Friday, August 24, 2012

Making Stuff

Lucky for me, John Fitzgerald of Fitzgerald Letterpress agreed to give a demonstration about how to operate a Heidelberg Windmill, which is motorized press with a mesmerizing arm motion. Also, it is the favored press among small, artisan letterpress shops. It seemed like a good idea that I know how to use it or, at least recognize how it operates. Unfortunately, I have no photos of that or of the fried green tomatoes and poached eggs with grits I ate while talking shop with John and Kathryn. But John is also generous enough to share his shop with me for 2 days so I can print the next Keep Writing before leaving for California. I set type for hours this afternoon and am very excited to see how it looks on paper, or chipboard as it may be. Notice the lack of straight set type...all handset at angles.
I came home from the shop, hungry and anxious about cross-country house hunting. I made a drink with one of these lovelies, vodka infused with lavender and one with elderberries. I drank the lavender infusion with sparking water and packed the kitchen dishes. You'll have to wait to see the postcards and I hear that y'all are just getting the ones I sent from Spain 2 months ago. Soon, soon I will have an address and a workshop.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Getting Ready month back in the U.S. and I feel a little more sorted, relaxed, ready for postcard planning and fun work to begin. Unfortunately, I still have to move so most of my stuff is still in boxes (and all of it should be soon--we leave in 10 days), sitting in the sad sad van that will be left behind and is currently my storage space. I finally feel like looking at some of the things I collected during my travels, the papers and the sketches, my ideas for what I want to make in the coming year. And I found a new place for my stamps--this tin box complete with music bit Alec gave me and a tin rooster that was on my bike basket that now belongs to Jenn. Also, I have started assembling date books again. It might take another rainy night to finish them but slowly, slowly, all of me is back in one place, mind, body and the boxes.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

24 Hours of Rain

It is unusual to wake up in the summer in New Orleans to a proper rainy day. Here the rain comes in fits, in floods, heavy in the afternoon, secretly at night. It is brief but often too fast for the saturated ground and causes flooding. But today I woke late, noticed the dark, the unusually coolish air, and went back to sleep. I read in bed with The Cat and my sweetie, and finally got up before lunch.
The rain actually began yesterday during our yardsale. We were lucky enough to have lots of friends stop by, starting right at 8. We had cookies, and lemonade. At one point, Andy made grits and vegetables for all of us under the tent, hiding in the shade. Old friends met new friends and Eric insisted on this photo of himself and Misha to prove we were all here for a minute. When the rain started, friends and strangers crowed in, away from the edges as we tried to keep the rain from pooling on the tent. I was in the middle of "fixing" Eric's bicycle, recused from a free pile somewhere in the city, so he was stranded with us, making for at least three people under the tent at all times. A crowded little party, but easy to pass the cookies.
This morning, this pile was all that's left. There is a soggy box on the curb with some plastic containers, and these piles waiting for their new owners to claim them or to be donated or sold somewhere else. All day I have been sleepy, sluggish. A combination of rain and allergies, of sleeping too much and from being worn out from the unspoken goodbyes. It is a drawn out process, as we still don't leave for two weeks, but also a chance for multiple meetings, coffee and dinner, or a walk and a snoball. And tonight, maybe even a bikeride.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Million Substitutions

It's not procrastination, finding things to do instead of the thing on my to-do list. Today, I finally posted things to my etsy store that have been waiting for you. Like these cards that were sitting in storage all lonely. And these handmade nests Jud watched me make a few winters ago, a little nervously, like a tic, in my back yard as I insisted everything was okay.
It's good and weird to be in New Orleans, in the longest stretch of summer, with friends leaving for cooler parts daily. It's quiet and I sit inside and move things around, pack and repack, think about the details of yardsales and moving without thinking about the larger ideas of leaving the state where most of my friends live. It is exciting and exhausting, so I organize what I can while I still have control over something. When I have a studio I sometimes spend a few hours cleaning and ordering things before I work. Like getting your mind ready for the hard stuff.
Obviously I am not making a lot of new stuff right now but I want to share this countdown clock my friend Jeremy created. His friend made the cups. Twelve cups-one for each session of chemo he is about to endure. When each treatment is through, he will drink whiskey from the cup and smash it. He has a jar for collecting the smashed pieces. I am constantly encouraged by my friends' strength and creativity in dealing with obstacles and the way we make rituals to fit our needs, and share them with friends. The way we create and process and smash when we need to. You can read the whole story here. Or not. Jeremy also makes sea monster bags and was one of the awesomest to me when I was not so awesome. Good night, good friends.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Slow Time

In August, people who can leave New Orleans for at least a few days. The constant heat and humidity, relentless even at night, wears on you. You have to slow down. I've always liked this chance to visit friends who are still in town, drink a lot of cold beverages, sit on the river, ride around at night sweating. Also it gives me a legitimate reason to sit inside for hours and do the things I have been meaning to do like finally post images of postcards I printed in Italy. Also I have been sorting through my secret stash and posting things on etsy for sale, including a deal for subscribing to Keep Writing. Until September 10th, you can get nine months of postcards for the price of six.
Maybe you are unimpressed by this since I haven't sent a postcard since I left Barcelona (approximately half a life ago). However, I was happy to visit John Fitzgerald at his shop. He allowed me to print the text for this month's postcard and may even let me back so I can print one more Louisiana postcard. As you will see, I did not print the image side of this one, but bought 140 postcards while in Europe, mostly in Italy, almost all of them of places I visited. Some are awesome photo collages of major sites, some are weird light pre-photoshop will have to wait and see what you get. They will go in the mail today.
It isn't all work for me. Yesterday we dropped the van off uptown to hopefully relieve it of some of its troubles before we drive it across country. We biked bike slowly, stopping for iced coffee, racing when we thought it was about to downpour, and stopping to admire what is easily the best part of the Bywater Art Lofts, gates made by my friend Rachel at Red Metal. If it sounds like New Orleans is trying to woo me to stay, don't worry, a giant cockroach flew into head last night while riding around. Thank you for the sense of equilibrium, New Orleans.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

More About the Ladies

Since returning from the Ladies of Letterpress Conference, I have been excited to start working on new projects. Because I can't bust out all my supplies right now, it means I have been trying to update my etsy site and make more books while searching for a press to borrow here in town so I can print postcards. I am not frustrated at all because every evening the sun sets on the lavender shed behind the house and I escape for a ride through the neighborhood, usually running into at least one person I know.
I promised more information about the conference. There was a screening of "Proceed and Be Bold," a documentary about Amos Kennedy. Kennedy and the director of the film were in attendance to answer questions and provoke the audience. It was a bit of metaphorical shaking for those in attendance but welcome by most. Many panels addressed business concerns for the many small business owners. My friend Lisa, of ilfant press was on a panel about exploring possibilities of handset type. I took three pages of notes including a reminder to ask her for her slides demonstrating some of the techniques. She says she will post some of them on her website soon.
Back at home, I found some knitting Matt Henderson gave me last winter at LSU which I dunked in paper pulp. Not all of the experiments were successful but I will add it to the collection of tricks accumulating in my brain.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Ladies Road Trip!

I know, I was in New Orleans for less than ten days and off again, visiting a pile of friends all in the middle of moving. Why would I leave in New Orleans in the sleepy summertime? For a Ladies of Letterpresss Conference. I missed last years and it was a good excuse to sit for hours in a car with two wonderful ladies of Blackbird Letterpress. First stop: the giant inflatable peach in north Georgia for fresh peaches, fried pies, and hot boiled peanuts.
We also researched some roadside attractions by stopping at Tallulah Falls for postcards and a view of mountains (Louisiana is so flat! The mountain air is so drinkable. Louisiana air is climbable, that is, dense enough to climb.) Also, the Great Wallenda crossed the falls in the '70s. If you are on Instagram, find Blackbird Letterpress for a photo of me reliving the Great Wallenda's feat via plywood.
We admired the blown glass handicrafts and continued onto Asheville.
The Conference was an incredible accumulation of smart, creative ladies who love their presses. We had a chance to tour a few local print shops. Our first stop was Mink Press, who had recently moved into a backyard studio and had a baby and was still willing to host us in her backyard, offering edible treats and artist trading cards to inspire other letterpress printers to begin trading the tiny cards.
We stopped at Asheville Bookworks, a community printshop with classes in letterpress and papermaking and 7 Ton Press, a collective of printers including Beth Schaibel, who I met at Penland 4 years ago and was happy to meet again since I had been admiring her work all over Asheville.
Our last stop was Hand Cranked Letterpress, a printshop located in an exquisitely decorated home with a tempting pool. Of course they used to live in New Orleans, where beautiful clutter is recognized as display of unique collections. Yes, there was a disco ball in the press room. All this on the first day! More tomorrow.