Monday, December 29, 2008

good stuff


Ah, the pleasure of finding new artists on Etsy. This Christmas the gift guides were my favorite way of stumbling upon artists and their art I had not seen before, although there were also some pretty good treasuries out there too. This has been a feature I've been missing on my blog- going through finds and doing shop reviews... well, welcome back on a little tour of what I see when I go looking for the good stuff in Handmade Land.

I currently work for a company that creates and sells letterpress artwork. I see it all day, every day, from artists all across the world, but still dutchdoor caught my eye. A lot of letterpress artists come out with work that looks overly computer generated, thinking that the precise forms will translate well to the letterpress' unique appeal. I love these designs because they don't give the impression they've been generated in Illustrator beforehand- the old world design is well suited to the media. Their charming Scandinavian style images are clean, simple and exquisitely executed. Read more about dutchdoor here!

Holli is a shop from Argentina, a place that seems to be the home of many a talented Etsy artist. Created by Paola Zakimi, these dolls are breathtaking. They're a little bit creepy, too, but not in an evil way- is that alright to say? More in a surreal way, like something mysterious that appears in a dream you remember while reading a poem scribbled onto a newspaper left behind on the bus. Wait- what am I talking about? Anyway, I've been amazed and struck by her work... read more on her blog, here! :)

Late here, time for bed but I hope you too found some new favorites on Etsy this season!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

photo shoot!

Ninja v Big Octo gets his picture taken

More photos that came out very satisfactorily from today's attempts playing around with my camera settings. I'm particularly excited about these because I'm introducing a new card size to my shop as of today. The understated A2 card size, smallest of the mailable card sizes, is now in the shop in a new section here. These will be select designs with smart colored or dark envelopes to match. Since this card size does waste some paper in production (more on that in a later post) I'll be keeping the A2 family pretty small, but they really are quite charming little guys.

Black Umbrellas - small version

Friday, December 26, 2008

You are my...

I love that Etsy has added a Vacation Mode. I'm tempted to go on "Vacation" just to try it out. A lot of shops are temporarily closed right now- and that's wise if you had a busy Christmas. I had a good holiday season this year but will be taking an actual vacation mid-winter. I'll save the learning experience of Vacation Mode for that.

My hope is that today I'll be able to come out with two new cards. I printed them last night & have them prepped and ready to go this morning. I'm even up, drinking my coffee and furiously typing away at 6 a.m. because I'm so giddy about having new items for the shop! Next week I'll introduce new designs, too. Definitely *not* in vacation mode over here.

Other than the drawing, scanning, cropping, printing, cutting, scoring, packaging, mailing that goes into the card making aspect of ouou, I've been changing around my freebies once again. The winter, spring, summer, bunny tags I made last year are perfect little give-aways... and after some awkward packaging phases I think I've found the one I'm sticking with. Now all I need is a new set of Moo cards and I'll be golden.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

" Don't look at your form, however ugly or beautiful.
Look at love and at the aim of your quest. ...
O you whose lips are parched, keep looking for water.
Those parched lips are proof that eventually you will reach the source."


Merry Christmas!

Here we are, Christmas time. The whole house was happy to see this morning that:
1. RVR loved her Christmas presents (last night we were all wondering if the "got" the whole Santa thing- she's just two and 1/2) was a big hit!
2. It was not snowing, the first morning without snow in 5 days. Phew!
I'll leave it to RVR's mama to blog about her Christmas, but being here to share in the unfolding traditions of this family has been such a joy.

Jennie was right about toying with the white balance on my camera, I think I've got a few nicer photos of recent sketches- not infused with the blue glow of 2' of snowfall. I'll be playing with that off and on through our festivities today, designing some new cards on my day off, and hoping to get in touch with my family. I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season, a merry Christmas today, and peaceful happiness in the year to come.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

bundle up!

adventures in the snow!

Monday, December 22, 2008

news here and there

I took that photo a few days ago, back when you could see stairs or bikes or... yards. The pictures from today have yet to come off my camera yet but we've now got almost 2' on the ground. And here I was thinking it wouldn't snow. I think MODISH here has the right idea, hunkering down for a true Portland anomaly.

I was able to get some new shots of my printed cards the other day- now my shop is about 3/4 scanned images and some odd photos. I seem to be cursed with the inability to take even shots of my products, with the rain everything was coming out yellow-tinted, now with the snow it all looks blue. I've had the shop (one way or another) for just about a year now, so I"m familiar with the limits of my own photography skills. Still, anytime I get a few acceptable angles I'm quick to put them up on the site. I imagine it is a leap of faith, otherwise, for people to buy any art image with only the scanned representation of it.

Two weeks ago it started snowing here in Portland, sort of unbelievable it has been going on so long now. C was just about to step on a plane with the boys for the first time and venture off to the East Coast. Due to that initial dusting of snow and some scheduling luck I got out of work early that day, coming home to an impromptu party.

The R family had picked up their tree that afternoon and were full swing in an all-out Christmas family tree decorating fest. There was a long train of classic Christmas movies playing, and discussion of what ornaments to put where now that their little one is 2 years old. Dancing and delicious dinner, cookies and silliness. For our first holiday season with our friends here it was a sincerely heartwarming night. As for the first day of snow and tree decorating for MNJ and SL it was a whole lot of fun.

light reading

Oh, help- we are snowed in and I'm unprepared without a book to read! Oh merciful cabin fever!

I'm staying with our friends here in Mt. Tabor and the snow is ridiculous. Maybe not the most snow I've ever seen, or that terrible ice storm that hit the East Coast, but the fact that it's still snowing?! There comes that point in every snow storm where you look outside and pout just a little bit that the white fluffy is still winter wonderlanding out there.

I was catching up on some internet reading over coffee this morning and stumbled upon this article about The Year in Photos. Anyone else crawling the walls? Well, this one's a little light reading for any of you who forgot your book too.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

1,000 Handmade Greetings

1,000 Handmade Greetings

Hooray! Through a turn of events (snow storm + work canceled + socializing in the neighborhood) we went out to dinner and my computer came home from it's fix-it. Hello again Mr. Computer and your treasure trove of photos to edit, hello again internet, hello poor neglected blog.

While I was away computer-hopping, the 1,000 Handmade Greetings book from Quarry Books has been published. That's me on page... oh, I have yet to see the book, but I'm in there somewhere. :) You'll see a picture of me pointing at the page I'm on once I get my hands on one because I'm just that sort of nerd. If you're curious who got into the book it was this little lady from the Gocco days:

Along with the book, last week was also a good news week because some of the printed cards ended up over at Oblation Papers & Press here in Portland. Now, it just so happens that I have an in at that particular establishment, but I was pleasantly surprised that there was a thrill nonetheless in putting the cards out on the shelves. If this is the distraction I get from missing my nephews? I'll take it.
(for now)

The boys are safe and warm on the East Coast for weeks or months depending on how those weeks or months go. It's true, I miss them and think of them all the time. SL just started smiling a lot right before they left, and MNJ with all of those silly faces he makes? Goodness what a gift those two little people have been for all of us.

And, like everyone everywhere else, news wouldn't be news these days without a weather report. Yes, even here in the land of rain and more rain we have snow and more snow this year. For my first Portland winter it is beyond okay to have an unexpected (never-ending?) snowstorm giving us hell. I had been thinking I might have to go up to the mountain to see it, but it came to the metro area all on its own. Now every day that goes by we think, "thaw?" or "ice?" with reports that this "trend" will continue through Christmas.
Meaning none of us know.

So my friends, I hope the world has been treating you well while I was away on my internet vacation. I'm off to a concentrated photo-editing mission and to catch up on about a hundred-hundred blogs. Stay warm out there campers, and drive safe.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I said goodbye to my sister and infant nephews this morning, the end of the opening chapter of our lives here on the west coast and beginning of the grand re-shuffling that marks our next ventures.  Celeste is off to spend a month or so with our parents back east, introducing the boys all around to the friends and loved ones we are far away from out here. As for me, I'll fill the time while they are away initiating momentum in what must be every other sector of my life- these continued transitions seem like they've been relentless.  I have much more to post on the last several days, the upcoming weeks, and everything in-between... but (similar to my  recent posts) today will just have to be quick.

The unbelievable news is that after my computer had it's unfortunate decline last week, I came home from work Sunday and Celeste reported her computer also died.  Hers actually won't even turn on. This is incredibly ill luck for keeping the online business going, as you can imagine.  Our immeasurably generous friends the R family are keeping me afloat by letting me sneak onto their computer for the time being... catching up with a week's worth of orders and dizzying email build-up.  The fact is, I have got to figure out a scenario that will resolve this immediately. 

Otherwise, I really do miss blogging with purpose and intention, and can't wait to hop back into editing photos and organizing subjects so that I can offer you, dear visitors, something with more substance than "more later!"
...until then...
...wish us luck. :)  

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

more page turning

While our friends are away celebrating Christmas early, my sister and I have taken care of their house over for the week. I've moved my countless small parts of the "web store" merchandise, shipping, packaging and set-up across the mountain (because that sounds dramatic) to this home away from home. I'll probably store my store in my locker at work until I figure out my transitional housing situation, intent on not going back into Vacation Mode after so much time taken post-cross country. These things are all well and good, part of the ending of one chapter and the beginning of another, but for my computer running into a clitchy phase right in the middle of it.

That has sort of been a cause of some worry and intense frustration.

I'm blogging tonight from my sister's computer before heading off to some much needed sleep. I'm reassured that through these waves, the tasks of working on my little ouou land are a great comfort to me. Wrapping cards, making freebie sets, taping mailers... I really like being in the business of making mail. :) But, well, that's why I don't have much news to share tonight~ up in the air these things go, and I'm here on the ground wondering where the chips will fall this time around.

Monday, December 8, 2008


It appears the beginning of December is big on "brainstorm" mode. Between Thursday and today I've thought of countless versions of new ideas I want to try out in the shop, filling the corners of my tiny notebook I carry around for on-the-bus scribbles. This is encouraging for my whole relationship with the shop- it feels really good to have a longer view of being back on Etsy than just Christmas.

Right now projects have different levels of involvement since the shop is still in it's early stages of being back in circulation. Some of you may remember the mobile I made for my sister when the boys were first born, I would love to try out a few of those for ouou the shop. Involvement = high. Other things, like adding some 4 card sets to the currently only 6 card set stocked shop = manageable. It is the things in between, those just out of reach, that really have my imagination going these days...

I'm picking up on wholesaling to Brick & Mortar stores this season: more on that later. With the handy coincidence of working in the letterpress industry I've learned what I like to see on cards/ art, the value of having fun with design, and a thing or two about exceptional, minimal design. With another logo-avatar already inked I hope to have a small logo on the back of my cards on upcoming batches soon. Some designs that never quite flew last year, as well as a few that did but I never really felt were finished, are having small-detail makeovers before returning.

That's the news for tonight~ things are still in the works around here, behind the scenes. Before I go, let me just add that my sister absolutely made my day by bustin' out one of last year's iron-on ouou gear onesies. Shoghi is above sporting just such a design that never made it into the shop... not half bad! Thanks, sister... hopefully he'll fit this for more than a few seconds (smile). I'll be bringing the iron-ons back in full force any day now. Ah, sweet sweet encouragement.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

More Autumn color tonight, this time from a neighborhood walk some days ago around the Mt. Tabor area. What is this amazing bush that has these wonderful purple berries!? I was so glad I had my camera at the ready (and it wasn't raining. this is Portland, after all).

I have been sketching, I promise... and here's a sketch to prove it. Things may be really up in the air for me right now but it feels very good to have a goal of increased creative output, the first most immediate goal being new designs for the Gocco. More sketches to come, both here and on my Flickr. Short post tonight... it's my Friday!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

front page Treasury this morning

Well, just about 45 m left before the first day of posting a post every day this week would have been a bust. :) we are approaching midnight over here and I'm nearly cross-eyed with weariness. But, hey! What an exciting day it was.

When I got up this morning and slogged over to my computer, clutching my steaming cup of Stumptown coffee and curling my cold tootsies, there was one of my card designs on the Etsy Front Page! I tell 'ya, that is a great way to start any morning, I was grinning all the way to work. I don't actually know who put it together, Treasuries had shuffled by the time I got back to lists... but thank you to everyone behind the almost 40 new "hearts". Oh what a morning.

Spending some time in Treasuries tonight, I found another that DebsDesign had put together with some ouou flair. I was hoping these kids would start showing up in treasuries again, I always did seem to like whatever combinations they ended up being in--- something about loving that red and blue. Thank you DebsDesign shop for the killer placement in this sweet Holiday treasury. I even get to share realestate with my girl RikRak, and that cute little foxy w marshmallows print I keep seeing everywhere. I'm off to share some hearts of my own before bed!

Friday, December 5, 2008

the long road

tea with red dragon back in the shop!

I started this post early this morning, but now its night and C & I are hanging out with the twins (sleeping). It has been a while since I was consistently blogging... there are lots of reasons for that.

These days the boys sure are getting big- it seems ages ago it was summertime and there we were spending all that time at the hospital waiting to meet them. Now M is sucking his thumb, S is finding his smile (those gummy grins are killing me!), and just as a pattern has started to emerge around all of our schedules, C is off in no time at all to spend a couple months back home. Oh, and Lost is coming back on (wink sweet sister). While my nephews are getting to know the scratchy skyline of a New England winter, their auntie hopes to be full sail on art * art * art.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner.

As for me, this month previous has found hard economic times at my place of employment, with growing anxiety and worried faces. With all the strife effecting myself and people I love and care about, it has been disheartening at times to get through the month. Normally I wouldn't get into things like that, but I know a lot of people are suffering through uncertain times and grave decisions right now.

Disheartening, but there has been a lot to be grateful for (now I'm realizing I missed the Thanksgiving post... I even had the obligatory "baby next to turkey" photo. damn.).

I feel lucky indeed to be able to joyfully re-enter my Etsy career, and even luckier that my customers have been good spirited and welcoming~ we could all use such simple kindnesses these days. I've sold out of every last Gocco printed journal that made the cross-country adventure of moving... within two weeks
of having the shop open again. That was truly magical!

* * *
My earnest desire is that my next move involves a place to unfurl the printmaking system again. Every precious moment of downtime is spent with a pencil in hand. Although, now that the shop is up, there is necessary computer time, too. Not many blogs I follow talk about the person behind the scenes, or the process of keeping one's self inspired (blog suggestions or reading material ALWAYS welcome, ladies and gents) but friends and neighbors let's just admit it's not always easy. There are more than enough distractions from the simple act of beginning and finishing a drawing.

Those of you following the blog last year know that it was intended to document the opening and beginning of my Etsy shop. Printmaking came next, and knitting, then cooking, then painting. Although I would love to pick up right where I left off, life is full of a million beginnings and endings, the rolling along of events. What I'm going to try and do is just begin with this week: I'm going to try and post every night until next Saturday. Revive the blog and see what kind of art can come around again from the bottom of a backpack, while house-sitting here with my sister. Why not? I've been living in flux for years now, and at least for a week my computer will be in one house, consistently. With any luck I could even become one of those people who do something crafty every day (...again)!

Very heartfelt best to those of you out there who are having a difficult time this winter. Goodnight, dears, and don't forget the simple kindnesses.