Slow and Steady

Block Printing is a tactile experience. My hands not only hold and maneuver blocks, cutting tools, rollers, inks, and press parts, they also gauge the pressure. A certain amount of force determines the width of a cut and the depth. The V and U blades remove wider strips from the block with more pressure and finer strips come away with less pressure.

Too much force upon a block to the printing surface can cause unwanted smudges, halos, or other changes to the image transfer. Some blocks only require hand painting. Some patterns are most easily achieved with hand printing. My Llama project bags are one of my favorite hand printing tasks. It can be a bit slower than others to complete yet I enjoy the opportunity to slow down and still accomplish my task.

What do you enjoy doing slowly?

Recurring Delights

Recently I restructured my Patreon tiers to include more options! The best part is that Patreon allows me to easily offer you subscription options! For now, that includes a stationery subscription that will give you monthly cards, envelopes, and a cool pen.

What would you like to see added?

Join me on Patreon for extra delights!

Everything Has a Place

I’m a HUGE fan of The Home Edit and definitely fulfilled my Millennial woman role of binging Bridgerton and then Get Organized earlier this month. Who else? Eh? I’m sure there’s a few of you reading this. The reason I’m such a fan of The Home Edit isn’t just the fabulous team and their personalities, though that is enjoyable, it is that their method is a system that generally fits any situation. I finally, in my late 30s, have a system that makes sense to me and that I can use everywhere in my home and studio.

As a kid I had a perpetually messy room because when I did clean I often forgot where I tucked things away. Keeping things out and in stacks made it easier for me to remember I had something and I knew where things were because I could see them or remember that I put X down before Y so it would be under Y. Yet I also hated the visual clutter and couldn’t find a way to reconcile my desire for clear and clean with easily finding things. As an adult I got a bit better and read several books on organizing, but their advice was rather specific and didn’t quite jive with my brain. I’d gained a reputation for being messy and thought that’s just who I was. Then, I saw Get Organized Season One. Y’all, I cried.

My closet, bathroom, and especially my studio are now far more useable than before. Not only useable but also pretty and therefore motivating. As I recently discovered with the help of Heidi my health coach, I am motivated by pretty. Cleaning/Organizing can be pretty and functional and there is a system that I now have to help me create those elements in any space.

What’s making you happy? What big “Aha!” moments profoundly impacted your life?

Leafing Out

Around here we joke that Spring is all pollen and tornados. Mississippi does have the most active tornado season and parts of Mississippi have held pollen records for the country. Yet there are pleasant things about Spring. Walls of azalea bloom and oaks leaf out lacily, filtering increased hours of sunlight. I feel reenergized and spend a lot more time outside.

One of my favorite things to do is to go on nature walks around the yard. I get to see all kinds of critters and plant life! I also get to see them all interacting. What fun and what creative fodder!

What are your favorite Spring activities?

Spring Demonstration Day

Demonstration days have become a nice addition to the events of the Guild schedule. We guild members rarely have an opportunity to gather unless for a market and while we certainly offer our crafts on Demonstration Day my favorite part is getting to visit with fellow makers. We always enjoy seeing what projects each is getting up to.

Of course, sharing the process with the public is always fun too. Some watch and listen their reaction including an “aha!” moment when they see the print made. Then others receive the information with an energy of almost bursting to share that they too have made such prints. I’m glad for both reactions.

I hope those in wonder try it and I hope those who excitedly tell me about their past experiences with printmaking decide to take it up again. Perhaps they will consider joining the guild and be among us for the next Demonstration Day on the other side of the table.

All set up ready to talk block printing!
Kathryn White brought her Woodzilla press for us to demonstrate!

Herding Ideas and Planting Joy

A list of ideas, both for print subjects and for formats, how to present the images, sits before me. I’ve had a day with time to think and mentally play, both confined to a space with few distractions and enough energy to run laps feeds the creativity of the list.

After some hours, less caffeinated and far more distracted I find myself setting about the work of sorting ideas and working out logistics. Do I dive into a series or should I do a tet of the mechanics I want to add? Follow the dopamine as they say or methodically proceed in an orderly fashion? A bit of both will likely happen and that’s fine. So long as the making gets done and the joy is found along the way. After all, my main objective is to plant joy in the world. “Have fun” my grandmother always said. I will and I hope my creations help you have fun too.

Getting Festive

December, the final month of the year is upon us and it is already full of lights, festive garlands, bedecked trees, advent calendars, candles, bells, and, of course, shopping guides.

Giving gifts can simultaneously be a joyous occasion and one filled with stress. We think through so many aspects: the price, the size, the color, and most importantly, will the receiver like it??? After all, if our gift pleases then we are triumphant and known as good gift-givers. We reap the rewards of praise and affection.

With that in mind I’ve put together a few suggestions below. No matter what you give this holiday season I hope you are rewarded for the effort and thought with much praise and affection.

Enamel Owl Pin

Little Dinosaur Print

Kelpie Print

A Herd of Dalas

I’ve been printing up Dala Horse cards for the Mississippi Craftsman Guild shop! Though if you can’t make it to the shop to pick up a pack you can order them from the website shop. Chimneyville Craft Show is next weekend and I will not have a booth, but I will be around assisting my fellow craftsmen as a volunteer.

I’m starting to put together a list of shows to consider for 2022. If there’s a craftshow or market you particularly enjoy and would like to see me there, please let me know on Instagram! You can direct message me @hardpressedstudio with your suggestions. I look forward to reading them!

Playing with Color

All over social media posts lamenting the time change can be found from memes to our friends’ comments. Perhaps you’ve posted your own discontent or shared a meme about the lack of sun after 5pm. It seems every year that once we “Fall Back” the darkness of early evening suddenly feels like the deep velvet of late evening.

Despite the gloom we must find ways of making light.

To fend off Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and generally brighten things up a bit I utilize a few tricks.
1. Sun Lamp
This simple device makes a big difference in my day, especially as we go into the heart of winter. I turn it on and journal next to it for 20 – 30 minutes in the winter mornings.

2. Forrest Walks
Really any walk outside helps. The crisp air, when possible, a bit of sunlight, and trees help lighten my mood. Studies have found that walking among trees helps the human brain feel happier and some have taken to adding some form of “forest bathing” to their routines.

3. Play with Color
Sometimes, especially after all the pretty colorful fall leaves have gone I need to add some color to my daily life. And sometimes the best way to achieve that is to break out the colored pencils, markers, paint pens, even the block inks!

How do you combat the gloom?

Art Festivals

The past two weeks have been full of re-stocking prints, cards, and making a couple new offerings. I’ve enjoyed seeing the drying space in my tiny studio fill up with rows of llamas, flowers, and woodland creatures in bright colors. Saturday April 26th I’ll be set up in booth 141 for Double Decker Arts Festival in Oxford, MS. Hopefully I’ll see some of you there!

The next art festival will be in Baton Rouge, LA on May 10th. I’ll set up at the Mid City Makers Market portion of the art crawl from 5 – 10 PM! Excited to join such enthusiastic and wonderful vendors again in May. Unlike most of their monthly markets, this one is part of a larger art crawl in the area and so if you’re in Baton Rouge or plan to be, definitely add the art crawl to your plans!

Beyond May my traveling schedule is still undecided. Most art festivals and markets require editioned prints. I’ve got a series I’m working on now with a focus on birds. Look for pre-orders in The Print Shop or in my emails (scroll down to subscribe)!