Happy Gorundhog Day

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

There is no better way to say it than with a card. If you have read in the last few weeks, you saw the sketches for this. Once, I made the final drawing, we sent it to Owasso to have magnesium plates made.  We printed black  ink of Lettra 110. I got a little bite into the paper but not too hard. We printed these on the Pearl #1, which is not strong enough to get deep impression.  Pickle is still working on getting the Jobber up and running perfectly so while he worked on that, I made these.

Dad took them into the card shop in the neighborhood. He has a long standing joke with the owners that the Groundhog Day card is going to be the next big thing. Here’s to hoping.

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In the mirror.

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

What do you look like? It is the easiest answer. I have medium length (or really long, short, kind of wavy) brown hair, green (or grayish-green) eyes, and a big (with an even bigger smile) mouth. I bet there are hundred’s of people in this world that would describe themselves in the exact same way… so how do you answer the question. How do you answer it so that someone can really know what you look like.

When I was in figure drawing class my professor would always talk about the “essence of the model.”  She would say, draw what you see, not what you think you see. A few years later, I was a model for an art class. I showed up, rocking my favorite overalls and my sweet little pigtail buns. One of the artists did a beautiful rendering of me and let me keep it. When I showed it to my Mom, she said,  “That is really nice, who is it?” Essence is the hardest thing to capture, it is not about hair and eyes. It is about how your uniqueness affects your most obvious visual elements.

What about those times that you see a picture of yourself and think… that doesn’t even look like me. It happens to me every time I look in the mirror painted with make-up, dressed like I stepped out of a magazine. I know, it is me, I am able to grasp that intellectually, but I don’t look like what I think I look like.

Then I see photos taken by Pickle, there in the lens of his camera is me.

That is what I look like. My essence is what I think I look like when I think about what I look like.

We were in the shop fixing the treadle on the new press. It worked (so far) great. Heat the piece to 500 deg, this time we used a torch; stick weld with a nickle rod, this time we added fish plates; bury it it in sand for a slow cooling process. Why change what has worked for you once before, to read more about the welding process look here.

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I heart Habit Blog.

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

Have you ever read this blog. I am a regular follower of Soule Mamma, she mentioned it in November and I checked it out. It is a photography blog that features one shot with a simple short caption. When I first found it, I devoured the entire site. Photos and captions from people I have never met, from the last two years… seamed to validate what I have felt, at one time or another, over the last 32. I laughed at their kids and cried with their heart aches. Their thoughts are made with an open heart, like I am eavesdropping on an intimate conversation they are having with their reflection. I made a connection (be it virtual) and it felt good. I would love to add my own “Habit Blog” moment weekly on the blog, but I am positive that I don’t take enough pictures.

When we were visiting family we did a mini photo shoot with my in-law’s cats. When I caught this shot, I knew it would be my first homage to Habit Blog.

Yesterday, every time I noticed my new bracelet I was reminded that I am loved.

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Do what you do.

Friday, January 6th, 2012

Over the summer on our annual Maine adventure, we took a day trip to visit Saturn Press. On remote Swan’s Island, off the coast of Mt. Desert, is a two person letterpress operation that sells over a million cards a year. One partner is the printer and the other focuses on design. Their cards are sold all over the country and if you check out most card shops you will inevitably run across one of their products.

We got the full tour, learning about their process from design to production. I was excited and surprised to realize that their entire (extremely successful) operation was done without a computer. There was no Adobe Illustrator and the term graphic designer was used to describe a person that still used a pencil and tracing paper. When I began to ask questions about the process of getting plates made from her original art, and expressedmy delight to learn about how they work, I admitted that I at the ripe age of 32 am obsolete. I actually feel like my incompetency with the computer is a huge detriment to my work, but I can render and have impeccable handwriting . The brassy owner was quick to point out that letterpress has been around for hundreds of years and Adobe Creative Suite has only become the gold standard of “graphic design” over the last twenty or so.

I road home on the boat thinking about all of the projects I have avoided doing because I am limited by my knowledge of a computer program. I can’t draft in AutoCAD, but I was one time pretty good with a pencil and triangle. I have never been a photorealistic drawer (which has always been a personal frustration) but once I began to accept my renderings as way to visually express an idea and not an exact representation of an existing object, I gained more freedom.

I still want to learn to use Illustrator. In fact that is on my list of goals for 2012. I also don’t want my lack of knowledge to stand in my way. Today I cleared off my desk, dug out my drawing board and began to work on a little project. My drawing skills are rusty, but I am jazzed to keep going… to see the end result.

I just finished Jerry Feinstein’s “A Season on the Brink.” Bob Knight, one of my childhood heroes played a system of basketball where each person has a role. You excel at what you are asked to do and the team will win. “Do what you do.” I saw that all over the walls of Saturn Press. They have a style, it works for them. They are more than excellent at their style of work. They do exactly what they do, and make no apologies for it.

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Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

This time of year always gets me thinking about the last year; where I want to be at this time next year. In retrospect this has not been a banner year for me, in a lot of ways. I spent nearly 4 months of the year unemployed, was turned down for a job I have spent most of my life training for and REALLY wanted and finally, we fell short on our goal of moving to Maine.  Needless to say, I am, and have always been plagued (or blessed) with a positive outlook, which makes 2012 my turn around year. I do my best not to let the uncontrollable get me down. So, I focus on the the fact that we got one press up and running this year and have another well under way. Everytime I print I gain a little more confidence and get a little closer to a grove with feeding the press. I am setting small goals and making advances towards being able to show at a craft fair next year… and if all goes as planned, it will be in Maine.

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Christmas card 2011

Sunday, December 18th, 2011

Handset type. Printed with the Pearl No. One.

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Gift Tags

Saturday, December 17th, 2011

The press is up and running, and running and running. We have had so much fun with it that we got another one, Golding Jobber #6. It is bigger, but won’t be running until after the holiday. We made a series of gift tags this year to give to family and friends.

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Father’s Day

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

Our father’s day was spent with my father-in-law sharing a delicious and dinner with my favorite… blueberry beer. The trip to Maine included 8 different rainbows, tall ships in the harbor and one bald eagle, along with many other adventures, but no pictures, sadly, I left the camera card at home.

This is the simple flat card we created with hand set type (Clam Chowder) and a wooden dollar sign, printed in 110# letra (that’s the good stuff). We used our small, but growing collection of gear. We got new rollers and you can see where the printing is much better and does not have that bright spot in the center. There are still a few kinks that need to be worked through but I am much more excited to experiment when the quality is passable.

The dollar sign on the first go round was salty. That is the letterpress term for what I see as grainy. It was more apparent on the letra because it has a slight texture, where as the smooth paper I was using for set up was a better quality print. I have read that people dampen the paper to combat this. First I tried the steam setting on the iron and that did not do anything, then I wiped with damp sponge and waited just until the water has disappeared to print. It was much better. I have heard of people building humidors for this effect. Maybe on my to do list… when we have a barn.

I couldn’t decide which picture I liked best so i included both. I am experimenting with styling the pictures of the printing samples. Which one do you like?

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First customers.

Monday, June 20th, 2011

When Matt asked me if I could make his wedding invitations, I was the new kid in the shop. And by new kid, it was the first time I had worked in a commercial shop. I spent five weeks in the Iron shop making Broadway scenery, being the only girl is something I am accustomed to, being in a shop with more than 35 rough and tumble welders, takes more guts than I realized. I confidently said sure, just to save a little face. I had come up with my excuse, “of course I can make them… but the press is down, and we are not really set up to…” Pickle was confident (for real), “Why not, tell him yes.”

So after some designs and redesigns, an all out war on Adobe illustrator, with every How-to book in the library as my cavalry, I came out on top. 150 double sided invites white ink on red cedar cards. Hand drawn illustrations converted into vectors in Illustrator, then made into magnesium printing plates and run on the press. Yes… I think I’m getting the hang of this.

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Birthday of my better half

Friday, June 17th, 2011

Today is Pickle’s 30th birthday. It doesn’t really seem like that long ago when we met, but I remember that  I was crushed not being invited to his 21st. So, my crack mathematical skills tell me that was 9 years ago. Nine years seems like a pretty long time when you’re only 30.

That’s right I said it, only 30. Everyone seems to make a big deal about turning 30. The age of adulthood, ushering in the decline of your youth. But I love 30. I love my self assurance, my ability to make honest connections, and my confident sense of awareness. Sure, I don’t much care for the unpleasant (after only two glasses of wine) hangovers, my “fine lines” and pimples combined (skin, get that figured out please), and the full-on reality checks that come with bills and bank statements. But the years 30 and 31 have been some of the best ones ever-  filled with true love, honest friendship, and humbling lessons.

So today, my dear husband, I celebrate with you. 30 and counting…

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