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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Trial and Error... and Error... and Error

Normally, no matter how many mistakes I make during a printing session, there's always at least one perfect card or redeemable new idea at the end to keep the creative forces strong. I've had great card making sessions and mediocre card making sessions, great ideas and mediocre ideas, but I've never had an art day as unproductive or utterly horrendous as today's session. Today was the kind of disaster that not only makes me reconsider some of my stamps or design, but has made me reassess my whole card making venture from top to bottom (not quit, just reassess).

At first glance, some of the cards I made might not seem so bad. My project today was to expand my etsy line, so I was using stamps I'd worked with before and phrases that I'd already worked out in my notebook. Yet, despite my planning and earlier successes, each card I tried to make ended up smudged, flawed, and, well, just plain bad.

I started out by trying to produce a series of note cards stamped with my rose stamp. My plan was to make four matching cards and sell them in an a beautifully packaged set. The nice thing about the rose stamp is that it actually allows for a small margin of printing error. If one of the lines doesn't press right, it's easy to hand draw in the mistake with a paint brush because all of the lines are uneven and unique. Unfortunately, this margin of error does not encompass dropping the stamp repeatedly, over-inking the stamp, smudging the side of my hand over a half-dried print, or any of the other Stooge-esque things I did to ruin each card I tried to complete. Larry, Curly, and Moe would be proud.

This is what I was hoping to replicate:

But time and time again, this is what I got:

Feeling a little deflated, I moved onto what I anticipated would be my next great addition to the quirky Sonnet & Mayhem line of bizarre valentines - a cute 'You're better than a picnic' phrase decorated with sweet little picnic-friendly ants.

However, instead of conjuring up memories sun-soaked afternoons on checkered blankets with homemade sandwiches, my ants seem more in line with the second coming of Godzilla (the bad 1998 remake, not the cool old stop motion Godzilla). Nothing says 'I love you' like over-sized insects that make your skin crawl! What next? Birthday cards covered in leech stamps?! Dinner party invitations covered in worms?! So, yes, epic failure number 2.

My final card experiment wasn't nearly as bad by comparison, but I felt so frustrated with my earlier cards that the little flaws in this card really bothered me. The heart monitor line didn't print as cleanly as my earlier test prints and just seemed all wrong next to the font I picked for the text. I was expecting the card to be high impact, but was disappointed with how the final combination of text and image turned out.

Perhaps I'll look back on the cards tomorrow and find something salvageable about the whole situation, but for now I'm taking a serious look at my string of duds and trying to figure out exactly what is not working. Luckily, my experiments with earlier 8 x 10 prints have given me some hope for alternative stamps, patterns, and products, so I have at least one new venture to pursue. (I'll post more about that soon).

Maybe I'm being a bit too much of a sourpuss about the day (which I took as a vacation day to give myself a glorious five day weekend!). I was just really hopeful today would be one of those exciting breakthrough days and it ended up being completely the opposite. Sigh.

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