Playing with Type: setting some circular shapes

Playing with ornaments one day (as you do), I decided to try using blue masking tape to hold some sorts together so I could get an idea of what they might look like set in a circle. It turned out way better than expected. This is an abridged version of the process of our seasonal greeting card design and production this year, showing the highlights but none of the back-and-forth design and production issues that generally occur.

  1. So the challenge was how to fit the circle in a form and print it. 
  2. I happen to have some old trick furniture in different sizes for setting type on curves, and 8 of them make a somewhat circular shape. As it turned out, it was not a circle but a rather pleasing hyperellipse. It looked unfinished, so I decided that it needed a border. Using a strip of paper, I measured the interior circumference and cut an oversized piece of 2-point strip material, and wrapped it around a mailing tube to get it roughly circular and started fitting it into the form. After some very careful fitting and trimming, I was able to snap it into place where the tension held the ornaments tightly to the circular form. I removed the strip material and repeated the process with a thin and then a thick lead rule to make an Oxford Rule Border. This process was largely trial and error – but getting the edges square and the tension just right was possible after a few attempts.  
  3. The tension alone might have held the form together, but taking no chances, I put together some internal blocking using some small cornerstone quoins, some spacing, and some small circular furniture
  1. The next step was to add some type, but in a different color, so I repeated the form with 24 pt Em spacing to get the same shape.
  2. After trying a couple of different sizes of type, I settled on 16 point Wilhelm Klingspor Schrift. Note that the type – as with all of the spacing used in circular blocking in this form – is taped together for ease of manipulation.
  3. Again, I used the same internal blocking & quoins for secure printing.
  1. I put together a small Granjon star for the center and rotated it 45 degrees in some small 3D-printed “Pangone 2” rotating furniture, which I bought from Letterpress Amsterdam some time ago.
  2. After carbon-paper proofing each form, I assembled a composite proof to confirm the registration I wanted 
  3. The printed card in four colors
  1. I should probably also point out the kerning on several letters in the greeting (photo flipped to right-reading for clarity).
  2. Something to avoid: all of the typesetting and lockup (but none of the printing) was accomplished with an encumbered left forearm, wrist, and thumb. I had hand surgery in September, and really can’t recommend holding a composing stick while wearing a cast.