Thursday, September 30, 2010

An Inspiration Day

It's pouring in DC today and it feels like monsoon season in Hong Kong here. It reminds me of the huge vines that would grow in our driveway, the five foot webs that spiders would weave between the guardrails and the tree branches, and the sound of the drains that turned into rushing rivers in minutes. I am holed up in the apartment with a cup of jasmine tea, a stack of papers to be organized, and a pile of art supplies begging to be used.

Thinking about the strange monsoon season plants in Hong Kong reminds me of the succulents I saw at the Oregon Gardens in Salem this summer: planted on roofs, in teacups, and an entire room used as a planter.

So today is a day for inspiration. A time to work on all those fun projects I wouldn't have time for if I were to brave the elements and go outside. A time to look through old photos, pull supplies out of dusty boxes, and make something beautiful that wouldn't fit into a normal schedule.

Monday, September 20, 2010

First Farmers Market

This Sunday was my first time as a vendor at the Baltimore Farmers Market, probably the biggest farmers market I've ever been to. While it wasn't my best market ever, I have a new-found respect for farmers market vendors who wake up pre-dawn for markets that open at 7am. We drove around deserted Baltimore at 5:30 am looking for the market, ignoring street signs that said "No turn on red after 7am." It was very strange to be setting up in the dark, and by the time the market was over at noon, I was exhausted and it felt like dinner time. So to all those farmers who do it every week: wow.


Hot off the presses

On Thursday night I headed over to Pyramid Atlantic for the Block Printing Happy Hour to print my newly finished linoleum carving. I spent approximately eight hours straight on Thursday finishing the piece I was working on at Arts on Foot, and ten minutes before I had to get in the car I finally finished the last cut. My hand felt like it was on fire, but my favorite part about linoleum printing is the period between finishing the carving and printing, after you have invested so much time but are still waiting to see the results.

Even during the printing process it is still a work in progress, as you carve out a little more here and there, fix little mistakes, and adjust the pressure of the press to get it just right.

I printed fabric for three journals, six tea towels and several packs of cards, but there is definitely more to come from this block! Here are some pictures of the process, from sketches to final product:

Linoleum carving creates piles and piles of little linoleum scraps. Someone asked me at a market if I did anything with them, but right now they just go in the trash. Any ideas? 

So there it is! The much anticipated (mostly by me) new print. Now its back to the sketchbook for the next design!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Around the Studio

With the Baltimore Farmer's Market this Sunday, the World Maker Faire in Queens the weekend after that and more wholesale orders coming in, things have been very busy around the studio lately. The to-do list seems never ending, and it feels like the days are getting shorter. But, it feels great. I am getting so much accomplished, even though every time I do one thing it reminds me of two more things to follow up with.

Today I have been working on replenishing my inventory after a very successful weekend to make sure I have enough to actually sell at the upcoming markets. Since the Maker Faire is a two-day event, I need to double the amount of inventory I brought last weekend. It's a challenge, but I'm loving it.

Here are some of the things I have been working on today:


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The World's Largest Collection of Printing Blocks

I've been thinking lately of these pictures I took in India in 2007 of the world's largest collection of printing blocks. I visited this house just outside of Jaipur as part of my research on the history of block printing, and every wall was covered with shelves and shelves of blocks: a catalog of patterns from the last several decades. If you look closely you might recognize the pattern from your tablecloth or sheets; I found a few I recognized in the piles.

Monday, September 13, 2010

What a weekend

This weekend I had a booth at the Arts on Foot festival in Penn Quarter. The stars must have aligned the night before because the weather was perfect, the crowds were huge, and there were some really great people stopping by the booth. I went from a little anxious about being completely self-employed to being over the moon.

For the first time at a market, I was doing a demo on how to carve linoleum blocks, with a big new piece I am working on. Kids got to try it, people stood and watched, but most importantly it really drew people in. I didn't hear the question "So where do you import this stuff from?" once all day, and more than one person left the booth vowing to try it themselves when they got home. I'll never do a show without my carving tools again.

Here's the piece I was working on at the market:

The final version will be available as tea towels or framed prints, and should be ready soon! Now I have to make sure I have another carving in the works for the next show.

Thanks to everyone who came out on Saturday and made it such a huge success!

Finally, new packaging!

As part of my plan to "get serious," I have been working on a new package design for my card sets. I needed something that would protect the cards without obstructing the image, something economical, and something that didn't involve a lot of plastic wrap.

After several test runs using kraft paper, ribbon, vellum, and the idea of a sky-high priced stationery box, I settled on gardening twine and a printed tag. Neutral, economical and environmentally friendly. The perfect combination.

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