I’ve hinted previously at a most wondrous project I’m working on, and I thought I’d treat ya’ll to a sneak peak. I’ve got a couple hundred tiny little paper circles floating around my desk right now–I can tell you I drove my husband crazy with hammering to punch all of them out–but they do look nice put together, don’t they? And how about that paper leaf? Does it look leaf-like? I’m debating about whether to keep the twisted paper for the stems or do flat paper strips.
A few months ago I saw a dried silver dollar plant arrangement at our local grocery store. I hadn’t seen them since I worked as a gardener in high school, and I’d forgotten all about them and how fascinating and lovely I thought they were. I happened to be with my husband at the time, so I gushed to him about them. Well, halfway through my birthday, my husband remembered it was my birthday and ran over to the grocery store, coming back with two delicious varieties of chocolate ice cream and a bunch of dried silver dollars. I was touched he actually listened and then remembered, and aren’t they so pretty!
The thing about silver dollar plants, or Lunaria annua, is that even though it’s pretty when it’s green, it’s breathtaking dried. The plant is biennial, and the first year it’s pretty small, but it shoots up to 3-4 feet during it’s second spring and blossoms with pretty purple-pink flowers. People like it because it’s unusual to see this sort of tall flowering plant in the spring, but I like because that second autumn when it starts to die, the flat, waxy green seed pods start to flake leaving this onion skin-like discs housing little seeds. I really like the pearlescent quality.
A cardboard box, you say? Not so!
This is a fabulous shipment of oh so colorful paper! I was so excited when I saw the UPS guy, I just about pounced on him. No really, I’m pretty sure he thinks I’m crazy. It’s just that I had to wait weeks, WEEKS, for this to arrive. This is my first experience ordering paper without handling it first–just based off the descriptions on the website. I was leary, let me tell you, especially when a person is used to a place like the paper department at New York Central Art Supply–thousands of papers to finger. I did it anyway because this isn’t paper I’m using for a book or anything (gasp!), at least not in the traditional bookish sense, but for another project I’ve had on hold for a while because of the binding and printing I do. Any guesses? If you’d like a hint, go here to this Pinterest board. Are you excited yet? Because I know I am.
I may be as excited for the boxes the paper came in, as I am for the paper itself. Just think, you have mondo (25″x35″) sheets of paper and a couple of kids entirely too fond of scissors. How do you protect your precious booty? By squirreling it away under your bed of course. At least now that I don’t have flat file drawers at the Center for Book Arts, that’s what I do. But then what do you do when your husband shoves his computer under the bed when he’s ready to sleep? It mushes up the paper and you may as well let the kids at it with scissors. So these boxes are going to be very useful for protecting this new paper, as well as the paper I already have.
I do have one question for you–what kind of people put stickers on paper?! I ordered this paper from paper people, people! That sticker effectively wastes the top two inches of every tenth sheet of paper I ordered. Don’t they get that? I ask you.
You may or may not have noticed a long hiatus in my promised series of Journal Writing for People Who Can’t Keep a Journal. I have lots of really good excuses, as do all of us among the journal-impaired. Mostly I haven’t been journaling, so I feel a bit like a hypocrite preaching about how to effectively keep a journal. I just moved to the other side of the country, all my books (including my journals) are in storage…. Great excuses, but we all know what those are like. And again, we all know what it’s like to go a while without journaling. You start storing up all the things you ought to be writing about, and pretty soon the task of recording everything you haven’t recorded becomes insurmountable. Well today, I found my salvation in my inbox in the form of a Behance newsletter which I would normally delete without looking at, but the subject line caught my eye. The article that finally inspired me to get back to was Start Small: Why Tinkerers Get Things Done by Mark McGuinness. Long story short, you start without starting. You’re just going to jot down a few lines.
“I’ll just prime a canvas.”
“I’ll just play a few chords to warm up.”
“I’ll just write the characters’ names out.”
“I’ll just copy out the previous design.”
“I’ll just get the folder out of the filing cabinet.”
You remove your resistance by NOT doing this behemoth task, you’re just doing the first step. Nothing else. I’m not cooking dinner, I’m just chopping up vegetables, ets. So here I go to just jot down a few words and to heck with “journalling.”
I have another tutorial in the works–get excited ’cause it’s a good one!–In the meantime, have a gander at this picture I took at Central Park last time I was there. Now, I would like honest opinions from you lovely people out there who know stuff: is this any good? I’m not much of a photographer, especially when it comes to landscapes, but I sure try and I’d like to get better. Advice is appreciated.
I was trawling through Pinterest, as one does, and found this darling stationery by Alma of Nicole’s Classes, and was inspired to make a teacher gift with it for back-to-school. A while back I made my daughter a pencil pouch, which I then claimed as my own (she didn’t like it until I wouldn’t let her have it), following this tutorial, and I thought I could do something awesome just like it for a notepad. The problem was, the notecards Alma created were on 1/3 of a sheet of paper, and after printing it out, I thought it was a bit small, so I asked if she could pretty please make a version on quarter-sheets of paper with maybe quarter-inch margins all the way around for trimming? and she happily obliged! Awesome, right? Go here to download the design to print out for your pencil notepad, and then follow this handy tutorial I made just for you:
Seeing as I am currently press-less (both the printing and binding kinds), and have no board shear, yet having an endless stream of ideas, I had to do something. I’ve been thinking about houses and the narratives they are of our lives, and also villages as narratives of a community, so I thought of creating a village of narrative houses. This first little book is just a prototype to see if it was possible to implement my idea. I cut the board by hand. Not nice on the wrists so I’ll have to get access to a board shear before I can complete the project. The prototype did call some details to my attention that I’ll have to modify before I go into production mode, like the fact that the book likes to splay open when you set it up house-like. I think I know how to fix it, though, so no worries.
**As a little FYI, that pink paper behind the house? I colored that with madder during a Natural Dyeing for Book Artists workshop given by the natty Natalie Stopka at the Center for Book Arts in June.
It has been possibly forever since my last post–I moved from one side of the country to the exact opposite side; from one artist/hipster mecca to another; coast to coast, NYC to Seattle. I have to say I didn’t really like NY from the get-go, and my feelings didn’t improve much over four years. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy my time there or hated everything about it. I was very sad to leave on account of the friends I’d made at church and the Center for Book Arts. But Seattle. I’ve liked it since my first time coming, and I just like it even more every day. Definitely more my speed. However, I’m having a devilish time finding a place to print and bind. It would’ve been easy had we moved to Seattle proper–there are tons of places in the city–but we moved to one of the islands across the Sound. The are actually a lot of printers/binders/book artists on the island, I’m just having a hard time tracking them down since most of them don’t feel the need to have a website, and the ones who do don’t ever update the darn things. People keep referring me to the phone book–PHONE BOOK! Like I’ve used one of those in the last decade. Well, I have a couple of promising leads, anyway, so I hope to be back to printing and binding soon.
In the meantime, I actually did get the next print in my farm series printed before leaving NY, and it is now up for sale in my Etsy shop. This one is in homage to my current favorite TV show, Psych. Anybody else stoked out of their minds that there’s going to be a Psych musical this December? I might pee my pants.
Anyway, the quotation, “Just ’cause you put syrup on it, don’t make it pancakes,” is something Shawn says to Gus in season 6 (though he may be quoting Juice, a film I’ve never seen) that has just stuck with me as some good down-home wisdom, and my farm series needed a tall stack of pancakes.
It’s a two-color reduction print, just like the Hipster Cow, and doesn’t it look delicious?
I grew up on a farm, am addicted to regency romance, and live in a city full of hipsters. So, I’m reading Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell, and there’s this scene where the ladies of Cranford dress a prized milk cow in flannel and the wry narrator asks, “Do you ever see cows in gray flannel in London?” I had this flash of a hipster cow and it was such a humorous marriage of my worlds that I knew I had to make it a print. That was over a year ago—having a baby sure slowed things down—but I am pleased to present the final print available for purchase on Etsy.
The print is a limited edition of 105; being a reduction, I couldn’t reprint if I wanted to. For those of you who heard reduction and went, “Say what?” a reduction is where you carve your printing block, print a color, carve more of the block, and overprint the second color. This is only a two-color print, but I’ve seen reduction prints with 17 colors! Some printers call reduction printing print suicide because the process destroys your printing block and you can’t recover from mishaps. For example, I actually printed 120 posters, but only 105 were up to my standards as far as ink coverage and registration. If the posters that made it get damaged somehow, I’m screwed out of a lot of work. A LOT OF WORK.
It makes me a bit nervous, but I’ve learned something from my Relics collection—an open edition is a ball and chain. People keep buying the prints, so I keep reprinting the prints, and it keeps me from the projects I’d like to pursue next. The collection is a great money maker, but I’m done; I want to move on. I’ve been tempted on more than one occasion to destroy the blocks so I can’t reprint, but then I think of how those prints fund all my other projects and I stay my hand.
Some days the words flow easily. Other days they don’t flow at all—even when we’re in the mood to write in our journal. (Please tell me I’m not alone on this.) It’s not that we’re afraid of writing. It’s just that sometimes we don’t know what to write about.
Those are the days we need a journal prompt. Journal prompts are simply topics or
questions we’d like to explore when we have the time. They may be ideas we’d like to tinker around with or issues we need to mull over more thoroughly. They may be quotes that inspire deep thinking or random words about which we write freely and furiously. They may be memories we’d like to recall from our past or plans we’d like to make for our future.
Where do journal prompts come from? Well, the best ones probably come from within. Just as we have days when we don’t know what to write, we also have days that we have more ideas than we know what to do with. As ideas for topics come to you, try jotting them down on the last page of your journal. That way, they are right there when you need them and you’ll never get caught without a topic.
As an alternative, you might write journal prompts individually on small strips of paper—much like those found in fortune cookies—and either draw one randomly as a challenge or sort through them until you find one you feel like pondering that day. I keep a few dozen of these in a small jar on my desk. You know, just in case.
You could devote a pocket-sized journal to writing prompts—one that you can easily carry with you to write down topics as they come to you. I have several of these. I take one on my morning walks. I tuck another in a bag when traveling or lunching on my own. I keep one next to the bed and not too far from the shower. I’ve even been known to take one out in the garden. These are the places where my mind wanders most freely—providing ample ideas to explore more fully in my journal.
Just about anything is fodder for a journal—observations, overheard conversations, life’s big questions, places you’d like to visit, people you admire, new techniques you’d like to try, what you just harvested from the garden, your grandmother’s words of wisdom, or your latest political theory. You can even find compelling journal prompts on twitter—tweets that pique your curiosity or make you stop and think. If writing really isn’t your thing, you can still keep a journal by jotting down short notes, making sketches or keeping lists. While you’re at it, why not keep a list of the lists you’d like to make, so that one day, when you think you don’t know what to write in your journal, you actually will.
Lee Anne White is an author, photographer and avid journal writer. She offers journal prompts at the end of each chapter in her latest book, Her Own Way.