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Dubuque Book Arts

Updates and schedules for Dubuque Book Arts workshops and events


Travel Journals : Sketching & Hand-Made Books

This two-to-five day workshop combines basic non-adhesive bookbinding techniques — leading up to making a simple four-signature journal with a folded paper cover — with taking our new sketch journals into the field to make sketches of the local built and natural environments in a journal format.

This workshop combines basic non-adhesive bookbinding techniques — leading up to making a simple four-signature journal with a folded paper cover — with taking our new sketch journals into the field to make sketches of the local built and natural environments in a journal format. 

Non-adhesive books are made without glue, and require no special equipment. Covers are made with folded and tabbed heavy paper, using principles discovered in 13th Century "limp vellum" bindings. Peter will show examples from his collection of antiquarian, contemporary and handmade books. 

No bookbinding experience required. Some familiarity with paper folding and drawing tools preferred, but not required. Drawing experience helpful but not required.

Travel Sketching Journals have a long history, long before the days of picture postcards or digital cameras. Today, they provide a record of a journey, and an opportunity to heighten our skills of observation. Travel sketches are both mnemonic and illustrative, whether quick or studied, they need not be more than a few lines and smudges, or may be as closely observed as a fine drawing. (Traveling not required, of course, the journal can be used for any kind of drawing or writing!)

PETER FRATERDEUS has taught letterpress printing, calligraphy, book structures and digital typography in a number of venues, both in the US and Europe, including the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and Columbia College's Center for Book and Paper Art. He is the owner/proprietor of Slow Print in Dubuque, an award-winning 'high-touch' 21st Century letterpress printing studio. In the 1981, he received a National Endowment for the Arts apprenticeship grant to study calligraphy and letter carving with Ieuan Rees in Wales, and in 1986, received an NEA Design Projects grant for his first digital typeface, "Prospera". Peter is a self-professed paper junkie. 

ALICE MCMAHON is an internationally exhibited figurative artist, specializing in pastel portraits and charcoal magic realist drawings in large formats. Her work has been shown at the Saatchi Gallery in London and featured in American Artist magazine. Recent work includes a series of greater than life-sized portrait drawings 30"x50" on MDF board.


2011 Dubuque Book Arts Courses - Proposed

New class offerings from Dubuque Book Arts and Galena Design Center

Please fill out our Community Survey as we hone our course descriptions!

Also please follow us on Twitter and Facebook (links to SlowPrint's pages where we'll post news about Dubuque Book Arts events)

Throughout the year:
Typography for Artists and Others  - Peter Fraterdeus and Kristine Jubeck (Weds evenings 7-9 once a month)
    Learn to arrange language and information based on typographic contrast, form, color and structural principles. Use common word processing and simple page layout programs and their stylesheets. For artists, administrators and anyone needing a better sense of how to use visual language to write grants, design logos, flyers, posters and signs, and even make better websites.

May-June Dates to be determined.
Non-Adhesive Bindings and Plein Aire Drawing: A weekend workshop (Saturday & Sunday 11-5) combining
    Making Books without Glue - Peter Fraterdeus
    Learn to make your own Journal or Sketchbook with a simple non-adhesive binding based on 13th Century book structures
    Drawing the River - Alice McMahon
    Take your new sketchbook out to the Mississippi bluffs for a day of drawing (picnic lunch)

Get out of the house with a brand new sketchbook!

Two-day workshop at Slow Print Letterpress Studio (Dubuque)

Non-Adhesive Bindings are modern adaptations of millennium-old techniques to transform loose sheets of paper into lovely, high-touch books with nothing but needle, thread and a sharp knife. No glues or adhesives needed!

We'll produce three book types, simple pamphlet style, single-sheet accordion, and  multiple-signature sewn onto a folded cover.

The first day is focused on exploring the many possible structures of the book; folding, tearing, cutting and sewing papers, and finally creating a finished sketchbook from large sheets of fine art drawing paper. The binding section is taught by Slow Print founder Peter Fraterdeus.

Our second day will be in the countryside along the beautiful bluffs of the Mississippi River near Dubuque, for a day of sketching with charcoal and pencil with your new sketchbooks! Alice McMahon, an internationally known painter and charcoal artist, will provide critique and pointers on technique.

June - July
Calligraphic Adventures with Peter Fraterdeus - (Two Saturdays 11-5)
    Beginners through advanced calligraphers welcome as we play with the tools that humans have created to write and draw letters. Inks, watercolors, brushes, quills, steel, felt and roller pens-everybody out of the toolbox! We'll work with different types of paper, and learn how to see letters in a whole new way. Get away from the computer and feel the scratch of a real quill on handmade paper!

Wood Type Wonderland  - Peter Fraterdeus and Kristine Jubeck - (Saturday & Sunday 11-5)
    Join Peter and Kristine for an adventure in Wood Type on the Vandercook 219 Cylinder press. Extremely limited enrollment, this class at Slow Print Letterpress will be offered to a maximum of four students at a time. We will learn to design in real time with Slow Print's collection of antique wood type, and investigate the graphical and linguistic power of these wonderful old letterforms. Get away from the computer and smell the ink!


Accentuate the Positive Letterform Workshop

Notes and synopsis for this workshop, offered by Peter Fraterdeus. Contact us for details.

Download the Class Notes (3.0mb PDF)

Introduction: Modes of Perception

The eye doesn’t see black on the page, it sees the white.
— Ieuan Rees

The Right Brain or R-mode provides the 'negative' space against which thought (Left Brain or L-mode) marks time,  sequence and order. This is the quiet space, the empty vessel which holds the mind, yet is the mind's easel. It is the complementary, the ground on which the figure plays, yet is also primary, for without it, thought itself could not exist, as we cannot perceive form without its context.
We can think of L-mode as Logical and Linear,  while R-mode is Reflective, Receptive — spacial and immediate. While these are not exclusive to the physical hemispheres of the brain, they are models of perception. 

Life in exoteric, materialistic, Apollonian cultures tends to favor the L-Mode with its linear logical sequential processing. But the Arts, Meditation, Music, Passion, Exhaustion, Trauma, Psychoactive Herbs & Alcohol — the Dionysian influences— all can be paths to R-mode awareness, yet it's fleeting...

Betty Edwards, as with all good Zen teachers, developed practices in Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain ( which are designed to quiet the chattering, 'rational,' sequential, symbolic mind, allowing the intuitive perceptual mind to come forward. The conscious recognition of entering R-mode is like a light turning on, a veil lifted, or a window suddenly blown open by a fresh breeze. 

In fact, "enlightenment" is a term used for the attainment of that continuous conscious state, when both R & L modes are fully engaged! Drawing (letterforms) is as good a practice as any! It challenges both analytic reason and intuitive perception in much the same way that music does.

Our approach will be to inform the 'rational' mind, but to prefer the pattern-recognizing, synthesizing, relationship-appreciating mode of the 'empty' mind, which takes what the eye offers without judgement, in order to see 'negative' space as something real and substantial. To perceive the substance of emptiness.

Designing forms, seeing space, consider Lao Tse in the Tao Te Ching:

"Thirty spokes share the wheel's hub; It is the center hole that makes it useful.  Shape clay into a vessel;  It is the space within that makes it useful.  Cut doors and windows for a room;  It is the holes which make it useful.  Therefore benefit comes from what is there;  Usefulness from what is not there.

(trans J. English & Gia-fu Feng 1989)

Marks made with the pencil, graphite sticks, the East Asian Calligrapher's Brush, the drawing pen all with consideration of the power of emptiness.

Perceptual drawing exercises help us develop a toolkit of practical approaches to drawing glyphs or sequences of letters. The same exercises also strengthen and refine pure drawing, of any subject.

Seminars and Workshops from 3 to 10 days.

Longer workshops include elements of instruction in carving and inscribing forms in various materials.

Conducted in English

Day One — Drawing on Emptiness

What do you see?

Practicum : Day One

Drawing as a physical activity, making deliberate marks and expressive marks

Paper Bag Studies :The haptic sense — feeling our way to spatial relationships,

haptic : of or relating to the sense of touch, in particular relating to the perception and manipulation of objects using the senses of touch and proprioception (awareness of the position of the body and its parts)

Viewfinder studies with the Oak Leaf; of a Wood Type Letter
Heuristic Studies of rules and patterns in letterform construction

heuristic : enabling a person to discover or learn something for themselves : a “hands-on” or interactive heuristic approach to learning.

Jonathon Hoefler's exercise in 'tweening' forms between the 'known' letters

Sketching and refinement, iterative process in the "Letters Mingle Souls" design

Mac demo?

Finish Day One with a review of progress and perspectives.

Betty Edwards: Strategies for Perception, Saturation

Perceive the Edges

Perceive the Negative Spaces

Perceive the Relationships and Proportions

Perceive the Lights and Shadows

Perceive the Gestalt – The Thingness of the Thing.

Edge is a shared boundary - Liminal Study of edges, boundaries - Scribble / string studies

Pure Contour Drawing, five minutes of the wrinkles in the hand. Toning the paper w/graphite

Sighting has to do with constants: Reason, Ratios and Relationships

St. Thomas Aquinas:

The requirements for Beauty – Integritas, Consonantia, Quidditas

(Wholeness, Harmony & Essense)

Seeing and drawing

What is the hardest letter to draw? To see?
Which is harder, drawing or seeing?
Haptic (touch, fasten) perception of negative space. [Wood Type Exercise Large – Small ]
Heuristic (self-discovered) perception of shape & space [Non-Alphabetic Symbols (Jon. Hoefler’s exercises)]
Drawing for Design – Progressive Refinement, Iterative Process [pin-marks for registration, overlay]
Using the computer for refinement – Hidden sources of problems, kinks in curves, vector entrance & exit

Day 2 — Applied Perceptions of Space

If negative spaces are given equal importance to the positive forms, all parts of the drawing seem interesting and all work togerher to create a unified image. If, on the other hand, the focus is almost entirely on the positive forms, the drawing may seem uninteresting and disunified – even boring – no matter how beautifully rendered the positive form may be. — Betty Edwards (The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain,  p120)

Practicum : Day Two

Putting “flesh on the bones” or “wrapping the stone”?

Watercolor Postcards

Calligraphic Writing

Letterform Design

Ann Hechle’s Aspects of Language : Sound panel, etc.

Platonic Ideals enter the Material World

The Eye, the Mind, the Hand, the Heart.


The best bet for finding these books is online. Try searching for the ISBN number at or


Betty Edwards
    Drawing on the Artist Within: A Guide to Innovation, Invention, Imagination and Creativity
        (Simon & Schuster ISBN: 0671493868 / 0-671-49386-8)
    Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain (ISBN: 0874770882 / 0-87477-088-2)
    Color by Betty Edwards: A Course in Mastering the Art of Mixing Colors
        (ISBN: 1585422193 / 1-58542-219-3)
Nicolette Grey
    Lettering as Drawing ISBN 0800847296
Micheal Harvey
    Creative Lettering : Drawing and Design ISBN 0-8008-1997-7 (Taplinger)


Ann Hechle
Peter Fraterdeus
   This document:
Ieuan Rees
Lao Tzu – Tao te Ching
Jonathon Hoefler – Introduction to Typeface Design 110

Supply List

This is a list of important tools and materials. Most will be in your toolbox already.
Pencils, soft, medium and hard ie: 3B HB 2H 4H
Technical Drawing Pens  size 0 or 00 (.35 or .30 mm) (the higher priced refillable pens can be used with subtle colors...) with appropriate inks. Watercolor inks (light-blue, purple) for refillable pens. Black waterproof fiber pens
    Rapidograph or Mars pens or equivalent high-qualityfiber tipped like Zig Millenium) (fiber)
Long-hair sable 'pencils' (lettering brushes) # 3, #5
"one-stroke" flat lettering brush 1/2 inch
kneaded rubber eraser & white plastic eraser (Mars, etc)
paper: 11x14 (or larger) pad drafting vellum (18x24 can be divided to 12x18 which is fine)
paper: cold-press watercolor  block 6x9
drafting tape :
watercolors,  travel/pan set & small watercolor palette & small squat bottle for rinsing brushes, etc
magnifier for looking at small stuff up close
Xacto or single-edge razor blades for sharpening pencils (no 'pencil sharpeners' please!)
12" 30-60-90 drafting triangle & small t-square, drafting board, etc
12-18 inches of white packing twine / nylon cord
MacBook (or whatever, ok! :-) with Adobe Illustrator and Wacom drawing tablet account : this web-based graphics tool application may be VERY useful to those who don't have access to Adobe's professional tools). Sign up for a free account and check it out...
Also, Inkscape, an open-source vector drawing tool. 

Of course, there’s nothing like the real thing. If you’re doing serious or professional work, Adobe Illustrator is de rigueur.



Letterpress Workshop postponed

Filed Under:

But volunteer opportunities abound!

We're postponing the Letterpress Workshop due to space and scheduling issues.

Please drop us a note

if you're interested and we'll keep you informed!


Volunteer opportunities are available in the meantime!

Help clean up the old presses, and organize the 19th C. woodtype collection.

Hands-on, gritty work, very educational!!




Dubuque Book Arts Spring Classes 2009

Filed Under:


  • Calligraphy Workshop Saturdays 1:30-4:30; May 9, 16 (skip May 23, 30) June 6, 13, 20, 27
  • Intro to Letterpress 10-5; Saturday, Sunday, April 18, 19
  • Intro to Letterpress 10-5; Saturday, Sunday, May 23, 24


Sign up through Dubuque Art Center!

We are very pleased to be offering our inaugural classes through a special association with the new Dubuque Art Center.

Please see the website for registration details!


Calligraphy Workshop

All levels

Six Sessions $180 or $40/session

This ongoing workshop will give beginners a firm step up on the path towards mastering the elements of calligraphy and italic handwriting. More advanced students will have opportunites for design critique on their own projects and lessons  alternating between skill development, and creative playful experiments with letters.

Calligraphy Workshop

With positive response, the Workshop will continue for ongoing six week sessions. Students are encouraged to return!
Good for calligraphers, book artists, scrapbookers, designers, anyone! Young people over 12 years welcome.

Intro to Letterpress

Saturday/Sunday 10-5 $170 includes materials

limited to six students, 17 and older or by special arrangement.

Learn the basics of printing posters with 19th C wood type in the flat-bed Vandercook Cylinder Proof Press.

The Vandercook Cylinder Proof  press is the most widely used for boutique presses, with hundreds or thousands of small presses flourishing in North America since the 1990s in the "Renaissance of Letterpress".  Now highly desired for wedding stationery and other special materials both personal and corporate, letterpress provides relief (literally!) from the flat shiny high-tech printing of copiers and commercial lithography. It's not quick print, it's SlowPrint, and it's "High Touch" not high-tech!

These two day workshops (students are welcome and encouraged to attend both session) will cover the use of the press, printing technique, typography and design strategies using the large collection of 19th Century wood types in the Slow Print Studio collection.

Liability waiver required.

This class is required for anyone interested in using the community press at Peter's "SlowPrint™" Studio.

The studio equipment is available by appointment for projects on a per diem and press rental basis.

More details will be forthcoming!


About Dubuque Book Arts at SlowPrint™ Studio

Dubuque Book Arts is an educational program of Galena Design Center, Inc. in collaboration with Peter Fraterdeus of and Dubuque Art Center.
We hold workshops and classes at Peter's SlowPrint Studio on East 9th Street in Dubuque's Historic Warehouse District.
With seven (or is it eight) antique (1890s) and 'modern' (1930s-1950s) letterpress in the studio, we've got more high-touch printing in one place than anywhere between Madison and Iowa City or the Twin CIties and Chicago!

Peter Fraterdeus, Director, Dubuque Book Arts

Founder and workshop director, Peter has over 30 years of experience with calligraphy and letter design, including two National Endowment for the Arts grants to study calligraphy, letter carving and type design in Europe and the UK.

He's been a letterpress printer since the mid 1960s when he first learned to print at Nichols Junior High in Evanston. He never imagined he would end up forty years later with a warehouse full of beautiful old presses, targeting internet marketing to the entire English speaking world, and printing on some of the very finest paper made on the planet!

Peter taught calligraphy and letterform design at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), and in 1986 developed the first Macintosh design lab in Chicago and the first Letterpress Typography Lab both at SAIC. He's also an internet strategy and design consultant, type designer, photographer, author, and a pretty good Irish Fiddle player.

He's currently the owner and operator of Exquisite Letterpress at Slow Print Studio in Dubuque.


Words in Progress Exhibition

Filed Under:

Link to the Picasa Album

We'll try to get more of these photos on the site, but for now, please see the Words in Progress album on Picasa




The prints shown in the exhibition were prepared as a set of PDF documents.

  • Horizontal pieces
  • Vertical pieces
  • Captions
  • Banners


Fall & Winter Classes At Dubuque Book Arts

Filed Under:

We'll be moving across the street to 123 E 9th St in November, and will have our first classes after Thanksgiving, just in time to print some last minute gifts or holiday greetings!

The final schedule has not been determined yet, so please  let us know your interests on the Dubuque Book Arts survey page.

Click here to go to the survey, and we'll put you on our mailing list!

Intro to Letterpress - Holiday Cards

Calligraphy Beginners (all ages) - Materials and Movement

Calligraphic Marks - Texture and Dynamic Contrast

Typographic Workshop - Intermediate Letterpress

Rubberstamp Magic and Scrapbooks

Handmade Books - Pamphlets and folded non-adhesive bindings

Advanced Book and Letter Arts Tutorials

Our classes are workshop format, one or two full days, or two to four evenings and will cost between $75-125 not including materials fees which vary.

We'll start with the basics, and as students complete the introductory levels, we will offer more advanced classes.

Most of the workshops will be taught by Dubuque Letterpress owner Peter Fraterdeus, but we also have some special book-and-paper artists lined up!

Peter also offers personal tutorials by appointment for advanced students in letterpress techniques, calligraphy, type-design and digital processes.


Classes are subject to cancellation if underenrolled. Minimum class size is six, so sign-up with a friend or two!


About Peter Fraterdeus

Awarded two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships in the 1980s in lettering arts
(Calligraphy and Inscriptional Carving Apprenticeship - 1980, Design Arts Fellowship for "Font" Design - 1986).

Taught Calligraphy; Letterform Design; Digital Design Processes from 1983-1991 at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Taught Information Design for the WWW at IUAV (Istituto Universitario Archittetura di Venezia) in Treviso, Italy 2001-2002

"Lakeside Design" Letterpress Studio in Evanston, Illinois 1981-1992

Alphabets, Inc., type design and marketing, Evanston, 1987-1997

Semiotx, Inc. information design, web strategy and content management systems, 1999-2008

Exquisite Letterpress, letterpress stationer and printer marketing exclusively online to clients worldwide at since 2007


Happy New Year!

We're still unpacking the shop and equipment from our move last month, so we're a bit behind getting the events listings done.

However, you can certainly drop us a note if you are interested in Dubuque Book Arts programs, whether printing, calligraphy, book arts, rubberstamping or other related arts!


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