Like all of you I'm sure, summer is flying by. But I thought I'd take a moment to drop in and update you with what I've been up to...
Just yesterday I mailed my postcards to my friend Kat over at The Kat Eye View of the World who is hosting her Liberate your Art swap again this year. The cool thing I did this time was carve a block for the backsides of my postcards. Those of you trading mail art with me in the future will be getting an impression of this for sure!
In other crafty news Cath Sheard is hosting an envelope trade off! I have never swapped envies before and I think Cath is cool so I'm sending mine off to her shortly. While making those I realized I could use the very same block I carved for the postcards! Versatility -- three cheers!! (and the crowd goes wild)...
And the coolest thing I've seen in a long time is an altered book by Pat over at Lost and Found. She worked over an old German text to create her Optomist's Creed. When I came across it the other week, it was exactly what I needed to see and read. She is really one of the most talented journalers I've ever seen. It was so awesome I felt compelled to share. Pat, you rock my socks. For real.
I hope you're all squeezing some creativity into your busy seasons too. I'm looking forward to the day that I'm back on a more regular basis!! xx tj
My postcards for Kat's swap, "Freiheit and Befreien" is German for "freedom and liberation." I used an altered and sewn photograph, written text and played with India Ink. Weird and not my usual style, yet fun. Exactly the whole point of mail art (to explore, experiment and send away).
I'm so pleased with all the comments and facebook visits for my little give-away! I wasn't expecting so much enthusiasm since I haven't been blogging recently. It means a lot. There's nothing worse than hosting a give-away and then nobody enters to win. Worst. Feeling. Ever. (Not that I'd know, but I'm just sayin').
My friend Tammy over at Daisy Yellow invited me to contribute an article to her latest Zine. I was so flattered that despite my hiatus I could hardly say no.
What did I write about?
My article talks about what happens when you stop blogging! I hope you enjoy it as well as the rest of the inspiring content that Tammy works so hard to put together. I'm excited to be a small part of it.
Interested in winning a copy of the zine?
Well you're in luck, because I have two copies up for grabs. And if you win, you'll also be the recipient of one of the limited edition prints I recently made. They're from a lino cut block printed in a clam shell press on beautiful heavy weight paper and then further altered. (The TJ version of free-styling).
I have quite a few of these so for those of you who tweet or have your FB pages running on a mainline into your veins, then it's your lucky day. I'm giving extra prints away for helping me out.
Here are some ways to get yourself entered repeatedly:
Paint a pretzel on your body and post a photo on my facebook wall
Spray paint your car with pretzels and my site name
Name your new baby or pet 'Studio Mailbox' (by doing this you are agreeing that they become the mascot as well)
Whatever you decide to do, just make sure and tell me in the comments how many times I need to enter you in the drawing. Or just make a bunch of crap up why you couldn't do a damn thing for me and I'll probably feel sorry for you and send you something anyway. The deadline to enter is Friday, June 15. If you come across this post after the deadline, just let me know and maybe we can swap some mail art.
I'm going to be SO excited if I get done with my move and have a bunch of new fans and friends, but let's go slow ok? Like comes first, then love.
The block locked up in the chase, inked and ready to print. (That's a little ATC)
Action shot of me printing. Not the most normal expression but hey my tongue was sticking out on the other one. Seriously.
A finished print laying on top of a pile of unfinished prints.
PS - a note to my old readers, this was fun. I miss you guys!
My son's road to kindergarten has been an absolute horror. I don't have a lot of energy to even write about it. Let's just say it's brought up a whole interesting slew of stuff that's not fun to discuss. My journal page pretty much sums it up. I made this months ago, and the quest didn't end until yesterday.
A letter finally arrived from a small neighborhood school that just so happens to have room for one little German boy.
Tomorrow I'm posting again about a small but exciting give-away. We're also moving apartments over the weekend. I'm trying to think of it as a complicated hotel room change, but the reality is that we are actually going to have to redistribute all the toys and debris around here and apparently we won't have internet or TV for a few days either. I guess it's not OK to run cables and shit down the hallway of our apartment building from the old place to the new one.
Once we settle we're going to enjoy our summer.
And then I think I'm slowly going to start up again around here. After I chase the kindergarten bus for a few weeks of course...
Hey gang! I hope you're cloaked in craftiness for the upcoming weekend. I wanted to let you know about my girlfriend Heather's amazing deal hosted by Gigi's Petals for the next three days. If you love sewing kid's stuff, I thought you might appreciate this:
As most of you know, I've been out of the US for nearly a decade. I cannot tell you how deeply sad I was to discover that our retail stores now sell pre-stuffed plastic eggs in various cartoon characters for the traditional easter egg hunt. What a shocker for me to realize that apparently we can't fill our own hollow plastic eggs anymore, and instead just buy them already done for us.
Heather's patterns make me smile thinking about the moms who might be sneaking in a few handmade treasures into baskets among the Barbie and Spongebob crap.
(This is not a post intended to hit any moms out there with the shame train. Just for the record, my kid is getting all kinds of plastic stuff this year and sadly not one homemade gift. His eggs are shrink wrapped with lighting McQueen decals and probably filled with treats made entirely from high fructose corn syrup. Yet with this confession, I am going to try harder next year).
Maybe if every morning this year that I made scrambled eggs I could blow-out the shells and have something like this in my yard next year: a traditional German Easter Egg tree, decorated with real eggs painted by children and hung with string. Now that's something to make a farmer smile!
Michelle Ward's 61st Crusade is about restraint. It was sad for me to discover that there's going to be a Crusade hiatus, despite the fact that I haven't been very active since moving from Germany.
There was no way I was going to let this one slide, so I went into my closet and found my chipboard journal, which I call my "Ward Boards." I started thinking about a lot of things... like how restraint is also thought of as "breathing room." Leave it to Michelle to find an exercise that's fitting and clever and meaningful!
I started thinking about words I came up with at the beginning of 2012 that ironically all started with "re." Reinvention, redefine, real, results, re-organization, refresh, resourceful, regular exercise. I was so burned out from blogging and our international move, I can't believe I hadn't thought of "restraint!"
So I was happy for this chance to try and make something a little more simple, a little more muted, a little more calm. It wasn't easy! I had to paint over the whole board when my initial attempt was way too bright and zippy. I'm happy with the result though, and it's a perfect "last" page to my journal.
There's still room in the middle of my little book to go and rediscover past exercises I wasn't a part of. All of it is still out there. I sometimes wonder if there are others like myself who would go back and work through all of that together. We could revisit what we missed! I didn't become a part of the Street Team until the Crusades were already in the 40's... imagine how much there is still out there to do...
For now, a big thanks to Michelle for bringing the creative community together, month after month for years. Personally, I'm so grateful to all the cool people and sites I've discovered through the challenges I was a small part of. I'm going to go cherish plugging away through her comments and visiting all the other participants this round, knowing it will be awhile before it happens again.
Today I went back and looked at the months I could find that I played along. It was so much fun! Feel free to take a walk down my crusader lane:
A few weeks ago I announced that I was joining in iHanna's 2012 postcard swap. I'll take you through the process I used to make my entries, something fun and completely new to me, linoleum print reduction!
Although the finished product looks rather simple, this was a long intensive labor of love with many days of drying time between each application of color.
First I began with a block of linoleum that was already mounted onto wood that is exactly print height. (In Germany the linoleum is unmounted).
Next I took cardboard boxes and cut them down exactly to the size of the print block.
I sketched out the rough outline of my design.
After carving away everything except what I wanted to print, I went to the print house and inked up the block with my background color, white.
Next I set my block into the Showcard or "Poster" press. This machine is basically a glorified rolling pin. It has one cylinder with a handle that can be moved to adjust the pressure. You manually set each piece of paper or card over the block that you have manually inked with a brayer and then you roll the cylinder over the job.
All the cards were printed in the run.
The cards were left on racks to dry and I came home and started carving away the same block, getting it ready for the second color, red.
After a few days of drying time, I took my block back and inked it up again. I printed the entire run of cards with the second color. Everything I had carved away from the block remained white this time, and everything left on the block changed to red...
At this point I hated the "shading" under her neck! It came out looking like a slasher film...
There was nothing to do but let all the cards dry and hope that with my third color, things would improve.
I set the 2-color cards out on racks to dry, cleaned up, and came home to carve away the final changes to the block.
My last color was black. I had no idea how much to carve away. How much makes definition and how much makes drama? Once it's carved away it's gone and there's no going back...
A few days later I went to print all the cards for the third time. As you can see there was very little left of the printing block at this point.
Here are dry cards "before" applying the black:
And below: Wet, freshly printed cards with the 3rd and final color, black. I had hoped the slasher look would disappear, but instead it just looks like older blood to me! That's OK because I understand what creality is...
Not bad for my first time reduction printing! I'm already contemplating more projects with this old and clever technique.
*Special thanks to my friend Goog over at Journey of a Mermaid who helped me with the first run of color and all the awesome photography! It was her idea to try printing the cards on both the FRONT and the back of the cereal boxes. I love you g'friend..! xx
For those of you in the swap who like my cards or want to follow my creative journey, please visit the Studio Mailbox Facebook Page, for more regular TJ news and info.
Seth asked artists; 'If you could take a class from one artist from anytime in history, including the present, who would it be and why?'
Leave a comment here guessing who I chose to be my Master Mentor before popping over to the link above to read the answer. I'll be super impressed if somebody can identify mine! But don't worry, you don't have to guess correctly to be entered in a drawing to win a tiny mail art prize pack!