Some people see a leaf. Designer/typographer Tony Zanni of Type High saw a unique creative challenge.
“It started about a year ago when I found a huge maple leaf. It was about 13″ across and 10″ tall—it was like a sheet of paper,” Tony says. “It got me thinking, I wonder if it would hold up in my press.”
So Tony collected a bunch of leaves in various sizes and shapes and took them back to his studio to experiment. It worked. But then it snowed, so Tony decided to wait til this fall to try again.
This year, Tony collected about 80 leaves and brought them back home to flatten under some galleys on his kitchen counter.
He hand-set the text using good ol’ fashioned lead type. The type is 12-point Century Gothic, mixed with Copperplate “because there were no capitol c’s in the Century case, and a little Kabel, because I ran out of lower case e’s.”
After setting the type, Tony locked it up on his 1950’s Line-O-Scribe Sign Press, a 14 X 22 flatbed press. Tony says, “The Line-O-Scribe is one of the most inconsistent presses to work with. Not to mention that leaves don’t exactly have a square edge to start with, so the gripper is pretty useless.”
The veins in the leaves added even more impression issues—not to mention the fragility of the leaves themselves. After trial and error, he got it to work.
“I figured out the best impression pressure and figured out that if I used my fingers in spots to press, the missed ink would still transfer to the leaves where the cylinder didn’t make contact,” Tony said.
Tony printed about 60 Thanksgiving greetings out of the 80 leaves he picked. The rest, he said, went “back into the wild.”
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