Click here to see my full list of goals for 2010

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I'm going to need some more reindeer names...

It was all about the reindeer tonight. Between the black set, the red set, and the black/red set, I printed the reindeer stamp at least 350 times... and then I threw it off the balcony.


The reindeer has actually proved to be an incredibly consistent stamp to print, which helps my bank account and my sanity.

[I apologize for the lame photos, by they way. I really need to stop taking important product shots with a low battery camera late at night. I promise my etsy photos will be more creative.]

I'm still only half way through my big Christmas card order, but I've been making extras of every print so that I can put together some separate etsy sets. Unfortunately, I messed up a little with my card stock order and requested brown recycled card stock that was a size bigger than the envelopes I already had. I'm hoping I can find some envelopes that fit them locally so that I don't need to place another order.

Now it's off to bed. I'm pretty sure I'm going to have reindeer running through my dreams tonight.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Linoblocking Like a Pro

After months of toiling away at my kitchen table, I attended my first Open Studio printmaking course last night and experienced what it was like to make a print with proper inks and a real press. The class was fantastic and some of the examples our instructor showcased as an introduction to the topic of relief printmaking were absolutely mind blowing! After struggling through semi-intricate two inch stamps, it is inconceivable for me to imagine the amount of time, energy, and precision that goes into a 2 x 3 foot print. Seeing that level of skill executed by a local artist seriously restored my creative motivation.

For my own print, I decided to use an idea that I'd had floating around in my notebooks for a few months: a fossil! I've carved most of my prints as a positive image surrounded by negative, carved space, but with a real press at my disposal (i.e. no more ink distribution issues), I decided to carve the image out instead.

We worked with oil-based inks and rollers, which were both new to me. I've been using water-based ink (easier clean-up) and painting it on the image by hand (hence, the consistency issues). The oil-based inks were so lovely to work with because they left such a rich colour impression on the paper. If only I had a twenty foot glass table surface and mechanical press to play with at home!

I loved how the prints turned out and was sad that the three hour class zipped by in no time at all. I took so much time with my initial carving that I didn't even have time to experiment with two colour printing, which was definitely disappointing. The key for me now is to come up with some good, simple designs for the next three classes so that I don't waste too much time thinking of an image or starting with an image that's too complex.

Ideas... inspiration... dinosaur bones! Pretty much the perfect way to spend a Monday evening.

This first class has me even more excited for the next three. After all of my stamping experiments, the lino class felt a little bit like familiar territory, but lithography, screenprint, and etching will be totally new ground.

Of course, while I'm busy dreaming of new printmaking enterprises, I also have to get down to business with my Christmas cards. My paper shipment has arrived and I've got some serious work to get done if I want to fill all of my Christmas orders by December 1st!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Gifts, Weird Projects, Whatnot...

My official birthday may be over, but lovely gifts continue to roll in.

Check out the amazing yellow tote my sister-in-law sent me from NYC! She's currently setting NYU on fire with her ferocious intellect, but in her spare time she has been scouting out Brooklyn's finest paper stores and then baiting me to visit with tales of luxurious paper goods. It's totally working too! NYC, March 2010! (fingers crossed).

And speaking of sweet little paper shops, here is the fabulous organizer I purchased with a birthday gift card from my lovely friend Grace. Not only does the colour set my heart a-flutter, but, if everything goes according to plan, this organizer is going to save me innumerable hours of digging through my card inventory. I'm looking forward to bringing some much need order to the chaos that is my art hutch.

I'm currently waiting for my new order of card stock to arrive, so I turned my thoughts to other projects this week. Work has been really intense lately, so my only real artistic accomplishment was a pencil sketch of a combine that I have wild and wonderful plans for. I sketched this during an 'art night' I had with Bethany and Erin. It was so fun and productive; I really do need to have more of them. (If you click on the image, it should be a little easier to see.)

Next week is shaping up to be a busy one, so I'm not sure how many posts I'll get done. Hopefully, I'll have some fun stuff to show after my first printmaking course on Monday night!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Nearly Perfect

Oh, little wreath stamp... I knew you had it in you!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Christmas Experiments - Round 1

I tackled some new Christmas print ideas today and ended up with a few cute images. Next weekend is going to be dedicated to baking gingerbread cookies (and ornaments) and setting up my Christmas tree, so I knew I needed to get down to business today.

I started out with nine images and ended up carving five. The snowflakes took forever to carve (and produced the most disappointing prints), so I've pretty much had it with them.

The tiny penguin and reindeer stamps ended up being the most fun to work with. The photos below are of the rough test prints, so please disregard the little marks and ink smudges.

Here's the best of the snowflake prints. I might try to work with these stamps again to see if I can make a more polished design, but for now they're officially banned from my printmaking activities.

There are some other print patterns too, although I didn't take pictures of them. I'm glad I finally have a range of stamps to work with so that I can present interested parties with a range of options for their Christmas cards.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Future Plans

I’ve been thinking more broadly about Sonnet & Mayhem and what kinds of projects I want to start working towards in the future. I’ll be starting the Open Studio printmaking workshop in less than two weeks and I’m going to hold off on starting any major new projects until I see what sorts of ideas and inspiration the classes bring (besides the Christmas cards, of course. I must make the Christmas cards!).

Lately, I’ve been tempted to temporarily shelve my stamping work so that I can focus on some new ink drawings and writing projects, but I also feel torn about neglecting the main goals of my whole blog/etsy shop endeavour – mainly, I want to create works that I can reproduce and sell. I’m hoping that the new printmaking techniques I learn will finally enable me to translate my ink drawings (or etchings) into reproducible prints. Once I have that ability, there are so many projects that I want try.

I’ve also started drafting a list of artistic goals for 2010. Writing out and sharing my goals on this blog has been an incredibly motivating force for me and I’m hoping to increase my productivity by upping the level of shame and laziness I will feel if I don’t keep working on the ideas I’ve developed and posted about. (Plus, I love a good list!). I truly value the readership of this blog (especially your comments) and even though it’s not huge, just knowing that a few other creative minds are interested in what I’m doing is enough to make me keep trying to produce interesting work.

My latest thought on the goals list is to write 365 entries and see how many I can get done in a year. Obviously, some goals will have to be smaller and easier than others, but overall I want to capture as many of my little dreamed up experiments as possible.

If you're interested in becoming an official member of the 'shame Victoria's lack of productivity' insult squad, please feel free leave a sample scolding in the comments section.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


I carved and tested the baby penguin tonight. The print is definitely cute, if a bit flawed. I opted for clean lines instead of trying to replicate the fuzzy baby penguin fur and I'm glad I went with the simple look. However, I don't think the stamp is good enough yet for formal Christmas cards.

My new plan is to carve another version of this stamp at about a quarter of the size of this one. Smaller stamps are so much easier to print with and it would be fun to produce some more intricate patterns with this image.

Also, I should note that the beautiful homemade angel food cake in my previous post was made by my lovely sister. Thanks again, T.J.! My best friend sweetened the pot with a cheese cake as well. Two birthday cakes - definitely a good way to celebrate one's birthday!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Birthday Fun!

Today is my birthday, so I’m in a celebratory and happily reflective mood. Mondays don’t really make for the best birthdays, but after an incredible weekend spent with the people I love, I feel very blessed indeed.

My absence here is due in equal parts to the stunning weather we had this weekend, visits from my family, and my wonderful husband who planned a big surprise birthday party for me on Saturday night. T is already in the upper percentile of sweet, brilliant, loving, hilarious men, so adding ‘surprise party planner’ to the list makes him pretty much the most amazing human being in the world (no bias, I swear). It was great to see so many of my friends and family together in one spot. Lots and lots of love!

The party and sunshine translated into a Sunday full of long walks, fresh air, introspection (and the season finale of Mad Men… wow!). All that walking meant that my little penguin remains uncarved and my stack of Christmas cards unprinted, but I plan to get back to business this week and get some projects done. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Water, also AWOL

As promised, here is a picture of the little penguin stamp I'm working on.

I didn't get around to carving it this evening because T and I came home from the gym tonight to discover that the water had been turned off in our building. Nothing like thirst and body odour to curb one's creative energies. Thankfully, the water is now back on and I am squeaky clean.

The bad news is that I don't think I'm going to have a chance to do any carving until this weekend. I've got lovely dining and drinks plans for tomorrow night and Friday evening will be dedicated to my eternal quest for the perfect pair of winter boots!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

My Camera is AWOL

I was working on an adorable little baby penguin stamp tonight, but then discovered that T has taken our camera to work.

Therefore, instead of baby penguins, I'm posting a few of the photos that we're currently considering for a new living room art arrangement. I've been dreaming of creating a perfect square of nine 12 x 12 inch photos for a while now, but I think budget constraints might necessitate a six photo pattern in more a more traditional 8 x 10 size. Either way, I've got a bunch of black and white photos that I've taken over the last few years and I might as well do something productive with them.

Our question right now is should we go all modern city shots, all natural country shots, or a funky mix of the two. Thoughts?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Before and After

No costumes for me this Halloween. Just some serious house work.