Summer Institute 2015

January 27, 2015

The 2015 Summer Institute registration is now open!  Register Here

Download Summer Institute Booklet with full Details

For general participant information please click here

Session 1
July 12 -July 18

Melanie Mowinski
Pressure Printing: The Spontaneous Image

Pressure printing is a non-traditional letterpress technique that yields a painterly, spontaneous image on the page. Join us and delight in the breathtaking results that emerge when printing from unusual materials such as tin foil, fabric, and plates we make from cut paper. In this course, students will harness unexpected patterns and complex imagery as we pressure print using Vandercook flatbed cylinder presses. We will cover the basics of this technique as well as more advanced applications, combining our pressure printing with traditional relief printing techniques.  At the end of the week, we will delve into the extensive metal and wood type collection in the Wells College pressroom, adding heft and authority to our images with the letterpress-printed word.

Macy Chadwick
Hidden and Revealed: An Exploration of Interactive Book Structures

Explore the interactive qualities of a book — what is hidden and what is revealed with each turn of the page. In this workshop we will create a variety of bindings that incorporate multiple transparent layers, pockets, windows and more. Zoom in on particular parts of images, bury information in layers of transparencies, and discover unexpected combinations as you look through, within and under the pages of your books. Demonstrations will include image generation techniques such as pochoir (stencil) and Xerox transfer, as well as concept development exercises to further broaden your individual book ideas. Participants will create multiple folios with windows, a storage book binding, a concertina with envelopes and transparent pages, and an accordion with pockets. Beginners and experienced book binders welcome.

Ron Gordon
Book Design Boot Camp 

Are you a self-publisher? These days, anyone with a computer can publish a book, and hundreds of thousands of people have. But do you want your self-published books to look professionally designed? Do you want to create dynamic books that people will want to read? Most self-publishers would have a better chance of success with better book design. The principles of good design and typography go back 500 years and include a rich history of styles and conventions that determine how we design and look at print. In this class, students will learn both how to work within that tradition and how to break out of it with good, successful results. Class projects will start with the basics of how to choose a font and a format and then move through the process of creating books that look professionally designed. Students will need a basic knowledge of InDesign.

Kris Holmes
Calligraphy and Digital Type Design 

Calligraphy and Digital Type Design will teach students to design a quality typeface, starting from their own calligraphy. We will approach calligraphy not as an expressive art, but as a way of understanding the basic structure of letters. We will analyze historical calligraphy from reproductions of original texts and learn to calligraph one of these styles. Calligraphed letters will then be turned into drawings and digitized into typefaces which are completely original, not manipulations of existing typefaces. Though a student will not be able to complete an entire typeface, students may choose to work in teams or they may design a keyword which can be completed later. You do not have to be an experienced calligrapher already, though some familiarity with vector software such as Illustrator will be useful.

Session 2
July 19 -July 25

Stephen Pittelkow

Paper Marbling: Controlling a Riot of Color

Paper marbling offers a fascinating and magical method for decorating paper. Colors are floated on a liquid bath and combed into intricate patterns. Paper is then gently applied to the surface and, presto, a print appears. Using modern day paints and materials, students will explore this centuries old art form in detail and create both historical and fantasy patterns. Of course, experimentation will be encouraged as the students acquire knowledge and skill. By the end of class students will have a thorough understanding of all aspects of marbling and a portfolio of papers to use for reference, projects, or just to dazzle.

Esther K Smith


Explore straightforward bookbinding structures from Eastern and early Western traditions. Make individual and collaborative books, unique books and small editions. Book structures include folded structures, stitched pamphlets, stab stitch, accordions, long-stitch and coptic plus origami-based books, simple pop-ups, and paper toys. See the work of contemporary book artists. Discuss how you can publish and distribute your own artist book. Class is appropriate for all levels–beginners can learn the basics–students with experience can try a fresh start from a different perspective.

Paul Moxon

Vandercook Concentration 

This comprehensive workshop delves into the minutiae of Vandercookery. Using presses in the Wells College print studio, participants will gain hands-on maintenance experience as preparation for future problems and repairs. (We will also discuss all models of interest and other brands as warranted.) Once the presses have been serviced we will investigate materials and methods to improve the technical quality of presswork. With a focus on production printing using proof presses, we will examine the control of inking, cylinder packing, proper height of plates, form imposition, lockup and registration aids. By standardizing materials (as much as possible) we will do “minimum makeready” to achieve maximum results — just like Vandercook intended.

Michael Bixler 

Introduction to Typecasting and Monotype Composition

This course offers the unique opportunity to learn typecasting at one of the last remaining hot metal Monotype shops in North America. Students will use the Monotype keyboard, composition caster and the Monotype Supercaster to cast their own text and/or a case of type, including fonts of ornaments. This course will be of particular value to letterpress printers who want to experience the full gamut of metal type, from keyboarding, to type casting, to pulling proofs. Please visit the Bixlers’ website at to see specimens of the many Monotype faces available, or call Michael at 315-685-5181 to discuss questions. Students will live at Wells and commute to & from Skaneateles in Wells vans. Limited to six students; no experience in casting required, but letterpress printing experience preferred.

Session 3
July 26 – Aug 1

Drew Mattot & Margaret Mahan (Peace Paper Project) 

Breaking the Deckle; Papermaking as Social Action!

The five-day class will explore in depth the papermaking, bookbinding and printmaking processes used by Peace Paper Project. Instructors Drew Matott & Margaret Mahan will lecture and explain how they use the techniques with specific populations while collaborating with social activists and art therapists.

This is a class for paper artists, activists, art therapists, art therapy graduate students and educators. The focus of the class will be to give the time and professional direction to each participant to go through the processes first hand and make individual art. Using garments of personal significance, each participant will gain direct experience in the production of handmade paper from rag to traditional and creative sheet formation, pulp printing and Japanese bookbinding techniques.  Participants will be able to make their own silk screen images for pulp printing onto their papers.

Jennifer Farrell (Starshaped Press) 

Ornamental Letterpress

The best way to understand type and printers’ ornaments is to study them in their metal form. This class is designed to improve your understanding of typography so that your letterpress work (whether you’re a beginner or seasoned printer) can improve and move beyond initial experimentation. We will explore the tradition of using ornaments to create larger pictorial images and letterforms and all students will create images ranging from simple one color pieces to more intricate, multi-colored prints, based on ability. Common problems in hand composition will be addressed, as well as type that presents aesthetic challenges to work through. We’ll look at tips and tricks to get the best results from both new and old metal type. While this is not a beginning letterpress class, no prior letterpress experience is required.

Ilana Houseknecht
Constructing the Classic Clamshell

Used for everything from conservation to presentation, the clamshell box is the ultimate protective enclosure that will safely store your valuable prints or books while adding a touch of elegance. In this class, we’ll learn to construct the standard 2-tray case, and look at several variations. We’ll start by covering a tray model in cloth with all turn-in cuts, to be kept for reference, then we’ll construct a complete box step by step from precut pieces. Once we’ve practiced the basic construction methods, we’ll learn to measure content for a secure fit. Working on a board shear, we’ll go over a system for cutting all the pieces and how to make a set of jigs for simplified cutting helpful in editions and boxes made from identical materials. Participants will then have the opportunity to design and build their own custom box. We’ll have a variety of book cloths and decorative papers to choose from but feel free to bring along materials to complement your own projects. Students will work at their own pace and can try more complex variations of the basic box if time allows.


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