Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Time Flies When You're Having Fun (West Coast)

I am lucky to have a great pal that keeps up our blog so reliably. I am not as good at recording the daily ups and downs of our world. I have the best of intentions, but my days just fly by. I keep waiting for a lull. Some quiet that will leave me time to collect my thoughts. All is good, very good, just very busy.

Lately, I have been trying to get up to speed on my new press, printing labels, stickers, and everything else to get my cards ready to sell. Thank you Amy for helping me through these crazy few months of letterpress 101. I couldn't have done it without your treasured advice! Thanks!

I had my first Etsy sale yesterday. Very exciting news around here. I shipped it off today, carefully wrapped and ready to open.

A little while back we made our way up to a cool bay area store in Daly City (south of San Francisco). It is a Japanese Dollar Store called Diaso—a chain similar to Dollar Tree. It is filled with everything Japanese from paper, to baskets, to kitchen tools and storage, to craft supplies. Very, very cool craft supplies. Great papers, pens, sewing, knitting, ect... I literally could spend hours in there just searching out that perfect find. On this trip we had just 20 minutes on our way to visit some family across the Golden Gate Bridge. In fact, we were late for lunch, but my family is a sucker for a bargain. Here are a few of the cool crafty things I found. You can't tell by the photo, but the paper is kraft color, and has nice texture through it. I plan on printing something onto it with my letterpress or maybe Gocco.

Murphy's Law (Midwest)

Laurie knows that I am a true believer in Murphy's Law. The true definition of Murphy's Law is pretty bleak: if anything can go wrong, it will. Over the years, I have adopted my own definition for Murphy's Law. Mine is sort of a when it rains it pours approach to Murphy's Law. Y'know, if you are on a deadline (me) more work will fall onto your plate. Or, if you have all the time in the world you will have nothing you need to get done. This week is a Murphy's Law week for me (in a good way). I'm on deadline. Almost done. But, all this extra work is coming my way. Also, I've had several Etsy orders and one wholesale order to Malaysia. Sheesh.

I owe one of my Etsy orders to the beautiful treasury above by hhopper. It hit the front page and brought me an immediate sale.

On the Etsy front, today I photographed 3 card/tag/misc stuff sets to list on Etsy. Sort of an inventory reduction idea I had. I'm having fun picking out items that fit together based on color, and texture. Here's a photo of my first listing that went up today. The theme is red and yellow. I priced the set so it would be a good deal.

Alright, I've been up since 4:30 working. I must now go choose between caffeine or napping. I'm leaning towards the caffeine. I'll have to re-evaluate my situation in a few hours.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Optimistic (Midwest)

I have to say that my mood last week was a tad low. I had a lot of work to do, which I enjoyed, but I felt a little pinned down by my commitments. Today, however is a different story. Maybe it's because we went for a family hike in the arboretum this morning? Or, maybe it's because I was able to get a head start on this week's work over the weekend? Maybe it's because Sam pooped on his potty for the first time today (hallelujah)? Maybe pms is subsiding? I dunno.

I am feeling like I have exciting things to come. New ink has been ordered. Laurie and I have committed Lucky Bee Press to a booth on an upcoming Poppytalk Handmade market. I get to invoice a few projects next week. AND. AND. Spring is here. The above photo is from this morning - a blooming branch in the arboretum, and my breakfast smoothie. Both photos reflect my blossoming mood.

Finally, before I go. Did anyone catch LOST last Thursday? Ohmygod. I can't wait for next week. Smoke monster I think you are pretty cool.

Have a cheerful week everyone.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Flappin' Friday (Midwest)

I have a moment to post this rather mediocre photo of me taken last Saturday night. Joey and I went to a fundraiser for The Relight the Marquee project at the Orpheum Theatre. Remember, I designed a poster for that? Anywhoo, if you dressed in 20's fashion you got a free drink at the event. Joey was all over it-researching, shopping, etc. I bought this boxy, black dress with ruffle at the bottom from Macy's, put pin curls and finger waves in my hair, and wore red lipstick. I guess I was passable because they gave me a free drink for my attire. It was fun to play dress up and have cocktails with our grown up friends. And, I'm glad I didn't know what a cosmo was when I was in college.

This spring has been so busy. Busy good. Not busy bad. I'm continuing to plug away on my graphic design projects. Most of them need to be finished by May 1st. So, until then my letterpress will collect dust. I'm sorry if I am slacking in the blogging department. Hopefully, I'll have some more graphic design work to show you soon. Until then, have a great weekend all.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Origins of Printing (Midwest)

Sit back people while I geek out for a minute or two...

My buddy, Gilbert sent me an IM today linking to a video series on YouTube. If you have an hour to kill, and you are a typography nerd or interested in history and appreciative of old technologies, watch Stephen Fry and the Gutenberg Press (six parts). It is nicely narrated and filmed, and you will learn all about Gutenberg, the first printing press (a letterpress - hoorah!) and the invention of movable type. I can't even imagine the time and tedium it took to print the first book, Gutenberg's Bible. As I sit here and type away on my keyboard I'm astounded by where printing came from and has gone. I mean, I'm writing to post on a blog. No paper, no actual type is being imprinted. And, these sentences can be read worldwide.


Friday, April 18, 2008

Productive (Midwest)

Another busy week is almost over. I'm almost done with the brochure project I've been working on, and I'm making progress on my custom wedding invitation project. I'm posting semi regularly to both Etsy shops. And, I squeezed in a haircut, a trip to visit my aging grandmother, and a doctor's appointment. Big sigh of relief that the weekend is almost here.

Last weekend I printed the above tags and cards. The image is from a old block I scored off ebay. I really like printing these vintage finds. The idea that I'm recycling and reusing appeals to me. Plus, as a design problem it's fun to think about how to design something new and current with something old. I carefully consider layout, stock choice, ink color and envelope selection. For instance, when I saw this block I knew it had to be printed on a scalloped card.

Sometimes I have helpers in my studio. Here's Sunnie helping with a shipment. She wants to eat packing peanuts. I don't let her and this makes her a little crazy. Of course she (and my kids) are banned from being around if there is any open ink. Little rat footprints all over the place would be worthy of photographing but a major bummer to clean up for sure.

Enjoy your day everyone!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Busy Bee (Midwest)

Twas a busy weekend full of the typical kid focused activities and hanging out at home time. Joey and I reorganized my office. My press got moved for the third time. Now it sits on vintage farm cabinet just large enough to house all my inks, chases, letterpress furniture, blocks, etc. A sturdy beast for sure.

I also had two hours to print. Thinking back, I'm really beginning to streamline the printing process. I have the set up stuff down. I can clear a work surface, set out papers, mix ink, lock a chase, mark the print area and have my press ready in about 15 minutes. Next it takes about 1/2 an hour to get my ink and impression to a passable point. That means I can do a modest (maybe 100-125 items) in 45 minutes and clean up for 15. Anyway, I ran a fiery orange color on several different stocks and a couple different blocks. I really like how the above Koi Fish and Bubbles letterpress & gocco combo came out. I'll have card sets and tags to list at Lucky Bee Press in a day or so.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Freitag (Midwest)

Check it out. We had our first Lucky Bee Treasury over at Etsy! I wasn't expecting that. Thanks go to thebline for posting a Lucky Bee item. It's fun to find another bee lover.

We finally have green grass again. It reminds me that winter is on it's way out (even though I'm hearing snow for tomorrow). I am so ready for bike rides and long walks. I'm also ready to print again. I hope to squeeze a session in today. I have a new block from eBay (I can't stop) that when I opened it up, I wanted to ink it right then and there. I also have some new borders from the type sale last weekend that I may try. Now, when is the question.

Finally, I'm posting a photo of something I ordered a ways back from the fantastic Christa at Letteria. My Mom had a birthday this week (Happy Birthday Mom!) and since she was born and partially raised in Germany when I saw these cards I new they would be a great gift for her. Oh also, check out Christa's flickr page and her blog. Her product shots are amazing. I'm so inspired by her. Danke for the Danke cards, Christa!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

A Day at the Press (West Coast)

Hear is the one of my first prints from my letterpress. I have been following Amy's great instructions and having a fun time trying to work out the kinks. So far I have learned quite a bit. I have been printing from the same plate all week, trying to get a better print each day. Today was not a good day. Yesterday was better. It is funny how that works.

My kids are off from school today, and Katie has made a formal schedule for us that is packed full of game playing, crafts and relaxing time. It should be a really fun day. I have a back log of small design projects waiting for me on Thursday. I have to wait until Friday to try my letterpress again.

Announcement! (Midwest & West Coast)

Introducing Lucky Bee Press!

Laurie and I are finally finding another way to work together. Yippee! We have opened up a joint Etsy shop. We plan to brainstorm, design, discuss, chat, gossip, get sidetracked, focus, chat, design some more, etc. and come up with some paper goody designs. We will print at our respective home offices. Hopefully, having two people producing will enable us to be very active on our Etsy shop. Also, this will be a great excuse to get together more often. I foresee a craft fair adventure in our future.

Here is a look at something I printed last week specifically for Lucky Bee Press. I ran a flower silhouette in red ink on several different paper mediums. I love, love how the hang tags turned out. I have posted them here.

Finally, I wanted to mention to those of you within driving distance to Minneapolis/St. Paul the American Craft Show is coming up April 18 - 20. Folks, this looks like a good one. 200+ vendors! There will be some great demos and raffles, but also there will be a focus on Greencraft. If you want more info go to

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Letterpress Heaven (Midwest)

Yesterday I got up at 5 am, yes, on a Saturday, to drive two hours to Zion, IL. I had to hit the Annual Type Sale at The Platen Press Museum by 8. It's ok to think "geez, she's a letterpress nerd". I am. I bought several ornament borders. They are in the photo above across the top. I bought gauge pins and two wood blocks. Not a huge haul but after making my purchases I hung about following owner, Paul Aken, around his museum. He is a kind man and very interested in sharing his knowledge with fledglings like me. The museum itself is an overpacked warehouse with presses of every size and shape, all old. Some of the presses are still in use. I can't even describe the quantity of letterpress items in Paul's shop. Just look at these photos:

This is Paul's "secret room" which he unlocked for me. It's a room chock full of small hand presses. They were all lined up and dust free, unlike some other parts of the museum. These must be his babies.

Another room.

Here's Paul casting some type on an old Linotype machine. He set my name for me. The machine makes a quiet motor sound. Kind of like rain. This was surprising coming from such a hulking machine.

This photo is a closeup of a cabinet, maybe 8 feet by 8 feet, full of tiny chinese lead type. Very interesting.

It's sunny and warmer out today. So, I hope to go on a family bike ride or hike. Tomorrow I print again!

Friday, April 04, 2008

Deadline (Midwest)

It's been a crazy couple of days. I got content on Tuesday evening for a print job that had to be done by Thursday night. I scrambled on Wednesday (Sam's birthday) to put a poster together. The clients reviewed it and it wasn't what they needed.


So, yesterday morning I was up slamming coffee and in between putting breakfast on the table, and packing lunches I was scanning new (old as it turns out - historic photos) imagery and futzing with my files. By 10am I had a new file ready to go to the service bureau. I am running my new software - Illustrator CS3 and I struggled with the "glow" behind the heading. I eventually got it the way I wanted. Pshew.

Here is the final image. It's a 24 x 36 poster to display at the Wisconsin Film Festival activities at the Orpheum Theatre. The poster's mission is to request donations for a fund to restore the old marquee sign. I hope they get some tall coin.