Monday, April 27, 2009


All those other things I said I would post about are becoming a jumble in my mind. I have a pocket full of drafts that I keep picking away at- it is so frustrating I'm just writing tonight without an outline.

I'm watching a shift in my process take root. It had been a truly remarkable April, with wildly varied results. I feel good and bad about the work, and good and bad about my shop, and I think with the chaos ensuing right now inside me about how to carry on~ this means to me that there is a shift happening.

I've spent the last couple days looking at the list (and schedule) of projects and tasks that got finished this month. I'm proud of the work I've done, and especially grateful for the marketing group and local small businesses that have reached out and shown such beautiful support. But I'm banging my head against something, too, and even if it only shows for me- it shows, hurts, stalls me. I've got a fist clenched tight around aspects of having an online business and don't like putting myself through that discomfort. I've been banging my head and asking "why is it there!" (been doing that a lot) in my worse moments, but in my better its just there, and I just observe.

I'm looking ahead to a really involved spring and summer with all sorts of printmaking adventures. For those of you familiar with my blog along the way, a lot of this stuff might feel like repeats and I'm sorry for that. Unpacking the Gocco silkscreen after half a year in storage has been like learning it all over again.

packing for the road trip last April

...moving... moving... moving cross country

We are lucky to still have our old screens to begin with, working out the kinks of what we remember and what still doesn't work. Last year I shut down for the road trip right at a high point in my silkscreen learning curve, so I'm really excited about trying more new things as the process unfolds. In fact, I was able to go out today and prepare with some supplies... thinking thinking thinking about some new Gocco prints in the scratchy style my Original Art has been taking on lately. Hmmm...

The world, my world, is earth-shatteringly different than it was last year when we drove out of PA and said goodbye. But maybe in terms of my internal conversation about art-making, about being a shop owner for better or worse, about the time I spend in the grass, on the beach, riding the bus (what have you) vs. online~ maybe that conversation had been left breath-baited since last year.

For the introverted girl, never really into kids, not showing her drawings to anyone, wanting to stay close to home, what a limited range I stepped out of! The bend in the road that brought me here had everything to do with standing by my sister as she became a mom, and forging a relationship with these babies (what on earth did I know about kids!?)... it has yet to let up in its varied and intense life lessons. Now that I think of it, those are the places where my life has really bloomed, through poorness and riches alike.

Hopefully that's where my art process is calling me, toward a bend, toward challenges and wonders of a new brilliance. This vertigo is from shaking out the old routines a little, about to discover a vibrant chapter lined with laughter and color. In the meantime I'm going to focus on the three most important mediums for me: Gocco, pencil, watercolor. All other resources are focused on hopefullness, anticipation, and love (since somehow that got us through before, yeah?). I'd say that's a pretty good plan.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

finding time

Now that our parents are back home, the end of April marks another oppertunity to take stock, focus, and resume work. I spent much of today printing up a large order of 60 + cards in hopes for new accounts around town, then the cutting, scoring, and packaging of those cards (as well as some Etsy sets). In an effort to see the results of my month of strategy and scheduling, I set a date at the beginning of April to report on the progress of my shop throughout the month. I'll post that tomorrow, as well as the usual family post that's been coming out Sundays.

So here we are trying to find time again. I'm branching out into sewing, using some of the Gocco prints of Knitty Otter. Having a hobby to entertain myself is a comfort. I feel good to be practicing, working up to the macchine and then from there into having a new craft. It feels as though I'm spending more and more time on the computer, so something as simple and primitive as sewing warms my heart after hours of looking at a screen. I'm hopeful this is a harbinger for a more organic season for me, slowing down, with projects flowing one to the next and a renewed feeling of centered peace.

I listed the second Knitting Otter shoulder tee in the shop today. There are 4 altogether, the next two being "seconds" (or slightly mis-inked versions), not including the one I made for my nephews. I decided to photograph MNJ in the Otter tee (SL was napping) that is a replica of today's listing, using a ball of yarn as a prop, and entered into being one of those Etsy sellers with their kin modeling wares. MNJ had different ideas, of course, so although I didn't get much of the actual shirt, the two of us had a good time playing with yarn, sunshine, and the camera. The shirt is cotton, 6-9 months, with brown Gocco ink. The one for sale has no sweet potato on it, I promise. :)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Etsy Day

Etsy Day article by The Storque...
...put together by contributors- and my People drawing appears
on the list!

Today is Etsy Day, um, I guess you could say the first annual. Its pretty exciting to see such enthusiasm about marketing Etsy around your community/ city/ town. The thought was to create a "buzz" and some mystery around the site, and was brought to you by the Etsy contributors instead of the Etsy admins. They've embraced the guerrilla marketing tactic, and have an article on The Storque (Etsy's blog/ web magazine) today about getting involved. This is the good stuff if you're part of Etsy, knowing that your support and building knowledge about the site helps fellow artists out there to succeed, thrive, and craft another day.

I almost jumped out of my pajamas this morning when I followed the link on this (above) Treasury and saw one of my drawings on the Etsy Day article of The Storque! This morning our parents departed for the cross-country flight back to Massachusetts, I'm still in the lurch of sadness. Having them here playing with the twins and filling our days with laughter... the house felt so empty right away. I thought that would be the extent of my day, posting later in the weekend. Happily, suddenly I'm catching up and shouting out- "Happy Etsy Day!"

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


I've got some new ACEOs for the shop, but since I haven't had much photo editing time, I thought I'd continue on the Gocco theme. These shoulder tee's are the newest incarnation of Knitting Otter before his screen disintegrated. For now, all the baby clothes are one of a kind editions. The next step will be to collect several shirts of the same style and print all of those- but I've got a stack of mis-matched baby clothes standing next to the Gocco. At the end of the lives of these screens from last year, I'll be going through those and listing "Limited Edition" styles.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

print print print

While my visiting family are enjoying the sunset on Mt. Tabor, I'm home alone with fresh strawberries, warm brownies, sleeping nephews.... time to sneak in a blog post!

Other than a week of uploading ACEOs, I've been behind the scenes using silkscreen, cutting and sewing. A nice, fruitful print run of last year's Gocco screens and the Knitting Otter left me with more than a few projects to stretch throughout the week. For the Gocco on fabric, neither my sister or I had any luck with using the press, so we squeegee our designs using a credit card. It makes for much cleaner, more uniform prints. It also kills the screen, which is meant to be used under the press but goes about as far as a handmade silkscreen would. This last run was the end of Knitting Otter. His screen peeled and tore. Seeing a screen fall apart of the first time was rather shocking, but I feel like I got a lot out of it.

"Knitting Otter" in brown ink

What a mess! I love printmaking.

Otter screen, peeling around the lines.

With any luck I'll be updating soon and bringing the clothing into the shop first, the sewn bits take a while longer.

While I'm online, I also wanted to mention Earth Mosaic. For those of you interested in Earth Day tomorrow, you can add an artistic and personal peice of flair to the holiday by contributing a photograph of a natural setting. The photo will then be used as part of a giant mosaic. They have a huge Flickr pool, too! The thing is, your camera has to record that the photo was taken on Earth Day~ so get out there and take a journalistic view of your big blue lovely Earth. If you read this, and have shared a photo- I would love a link in comments!

Happy Earth Day, everyone, and thank's for the strawberries Mother Earth. :)

Monday, April 20, 2009

draw draw draw

Deliriously beautiful weather here in Portland, a visit from the folks, and so so so much time spent playing with my nephews today spells one tired lady tonight. Drawing has been going well, and having opportunity to paint has been lovely~ the newest ACEOs are coming into the shop this week! Here are a few WIP photos from a sunny day at my work table.

I'm happy to be bringing in so much color this spring. I love using bold black ink, but after the winter having a variety of colorful images is really refreshing. Stay tuned for more listings throughout the week- and upcoming news about my *first ever blog give-away*!!

Sunday, April 19, 2009


beginning silkscreen "knitting otter" project

During the week, most of my drawing, painting, and printmaking has been in preparation of the upcoming 5 days. My parents are coming all the way from Massachusetts, so I had to decide whether or not to go on an Etsy vacation during their trip. Happily, I've finished enough work and an outline for myself in order to organize the time in the morning and at night when I'll be working. No vacation, though during the days it will surely feel like one- and luckiest of all we have just stepped into the green green budding trees that light up all of Portland in a verdant springtime show.

It should be an eventful week around ouou. I have new ACEOs I'll be bringing in, with posts on Flickr too. I was able to spend the better part of an afternoon with the Gocco, and have some great pictures. I'll be posting about that, and listing a few items of clothing at long last. End the week with a new card set? I'm thinking about it. :)

MNJ chewing, and blowing raspberries

Circumstances may have conspired to help me day after day find time alone, a watercolor here or Gocco printing there, but I can't say it has made for the easiest week. The boys got their third illness in a long string of illnesses, and since there was never really any time to catch up in between them, such a chain of events was met with the cup 1/2 full of exhaustion for the mama.

Wrapping up a week of high-stress thankfully ends with counting off the subtle or grand changes the boys have gone through. It seems to work like this, days pass, and once we find ourselves back in routine there is some remarkable thing the boys have learned to do in the meantime. MNJ's little tooth is visible now, and you can plunk him down sitting on his bottom and he won't even bat an eye. The previous 8 months of not being able to sit unassisted certainly give you a feeling of incredible wonderment when a baby learns how.

The time might be stressful, but moments stand out as we continue to get to know these boys and they continue to explore their world. This most recent illness hit MNJ pretty fast, but SL with particular intensity. This time around he's had more bouts of sadness around being sick, the coughing, or his restless sleep. And, since SL is the scooter, it was a poignant change that he began scooting across the room, placing his hands on your knees, and looking for the life of him that he needed a good snuggle. I feel as though SL and I crossed over into being pals this week... not that we weren't before, but in this time before language every single shift that builds that connection has a newness. When C brought the boys back east for the holidays SL was barely smiling, but by the time I saw them again he was free and generous with his open-mouthed grins. Witnessing that change is like fireworks its so strong, and in some way that was what my week of SL hugs was like.

In closing, I want to mention that the dear, sweet felt artist RikRak had a little ouou artist spot on her blog this Friday. She requested an interview, with questions about inspiration, and then pairs the answers with inspiring images of her own- it was really fun! RikRak's craft weds flawless attention to detail (I bought one of her bibs for the boys while C was still pregnant and treasure it) with masterful use of color. I've admired her shop, gracious kindness, and now blog throughout my own Etsy journey. I'm really very honored to be mentioned, and hope you take this chance to stop by, say hello, and hear what she has to say about the crafting life.

Getting to Know a.c.e.o

Pirate Ship by jenbaardsen

The term ACEO can be a mysterious one to those just entering, or investigating, the world of Etsy. My sister was the one to introduce me to the concept, long before joining and opening my own shop, as an interesting exercise. I like a teeny tiny canvas, and these little guys are baseball card size, 2.5" x 3.5".

I have started keeping ACEOs in the shop regularly (or, as regularly as possible) since bringing them back in a big way for Valentine's Day, so I thought I would go through a refresher course on the blog. The images here are from other artists on Etsy and Flickr, through searches under atc ("Art Trading Card", aceo, and stitched aceo. I've created links under the respective pieces and encourage you to visit these wonderful shops!

A lot of people (just doing a search... a *lot* of people) on Etsy sell ACEO as digital prints. Because of this, and probably because "original" is therefore a loose term, prices vary wildly between $2.50 and over $20.00 for both reproductions and original art. ACEO stands for "Art Cards, Editions, and Originals" so a digital print can fall into the "Editions" category. There are some really beautiful digital works out there, but if you're overwhelmed by a search narrow the parameters by knowing which you are looking for, or try out other keywords such as "sewn" "photoshop" "collage" "watercolor" or "handmade". I also tag my original drawings "OOAK" meaning "One of a Kind" so there are numerous ways to narrow down a search.

Seashore 27 by hmsdesign

I think ACEOs are one of the mediums which truly set Etsy apart as a handmade, homemade marketplace and bridge the gap between "craft" and "art". Small, affordable, and often collected by those interested in emerging or established artists alike, these "trading cards" are almost whimsical in nature, like a secret society of original art lovers. I try and keep my own editions simple, precious, scratchy and true to the nature of pen & ink as I see it. I love the thought of these as character vignettes, and can see those same intentions in other artists using this canvas size to investigate ideas.

Take a look around at some of the remarkable variety in the world of ACEO!

Friday, April 17, 2009


The quickest of posts today (happy Friday!) as I've scored some drawing time and really must use it. One of my projects on the drawing table right now is bringing some of the recent Tea drawings to local coffee shops- you know the place, with art on the walls? In working on the pieces, I've also been spending quality time with my ACEO selection. This weekend I'm putting together another "Getting to know you" post about ACEO's in general, and thought I would announce that a whole new round is coming into the shop. Don't forget to check Flickr for advanced notice!

Also, I've been thinking of bringing in 2 card sets in the A2 size, whereas those card sets and prices now are sets of 4, 6 and 8. Any thoughts?

Okay, all, have a happy Friday & stay tuned~

Thursday, April 16, 2009

along the way

Most of this week has been spent brainstorming ideas about the business beyond list-relist of Etsy, painting, and keeping up with chores.

When I am painting regularly I often feel invigoration and optimism for building a livelihood with this. This week I started a painting Monday morning, and my excitement about working on it, finishing, photographing and Flickr-ing has lasted throughout the week. It feels good, too, to have had a pretty successful week (even when that does not translate into sales). There is something to be said for a slow moving Etsy shop, in that it has really pushed me to work much harder. Actually, I seem to be seeing those words everywhere when artists talk about a successful craft (or art) business~ its "lots of work". I began the month by pulling my hair out over seeing those words over and over, thinking~ but what does that mean!?

The saving grace for myself and keeping the shop through these lean times has been that I'm part of a group of friends and neighbors who are meeting and forming marketing strategies together. That, and I have one of the most supportive, encouraging, rallying sisters the good God put on this earth. All of us own and operate our small businesses alone, and though we are in completely different stages, types of business, and financial situations, everybody has come to the table with the same basic understanding of what the process is like. For my own business what that has meant has been to spread the net so much larger than the small comfort of Etsy. I'm investigating local businesses who I also hope to support and form relationships with. Right now two of the local shops I'm selling ouou cards in are:

Piccolina 2700 se 26th Avenue Portland, OR 97202 (26th and Clinton) a children's boutique selling *lots* of handmade clothes from local moms as well as furniture, toys and shoes, and at the Children's Exchange 3121 se Division Portland, OR 97202. Children's Exchange is a resale kid's shop with clothes, gear, and tons of local art.

At the same time, I'm exploring other ways to create art, both similar to the pen and ink style and not. These two kids were painted with gouache, I love the richness of these colors and the painterly texture gouache has. The hard work comes from just how many i's and t's you must dot/ cross in the kaleidoscope of business concerns. Painting, for me, is so encouraging, but even these works being "finished" means their life as a reproduced piece of work has just begun. I'm familiar with the gears grinding inside my Etsy shop, all the many steps that go on behind that $9.00 you just spent, but expanding into brick & mortar, mailings, prints and original art sales, silkscreen, craft shows, and Street Teams each have their own small universe of opportunity and sweat. As always, I'll let you know what hurdles I miss and what works along the way. For now, the more I see where the work is and what the work entails, the more I'm reassured that it is very satisfying.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


She's back!
In an attempt not to miss Mother's Day (yes, I released Bun the day before Easter- woops!) I've put Butterfly Skies back into the shop. Printed on crisp white card stock in a bold red Gocco ink, the Nouveau lines and turns make for one brilliant print. It feels good to have more and more silkscreen items around ouou these days.

Monday, April 13, 2009

fast moving clouds

Here in PDX we are having one of those classic spring days; rainy morning gives way to beautiful, dappled sunlight, clouds move in, hail, wind, then the sun breaks through again, crisp blue skies, followed by more fast moving clouds on the horizon. We've been getting about one of these days per week, and I absolutely love the dramatic swift changes.

Another thing like fast moving clouds that I'm noticing is my own flit from project to project. Although on the blog I'm trying to project the confidence gleaned from my self-imposed release schedule (releasing new designs and sets in the shop)... around here I had been suffering from some *crazy* vacillating. I have the pen & ink designs to show for it, and this makes me happy, but I've started countless projects in pencil, gouache (I really love gouache, though it has been almost 9 years since I've used the media), watercolor, colored pencil, and the beginnings of projects in Photoshop. Oh my gosh. Exciting to have these plates spinning, but a little confusing, too. Through some brainstorming with my sister, I was able to give myself an outline for what tasks I have ahead of me in regards to the shop, and what directions I'm headed in terms of creating a portfolio (hence the other works).

Ah, that feels nice.

One last thing regrding handmade... the brownies we tried last week from here were divine. I even got them put together in the mad-dash between dinner and my nephews' bedtime, so not so hard to make! I find brownies from scratch often to be too flour-y, but these were quite good, and not too sweet.

Sunday, April 12, 2009



It has been a week or so since I've reported on the house, the twins, and our unified efforts concerning sleep training. We are back in one of those long-lasting cycles of sickness, having happily graduated out of the flu symptoms into this uncomfortable respiratory cold. This has lasted longest with my sister, making sleep itself hard enough to come by. But sicky or no, the clock was ticking on our parents' imminent visit, and the urgent need to get both boys on a healthy night's sleep schedule was its own motivation. So I took a break from the blog through the third, triumphant, attempt at sleep training.

For three nights I stayed with MNJ, who C had started with. He is doing just fine at putting himself back to sleep if he wakes up at night, we even got through one of my notorious migraines together. C, meanwhile, worked with SL in a separate room. Somehow the whole deal, much shorter in duration than with MNJ, unfolded with a more sweet sense of normalcy. Right from the first night SL got more solid sleep stretches than he had since our moving in, two months ago, and the arrival of teeth.


It really does take days leading to weeks leading to stages to see the routines that eventually get set, those that fail, and those that either cause stress or are delightful. Cues from the boys sometimes take days to decipher, and most predictably~ once a patten emerges it is *very* hard to critically review it, perfect it, unless a change occurs to insight observation. The boys' babysitter came at night during the "witching hour" of bedtime/ dinner, allowing us an hour of transition time that was truly precious (and scrumptious!) for three nights. Having help, too, at an hour that is usually really intense for the mama, boys, and Aunty, as we all juggle each others needs, helped us to see how we can reorganize the time into 1/2 hour increments... by my estimation starting at 4 (dinner prep) and ending at 7 (bedtime).



I want to talk a little bit about the stage the boys are in, too, since it effects so much of our days, and since both C and myself have been reporting about sleep. Other things that are happening with the twins are more teeth, more skills, and more ridiculous noises from MNJ. MNJ got his first tooth what must be about a week ago now, though the anxiety his teething caused took several more days to clear. We are waiting on the next round from either one of them, but for now the sight of those pearly whites is more heartwarming than I ever, ever thought possible. He is practicing a variety of noises, incorporating his tongue as often as possible, and seems to be finding a new noise of interest every two or three days. He no longer growls, for example (which I really wanted my dad to witness, damn!) or spends the day shrieking... this morning it was raspberry raspberry, "dit", raspberry.


SL, owner of two teeth and scooter-across-rooms (in order to use them) is into doing push-ups on his toes right now, or any number of gymnastics that prove his agility and curiosity of his body's abilities. A couple of times while talking very closely with SL, he has reached out his hand and gone straight for my teeth. A look like, "Wow, you've got those too?" written on his face. You can see him comparing his internal world to the outside; discovering teeth and chewing, feeling texture on our clothes or between objects, grabbing at 2D pictures, peering over the edges of things. Both boys are delighted by clapping, the only thing that consistently works for me if they're both in a crying jag, MNJ just yesterday attempting for the first time to slap my open palm in between claps.

MNJ & SL, both a little bored :)

At 8 months, discovery is the name of the game right now, for both boys, and it's taken the pressure off of the constant, constant, constant entertainment phase they were going through last month. Just a little, but enough that those moments of watching them with growing patience to explore this or that has become part of the daily routine, discovery is a welcome addition to playtime. They are both mad about books, MNJ with his favorites (only the favorites, please) and SL more open to new stories, pictures, playing with them when other toys won't do. This makes their bookseller/ book artist Aunty *beam* with pride.

There has been a lot going on over here through the last month and a half, and hopefully night sleep has turned a corner.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

behind the scenes

This is kind of an addendum to the posts regarding The Schedule, a subject that is ongoing in our house of creative entrepreneurial endeavors, job seeking, baby care and day to day surprises. This list of all the plates we have spinning is loaded with emotional content, from the lows of frustration in the job search to the sweat and pitch of artistic inspiration of the many, many, many emotions that come from every little thing my baby nephews do. So, if you are trying to fit your head and your heart around a lot of shifting energies, I hope some of this will prove to be beneficial. The links should all open a new window (I hope!) if you wish to jump around.

I'll start with inspiration through commiseration, a link to a guest article from HeartHandmade. Adele's article outlines perfectly the inner dialogue when events in your life begin to compete and quickly overturn owning a business. Read the article "Navigating the Storm" here.

One of the most basic steps to creating a routine (that took me a while to figure out) is that our daily/ weekly schedule in the house was easier to make after a week of putting off making the schedule in the first place. Ah ha, sometimes in the not having you begin to get more clear with yourself about what the *have* would feel like. So my sister and myself observed and made note for just about a week as to what a week looked like already, what time spent together was productive, and where the traps were. The next step, which we ourselves are coming up on, is to check in after around two weeks and see what is working, what needs work. Personally, and as this pertains to my Etsy/ ouou time, I've applied these same guidelines to my shop itself and my time spent working on new products, and I feel much more clear with myself as to when and how often this work gets done.

We are lucky enough to live in a house with an extra room, and I can't express how incredible it is to have a study, studio, a room of one's own... we have named ours the "Room of Requirement". This serves as a work space for both of the working adults in the house, who are often using the space at opposite times of the day. I use my own room for the folders, stacks, boxes and organized chaos that comes along with the working half of an Etsy business, and the Room of Requirement houses my computer, shipping material, and the Gocco. I find it extremely helpful to do my computer work in a separate room, and even the Gocco printing I've done was quick, fun, and efficient.

I stumbled upon this blog post about having a catch-all room in the house, even more eye opening as it is geared toward children and parents (or Autnies, depending) sharing the space. Just reading the words Playful Learning made me feel inspired about the potential behind shared spaces. Follow the blog here.

C brought my attention to Modish Business Tips, a sideline blog by the curators of the sleek and stylish Modish. I've found these short articles to be very accessible and thought provoking. Last year at some point The Small Object had a post about using NOLO as a resource, but in my first year of the shop I found it very intimidating. Somehow with the people-person speak of Modish I've felt confident in going back and doing more research there. Certainly, as this spring I've begun selling wholesale and consignment to local shops here in Portland, these business structures and facts are helping to guide my steps like never before.

I've got to step away from the computer for now, so I hope this has brought some new links to explore and inspire. Feel free to leave any others in comments- I'll pick up where I left off here next week!


A few more notes on Spring Cleaning~ today I listed Puddles and Dragons back in the shop. This design shows Girl in her rain slicker, romping through spring puddles with her best imaginary friend, Green Dragon. I have also changed the photographs back on the Gocco version of Sofie and the Bird, since my updated photograph that's been up all winter is not so clear.