Thursday, January 31, 2013

Coffee Will Only Get You So Far...

adding a hand-drawn line to a negative for a plate

From zero to three cups of coffee a day in a week,that is how it is going here.  Tonight, all the coffee in my cup can't convince me to design what I meant to.  I've been working extra hours at my job, printing a wedding invitation with the usual complications.  And I've been printing my own stuff at work  and volunteering at the San Fransisco Center for the Book.   At night I've been trying to do all the things I usually do on my days off--cooking fun things, addressing postcards, grocery shopping, hanging with friends.  And so, here I am, finally too tired to catch up with one more day before I get a day off.  The good news is that your postcard will go in the mail tomorrow.  But nothing else will be done tonight.  Here are some photos of working on my own work at Painted Tongue Studios, where, during the week, I am a printer on their Heidelberg Windmill.  Good night!

metal-backed polymer plates for this month's postcards

sneak peek at my first custom postcard

postcards on the press!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Moving into the Print Shop

Burrito night is what happens when one or both of my roommates are not home, I work late and I realize that if I will be required to cook for myself, I will eat pasta with butter for dinner (again).  But I live in California, where the burritos are plentiful and cheap.  Afterwards I still feel like doing something, even if that something is writing about my dinner to you.

Behold, I have finally posted  Keep Writing #47 and  #46.  If you look closely and pay attention, you will realize they are both numbered 46.  That is what happens when you prepare files late at night.  In a few months I will be handsetting type again, but while the Center for the Book is still unpacking and setting up, I will print where I can.  Including at Painted Tongue Press (where I work).  Printing post cards on a Heidelburg Windmill, that's right.

thrift store score--the tea pot 

our cat-centric fridge

For the next two weeks or so (and the past one) I will be at home printing, or at Painted Tongue or at the Center for the Book.  Don't fear, last week I had a chance to make the house look pretty and sit and drink tea in the ktichen for hours.

from a book of photos of signs
a post card i made two years ago

And while we were walking around Berkeley a few weeks ago, working up an appetite for giant vegan cinnamon rolls, Andy and I found this in a book .  Weird.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Vandercook Weekend

I once told a papermaker friend that I tell papermakers I am a printmaker and vice versa.  Maybe it seems like I am lowering the bar as an excuse for myself but I am just giving myself more room to learn all around.  This weekend, I found myself explaining that I print equally on platen presses and flatbed Vandercooks as I had the opportunity to take a Vandercook Maintenance class with Paul Moxen at the San Francisco Center for the Book.   All of my internship hours were worth the chance to take apart sections of presses I have used to create many years of postcards.

For non-letterpress friends, this might be a little nerdy.  Paul Moxen probably knows more about Vandercook machines and history than anyone in the US now.  He is a great collector of stories and information, constantly gathering more.  He keeps a registry of Vandercook presses in the world, to which I added the beauty in our garage.  I also had the chance to meet someone who has the same press we have, a motorized Universal 1 with an adjustable bed and automatic feeder.  I look forward to emailing Chip at Quail Lane Press next time our press makes that weird noise as I print another postcard.

checking the balance of the carriage
paper grippers from the inside out
gauge on the 219 for the adjustable bed
 I won't bore you with details of what I learned but a few things started to make sense about presses I have used before (oh the LSU Vandercooks need love).   Maybe I will post some photos when Ben and I have a chance to clean up ours.  But today, before it rains, I must fix my bike after my derailleur somehow twisted itself into my back wheel the other day.  Wish me luck!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Top Ten of 2012

I won't even begin to explain how I've been behind on everything lately. Things take twice as long as I think and I can no longer stay up all night endlessly to finish one last thing. Maybe for 2013 I'll figure out how to feel healthier and more energetic but for now you get everything a little bit behind.Let's pretend we live in different time zones except that instead of hours, I am days behind you. When I have time, I have been reading the top ten lists of old friends and acquaintances at Remote Outposts and I am feeling inspired. I will give it a go.

1.; My 35th birthday. About six months before my birthday, I was still in Baton Rouge, and it suddenly occurred to me that I would turn 35 when I returned from Italy. And it suddenly seemed old. Not real old, but a solid adult age.  I got over that fast and for my birthday we strapped a tiny tape player to my bike and rode around New Orleans.I ate sweet things and savory things, and walked barefoot in this weird weird plaza.Andy is great birthday company.

2.Sicily with my sister. My sister took a ten day vacation from her job to drive around Sicily with me. Our days were packed with winding drives and amazing views and lots and lots of pastries.  Oh! and the greatest meals. Plus we climbed a volcano and I took a nap near the top and we went swimming...

3. History of Resistance class in Milan taught by an Italian professor outlining the situation of Jews under fascism in Italy. One of out field trips was a walking tour of unmarked monuments in the city center, such as the building where the first meeting of the Fascists was held.

4.Swimming. Somehow, Andy has stuck around for almost 4 years despite my almost daily want to swim and his aversion to water. He is the best most patient coffee drinker/pizza eater while I swam at Atrani and as many other places I could.

5. Post-hurricane Second Line A few days before we moved to Oakland, a hurricane hit New Orleans. We hunkered down with friends who made great food and drinks and when it was over, our friends lead us to the bayou for their "band practice". I saw a lot of people I've known since I moved to New Orleans. It was dark and hot when we got home, a great goodbye.

6. Letterpress letterpress letterpress. How lucky could I be to move into this great house, share it with 2 great people, 2 cats (of varying greatness), with a vandercook in the garage. Down the street from a printshop who employs me to print for them. Across the bay from a non-profit center for book arts where I keep learning to print better and better.

So by now you've realized I have no music, books or movies to tell you about. I tend to watch the same movies over and over, in Italian if I can. The same with music, really. I am in no position to tell you the best of these things since I only have a few references for each category. Also, if I keep thinking of it, I will just tell you more about my favorite places I went in the past year. Which is fine, but maybe instead I will start reading more and stop watching the same 3 movies in Italian. Maybe next year I will have some books and zines for you. For now, I'm working with what I've got.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Staying Busy, Staying Warm

mug from heath ceramics, and handwarmers from andrea
 Anyone who has known me for more than a few days knows that I have no problem staying busy.   Even with most of my jobs on some kind of hiatus this week, I have plenty to do.  Like make my room a little more homey, print in our garage studio, scheme new projects and bake.  (See the Smitten Kitchen cookbook for the popcorn cookie recipe.  They are the ultimate party cookie and we are making this weekend a party by baking these two nights in a row.)  I have a harder time staying warm, despite my deep down Yankee blood, but a few Christmas gifts from Andrea are helping out.

sara white's invitation to me

One thing keeping me busy for a few minutes was a drawing for Sara White's upcoming project in New Orleans.  She sent me an invitation to do a drawing for her.  I think she is making prints of the drawings she receives. I can't wait to see it.

desk and wall of postcard inspiration
For the new year I finally made a few more datebooks for the procrastinators like me.  I also have started printing at home and offered a special to subscribers of Keep Writing postcards which will keep me busy with custom orders for a little bit.  I would love to spend more of my time printing at home (with baking breaks), and so if you have been waiting to get something letterpressed, write to me at .  I have been slow to offer custom services because I still do not own my own press.  Too much moving around and debt to be able to invest. Also, for most of my adult life, I have been able to work part time at a job I may or may not have liked but was able to have free time for writing zines, learning to print and volunteering at a community bike shop.  Now that I am done with school and I have a degree in printmaking (ha!) I feel more like maybe my work time and free time activities should merge more.  Not to mention I have lost a lot of my patience for food service.  The question comes--how do I do what I love, earn a living and  continue to love what I do.  I am still figuring that out.  For now that means collaborating as much as I can, asking to work with people I love and whose work I love.  Also, I remind myself why I love printing--because making multiples of something means you can distribute, share, and hopefully connect with more people. So, here I am.  Let's work on something.

the newest datebooks

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Curse of Winter

I am not sure if, statistically, more people die in winter or if it the cold and the darkness that makes it seem so.  I also recognize my own tendency to find patterns in occurrences, one way of making sense of senselessness when you run out of other tools.  It doesn't matter.  Some one I knew died last night, in his sleep.  As I take the time this winter to remember Helen, Vi and Flee and my grandma and Phil and Nathan, now I also will remember Eric.

The first time I met Little Eric he lied to me about his age.  He used to come in our house in the morning because we didn't lock the doors, asking questions.  He was almost a teenager, always smart and inquizative but sometimes deceptive and sneaky.  It got him into trouble for sure. But he still had a good heart, even if he didn't always know how to show it.

I don't believe in Heaven, not in the way I learned in Sunday school so I find no comfort thinking of him in the afterlife.   I just know he isn't in New Orleans or Florida anymore, talking his way into or out of something.  He used to hang around with us sometimes, too young to be a peer but too old and independent to be told what to do.  I won't run into him again, crossing Robertson.  Telling me about his big ideas.  And he won't be able to see them through.

Before my grandma died she lived though the deaths of all her closest friends and their spouses, including her husband. She lost a son to polio sixty years before she died.  And she still didn't give up.  She was tired sometimes and sad but she kept going all the way till 95, still telling everyone what to do.  I want to remember to live well, to fight for what is important, and to love well and openly.  Little Eric, there were things against you in this world for sure, but a lot of love too.  And I have to know that's all there is for all of us.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Best Wishes for a New Year

I opened the best New Year's card this morning from my friend Jaewon, a pop-up card offering wishes of a long life.  I expect to live to be 93 (genetics) which I think is a good age.  So I especially love the intricate detail of this card.

The ever-improving printshop at home

Ben framed this reminder for us.  The typo is too small to see here.

I love New Year's as a holiday.  Not the parties and shooting guns into the air (though that keeps things exciting) but the idea of a new start.  Time to review, reconsider, and move on. A religious holiday really.  Cleansing, cleaning, reflection.  I don't talk about it much, but I tend to stay home, take a bath, stretch, write down something for the new year.  Lately my list of goals is daunting but I thought of something simple this morning that reminded me that I can finish any of these things I want to. I've been behind all year on things so it is fitting that I am printed New Year's cards last night and wrapped  New Year's gifts today.  Last year at this time I was looking forward to a year of adventure, of a lot of moving around, new experiences, and learning.  Now I am happy to be in this place, with a press to use in the garage to share what I've been thinking about.

Silver layer of the new year's card
So, 2013...expect more printing from this machine.  More custom work.  More collaborations.  Lots more dinners at home and maybe maybe maybe I will bake a decent loaf of bread.

My mom loves sending me things with my name on them