Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Automatic for the People

More special-for-you letterpressness.

Birthday Party Calling Cards for the kiddos

From the Desk of Stationery

Hand Illustrations by the talented Sara Logan Wilson turned personal notecards

And some specs just for funsies.

Off the Hat Rack

The holidays have been busy in my basement studio. Below are a few of the things I've done. I'd love to start doing more personal stationery and custom design work. If you need some, give me a holler!

NOTE: Since taking this picture, I fixed the typo and omitted space. Geesh.

Custom 5 X 7 Print.

Personal stationery

A note of thanks

A triumvirate of gratitude

(Some of these are for sale at fourhatspress.com)

She Came, She Saw

Check out Kyle's write-up from her trip through Sweet Home Alabama.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Anticipation: It Does a Body Good

Work, play, shower, sleep, eat. Life tends to get repetitious, even banal. Sprinkle friends and creative projects in the mix. Add a dash of laughter and a smattering of beauty and refreshment. These are sweet spots – reprieve from the toil, toil under the sun.

What a gift it is to eat and drink, merry make and find joy in smallness. But, I still taste the hopelessness of those Ecclesiastes words. I echo with my own fist shaking. I ask the same questions.

I wonder why it is that I need so desperately for something to look forward to beyond my current address. There is always something to want. Always something to strive for in the greener pastures I think I see beyond my horizon.

Thoughts of a new adventure overcame me this morning. I have been travelling down a path of wondering, and to be quite honest, I’ve felt better today than I have in quite some time. And all it took was thinking about something TO COME.

There is something so deep set in our hearts that is nourished by anticipation. The Sunday school answer here is to say that I know it’s because we all hope for heaven, for Jesus’ doubling-back to earth. And, I know it’s true.

But I still kid myself into believing hope sometimes means believing that life will get better when x,y, and z happen. I am soothed by the thought of a quicker fix to my longing.

This advent season, I desperately want for my heart to soak in the truth that what I wait for can be found in the manger.

Bright Spot

Brooke Fleming's go-after-it attitude and desire to gather creative people around the (craft) table has lead her to open up this light-filled space on the corner of 55th Place in Woodlawn. It truly is a bright spot (and not simply because it's exterior has been painted with a fresh coat of BRIGHT blue). City Arts Boutique is home to works by local artists (ahem, including fourhatspress). Brooke hopes it will become a hub for creating. Come on out to the grand opening tomorrow night from 5-8!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Turning Corners: How reading food magazines has made me a more ambitious cook

I feel quite at home in the kitchen, but by no means am I a magnificent cook. Trust me. I’ve made my fair share of mistakes. (I’m still reeling over the most recent deli turkey debacle – a result of my complete and utter misinterpretation of this recipe from Apples for Jam. Oh, it was bad. Really, really bad).

So, I’m the first to admit I don’t always have the instincts of a natural-born chef. While I do possess the occasional ability to improvise with what’s in the pantry, more often than not, I’m a fastidious grocery list maker, a recipe follower.

Be it for their voyeuristic quality (as we call them at work: “armchair reads”), or otherwise, I’m a huge fan of cooking magazines. I devour the pages of my monthly Bon Appetit. I turn corners down in hopes that I’ll have the courage and occasion to test my culinary capacities out on willing subjects.

The truth is not revolutionary. I love to feed people. I love to create. I love to make something and watch someone enjoy it. And cooking is one of the most tangible ways I can think to do it.

So, if you’re hungry, come on over. I’d love nothing more than another excuse to be daring in the kitchen.

On my list to try:

Gingerbread Cake

Chocolate Macaroons with Orange Ganache

Honey-Bourbon Toddy (with Apple Bourbon)

Spicy Fruit-Stuffed Pork Loin with Roasted Pears and Onions

Monday, December 5, 2011


The previous print was inspired by this poem by Henry David Thoreau entitled "Conscience."

Conscience is instinct bred in the house,
Feeling and Thinking propogate the sin
By an unnatural breeding in and in.
I say, Turn it out doors,
Into the moors.
I love a life whose plot is simple,
and does not thicken with every pimple,
A soul so sound no sickly conscience binds it,
That makes the universe no worse than it finds it.
I love an earnest soul,
Whose might joy and sorrow
Are not drowned in a bowl,
And brought to life tomorrow;
That lives one tragedy,
And not seventy;
A conscience worth keeping;
Laughing not weeping;
A conscience wise and steady,
And forever ready;
Not changing with events,
Dealing in compliements;
A conscience exercised about
Large things, where one may doubt
I love a soul not all of wood,
Predestinated to be good,
But true to the backbone
Unto itself alone,
And false to none;
Born to its own affairs,
Its own joys and own cares;
By whom the work which God begun
Is finished, and not undone;
Taken up where he left off,
Whether to worship or to scoff;
If not good, why then evil,
If not good god, good devil.
Goodness! You hypocrite, come out of that,
Live your life, do your work, then take your hat.
I have no patience towards
Such conscientious cowards.
Give me simple laboring folk,
Who love their work,
Whose virtue is song
To cheer God along.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Just My Type

I've been having quite a bit of fun with the small bit of type I have. Sans serif and bold. It's just so no-nonsense. Just my type. Find these Thoreau prints for sales at fourhatspress.com.

Spread some joy and cheer

Send a warm Christmas wish on the latest card from Four Hats Press!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Fine Print

Yesterday was an amazing day with Kyle of Power and Light Press. Between a workshop at Woodlawn High School and a four-hour open print event at Railroad Park, we caught up about her travels, her art, and her letterpress business back in Portland. Kyle's been on the road since June of this year, and her journey will continue through April of 2012. Her warm spirit and easy smile makes her an easy one to welcome in. It's not difficult to imagine why her experience has been so rosy thus far. Please join me in wishing her continued happy trails by following her adventures here and buying her cute cards here.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Truly Delve in 2012

So this is Christmas/And what have you done/Another year over/A new one’s just begun. – John Lennon, “War is Over”

This post may be a bit premature, but as 2011 winds down, I think it’s fitting to take a looking at the aims I set out for myself at the year’s start. Back in January, I declared it a year to Let It Leaven. This theme included spending more time in the kitchen, hands deep in the dough, practicing the art of bread-making. I did, in fact, bake quite a few loaves this year, stumbling some, but making small improvements with each attempt. No matter how much my waistline suffers, I will continue to explore this book that inspired my goal.

On the other hand, the second tier of my resolution was to give my letterpress interests room to rise and grow. At the start of last year, I was still working at a local coffee shop. I was baking, loving my co-workers, and enjoying the freedom that my schedule afforded. I was printing when and if possible, but somewhat inconsistently. My simple life was fun, but I was beginning to grow desperate to see some progress personally, professionally, and artistically.

Come last spring, I was almost at my breaking point when new opportunities came barreling at me full speed. I began a new job and I finally bought my own printing press, moving it into the basement of my house. Things began happening, and I am still in awe at how abundantly I am blessed to have these opportunities.

For several subsequent months, as I adjusted to life back in an office, the repair on the press was slow, slow going. As of this fall, however, the press is up and running, and pumping out designs here and there.

I’m still learning; I’m still failing. I want to see this little hobby of mine turn into something more substantial, and at times, my impatience has lead me to try and rush the process. I’ll be the first to admit I’ve let some people down in my attempts to expedite the success of my little business.

As I face the year ahead, the truth I have to admit to myself is that I don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow. I have a hope, and maybe even some tentative plan, but life tends to throw me for loops.

Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

My hopes for 2012 are that I will use it as a year to delve deeply into the things I fill my time with. In printing, may I continue to learn the quirks of my press, may I thrive to improve on my precision, my quality. I don’t know what kind of momentum I’ll have with it, but I’ll take it one step at a time. More than that, though, I hope for depth in friendships, I pray for strengthened faith. I’ve made the mistake of going too wide before.

May this year be about going DEEP.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Give Thanks and Keep Your Fork

“Jesus counts thanksgiving as integral in a faith that saves.” Ann Voskamp, 1000 Gifts

I’ve read words like these. I’ve probably even said something similar in a finer moment. I’ve intellectually grasped that if I have open hands, if I will blindly follow where I’m taken and trust…then sure, I can truly live. But, how do I operate out of a heart that is truly thankful for the good, the bad, and the ugly? How do I turn it all into praise?

That seems like a mighty big mountain to climb.

It probably starts with a concise, “hey, thanks.” It snowballs from a few minutes spent reflecting on prayers answered. It grows. Eyes are opened; lips more quickly offer gratitude for joys both big and small.

So, in this season, I’m practicing thanks. Like the single leper that went back to Jesus to acknowledge His healing, I will try and lift my head, turn back to Him, put one foot in front of the other, and try and cultivate a spirit that chokes out the words I’m trying to believe even as I say them. “I am undeserving. Come what may, I am thankful.”

Though the fig tree does not bud, and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.

I heard the story once of a child sitting down to dinner at his grandma’s house. He struggled through his green beans, his salad. He poked and pushed the lovingly-prepared meal around his plate. As his grandmother came to collect his dish at dinner’s end, she looked at him, winked and whispered, “Keep your fork.”

In that instant, he perked up. Dessert was coming! And not just any old dessert. Not pudding or jello or anything of the like. This confection was sure to be substantial, requiring the strength of a fork to deliver each bite to his mouth. Now, that was something to look forward to.

I am the kid, you are him, too. We sit at the table. We sometimes turn our noses up at what we’ve been served. But, before this meal has concluded, we are told we can hang on to our forks. We can look forward to the sweetness that follows.

Listen, listen to me, and you will eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the finest of fare.

Praise the Lord. He is good. His love endures forever.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Book It

Book artists, look away. You will not be impressed by this, my first-ever attempt at coptic book making. But, oh what a victory it was for me. Using vintage postcards (a frozen waterfall in Cathedral Caverns, Alabama!?), graph paper, wax linen thread, and a curved needle, I made myself a pocket notebook with six signatures of eight pages each, inspired by Esther K. Smith's resource guide and this helpful video. After meeting Ms. Smith during my visit to New York this year, I was inspired (yet hesitant) to jump into the art. But the first completion has whet my whistle. Can't wait to try the cake box book.

Friday, November 11, 2011

A conscious heart

This is a good reminder today. It’s been a tough month for me. I’ve been focused on what hasn’t been going my way, turning a blind eye to endless ways in which I’ve been taken care of. If He sees to the birds of the air, how much more will He see to me. My prayer in this moment is that I would see the beauty in the quotidian, that I would believe in the mystery and magic of life and of love, that I would trust in a God who’s sufficiency is sometimes disguised in heartbreak, in suffering, in a fog of confusion so thick that it demands ruthless trust.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A Prayer

And there will come a time, you'll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
with grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.
-Mumford and Sons, "After the Storm"

Just A Note

Just some personal cards for scribbling business notes. Clean black text on soft-as-butta crane paper. Three projects, one weekend. Man, having Andy the Vandy in my basement rocks.

Great Scott

Another card from Four Hats Press? Great Scott!

Making Pies

I've been making my own pies these days. Here are some of the fruits (cherry pies, rather) of my labor. They'll soon be up on my etsy page! More from fourhatspress to come very soon.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Pulling Prints in Birmingham

One month from today (on December 1, 2011), I will help to welcome Kyle Durrie of Power and Light Press all the way from Portland, Oregon to Birmingham, sweet home, Alabama. Durrie has done like many dreamers before and used Kickstarter to fund a bad A personal project. Last year, she raised the money to transform the above vintage Chevy van into a mobile letterpress print workshop. When the funds were in place, she set forth on the most epic of road trips, making stops across the great states our nation to share her love for printed matter. You can read about her travel on her blog, and then actually take part in the fun when she makes her stop here at Railroad Park between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. Roll on over and print your own holiday card to-go-sies.

Monday, October 17, 2011

5th Annual Day of Fall Fun

There was plaid, there was fall fare, pumpkin carving and a warm fire.
Most of all, there was the delightful company of friends.
5th Annual DOFF was a success. Fall fun was had by all.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sweet Melodies

I have an insatiable appetite for new music right now, which is, quite frankly, something I haven't felt in quite some time. These songs and artists have been soothing me with their sounds. I'm in a receiving mood here lately. "Sing me brave from your mouth."

Gregory Alan Isakov, In Tall buildings from before the winter fires on Vimeo.

My Brightest Diamond - ALL THINGS WILL UNWIND: Visuals from Asthmatic Kitty on Vimeo.

Listen to more here

Ryan Adams, Ashes and Fire

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

You Are Here

"And don't be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else. Where you are right now is God's place for you. Live and obey and love and believe right there. God, not your marital status [not anything else!], defines your life." --1 Corinthians 7:17

Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Four Hats On!

Check this guy out!

Below are the results of the first week of printing action in my basement studio. Rolling the cylinder back and forth in a repetitive motion gave me a chance to reflect on how faithful the Lord has been to answer prayers and get this little dream off the ground. I loved having visitors in the studio this week, and have really enjoyed having the chance to explain the process to others. There's one more print to share, and I will do so later (as it's a gift that needs first to be given). Here are the other two works:

Another wedding invite!

And business cards for a talented friend and fashion designer,
Heather Williams. Check her out here!
p.s. i love my new corner rounder!

** for the printers out there, if you're wondering why i'm doing extra inking on my way back from each revolution, it's because the inking is not quite enough with just one trip back to the feedboard. Any tips?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Let's roll!

The press is in action. With the first color of a three color print done, I'm jazzed to know that this thing works! I can't wait to finish up this first at-home fourhatspress creation. Look out for the full story and photos later this week!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

At risk of sounding dramatic, I've been waiting for this day for over two years. Ever since I started clicking around on the internet looking at pictures of printed matter, I've been head-over-heals with the process of letterpress. The trail that love has set me down has been quite unpredictable. It's lead me to many a printer, and many a friend. I've relied on their expertise for so long, and learned immeasurable lessons. I've reached a part of my journey that I must walk alone. I've got my tools, I just need to try. Today (pending the arrival of my last supply), I will troubleshoot and turn the crank on the finally-repaired-after-years-in-waiting Vandercook in my very own home studio. Oh happy day!

*stay tuned for more stories, pictures, and hopefully, if all goes as planned, prints!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Sunday Rest

It's 10:00 in the morning, and I'm still in my pajamas. Heck, I'm still in bed, nestled under my t-shirt sheets as the mid-morning sun pours in over my shoulder. This usually doesn't happen. By this point, I've typically been awake for a couple of hours at least. Several cups of coffee down, I might be on my way to the grocery, to breakfast with friends, to run ragged around this town.

And, today, instead of succumbing to the quiet nagging whisper that prizes productivity over all else, I am here, listening to sweet fall-ish music and poems and basking in the slowness of Sunday mornings I used to know. And, I 'm recognizing that I've somehow forgotten the value of Sabbath.

In The Rest of God, Mark Buchanan suggests that busyness may be the culprit of indifference. If I'm honest, I know that I've been selfish (especially so) lately. I've been too wrapped up in my own schedule, goals, comfort, that I've not bothered to notice anyone else. Perhaps it's true that "busyness makes us stop caring about the thing we care about."

And Sabbath-- the repose that allows puts into perspective who we are in light of who God is--sets that thinking right. My prayers is that I slow long enough to hear a truth that will sustain me through a new week, and open my eyes to the buzzingly busy people with their own lives, hearts and hurts.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Eli came!

Click to enlarge
(from left to right: Meet Eli, George and Megan, Nanna Lou, "The Man," Aunt Cory, Eli Davis: 7 lb. 2 oz.)

The song had been on everyone's mind for the last months as my sister and her husband prepared to welcome little Eli Davis into the world. Then, yesterday, around 9:30 p.m., he came! Every baby looks the same until you have family in your arms. I look forward to knowing this little fella.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


If you share a city with millions of other people, I imagine it'd be easy to live a life unnoticed. It might be frustrating to feel so small, so insignificant, so one-of-many. I got a small bite of the anonymity of big city obscurity this past go-round in New York. Passing someone on the street or making prolonged eye contact on the subway can mean very little when you do it all day, every day, in silence. Faces buzz past. Coats brush each other. Feet tread the same paths, possibly never to cross again. In a sea of people, sometimes meaningfully interacting isn't easy at all.

So, that's why these Craiglist listings "New York City Missed Connections" are so intriguing. They are all about people grasping for straws to kindle something more from their daily sparks with strangers. Like this one, posted today just before lunchtime:

Busy busy busy red head on L train last night - m4w (Chelsea)

It looked like you might be experiencing your vin-dit. You had beautiful hair, dress and shoes. Me in the purple shoes and yellow socks. Do you like to dance?

or this one, from yesterday:

We passed each other. Briefly. - m4w - 26 (Upper West Side)

So it was transient. But I felt as if you were carrying the world's troubles on your shoulders and wanted to just speak with someone about it. Don't know why, but when we locked eyes, we both realized (?) how empty our lives were. You were beautiful beyond description. Me, probably looked like an ape staring at you with wonder. I think you were wearing something green. Went really well with the color of your iris.

I could get lost clicking around through these moments of captured mystery. I'm not alone. Sophie Blackall, a New York based illustrator and hopeful romantic, has turned the Craigslist entries into lovely pictures, bound up in a beautiful book, due out next month. Missed Connections, Lost, Love, Lost & Found is a pictorial depiction of those fleeting instants. She says, "for all the hopelessness in writing and posting a Missed Connection, for all the 'you probably won't read this,' and the 'this is a shot in the dark,' there's a 15-watt bulb of hope dimly glowing in each message."

I, too, feel what she does when she says that "the enormous amount of tenderness in these messages makes me feel all swoony about my fellow human beings."

Take a look at the listings, her site, and the book. I think you just may feel something, too.