Wednesday, December 29, 2010

They Fit Like a Mitten

January Valentines!

Get these Four Hats letterpress cards here, here, here or at!

Friday, December 17, 2010

A personal advent

advent stockings for purchase here

This really struck a chord with me. I can relate heavily to being in the waiting place known to many simply as the mid-twenties. Though I love and have been greatly blessed by my current job, it cannot sustain. I am in search of what's next. I've held up my end of this bargain. I've put irons in the fire, and watched them burn. I've acted and waited with no bites to date.

This is not new. I sat in this seat last year. Again, I am reminded that my praying and waiting points to a greater Advent. For four weeks leading up to Christmas, children across the globe take it day by day. A piece of chocolate, a charm, a decoration. One at a time, each signals to them the truth that He is coming, but we cannot rush His timing.

As I look ahead this season, may I be reminded once more that He does not intend to exasperate me with the longing. May the days in waiting only cause me to seek Him more, knowing He answers the door to those who knock.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Year in Calendartines

Be a sweetie all the year through, sending kind wishes your valentine's way. Get the whole year in Calendartines at!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Hauliday

If you're anything like me, one look at a Chronicle book leads to near obsession with their entire line. That's why, in the spirit of wishful thinking, I'm entering their contest to WIN! oodles of books this holiday, simply by making a list of some of their sought-after titles.

I choose:

And hey, if you comment here, you might win too!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

While I Wait

God spoke again to Ahaz. This time he said, "Ask for a sign from your God. Ask anything. Be extravagant. Ask for the moon!"

But Ahaz said, "I'd never do that. I'd never make demands like that on God!"

So Isaiah told him, "Then listen to this, government of David! It's bad enough that you make people tire with your pious, timid hypocrisies, but now you're making God tired. So the master is going to give you a sign anyway. Watch for this: A girl who is presently a virgin will get pregnant. She'll bear a son and name him Immanuel (God-With-Us)." Isaiah 7:10-14, msg

I haven't been very watchful of God lately. I haven't travelled God-consciously on my journey. I have had ingrown eyeballs. And strangely enough, I haven't even been asking God for much of anything. No, this doesn't prove me pious or selfless. It proves me so self-consumed that I haven't even stopped to recognize the giver of good gifts.

In the passage above, King Ahaz (descendant of David) was likewise drowning in self-thought. A threat of foreign invasion had him and his people shaking in their boots. When God asked him what he wanted, Ahaz sloughed him off. I don't need anything from God, he thought. Because he was certain that he could take care of himself. He feigned confidence in the strength of his own army. He was satisfied with what he was doing to make things right.

But, God wasn't having it. I'm going to give you a sign anyway, He says. Ahaz didn't deserve it. He wasn't asking. And YET, God showed him the greatest sign of hope. He told him about a hope he wasn't even waiting for. Years and years down the road, a teenage virgin would carry the Savior of the World in her flesh. Her humanity would make it possible for God to dwell with man. But, Ahaz couldn't see past his present troubles. He couldn't see that not only could God conquer a neighboring foreign army, He could conquer sin.

I, too, often neglect to come to the Lord in asking. I, too, am caught up in hypocrisy, too concerned with my own acts to realize that God is not short-sighted. But, the good news this Christmas, this Advent season, is that it doesn't matter. No matter how ready, how needy, how cognizant we are of our gracious God, He gives. He speaks. He acts.

Thanks be to our God who comes near.

Let It Leaven

It's that time of year again... time to sigh and take a look at the months past, time to gear up for those ahead. It's about time to be resolute about something in the new year. For a few years now, I've been known to make rhyming claims about the time before me. Two years ago, my hope was to get back to craft, last year to begin again with a new outlook on life and career. For 2011, I'm thinking both specifically and vaguely.

I do declare that I want to "Let it Leaven in 2011."

That said, quite literally, I commit to learning the art of bread making. I hope to dirty the pages of this book, to get some face time with legit artisan bakers and to sink my hands into the dough of tens of varieties of loaves. I've made a few starter loaves, but I'd like to amp it up this next year, and get better at bread.

On the other side of the coin, I'm hoping that 2011 is a year during which my letterpress hopes and dreams will have room to rise. For the last year or so, I've planted seeds, watered them and waited. Now, it's time to let the yeast do it's natural thing, and aerate. It's time to watch things grow. While I don't make any promises, nor do I set too high expectations for myself, I do want to see change happen this year. I'd like to stash away more and more capitol to someday soon be able to buy a press and open the studio of my dreams.
I'm willing to work, and I'm willing to wait. I just pray that given some room to grow, these plans will make some headway this year.
What are you scheming for the year ahead?

Monday, December 6, 2010

More Wedding Bells are Ringing

This was my first-ever full wedding suite. The job was two color and printed on Crane Lettra's cottony 100 pound paper. The beautiful design was done by the bride.
My sincerest congratulations on the union!

No Sloppy Seconds

my booth!

I've got lots of leftover letterpressed goodies from the holiday craft bazaar this weekend, and will be soon updating my etsy shop with all of them! Look out for full sets of Calendartines, Sweet Something Cards, Thank Yous, Banners and more! Get crafty for Christmas at

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Come See Me

At Four Hats' first ever appearance at a craft show -- a Holiday Craft Bazaar to be more precise. Come on out Friday, Saturday or Sunday. I'll be there with bells on.

And in honor...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Giving Thanks and Gearing Up

Allow me to present Four Hats Press' December Valentines. Send warm wishes someone's way with one of these three cards, now available at, at Urban Standard,Charm or Zoe's Consignment. Happy Holidays!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Maybe it is so

The below stanza of "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" is kicking my sorry-for-myself-life's-so-hard behind. I'll bet, on the first Christmas night, all worries and chatter ceased when an army of angels broke through the pristine winter night to put sound to glory. No matter how burdensome life was, Christ's first breath signaled hope for glad and golden hours. He is coming, He is here. Maybe it is true that God puts truth in the mouths of men. Maybe He does look for various ways to remind us when we've forgotten.

O ye beneath life's crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow;
Look now, for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing;
Oh rest beside the weary road
And hear the angels sing.

This version of the song is my choice this season. And yes, I'm listening to it now -- five whole days before Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Joy Ride

It was a real treat to create this two-color letterpressed wedding invite for two friends after a sunrise bike ride culminated in their engagement. My sincerest congratulations
and best wishes for a happy marriage ahead.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Out of the Quiet

I know I haven't been very vocal in this space lately. If I'm quite honest, it's not that I've been too busy to put ink to my thoughts. Neither has it been that I've been processing my life in alternate ways. The plain truth is that I just haven't had much to say. I've been gliding through a life that's become my normal, complete with its joys and frustrations.

That was until I was recently challenged by a friend to think about God's goodness. How can I know if He is good if it only appears as though He is good to some?

Soon after our discussion, I prayed to the Lord to help me to see Him as not just good-to-me, but as GOOD. I don't think I even know what that means, if I've only ever perceived it as material blessing, financial security, relational comfort. If I count God's kindness to me as the good things I've gotten from him, I've bought into a small-minded theology.

As sure as He lives, He's begun to answer my prayers to see and know Him apart from His gifts. In a real, in-my-face way, I'm being called to trust again in a God I cannot see. I'm being asked to believe in a God that provides, a God called El Shaddai, All Sufficient. I cling to the wisdom of Proverbs that asserts:

Those who trust in their riches wll fall,
but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.
Proverbs 11:28

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Going to the Chapel

(photo by this guy)

I recently had the pleasure of printing a wedding invite and thank-you card set for the above-pictured maritally blissful couple. It was a treat to do the work for friends, to work with them to create an image particular to their story and to take a small part in the continuation of their beautiful lives together. Below are some images of the final products.

I've taken on a couple more wedding suite jobs, and am immensely enjoying the start-to-finish process of creating something for such a special day in two people's journey together. While my studio access is limited, I work when and how I can to print, print, print. I love the work and hope and pray that I am taking the right steps towards making it my business to be hip to hip with my own hunk of metal soon. Stick with me. Four hats press is on the move.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Fall Feast Your Eyes

...on these letterpressed November Valentines from fourhatspress.

Send a sweet note to one who seasons your life with bright color and flavor.

More Days of Fall Fun

It's my favorite time of year. When greens fade and turn to gold and orange, shining their brightest before they gracefully fall again to earth to die and begin again. The sky blue deepens; the air smells cleaner. The crisp air begs for fires and warm cups. Oh, I love the autumn.

This weekend marked my 4th Annual Day of Fall Fun, complete with many of the above things together with fun friends, tasty seasonal foods, and pumpkins.

Then, last night, it was a Halloween party, to which I donned
the below handmade (by Jacob) costume.

A french kiss, just like on my latest Sweet Something card!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Hey Pumpkin

Not only is he our favorite NPR radio voice,
Ira Glass looks pretty durn good on our pumpkin this year.*

*Engineered and carved by my valentine and I. Alright, honestly, mostly my valentine.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Another Sweet Something

Bonjour, madames and miseurs. Presenting another candy-inspired "Sweet Something" from fourhatspress... with a french twist. Get em at Urban Standard or here!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Falling for Flavors

(Image from Smitten Kitchen)

As alluded to previously, I've been bobbing for pumpkins and apples in the kitchen. The results have produced some satisfying seasonal deliciousness. Some of the recipes I've most enjoyed include:
These Whole Wheat Apple Muffins (pictured above)
This Pumpkin Apple Soup
These Sweet Potato Biscuits (most especially with buttered brown sugared ham)

What are some of your favorite fall-ish recipes?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A Retrospective

It wasn't that long ago that I woke up to this every morning. This time last year, each new sunrise would find me in the spot right behind this camera lens angle. Coffee cup in hand, I would sit on the front porch of the Craft House at Penland, taking in these sights, breathing in pristine mountain air. I would read, I would pray, I would journal and prepare for another day in the studio;
another day of creating.

This was the view from the expansive windows of our studio. It was settled right into the mountain below the colorful blanket of autumn-kissed trees where the season unfolded over each slow and full day. Inside its walls, the sound of presses cranking and metal cylinders rolling woke me up from a creative slumber. I was renewed to the possibility of engaging both my hands and my mind in my work.

I'm more than a little nostalgic for this beautiful season in my life, but the memories of this momentary pasture live as I'm shifted to another bright vision.*
* reference to Mary Oliver's, "The Fall Song"

Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Bite of Fall

I've been experimenting with some autumn-flavored confections. For results, stay tuned.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Clad in Plaid for October

Autumn is around the bend, bringing with it vivid colors, warm plaids, aromatic seasonal flavors, and.... October valentines!

Falling for someone this October? Nothing like a Calendartine from fourhatspress to let them know! As always, find them at and soon (by the first of the month) at Urban Standard, Zoe's and Charm. Get 'em while it's cooling off!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Alive and Awake In the Silence

(Blossoming Almond Tree by Vincent Van Gogh)

I've been thinking a great deal on the following passage from trappist monk and deep thinker, Thomas Merton. The following is part of No Man Is An Island's chapter on silence. The excerpt may be a bit lengthier than your attention span, but I urge you: take a few minutes, read it slowly, read it again. You won't be sorry.

Those who love their own noise are impatient of everything else. They constantly defile the silence of the forests and the mountains of the sea. They bore through silent nature in every direction with their machines, for fear that the calm world might accuse them of their own emptiness. The urgency of their swift movements seems to ignore the tranquility of nature by pretending to have a purpose. The loud plane seems for a moment to deny the reality of the clouds and of the sky, by its direction, its noise, and its pretended strength. The silence of the sky remains when the plane has gone. The tranquility of the clouds will remain when the plane has fallen apart. It is the silence of the world that is real. Our noise, our business, our purposes, and all our fatuous statements about our purposes, our business, and our noise: these are the illusion.

God is present, and His though is alive and awake in the fullness and depth and breadth of all the silences of the world. The Lord is watching in the almond trees, over the fulfillment of His words (Jeremiah 1:11).

Whether the plane pass by tonight of tomorrow, whether there be cars on the winding road or no cars, whether men speak in the field, whether there be a radio in the house or not, the tree brings forth her blossoms in silence.

Whether the house be empty or full of children, whether the men go off to town or work with tractors in the fields, whether the liner enters the harbor full of tourists or full of soldiers, the almond tree brings forth her fruit in silence.

The slightly-accusatory tone of Merton's words leads me to confess that I am often self-importantly busy, loving to fill my Moleskine with names and appointments and errands. It makes me feel like a real person to have things on the to-do list. I'll be quite honest when I say that lately I've felt mounting pressure to establish myself as a more real participant in the professional world. But, what for? Is it just so that I have a title to spout out when someone asks me what I do? Is it so that I no longer have to feel slightly sheepish when I tell people I am a blue collar worker, that I scrounge to piece together my income?

For whatever reason, I stay occupied. I flit here and there to keep up the appearance of adult life. But, the busyness is the illusion. I find myself understanding the Ecclesiastes' "it's all smoke" spiel more and more every day. My work will not last. My legacy will surely not be remembered for long.

It's just chasing after the wind.

Of course, none of this is an excuse to check out and fail to see the long-lasting effects of relationships in the midst of my work and life. I am deeply aware that God's hope for Christians is that they will be active participants in the redemption of this earth. And that lasts forever.

But in the din of my noise-making, my failure to quiet enough to listen are the patient silences of the world, the underlying calm voice of a Sovereign-over-all-God.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Greater Than Our Worried Hearts

My dear children, let's not just talk about love; let's practice real love. This is the only way we'll know we're living truly, living in God's reality. It's also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves. 1 John 3:18 (the msg)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

How Bazaar

It's a ways away, but go on and mark your calendars for this year's Holiday Craft Bazaar, set to take place at Avondale Park during the first weekend in December. I'll be there with my wares: full sets of Calendartines, special thank you cards, sweet somethings, and maybe even some special edition prints. I'm busy preparing now, looking forward to the artistic push I'll likely get from some of the talents of Birmingham's Art Walk this weekend.

Lots to look forward to.

A jolly hurrah for local art.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Take Note

Take note of someone special this month with a September valentine.
As always, find them at (here, or soon here or here)!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Waking Up with Leah

I feel like I've been through the ringer during the last few days. The pressure to make a quick decision about my financial and artistic future had me scurrying to procure wisdom from every direction. Thank goodness, the hefty choice was one I did not end up having to make. Coupled with a little disappointment was relief. I'm out of control once again, but in the best way possible. A needed reminder.

I recently listened to an old Tim Keller sermon* about the story of Jacob, Laban, Leah and Rachel (found in Genesis 29). Generally speaking, it's a story of a deceptive son who runs away from home in search of solace from himself. Jacob ends up working for his uncle, Laban, and falling in love with Laban's beautiful youngest daughter, Rachel. Jacob asks Laban for her hand in marriage, and devotes seven years of his life in labor for her. After his last day of work, he receives who he thinks is his bride in a drawn out wedding ceremony. Throughout the wedding day and into the night, she is veiled, as per custom. It isn't until the morning after that Jacob realizes he's been duped when he wakes up beside Leah, Rachel's older (less-attractive) sister.

I, too, try to escape the messes I've made to search for an evasive happiness in something that cannot bring it. I toil for what I think I want to be my dream-come-true. But, no picture-perfect job, no full-of-life-culture-art city, no other wonderful-beyond-words human being can bring the fulfillment I seek. As Keller says, in running to these things for my answers, I go to sleep with Rachel, and wake up with Leah.

And I always will if I hold to a conscious or subconscious belief that a, b or c will make my life complete. I walk around in circles of my twenty-something search for life meaning. I wait for it all to make sense. Maybe once I do this, get there, achieve that. But Rachel is just a gorgeous idea. And she always seems just beyond my reach.

Perhaps it's just because she was never meant to be my prize.

*audio here, entitled "The Struggle for Love."

Friday, August 20, 2010

End Results

(image borrowed from Chronicle Books)

I have a tendency to be results-driven, sometimes enjoying finished products more than the process it takes to make them. Nothing beats admiring a stack of multi-colored, scored, folded, sleeved priced letterpress cards. Likewise, I've been getting quite a thrill from watching my quilt come together row, by finished row. And naturally, I enjoy having a table set with a meal that my hands have labored to create. But, I wonder if I'm sometimes too bent on the finishing that I'm not enjoying the joys and hardships of the step-by-step. If I'm too concentrated on the end, I'm sure to miss out on the scenery. Lord, help me to see both the trees and the forrest, even be able to stop and meander off the path for a spell, wide-eyed and willing.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Small Bite, Big Apple

I just returned from a tour de l'East Coast, dropping off a dear friend in the Big Apple for her new beginning. Our road tripping took us north to DC and through various New England states before we put the brakes on in NYC.

(Hint: click on the city names for links to some of the songs that soundtracked our journey)

The Capitol City is lovely.

The White House's backyard is just a vision (I thought I was seeing the front, and was thus underwhelmed. It took a drive around the corner to realize we'd been at the back door).

A kiss for FDR.

Then, it was on to New York, New York.

Our first real stop was in Brooklyn's Williamsburg. I loved this neighborhood, full with it's hipsters, artists and trust fund babies. (Apparently this part of town has the highest unemployment rate for folks who still pay rent.) We made a stop to visit and talk shop with the friendly folks of Couer Noir. They do some fine work.

Then, it was on to The Arm Studios to see a rent-a-press space in action. What do you know, I ran into my Penland teacher, Bryan Baker. It was wonderful to see him and a real treat to be able to see that such a resource exists in the city for hobbyist printers.

Terribly exciting for a press-less printer like myself.

I found the perfect lunch spot (Radish) filled with vintagey apron-clad girls serving seasonally freshly prepared foods. I had this grilled zucchini, pesto and gruyere sandwich on raisin nut bread with a peach rosemary spritzer to drink. Oh heavens, it was good.

Then it was back to Manhattan, where I stopped into Strand, and became obsessed with these pattern books.

We took a stroll through Central Park.

And wound up in Soho's Kate's Paperie, where I found some Night Owl Paper Goods cards, made right here in Homewood, Owlabama.

I also located the home to Soho Letterpress, but was way too much of a wuss to actually press the call button and go in. Apparently, the woman who started this company was one of the first to use polymer plates for printing.

The Brooklyn Flea was another fun find. I had visions of decking my tiny city apartment with all the full-o-character things I found.

Other things to note:

Rooftop Films. We went and saw Last Train Home, a documentary about a Chinese working force family split up by the parent's need to provide. It was a heartbreaking tale, not only of the terrible conditions of factory worker lives, but of the strain on family relations. (Beautiful music that evening was provided by Mountain Man.)

Spoonbill and Sugartown was a pretty great bookshop in Williamsburg.

Spice was a deelicious Indian-esque restaurant in the Union Square area.

Gimme Coffee's latte was a small taste of home.

Dean and Deluca: not only home to fine fare, but also the workplace of and inspiration for the set of Felicity.

New York. Gosh, do I want to be a part of it. I was singing a similar song when I visited the city two years ago. I want to wake up in the city that never sleeps....New York, New York!