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.