The Making of the Plates for ‘The Anarchist’s Design Book’

Briony Morrow-Cribbs from Christopher Schwarz on Vimeo.

The 12 handmade plates of the furniture pieces in “The Anarchist’s Design Book,” are – hands down – my favorite part of the entire project. Though they occupy 12 pages of the 456 pages between the book’s hardcovers, the plates took as long to produce as the words.

To give you a look at the process, I asked my cousin Jessamyn West to produce a short film on the work of copperplate artist Briony Morrow-Cribbs, who made the plates. Jessamyn brought along my aunt Liz West and James Poolner to help with the filming and photography.

The five-minute film takes you through the mechanical process of making a plate and starts after the illustration has been completed, which itself is a detailed and laborious task.

I hope you enjoy this brief look at an interesting hand process.

If you’d like to meet Briony and get a good look at her plates, stop by the Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event on March 12 at Braxton Brewing Co. She’ll be there signing books in the late afternoon for a bit, and she will be at the book-release party at our storefront later that evening.

One last thing: If you want “The Anarchist’s Design Book” with a free pdf download, you have until Monday, Feb. 15, to order. After that day, the price for the bundle of the book plus the pdf will go up.

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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24 Responses to The Making of the Plates for ‘The Anarchist’s Design Book’

  1. tombuhl says:

    I loved watching Briony’s process and the stages. Would love to make the day’s festivities, alas, I missed the express bus from the west coast. Have a blast!

  2. That is so awesome! I know Briony, 3 years ago I was going to tell her to contact you to do book plates. I never did, but I’m so glad she found you anyway. Can’t wait to see the book.

  3. Paul Sidener says:

    Wow I was a printer for 30 years. There aren’t many people that do it that way anymore. It is nice to see someone so young learning the art and doing it the old way. Now the drawings are usually just scanned into a computer, or drawn on a CAD program.

  4. Eric R says:

    Magnificent. Truly.

  5. mysticcarver says:

    Wonderful! Love the process so much!

  6. csac1521 says:

    hi chris,
    is there a way for international customers to profit from the PDF/book bundle?

  7. Dear Chris: I ordered a copy of the Anarchist’s Design Book when you made it available for pre-publication and along with this offer, you stated I could download a PDF copy. I have not been able to access the PDF version to load onto my computer. Would you be so kind to check my order for the Anarchist’s Design Book and the PDF. Plus, could you send me the link so that I may download the PDF version.

    Thank you,
    Joe Zawodny

  8. Rachael Boyd says:

    old school trades need to be used and handed down or they will be lost forever.
    Thank you Chris for keeping it real……

  9. Bartee says:

    You challenge us, and yourself in so many excellent ways… Thanks.. Just Awesome

  10. Late to the party again !!! I’m trying to buy book and PDFs version but there is no hopping offered for UK. If I try to purchase only the PDFs version then PayPal wants to to still charge me $47.00 … I would like the hard copy book and the PDFs version.

    If I order both can we sort out shipping at a later date ?

    Many thanks in advance.


  11. steveschafer says:

    The process that Briony uses to photosensitize and etch the plates is pretty much the same as used to make electronic printed circuit boards. One thing I learned during my own printed circuit-making days: ammonium persulfate is much less noxious to work with than ferric chloride, and has the advantage that you can see what’s happening to the copper much more easily.

  12. oldbaleine says:

    Do I correctly understand that the illustrations in the book are to be printed directly from the etched plates, or are the illustrations in the book photolithos of the prints?

    • The plates in the book are printed using offset lithography. There is no way to have Briony make 52,000 plates and insert them. Each book would cost about $2,000 instead of $47.

      • oldbaleine says:

        Thanks for clarifying that. It didn’t seem feasible to me, but the first two sentences of this entry implied otherwise.

  13. Great film, great work and well, AMAZING!

  14. domanicoj says:

    Very Classy and Very Cool! Thanks! Can’t wait for the hard copy! Not even looking at the PDF until the hard copy gets here!

  15. nubthumb says:


  16. Super cool! Her work is wonderful and a great fit for your book. Thanks for sharing this video.

  17. dnoftz says:

    This is really interesting. I have to admit that I don’t know much of anything about printing technology. What’s the advantage of creating copper plates in this manner as opposed to just scanning the drawings or some other method?

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