sound of the forme rollers on the ink cylinder, and the rhythmic clatter of the sheet drawn in by the gripper each provide valuable information about the state of the impression... The R-mode brain is the more intuitive and sensual. We want it to be fully engaged, active and bubbling over with creative juices, thus giving the left-brain plenty of inspired material to build on later... Out mission is to bring it to a boil through these high-touch and hands-on engagements!

Please explore the offerings. I value your thoughts and feedback. Please follow @ideawords and my Google+ page (links in the footer below) and let's talk about these ideas!


Accentuate the Positive!

...but, what's missing? 
Drawing Letters without Lines: Learning to Feel the Intangible

Abstract forms are studied first as pure figure and ground relationships, and only then with stylistic consideration. A variety of techniques push our boundaries of observation, using the eye, the mind, and the hands to open doors of perception.
Perceptual drawing exercises help us develop a toolkit of practical approaches to drawing glyphs or sequences of letters. The same exercises also strengthen and refine pure drawing, of any subject.

Typographic Finesse & "Negative Space Counseling"

We offer visual appraisal and iterative refinement services for graphic and typographic designers, as well as workshops in advanced typographic design and techniques with Adobe InDesign and other tools. Typographic Finesse is the appreciation of centuries of visual communication, put into contemporary practice.

Heidelberg Windmill 21st Century Letterpress Master Class

3-5 day workshops covering all aspects of the setup and operation of the "Mercedes" of letterpress platen presses

Wood Type Experimental Printmaking with dampened paper

How John Baskerville squeezed the life out of printing and what we can do to bring it back.


Travel Journals : Sketching & Hand-Made Books

This five-day workshop with Peter Fraterdeus and Alice McMahon is offered by request for small groups. We can arrange for a week or more in locations such as Northern Italy, Barcelona, Andalucia, and Ireland, as well as notable venues in the US.
This workshop combines non-adhesive bookbinding techniques — leading up to making a multi-signature journals with a traditional folded paper cover — with taking our journals into the field to make sketches of the local built and natural environments in a journal format.

Please contact me for more information on the offerings!