Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Words in Progress : Workshops, Seminars & Travel Courses

Personal tools

This is SunRain Plone Theme


You are here: Home

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

SlowPrint Letterpress ISO Perfect Partner

Our letterpress shop is the perfect place to print, learn, and explore. We're in Dubuque's historic Millwork District in an historic river town, set in the beautiful Driftless Region of the Upper Mississippi River.

We are seeking an active partner/s who can fully utilize the resources we've assembled. Please contact Peter for details. 

Also see NXMW Opportunity! Help build a new Letterpress Cooperative,

Upcoming Windmill Master Classes 

Pennsylvania, November 8-10, 2015

Hosted by Ksyenia Thomas co-founder of Ladies of Letterpress at Thomas Printers in Carlisle (Harrisburg) PA.  

We had a great time in Carlisle! Thanks Kseniya! 

San Francisco, Late January 2016

We're just about to nail the dates for our Bay Area Master Class, tentatively January 28-30.  

Sherwood Press, Olympia WA, Early February

We're confirmed for the Windmill Master Class in the Pacific Northwest at the beginning of February!

This will probably fill fast, with a maximum of seven participants. We'll be hosted by Jami Heinricher at the wonderful Sherwood Press (printing in this location for over 75 years!) The workshop is hands-on, full immersion!

Charlotte, N Carolina and Easthampton, Massachusetts also in the works for January 2016 

Please get in touch if you'd like to join us in NC or MA

Both are private consultations, but there may be spaces available to join the class. Please get in touch. 


Follow @ideaswords for updates! 

See for award winning letterpress printing. 


Here are some comments from students in the Master Classes:

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 his work!  Attending the Master's Class quelled all of my fears.  His patient instruction was everything I was looking for! — Melody (Colorado)

I like the small intimate courses that allow you to get to know a few more awesome letterpress printers in a short time and all while learning so much! 
I liked it when the unexpected things went wrong and we had to troubleshoot our way out of them. This happens all the time in letterpress printing, and it was good practice overall and we got to see how to fix/adjust some parts of the press, we wouldn't have otherwise gotten to adjust. 
I do appreciate that the workshops are kept small so everyone has a chance to be up close and personal with the press. The hands-on approach is really helpful as well. — Megan (Pennsylvania)

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.


RIP Adrian Frutiger  1928–2015 

Swiss designer Adrian Frutiger, yet another of the greatest type designers in history, father of Univers, the elegant and universal systemized typeface for the modern era. His eponymous "Frutiger" type was designed initially for the Charles de Gaulle Airport (Paris), perhaps the finest 'wayfinding' letterforms ever developed.

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!