It’s time to move on…


All things must come to an end. I’ve been here at Lestaret Towers since December 2008 -2008! Crikey. Some of you have been with me from the beginning, and I still get new followers signing up, even when I don’t post regularly.

As I type this, there are 215 of you signed up on WordPress, and I would like to thank each and everyone of you for your interest and enthusiasm. I’m genuinely humbled by this.

Since 2008 I have published 632 posts which have been viewed 270,764 times by 66,573 people. Those last two numbers are astonishing to me and I am unable to visualise them in any sort of scale that makes them easier to understand.

I have recorded visitors from pretty much everywhere too, many of you who probably read through GoogleTranslate or something and find some of the stuff I have written rather odd. I know this because I have translated a few posts into other languages and retranslated them back into English – and as you expect, the results can be interesting!

or in Japanese:

and retranslated back:
I’ve read something with GoogleTranslate etc. and recorded the visitors from many people who found something I wrote quite odd things. I translated some posts into other languages and translated them back into English, so I know this. As you expected, results may be interesting!

Hours of fun.

But its not over. All that is here will remain for posterity, but I will now be blogging over on my website www.lestaret.com and I would like to invite you all to drop by sometime and maybe even sign up to follow me there. You will be made most welcome.

So thanks everybody, and see you over at my new place soon.


Images, Uncategorized


A couple of months ago I went to the auctions with my friend Pete (who I got my perforator from) and came home with what I consider to be a little bargain.

It is two volumes of prints of paintings from the collection of Eugène Secrétan, the nineteenth century French industrialist who made his fortune in copper production. Unfortunately for him, his immense fortune did not last and his large collection of paintings , sculptures, furniture and objet d’art were sold at auction to pay off his debts – these books are, in effect, auction catalogues.


They are quite big (15⅞ x 11⅜” – 381 x 279mm) and are composed of loose sheets taped into pairs and sewn, covered with a light brown card jacket, folded over the front and back leaves. Essentially unbound, but I have since seen a few copies on the web that have been bound in leather.

The text is beautifully set in a variety of metal type and letterpressed throughout. The paper is a heavy smooth stock, which I estimate is about 220gsm and has some yellowing and foxing around the edges, as well as a little water damage here and there.


The first few text pages are quite heavily printed and wonderfully tactile. I know this will have the purists screaming, but I like it.


Each page has a tissue mask tipped in, covering the print beneath:


And followed with a description.


The prints are photogravure – hand printed from copper plates (how ironic) that had been coated with light sensitive chemicals and acid etched. This allows for good reproduction of fine detail and subtle continuous tones, perfect for art prints.


The majority of the prints clearly show the impression of the plate.



Each print is of a different size that follows the proportions of the originals, but to give you an idea of the scale, the image below measures 8⅝ x 6⅜” (203 x 152mm)


There are two volumes in all and they are missing a few prints each, but not many. And the price? £9. Bargain.

I’ll post another selection soon…

exhibitions, Letterpress, Uncategorized

A Grand Day Out

It’s been a very busy few weeks over here at Lestaret Towers, so last Friday I took off into the beautiful Suffolk countryside with my friend and fellow designer Jodie Cole to go to the Lettering Arts Centre at Snape Maltings for a bit of inspiration.
The Centre is home of the Lettering and Commemorative Arts Trust  and is currently host to an exhibition of the work of the legendary letterpress artist and designer, Alan Kitching. The exhibition included a selection of his work spanning his career that followed his unexpected departure in 1988 from his role at Omnific Studio Partnership with Derek Birdsall and Martin Lee where he had set up a letterpress studio in 1976.

The wonderful Jodie outside the exhibition

There are of course some familiar images included in the exhibition; the broadsides and typographic maps especially, which are even more spectacular in the flesh due to their scale – about A1 size!
As well as the more recognisable prints from his archive, there were also a number of little gems – mockups and markups and the like, as well a little pile of ‘make-readies’ – offcuts of paper and card used to slip under worn type to raise the surface to type height. These are little things that will be hugely familiar to anyone has experienced letterpress printing, and it is comforting to see the evidence of this wonderfully low tech and time-proven method.LESTARET-KITCHING-6
Jodie was as impressed as I was, and I had seen many of these prints a few years ago at an exhibition in London, but there were prints here I had not seen, as well as items from his own archive.LESTARET-KITCHING-8I had also booked us a couple of places at a talk by the man himself in the evening, and we took our seats amongst a small number of others in the exhibition space itself, which made for a very intimate experience!

Kitching was interviewed and prompted to discuss all kinds of issues and subjects, where he gave very personal and honest responses as well as answering questions. He also hung around afterwards to chat with people, and Jodie collared him for a photo. Fangirl!LESTARET-KITCHING-9The exhibition is to promote a new Monograph by John L. Walters (Laurence King) published next year. There were some copies for sale at the event so I had to indulge myself!
LESTARET-KITCHING-11I even got my copy signed! Fanboy!LESTARET-KITCHING-12At the end of the talk, he offered out a range of letterpress post cards, of which this is my favourite…
Good times. Many thanks to the Lettering and Commemorative Arts Trust for putting on such a great exhibition, and also to the man himself, for being so gregarious and not anything like the unapproachable grump I had mistakenly understood him to be!

Also, many thanks to Jodie who was great company – and who generously stood in when I forgot my PIN number when I was trying to buy the book! (It’s an old trick, but it never fails!)

Artists Books, Projects, Uncategorized

Xylotheque #8


Making a spine compartment means that I need to cut some more wood. This is 3mm thick stuff from the craft shop that can be cut with a knife and just needs a little sanding to bring it to life…


The side pieces were glued into place using spacers made from paper laminate in order to allow the covers to close properly. Had I thought about this earlier on I probably would wave designed something a little more elegant, but I’m liking the general aesthetic of the ‘cobbled together’ approach…


Meanwhile, I set about making some sort of knob using the same paper laminating technique used for the closure peg, but this time wrapping it tightly around a leather thong.


and cutting it down to size when dry. Again, a little sanding brings it to a more satisfying shape.


I also cut a couple of top pieces to frame the lid and got on with shaping and dressing the knob.


In order to secure the leather thong I cut a groove on the back so that I could glue it into a recess…


Whilst the glue was drying on the thong I mixed up another batch of black goo and gave all the new pieces a good slop. I did the same to the lid shortly afterwards, and sanded everything back to match the overall ‘patina.’


And there it is. I’m still deciding on the contents and still need to finish the runes on the front, so there will be more to come…


Big Society

Some of you may have already noticed, but this post is generally an announcement to let everyone know that I am now selling a range of merchandise via those lovely folks over at Society6:

Some of these may be familiar – a number of images  have previously featured on this blog, along with some new stuff and a few revisited older designs, all lovingly reformatted especially for sale here!

Each design is available in a range of different formats, from framed art prints, stretched canvas prints, greetings cards, tees, vests and hoodies and even a babygrow! There’s also bags, mugs and pillows, as well as covers and skins for iPhones/pods/pads and laptops! Blimey!

These are all priced in dollars as they are obviously a US based operation, but conversions to any monetary format can be easily calculated via the multitude of converters on the interweb, and they ship worldwide too at very reasonable prices (but look out as they do have free shipping offers fairly regularly!)


You can go there now by clicking the Society6 logo at the top of this post, and there is another link in the shop section of this blog. But what about ‘The Department of Something Else’ I hear you cry – but do not shed any tears! My Folksy shop will be open again later this year, stocked with all manner of hand-made/printed lovelies!