When we print, we turn up the base

For years, we’ve been using the same bases here at Swayspace. We’ve always preferred the Bunting bases for the amount of truly specific control they allow us to correct and highlight certain areas of what are essentially photographic images.  We have, however, also been limited by these bases. We have been using 2 bases that are 11 ¼” x 12 ½”, and 1 base that is 6 1/8” x 9 1/8”  and on the one hand have played a tessellation game to create larger pieces than we would normally do for SP-20  and on the other have struggling to find a place for our guide pins on our C & P.

And though we put out many cool works, we still felt limited by the size. Well, no more! We figured it was time to hit the extremes and get the biggest base our Vandercook could handle and the smallest base we could get for the C & P.

pretty good, for a block of wood

We had already experimented with printing from larger than normal surface areas when we collaborated with Lite-Brite Neon We used a wood base that had the text carved into it. We then knew how big we could get, but we wanted to print big and perfectly. So we saved our nickels and dimes, turned in all our soda cans, and sold lemonade on the street to allow us to purchase a beautiful papa of a magnet, coming in at 18 ¼” x 24”

all magnets great and small

Practically filling the bed of the Vandercook, we can now put a plate anywhere we want! And more than that, we can finally print the posters and other large forms we’ve been dreaming of in our spare time. We felt that with our involvement with NYWI, now was the perfect time to explore just how far we could go with large form letterpress. Just having a base that size to play with opened up a whole new world of ideas for our designers, and we can’t wait to show you what we’ve come up with in the next few months.

i’m using my hand to show the scale: it’s big

our big base with a giant plate for New York Writes Itself

We don’t want to belittle our little base, it is just as fantastic and ferocious despite it’s 2” x 4” stature. We often print envelopes or projects where the paper is cut to size on the C & P, and you can have a devil of a time trying to make sure your pins don’t hit your base. Remember the bunting bases are precise and delicate and can be smashed and mashed much like lead type. But now we’re going to retire our battle scarred base and replace it with our new Tiny Ajax! We’re finally going to have the flexibility to print almost anything we want almost anywhere. And it’s just so cute too.

don’t leave home without it

Don’t think our old bases are going to waste though. We’ve put them on our recently refurbished SP-15  which we can’t wait to try out on some full wedding suites. The dream of having all the machines here running simultaneously is finally upon us. We’ve expanded our shop, we’ve hired more designers, we’ve found some great printers, and now our only limits are the limits of our imagination and the imaginations of our next generation of printers.

choosing paper for her first printing project

We’re in a Show! New York Writes Itself

In June of this year, we were invited to participate in a letterpress show for a project called New York Writes Itself.

New York Writes Itself (NYWI) is an amorphous creative production where the inspiration is created not by one person, rather an entire city of potential scribes. Overheard conversations, glimpsed interactions or in-your-face encounters all form the ever growing script. A scribe is described by NYWI as “observational and in touch with the people of New York”, it can be ANYONE in short, and these recorded moments are simply submitted by logging on to the NYWI site and filling out a form.

The show we are in is called New York Types and is a celebration of NYC Letterpress community and the people of NYC. This particular chapter of the NYWI production serves as an ideal description of what NYWI is all about; the spoken word or observed daily life experience of a fellow New Yorker forming the impetus for creativity in whatever form it may take, in this case amazing letterpress posters.

Given the opportunity to be a part of this, we jumped at the chance to give life to the individual voices and views of the city and life in New York. Each Swayspacer created a poster based on selected scripts from NYWI and each designer put his/her own spin on the script creating what is an exciting and colorful addition to the show.

Here’s Willy, crankin’ out some posters:

In addition to the ten editions of posters, we also produced a large scale group poster to which we each contributed drawings.

You can see the full posters at the show, which opens Dec 15 at the Art Director’s Club in New York. More info about the project is here, and you can RSVP for the event here. The pieces are also available for purchase on the NYWI website.

See you there!

27 July 2011



No Comments Yet


@counternotions tweeted about a neat new advertising campaign designed by ad agency Cheil for Tesco Homeplus, a supermarket in Seoul, South Korea. Cheil created a large wall-length billboard resembling a virtual grocery store inside of a subway station. The ‘store shelves’ display images and prices of a range of common products. Each product has it’s own QR code which can be scanned to add it to an online shopping cart. After the commuting consumer is done shopping, the groceries will then be delivered to their home within the next couple of hours.

The objective of the virtual grocery store is to make productive use of commuters’ waiting time by saving shoppers time spent going to the supermarket and, of course, advertising Tesco’s hypermarket which is currently under construction.

tesco homeplus subway shopping

Because I have never lived in South Korea, I am not going to speak to how this product would succeed or fail in the context of South Korea. Because I do live in a city with the busiest metro system in the Western Hemisphere and an ever-growing, overworked labor force I am going to discuss this product in the context of my own home metropolis, New York City.

Like a real grocery store the aisles and shelves look bright, glossy, orderly…appealing. Such a cleanly rendered, realistic depiction of store aisles taken out their context and plunged into a space which is both hopeful (the ride home) and dreadful (the often hot, stinky wait) creates a tension which makes it feel almost like an art installation. And yet, in a space where commuters are preconditioned to be inundated with the ever-cycling advertisements of the day, I can’t help but wonder if  New Yorkers wouldn’t just perceive this as an ad and thus be discouraged from actually interacting with it. Unless of course it was a product and an interface that the consumer was already comfortable using, such as Fresh Direct.

Fresh Direct is an online grocery store serving the New York City metrpolitan area. Shoppers order online and then FD delivers them at the customer’s desired date and time. Here at Swayspace this is the service that we use to order groceries for lunches in the studio each week.  For the first time last week I was in charge of putting in our order. Ordering packaged products like chips and cookies feels normal since these products look and taste the same almost every time I purchase them. Ordering cold cuts, fresh bread and ready-to-eat meals is a different story. A thumbnail image of Fresh Direct’s multigrain pullman loaf doesn’t say much to me when I can’t pick it up to feel it’s weight, density and color. These items arrived like a surprise as though someone else had more control over what arrived in our cardboard boxes than I did. The experience left me a little feeling uneasy. But as with anything, time and repetition would likely breed familiarity and I very well might look forward to tackling my Fresh Direct order while waiting for my ride home.

A few people responded to Tesco’s advertisement by suggesting that we take this model a step further to create whole stores with dynamic aisles of screens. This would allow product placement to be adjusted, sale items highlighted and prices managed from afar while taking up less physical real estate with the lack of aisle space needed for shopping carts and cashiers. Over time and generations could we slowly loose our attachments to the sensory inputs a grocery store: the smell of muffins from the bakery in the morning, the chill in the freezer aisles, the convenient candy bar on your way to checkout. In considering the possibilities of such an interface, the problems of substituting the usual sensory experiences of grocery shopping pose clear hurdles to designers trying to engage their users.

In a city where the urban working dwellers spend long hours in the office and usually can’t wait to get home to their young ones or out to the bar for a cold drink this just might work (that is if you can get used to getting shoved out of the way as you reach to scan the milk). For now,  I’ll continue to cherish it when the butcher hands me a slice of turkey to test it’s thickness and when I press my finger into an avocado and know I’ll be able to eat it the next day.

24 June 2010


Letterpress, News


Knot Practical

Have you ever wondered how you might survive in the wild? Well, we at Swayspace certainly have: where the closest thing to the natural world are the mosquitoes that divebomb from the Gowanus in the summer. What could we urban soldiers and keyboard jockeys do if we had to camp out in Central Park if not the Adirondacks? Well Alite has us in mind with its new line of gear. They have soft dog collars with room for storage to tents inspired by RV’s, and of course their Sexy Hotness sleeping bag that blurs the line between full length jacket, purple pajamas, and a limitlessly extendable bed for romping.

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We’re in an Art Show

We are excited to announce Swayspace’s participation in a show highlighting the work of master craftsmen and artisans working in New York City. The show is part of the LVMH-sponsored project The Art of Craftsmanship Revisited: New York and opens this Wednesday 26 May. The show will be open to the public June 5 – June 27, 11 AM – 5 PM at Nolan Park on Governors Island, which is a great place to visit in the summer in New York, so we hope you can make it out to see and celebrate the hard work of these craftsmen and students.

This has been a great opportunity for us to peruse our archives for some of our favorite commercial work like the 2009 Feltron Annual Report as well as the kind of interesting printed ephemera that we’re always producing.

The invitation we designed and printed for the opening:

A sneak peak of what we’ll have on display:


Here’s how this came about:

Over the past winter and spring we hosted a group of Parsons fashion design students as part of The Art of Craftsmanship Revisited: New York. Andres, Chi, Payal, Sherman, and Sooji of the team Half-Broken Things spent many hours in the Swayspace printshop absorbing many fine points about letterpress printing. These lessons informed their final project, a dress and short film.

14 May 2010


Code, Tech

1 Comment

Select Menus and Conditional Logic with jQuery

In a recent prototype for a web application we are working on, we needed to use a select menu to display the appropriate result after a user makes a selection. We couldn’t find any jQuery examples online that did just what we wanted, so hopefully the following will help someone facing the same problem.

Here’s an example of what we want to happen. Choosing one of the options in the select menu reveals a particular paragraph. Clicking “Remove” makes that paragraph disappear again. Choosing “Select...” resets everything back to where we started:

And here’s how the code works. First include jQuery (duh). Next create a select menu with a value included for each option. (That’s crucial for making the whole thing work.) Following that, we’ve got three hidden paragraphs, each with an id (unique, of course). Then comes the script, which pretty much says “If the user switches the select menu to option 1, 2, or 3, display the corresponding paragraph. If they select the first option, hide any displayed paragraphs. And if they click a link, hide the parent (the paragraph in this case) of that link.” Hope that helps, and happy coding:

<!DOCTYPE html>

  <script type="text/javascript" src="http://code.jquery.com/jquery-latest.js"></script>

    <option value="0">Select...</option>
    <option value="1">First</option>
    <option value="2">Second</option>
    <option value="3">Third</option>
  <p id="first" style="display: none">This is the first paragraph. <a class="remove" href="#">Remove</a></p>
  <p id="second" style="display: none">This is the second paragraph. <a class="remove" href="#">Remove</a></p>
  <p id="third" style="display: none">This is the third paragraph. <a class="remove" href="#">Remove</a></p>
    $('select').change(function() {
      if ($(this).val() == 1) {
        $('#first').show('fast'); }
      else if ($(this).val() == 2) {
        $('#second').show('fast'); }
      else if ($(this).val() == 3) {
        $('#third').show('fast'); }
      else if ($(this).val() == 0) {
        $('#first, #second, #third').hide('fast'); }

    $('.remove').click(function() {

6 May 2010


Letterpress, News


The Feltron 2009 Annual Report : Behind the Scenes

After about two months, the Feltron 2009 Annual Report is officially completely printed! I don’t think anyone quite understood the magnitude of the job until it was well underway. It’s the biggest job Swayspace has printed, and in the end it was definitely worth the massive effort by everyone involved. You may have viewed the annual report online, or received your copy in the mail recently. What follows in this post is a look at the process of printing the report; a look beyond the finished product at what it  took to get there.

The 2009 Report began about a year and a half ago, when Nicholas asked us to print the business card-like invitations to participate in his annual report. They were printed on duplexed two color paper and individually numbered with a numbering machine.

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Preview : 2009 Feltron Annual Report

Most projects that come to Swayspace by way of letterpress are either wedding invitations or business cards, but every once in a while something different gets thrown into the mix. We were incredibly excited when friend of Swayspace, Nicholas Felton, decided to have us letterpress print his Feltron 2009 Annual Report. The report is sixteen pages of lovely information design comprised of Nicholas’s personal data collected throughout 2009.

A four-color, sixteen page (four double-sided sheets), 8″x10″ booklet is no small order for letterpress printing. At the beginning of this week, we started running some proofs on the press; we were testing color, pressure, registration and checking for areas we might have some trouble with. Nicholas himself stopped by the studio to see how things were going and to make some decisions about how he wanted it printed. What follows are a few photos of this proofing process. Check back later for our post on the finished product, and don’t forget to pre-order your own copy!

A proof of a page of the report and a very serious meeting in the background

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Holiday Cards

Happy Holidays from Swayspace! In preparation/celebration/anticipation of the holiday season, we’ve been printing some holiday themed stationery to be sold at the Makers Market here at the OAC Factory on Sundays.


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taking care of business cards

Having been the ironic printers without business cards for some time, it’s incredibly exciting to finally have fresh sets in our hands. It was a long process of Patrick doing several designs and everyone voting on their favorites. We finally settled on a design and what followed was another long process of printing. We really went to town doing them in 4 colors. We did 3 main color changes, along with some miscellaneous trials to essentially print over a dozen colors.


what follows are various shots of the month long process:

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