Monday, December 31, 2007

Anticipating 2008 (Midwest)

We have one last day to go in 2007. Yip Ya!

This weekend I've been sketching in between sledding adventures with the family, and trips to the grocery store. It is very slow going. I'm needing some inspiration. As I spun my wheels sketching, I decided to step back from the design stage and go back to the planning stage. So, I'm back to looking at papers, colors, etc. I think the first step might be to select a color palette. Probably about 5 colors. I'm posting the spring colors as per the color aficionados at Pantone. I'm really liking that Snorkel Blue and of course the Rococco Red. In general, I think most reds and blues please me. It's the yellows and greens that can go wrong. Nothing ticks me off more that a painfully printed, bright yellow on a white page. Except maybe a muddy black. Bleck.

Ok. Enough color rant. I'm off to look at papers.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Brown Paper Packages Tied up with String (Midwest)

I got a box of presents in the mail from Miss Laurie today. I had to take a shot of this one. I love how this package is simple and fancy at the same time. Laurie, did you make that glorious bow? It's too cool. Also, I see Mr. Owl, from the ornament swap. I can't wait to see him in person and love the tie in with the gift tag.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Finally, another goodie from the package in my favorite colors. Yippee!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

8! (Midwest)

This little guy came in the mail today. He made me squeal he's so cute. This is from Dawn. Love him.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

7 Ornaments So Far (Midwest)

I had a minute to take pictures of the ornaments I've received thus far from the 2007 Cake & Pie/Freshly Blended Ornament Swap. For those not in the know, there are something like 600 people participating. We have all been divided into groups of 10. The deal is you create a set of handmade ornaments, one for each group member, then mail them out. It has been fun to find these little surprises in the mailbox every other day or so.

All of the ornaments are sweet. I like the ornaments from Kari because they are something I would do. She felted old sweaters to make a wreath and ball ornament. I have a huge pile of already felted sweaters from last year that may just find a similar destiny. The tree from Laurie (not The Hive's Laurie) is very unique. Look closely at the photo and you can see that the stem is some sort of vintage wooden dowel. Sarah made a charming snowman with great little acorn hat. Veronica made the little girl with the muffler. So cute. Geri sent a bunch of paper ornaments of which I like the green paper ornament best. It is very glittery on my tree. Danielle sent the ribbon ornament which looks really nice next to my letterpress ornaments (I should've taken a picture of that). And, last but not least I received the perfect felt blue and white snowflake circle ornament from Michelle. Thanks so much everybody!

Friday, December 14, 2007

(Not) Snail Mail (Midwest)

I love this time of year. Every day there is a surprise in the mailbox. Today I received an order I placed from Matatabi. I bought this last Sunday, and it arrived all the way from Japan TODAY! That's 5 days! Can you believe it.? I'm stunned. I bought some fabric and tapes to sew into something fun over the winter break. As I write this I am remembering that I still have children. Yeah, them. The ones who hinder my artsy crafty side, sometimes. I guess I could teach them how to wind bobbins. Or, iron? Maybe they will entertain themselves and I will get lots of sewing and printing done. It could happen.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

I Have Blue Fingers (Midwest)

So the girls have been bugging me to make felted bead ornaments again. We did this last year. I think that project was one of my first posts. Back then I was very happy with how the whole project played out. The results were way better than I had planned and the kids were so into it. I guess it's time to do it again. Last year my friend Stephanie gave me some natural wool roving. I have read that roving felts up very easily, so we are going to use that. I googled these directions for dyeing the wool with food coloring. The color is very nice. I'm hoping that it doesn't rinse away during the felting process. Stay tuned for more photos of the felting in action.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Fair and Square (Midwest)

I'M DONE!!! I had my final craft fair of the season yesterday. I'm posting a few photos from the fair. These are shots of Boh Bon Soap Co. Chrissy, was my boothmate and as you know I designed her packaging. It was nice to see and sniff her fabulous soaps in person. And, of course to chat with her and Joanna. (Thanks ladies!)

I now feel so free to focus on personal things like Christmas. Today we will go fetch our Christmas tree. Tonight we decorate.

Have a nice weekend everyone!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Ornament Swap (West Coast)

These little guys have been keeping me busy. I decided to do something opposite my normal crafty self, and make felt ornaments this year. I really liked the way the little animals turned out last year and decided to give it a shot! Besides, I don't yet have a letterpress to make cool paper ornaments like you Miss Amy. Hopefully that will change soon! I like the way these are turning out. I just need to find the perfect hanging string. I found I sample of something I like from another hanging object, but I need to get down to the fabric store to see if I can find it.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

While It Snows (Midwest)

We are having a winter snowstorm outside. Several inches on the ground already. It has totally put me in a Holiday mood. I decided to take a stab at making my own gift wrap this winter. This morning I carved a few stamps (designs inspired by Paper Source). This is my practice sheet to see if the stamps came out correctly. I think they did. So, after I do my last craft show (Dec 8th), and after I finish and mail my swap ornaments, I can pull out some papers and get wrap making.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Peaceful Snooze (Midwest)

What is it with my kids and their odd nocturnal behaviors these days? Since I posted this picture of Sam a week or so ago, I just had to follow up with this one of Sophie from 2 nights ago. Here she is sound asleep with her "hair" left on. She was wearing a shirt as hair all afternoon and either forgot to take it off or left it. I'm thinking this is actually a pretty clever way to sleep. We turn the heat way down at night, and a sleeping cap would be handy. Maybe tonight I should wear my new Anthropologie sweater a la Sophie style.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Ornaments Or Not? (Midwest)

I'm so undecided about these. They are supposed to be my ornament for the Cake & Pie/Freshly Blended ornament swap. I'm not sure if they are good enough. Last year I stitched for hours making little bird ornaments. Somehow, a piece of paper as an ornament doesn't seem nice enough. Or, 3-D enough, maybe.

Is anyone sick of me yet with my pool blue and red color combinations on everything I print these days? I do own lots of other ink colors. It's just I can't help myself. I love these colors together.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Craft Fair Affair (Midwest)

I'm finally getting around to posting about last Saturday's craft fair experience. I had a booth at the DIY Trunk Show in Chicago. It was a busy day. Lot's of traffic, many sales, interesting people to look at and chat with. And, and, and! the show got me a few wholesale orders. I was pretty overwhelmed most of the day. I have lots of retail experience to draw on, but this was more personal. And, presenting graphic designwork to clients is different because you already know what your client wants. I gleaned quite a bit of advice from my seasoned booth neighbors which was helpful. I even got to make one trip to the bathroom. From what I learned every venue is unique and I'm sure this weekend's event here in Madison will be a totally different experience.

Before I sign off here's a rundown of what I used to create my booth. My table display was put together on the fly at the show. The kraft paper table covering was from the Dollar Store and sat over the top of a Goodwill white sheet. I used wooden rulers with clothes pins as sign holders, and wood boxes from our basement to house my cards. Finally, I used a laundry drying rack (free from the curb courtesy of my hubby) as print rack. I think I spent around $10 on my booth.

Ta ta till next posting.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Tagged (West Coast)

Wow! Cool. I have never been tagged either! This is fun, and I get to see a few things about Amy that I didn't know... The crosswalk thing. We have crossed many a street together hunting down lunches, and I never noticed that we were doing it so very early, so maybe I have the same little idiosyncrasy, or I am just a very good follower! Looking back we were always heading to the correct side of the street from the start! The crutches... that is a funny one. We share a strange thing for injuries. When I was a child I really wanted to break a bone, so I wore my dad's half cast for an entire weekend, then the following week, I broke both arms while playing on the bars (5th grade).

I won't post the rules again, since Amy posted them in the previous posts.

My five things about me...

1. I like to take a different route to get around every time I get into my car. Sort of mixes up my day. I might be heading to the same place, but I will take a different street to get there. I like the change in scenery this gives my life.

2. I like to walk in the sun with my dog. I find this recharges me, and gives me a smile.

3. I am obsessed with research. I spend more time researching things than the work that I actually do with the things I that I research.

4. I love to cook dinners. It relaxes me to spend this time of day in the kitchen, and I find the results at the end are so much fun to enjoy. Plus my husband loves to eat, and he is always full of nice compliments after a good meal.

5. I love a good, cold, rainy day. That means I get to stay home without excuses and enjoy a fire. These days they are a rarity out here, so I really have to appreciate them when they come.

I am sorry, but I never know who to tag in things like this, so here it goes... I will tag a few of my swap partners from the holiday ornament swap — Melissa and Laura.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Tagged (Midwest)

Julie over at perfectbound tagged me. Thanks Julie, and no, I've never been tagged before. This is so exciting. Here it goes...

First, I'm supposed to post the rules:

1. Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog.
2. Share 5 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3. Tag 5 people at the end of your post by leaving their names, and links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.


My five things about me. I'm not sure if they are even interesting but here it goes right off the top of my head.

1. My real name is Elizabeth. When I was two or so we lived in an apartment which was previously the home of a little girl named Amy. I never met her. This Amy had name tags identifying her places in the home. Y'know, under towel hooks, pegs, coat hangers, etc. I always wanted my stuff in the Amy spots. Then, I started insisting I be called Amy, introducing myself that way. I guess it stuck.

2. I don't care for seafood. Since I dislike an entire food category I'm often (mistakenly) taken for being a picky eater.

3. When walking somewhere I have an obsession with crossing the street at the earliest convenience. If my destination is 5 blocks away and on the opposite side of the street it will drive me nuts if I can't walk the 5 blocks on the correct side of the street, the one the destination is on.

4. I'm finding it very easy to write about myself.

5. I've always had a weakness for men with crutches. By crutches I mean the kind the doctor gives out when someone breaks a leg. I know, it's weird.

Let's see, I need to tag some folks now. I'm going to tag my bested buddy, business partner and blogmate, Laurie. Also, I'm tagging Stephanie at Tepimade. Her etchings are so beautiful. And, talented Jenn at AzureGrackle. Lastly, I'm going to tag Poppy Letterpress. I'm sorry I don't know her name, but she's a graphic designer who is enjoying getting immersed in the letterpress world and is blogging about it. We are living somewhat parallel lives.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

eBay Rules (Midwest)

Yesterday's mail was good. So good. I got my new business cards for handing out at the craft fair this weekend. I ordered them from They use a nice heavy cover weight stock. It's 15 pt. I think. They aren't the highest in quality printing. But, for the price they are a great value, so I'm definitely satisfied.

Also, I got the first of 3 letterpress purchases I made off eBay. Here is a printer's block of 3 tow trucks. It's about 3 inches long. I'm going to have to hide it from Sam. He is a boy who is all about planes, trains and automobiles.

Oh yeah, here is a my new card.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

It's Hard to be Two (Midwest)

I just had to post this photo. It makes me giggle.

Hannah and I went for an after dinner walk tonight, while Joey got Sam and Sophie ready for bed. This is what we found when we came home. Sam didn't nap today which explains how and why he ended up where he did. He needed about 12 more feet to get to his big boy bed. Should we leave him there and see if he makes it all night?

Friday, November 09, 2007

Deja Vu (Midwest)

Laurie, the photo above is for you. Remember those days? Coffee, sketch pads, mechanical pencils, reference books? This was my desktop this morning. I miss seeing you at the other end of the conference table. Big sigh.

I bought the latest Print Design Annual the other night. I stayed up way too late skimming through all the design inspirations. Picking up a new magazine like that is like the night before Christmas for me. The anticipation and expectations. I'm comforted to know I picked a career that "does it" for me.

I'm going to post some pictures of things inspirational found within Print's pages. This week I'm posting this candle packaging because I'm in the process of writing an estimate for a similar type project. This packaging is from Duffy & Partners in Minneapolis for Thymes. Simply beautiful.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Validation (Midwest)

As I slowly tally up sales on Etsy, I often question my Etsy commitments and wonder about my fiscal goals regarding my extra curricular printing. Sometimes, I feel like I should have a more obvious asthetic purpose with my art. Or, at least be making a statement about something, thus qualifying myself as a "true artist". Not to mention, shouldn't I be spending this time taking on legit design projects? Ones that earn money for the family, and keep my portfolio overflowing? The more I think about my printing the more I see it as a necessary stress free creative outlet. A hobby for my mind. So much of my creativity in the design world, although fulfilling, adds a lot of stress to my plate. This does not. My goal, if I haven't mentioned before, isn't to become rich or famous (ha.) but to pay off my letterpress, and to enjoy the zen of the process of doing so.

That being stated I returned today after a family weekend at a waterpark in "The Dells". I was without an internet connection for almost 48 hours. It was horrible! Actually, I managed, but was very preoccupied with wanting to check my email. Maybe I am an internet junky like Joey says. Anyway, I returned today, tired but pleased about the daylight saving time change, and eager to see if anything happened in my Etsy shop in my absence. I discovered that I had made another sale and that it came from a posting on Poppytalk! Poppytalk is one of my regular blog reads and has a large following. I'm so proud. I'm feeling validated for creating the gobs of inventory which I store in rows on my shelves (pictured above) .

Monday, October 29, 2007

Weekend Printing (Midwest)

I finally finished my "Winter" print last night. I used all of the elements that I posted on here. I started with a this base print of geese flying in a "V":

Then, I printed two layers on the letterpress. First, came the wood type. Since my type is so old and worn, I got a nice textural print result. Lastly, I ran a red bird graphic over the top of it all. It really pops off the background. I'm so pleased.

Part of the fun of selling these prints on Etsy is playing around with my digital camera. Figuring out a composition, lighting, etc. I'm trying to venture into props. Here is a photo of my final print all styled up and photographed as a (WAY) simple still life. The photo is a little too balanced for my taste, but I'm a rookie photographer don't cha know. :)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

DIY Poster (Midwest)

I'm starting to receive show materials, booth assignments, etc for the DIY Trunk Show Chicago. I thought I'd post an image of the poster. I think the design is great. I like that it's playful, with strong color choices, yet it's still clean and easy to read. The car graphic is super. I saw this stuff and got so excited, oh, and a little bit nervous (I'm a dork).

The kids are off school today and tomorrow. We are heading out to a waterpark. I'll post later this weekend with some WIP.

Monday, October 15, 2007

I do like Mondays (Midwest)

I had a productive start to the week this morning. I went to a 6am Step class. I packaged up some cards for my upcoming craft fairs. I printed the first layer on some combined Gocco and Letterpress holiday cards. I started sketching and playing with some wood type for an art print I'm working on. I vacuumed and did dishes and laundry. All this before noon. Whoohoo!

Here is a composition in progress for the print I'm planning. The print is titled "Winter". It will be multilayered with type, cooler colors and the migrating bird block above. I found the block on our road trip through Northern Wisconsin. I'd say it's a Wisconsin bird. Maybe a crane or heron? If I don't pass out by 9pm I'll be running the first base color tonight. (This is very unlikely now that I think about it. Let's be real.)

Hope everyone else is having a good week.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Kids Art (Midwest)

I'm getting my desk cleared this morning, making spaces to put new piles, getting out the inks and papers. I have a few hours to myself and I'm going to work on my press...

...But, before I do I'm posting this drawing. Sophie drew this yesterday. For the past few weeks Sundays have been difficult for her because they are the day before Monday and school. She was happy yesterday. And, this morning. She is finally starting to relax at Kindergarten. I'm not sure what this is a drawing of. I think it looks like a killer whale. Whatever it is, it's a sign of her returned happiness. Pshew.

Friday, October 05, 2007

It's Friday! (Midwest)

What a week. Sophie made some progress adjusting to Kindergarten and lunches solo. She and I both made trips to the doctor to be diagnosed with ear and sinus infections. It's a lot easier to remember to take your antibiotics when you are dosing your child each day. Hannah had Brownies, swim lessons, and soccer practice. Sam did his normal, my life is your life routine. We were busy. I'm so happy to have it be Friday. Ah, time to eat pizza, relax and watch movies with the squirts.

This morning I worked on my letterpress for an hour or two. Here is a print of a circle and one tiny snowflake. I'm going to overprint a tree in a green wash (I think). My press was misbehaving (ok, it was probably operator error) so I got some unexpected gradation, which I actually like. The circle looks more spherical this way. Probably my favoritest (Sam word) thing about printing by hand is the unplanned surprises. The way the colors mix, the way they print, the textures that arise. It's just fun to partake in. However, I do hate clean up.

Joey is out of town this weekend playing frisbee in Tulsa, Oklahoma of all places. I'm going to take the kids on an overnight to a hotel with a modest waterpark.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Tuesday (Midwest)

First, as I transition back into the working design world, I'm going to start posting things I see that I find interesting or inspiring. Laurie, this will help to motivate us, right? Here is a photo of the cover to the latest Veer catalog. I like that the texture is created from overlapping font dingbats and flourishes. The title type is embossed. The overall feel is very clean and organized even though the imagery is kinda messy.

Next, after my long weekend in Door County (I'll post on that some other time), I returned to hear that I was accepted into another Holiday Craft Fair. I applied for 3 fairs, and was accepted to all of them. Yay! and Ohmygod! and Crap!
I'm going to have a table at these venues:

The DIY Trunk Show Chicago (Nov 17th)
The High Noon Craftacular (Nov 24th & 25th)
ArtvsCraft (Dec 8th)

So, now I go into production mode. I figure I have one month to crank out oodles of cards. I'm shooting to have 3 Gocco card designs, 2 to 3 letterpress designs, and if possible some holiday necklaces.

Today I started printing. Above is card number 1. When I first set up shop on Etsy I sold a couple block prints with a puppy image. I think there is a large audience for pet related stuff. Therefore, I illustrated a new puppy that has gotten into the Christmas trimmings and done some damage. He's loosely inspired by my dog nephew, Rayfield. He's Brian's very large, clumsy yellow lab. The ink looks really pretty on the kraft card stock. I should've printed more than I did. Most of what I printed was on boring old white stock. Oh well. My next card idea will be the kitty. Also, my letterpress plates arrived today. That may have to wait until the weekend.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

New Friends (West Coast)

Meet the latest in our family of stuffed toys. I have been a fan of Wee Wonderful's stuffed creations for some time. Last weekend we had a free day to craft, and went to town on some wee friends of our own. Katie wanted a Kitty. These are all made out of a bag of the kids old clothes!

This is Ethan's design. He sketch three versions, then picked his favorite. He picked out all fabrics and directed me on the sewing! Our littlest designer!

Friday, September 14, 2007

A Contest

Ok. Doesn't this sound like a fun contest? It's a car accessory design contest. The winner gets a new car. I just love the whole vibe they have going on the website. Very crafty. Go to

Laurie, should we enter something? A knitted steering wheel cover? A letterpressed license plate? It's not like we have kids and other things to do. Oh wait, we do.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Sad End to Summer (Midwest)

Today is the first time ever that all three of my kids are at school. It's a bittersweet feeling. I find myself sad that summer has ended and they are gone, yet excited at the possibility of steady (part time) work. I'm going to need to keep busy to not feel empty. I swear Joey wants to slap me to my senses. He reminds me this is what we wanted.

We were up north this last weekend doing lake stuff to celebrate the end of the summer. The weather was great, no rain for once and it was a nice closure to the season. The kids collected rocks and seashells for their "shop" which was set up on a bench seat on the pontoon boat. They had no customers. They paddled around the lake on assorted blow up toys and swung in the sky chair. Freedom will come for them now in short weekend bursts and holiday vacations until next summer.
Big sigh.

So, I spent my morning blasting my music, spraying windex, filing piles, and cleaning off my desk. I have about 3 or 4 feet of empty desk just waiting for a project. Hopefully, it will soon be active with pantone swatches, mechanical pencils and computer printouts. Anyone need a graphic designer?

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Whoooaaa! (Midwest)

Ok. Not only is this an unflattering shot of my a**, but it is documentation of me roller skating. Something I haven't done since, what, the sixth grade? There were about a dozen of us. Three grownups and the rest were crazed roller girls. The dj played "YMCA" and an assortment of current pop tunes. The disco ball went around. There was cake and pizza. It was so much fun.

This organized chaos occurred to honor Hannah who will be turning 8 next week. Here she is. Happy Birthday Sweet Pea!

Monday, August 27, 2007

A Marriage of Mediums (Midwest)

This weekend I was able to get on my press and play with my new wood type (see post below). I finally came up with a layout that read "What's Up?". After quite some time setting it up and printing it the first time completely backwards (you need to have a mirror image on a clamshell press), I rearranged my type and ran some prints on various papers. I used a hand mixed yellowish green ink, the color of new leaves. I must've been influenced by all this rain. It is so, so green out again. Printing was very satisfying, yet I felt that the type looked a little unfinished. So, I sketched an illustration this morning and gocco'd it on top of the letterpress image. Whalla. I've got a few other sketches going that will use both presses.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Type (Midwest)

Aren't these pretty?

I recently purchased a batch of old wood type blocks on eBay in assorted fonts and sizes. It's a good mix of letters with most of the alphabet. I've been playing with them, rearranging them, stacking them, making words, etc. I'm thinking they will make a debut on a letterpressed greeting card. Or maybe a print? The big question is what to say? So far I've configured "What's Up?", "Hey" and "Hello" (and a few swear words, yes, I'm immature). As I play I find I only have one W. No X, Q or Z. This is not such a big deal. Toddler Sam (he refers to himself as such) has been helping with the rearranging part but isn't much help on the what to spell part. Any input?

Speaking of letterpress. I got some great press practice in this last week working on a "Save the Date" card for Joey's work buddy, Gilbert. He designed cards, sent them out for plates to be delivered to me, and I inked the heck out of them. I really like the calla lily illustration that Gilbert drew, see below. Gilbert, I hope your sistor likes the cards.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Logo Project (Midwest)

I'm writing a quick post here about amazing and award winning, local photographer, Kate Huntington. I met her through Sophie's preschool. Y'know us networking moms. I'm designing a new logo/identity system for her. Here's a peak at one of her business cards. Each card will utilize a different color on the front and have a photograph that compliments it on back.

Kate photographed our family last weekend. I'm really excited to see what the shots look like. We were able to see one shot thus far. Here we are doing our "family cheer".

If anyone near Madison needs a photographer please check out Kate's website. She's easy to talk too, affordable and really talented.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

It's All About Etsy These Days (Midwest)

Second row, second from the left...

Etsy recently had a contest where they invited the Etsy community to create Treasury lists (these are the lists that you see on the Etsy front page of 12 images of products created and for sale by Etsy sellers). Etsy Admins would be picking 20 (they said then) of these Treasury lists to print and use as promotional posters. I figured, what the hey, this sounds fun, so I composed a list for poster entry. They had 901 submissions. They picked 60 winners, these will become posters, and 160 honorable mentions. My list got an honorable mention. Wheehoo! I win nothing except the feeling of accomplishment and pride in my layout and justification that the images and products that I liked were likeable.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Etsy Treasury (Midwest)

I saw tonight that I had a few hits more than normal over at my Etsy shop. I found out that I am listed in a treasury. Happy dance. Look at the painting titled "Duo" right below my card. Luv it.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Donuts (Midwest)

Here are some shots of my first letterpress print run (see below). I have just a few "decent" prints for sale on Etsy. I scoured around other letterpress shops and realized that I need to get my new rollers working to have a nice smooth layer of ink on my plate. I used the old rollers that came with the press for these cards and they are a little pocky. I'm so used to silkscreening that I tend to like the mottled texture of uneven ink. Anyway, I like the donut illustrations quite a bit.