Friday, April 30, 2010

A Word of Thanks

image c/o of Yeehaw Industries by way of etsy

I don't deserve any of it.

Today was one of those days where I was just bowled over by the kindness of strangers. Since I started on this journey to learn letterpress just over a year ago, I've been carried along, encouraged and instructed by a collection of knowledgeable and generous-beyond-belief people.

It all started when Frank and Bekah opened up their home to me to teach me how to use their Kelsey tabletop letterpress. I was wide-eyed and ecstatic as they shared what they'd learned on their own quest. They gave me paper, ink and time. Most importantly, they gave me insight into their hard-earned expertise. I am forever indebted to them for helping to fan the flame of my initial interest.

When I attended a Hatch Show Print workshop last June on my birthday (hosted by AIGA of Birmingham at Bottletree), I was at a major turning point. It was then that I met Patrick Masterson of Mary Speaker Fine Press at his downtown studio. At the end of the day, I was extremely enlivened to the art, covered in ink and chomping at the bit to learn more.

Just one week later, I lost what had been my full-time dream job at the magazine.

I set out on an all out search for print professionals in the South. I went to Gordo, where I met a print maven (Glen House) and a young lady of letterpress (Jessica Peterson). I drove out to Tuscaloosa to see about the Book Arts program there.

On a whim, I applied for an eight-week position as a work-study student at the Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina.

When I found out that I got in, I grappled with the decision, then bit the bullet and went. I benefited greatly from learning under the one and only Bryan Baker. I watched, learned and was spurred on by the creativity of folks like Beth Schaible, Marianne Dages and Lauren Wagner, among others.

I returned home giddy with glee to have put some foundation to my interest.

I touched base with Patrick, who let me begin helping out some in his shop, and then eventually printing some of my own stuff on one of his two Vandercook presses. Over the months since I've been home, he has become a friend, a mentor and a (perhaps unbeknownst to him), a constant encourager.

I also started running into Alan and Jennifer at Night Owl Paper Goods quite a bit. (Birmingham. Big city, small town feel). They've been unimaginably giving towards me. Extra paper, opportunities to fold cards and be in their shop, a small linoscribe press to play around with. Heck, at one point, they even offered me a Chandler and Price press, free of charge if I would just come get it. That didn't work out, but I have greatly benefited from knowing these two, who, for some reason, care to help me on my way.

Since I've been printing more regularly, I've gotten photo help from Stephen, Elaine and Caleb. I've been set up by David Flemming over at Main Street Birmingham with a business consultant, who has been endlessly helpful already in the process of establishing myself as a small business.

In addition to selling on, I started selling my cards at Urban Standard, thanks to the unbelievable kindness of the best boss in the world. I've gotten some great leads on some other places to sell locally (more on that to come).

Just today, Duquette Johnston, local musician and carpenter, absolutely blew me away with a gesture of generosity. He's made me some beautifully-crafted display cases for my cards, cutting me the deal of a lifetime, simply because the Lord laid it on his heart to help me as I'm getting started.

I could write a mile long list of other people I could thank for their sweet words and listening ears as I've strayed from the original plan to pursue something more artistic.

(Mama, Daddy, Megan, George, Deanna, Jacob, Sara, Trevor, Ellen Anne, Chane, Annie, Melissa, Amanda, Dan, Elissa, Laura, just to name a few.)

Like I said, I'm flat-on-my-face humbled by the magnanimity of friends and acquaintances alike. Whether you read this or not, I want you to know that I'm tearfully, humbly grateful.

My words aren't near enough, but I hope to one day be able to pay back or forward the same kindness.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Multi-colored Silver Lining

The only good thing about having to organize receipts and records is getting to buy new office supplies to accommodate them.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Cause for Celebration

This bright-eyed little bonnie...

...turned 60 years young this month.
Just as spritely and beautiful as she ever was.

Our banner over you is love.

Happy Birthday, Mama.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Four Hats Pressing

Four Hats Press is on the move. Yesterday, with the help of this great new/old turntable's musical stylings, a purely perfect sunshine, and a super snappy photographer friend, my etsy shop got the spring makeover it so desperately desired. Better-looking photos might be just what I needed to inject my online profile and sales with the running shoes they need to take off. Check out the offerings at!

Here's 1 of 2 banners I've created to celebrate a joyful occasion. I'm ALL about garlands and banners right now. More to come.

I love this shot of the book plate, which reads "I've got my nose in this book."

The detail shot of this "why, thank you" card is just divine.

Thanks to Elaine for lending a hand, and look out for MAY valentines. They're a -coming!

The Therapy of Creating

It's been a busy week.

Hell, it's been a busy few months.

Most times, I'm glad for the frenzy of learning a life of juggling interests, relationships, dreams and realities. For the past several weeks, however, I've admittedly been more easily frustrated by the pace that the multifaceted-ness demands. I've been less patient, less thoughtful, less kind.

And for all those that have felt the effects of my less-than-chipper disposition, I'm wholeheartedly sorry. There are no excuses.

That said, I had a much needed walk this afternoon. As per usual, the walking lead to thinking, which then lead to the real need to write, to share.

On my walk, I was so pleased to find that the most recent edition of this podcast featured the author of the book (pictured below) that I have been reading and finding to be immensely helpful in my own handmade journey.

I found an insta-friend in the author, Kari, a crafter, barista, writer, media specialist turned author. Her advice was so fitting, and her words of wisdom, so darn encouraging. She reminded me the value of creating things with my hands. She talked about her own creative reawakening, which occurred during the years she worked at a small coffee shop in Denver.

I loved, too, when during the interview, she confessed her love of list making. She carries around a notebook with her at all times, poised and ready to jot down the thoughts of her racing mind. "It works for going to the grocery store, why shouldn't it work for making dreams come true?"

Moral of the story is, this book is a good reminder and a God-send; Kari is a treasure trove. Get a copy here and listen to her lovely history here.

Along a similar vein, I've also been noshing on the book pictured below, Supper of the Lamb. The cookbook takes a narrative form as author and former-Episcopalian priest, Robert Capon takes the reader on a gastronomical, theological tour. His parallels between the process of cooking and eating to the relationship God has with the material world....SO poignant. I want to share with you some of the nourishment from within it's pages, but I'd rather invite you to read it, too. Foodies and non-foodies alike are sure to see the relevancy of his topic.

Slowing, tasting, hearing, savoring, making...these are the things that give me life. I hope that I'll CREATE the time and space for them in my life. I hope that for you, too.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Mastering the Art


I'm taking preparations for the upcoming Parisian-adventure very seriously, making myself into a student of the language and culture so as to maximize my appreciation for it all when I arrive.

I've listened to this entertaining podcast about "Americans in Paris" by my beloved Ira.
I've watched this little movie composed of short films about "little neighborhood romances."
I've subscribed to this podcast, hoping to pick up a few helpful phrases.
I've purchased this walking guide to the city.
I've begun reading this account of "holidays" in The City of Lights.
I also plan on tackling a few inspired recipes from here or here before taking flight.

Girl. is. excited.

Oui oui!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Must-Sees-ies Please

In a smidge over a month, I'll take off from American soil to land in Londontown. I'll see the sights of "L-City" with some of the best tour guides around. That said, I'm looking for a few supplementary tips for travel. Besides the obvious spots, what are some of your favorites?

And what about for here?

"I'll be repping L-City" and illuminating in the City of Lights. Please direct all suggestions to Thank you and merci!

A Call for Hearts and Minds

I write because I can.

I write because someone down the line of my upbringing, my education, my professional career told me that what I have to say is worth hearing.

I write because I am learning to communicate my heart in a million different ways.

I write because it is a way to connect with the people in my sphere and outside of it.

I write because I have vision, motor skills and the financial means to afford a computer, a pen, a journal.

Not everyone does.

Not everyone can.

I write because I can.

(If you have any interest in helping the under-encouraged writers right down the street from where you may live in Birmingham, please contact me. DISCO needs the hearts and minds of people who want to give high school kids the same chance to find their individual voices. This weekend, come out to Woodrow Hall for some information and to pitch in with getting things off the ground for the local Dave Eggers-founded tutoring program.)