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Monday, July 27, 2009

Ants: Creepy or Cute?

As promised, here are the prints that I neglected to take pictures of yesterday.

The baby footprint:

The line of people waiting:

The ants: I think the ant stamp might have been better if I'd made it a little smaller (it's about an inch long), so I might have to try that one again.

Regardless, I've got a bunch of new stamps to play with and some fun, quirky card copy to write. I'm thinking I'll have to dream up a new valentine for T next, especially after coming home to a lovely balcony dinner and these:

Sunday, July 26, 2009

My Heart Skips...

The one upside to this decidedly rainy, cool, and generally unpleasant summer has been that it's not hard to stay indoors and work on art projects. Since today was one big thunderstorm after another, I ended up getting quite a few little stamping projects done. I've been thinking about smaller stamps lately and have made a little list of images that would work as multiple, repeating patterns on a card. Today I carved an ant stamp on a whim and the resulting prints are very cute (although, possibly also a bit creepy). Of course, I just realized that I forgot to take pictures of the prints, so that will have to wait until tomorrow.

Here's the stamp:

I also carved one of two planned baby footprints for possible baby-themed cards:

However, the best prints of the day were my new heart monitor prints. The stamp is such a simple image, but the result is so sharp and interesting. I've got a bunch of fun lines for potential cards as well, but for now I'm just enjoying the look of the cards as is.

Hopefully, I'll find some time to do more stamping this week. I've been finding it tough to find the energy for my printing projects in the evenings lately, but I also want to work steadily on my card line and the weekends tend to fill up pretty quick.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Craft Afternoon!

After nearly a week of limited artistic output, I embraced the weekend with a full afternoon of carving with my friend, co-worker, and fellow crafter-by-night, Bethany. (We have the good fortune to work at a company with summer hours, so sunny Friday afternoons are especially lovely.)

Having another crafter nearby was the perfect tonic to my carving slump. Not only did we get to spend the afternoon discussing our various projects, techniques, ideas, and inspirations (Bethany is a bead artist and was working on what I might tentatively label a 'talisman'), but I also carved two new successful stamps.

The first is a simple image that I've had on my brainstorming list for a while: a heart monitor line. The stamp was easy to carve and the test prints look amazing, but I'm going to hold off posting the print until I produce some better cards tomorrow.

A special thanks needs to go out to Bethany for helping me avoid a near catastrophe.

Me: Do you think I should carve just one beat and then leave the line straight?
Bethany: Meaning... death?
Me: Oh, right... good point.

The second stamp is a small line of people that I drew in very simple silhouettes. On closer inspection, I realized that there are some serious consistency issues with the size of the figures, but I think it will make a fun print for the bottom of a card with a really witty saying.

Of course, now I have to think of a witty saying, which is no easy task considering how many other things are on my To Do List this weekend. Potential projects include snowflakes, bookmarks, and one amazing idea for a 'congrats on your new home' card involving a Victorian home, a ghost, and a killer catch line from Bethany. All in all, a very productive start to what will hopefully be a very crafty weekend.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


No carving or stamping this weekend. My excuses include sunshine (at brief intervals), a fabulous back yard bbq, family brunches, red wine, and the perfect combination of strawberries, cherries, and red grapes.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

My First Stamp

I realized last night that I've never written a post about the little stamp that started this whole stamping obsession. In my first Sonnet & Mayhem post, I mentioned the infamous alphabet stamp set that nearly sent me to the dark side, but my interest in stamping actually began in late 2008 when I went to India. The trip involved my entire family meeting T's entire family and galavanting around New Delhi in what I'm sure looked like the craziest parade of foreigners the city had seen in a while.

As part or our trip, we also made the incredible circuit of Agra (Taj Mahal!) and Jaipur. Jaipur is an amazing city, so culturally rich and full of amazing historical sites. We only visited a fraction of them on our whirlwind road trip, but we did manage to fit in a few hours at the Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing, including a studio session in which we first watched and then practiced the art of hand printing fabric.

They had a big selection of stamps there, but I wanted to have one to keep afterwards so I picked this sweet little one up in to gift shop.

We all chose to make scarves and with so many great stamps to choose from the design options were incredible. I stuck with my little stamp for my first attempt, but I could have easily spent a week playing around with everything in the studio.

Later in the trip, my father also bought me a whole set of metal stamps in one of the markets, but since I've started experimenting with my own hand cut ones I haven't gone back to trying the ones I brought back with me. One of these days I'm going to have to put my Sonnet & Mayhem work aside and test out my little fabric stamp again. Or maybe I'll just have to head back to Jaipur and set up my own little hand printing shop. That would be amazing!

Sunday, July 12, 2009


It was a gorgeous day in the city, so T and I headed out bright and early to check out the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition. Most of the works are still a little out of our budget, but we were definitely keeping track of the names and cards of artists for potential purchases in the future. We were particularly interested in the photography of Sean M. L. Galbraith and his fascinating, slightly haunting photographs of abandoned industrial sites. Who knows, maybe this time next year we will have a limited edition print of "Light Stripes" hanging in our living room (third photo down).

I also loved the beautiful screen printing work at the Jenna Rose booth and I'm seriously kicking myself for not buying one of her ruby red pillows. Thank goodness for online shops.

Seeing the diversity of work being produced by so many local artists was just the inspiration I needed to keep pressing on with my own creative endeavours. I came home and immediately started printing cards and brainstorming new ways to use my existing stamps, including a bright red version of my rose postcard from yesterday.

I also started playing with my lotus stamp and managed to produce a neat repeating pattern. However, every time I came close to printing a perfect postcard I dropped the stamp and ruined the print! Very frustrating, but at least the concept is there. I'm hoping to invest in some screen printing classes in the near future and maybe then I'll be able to produce a repeating pattern with a little more success.

Not one waste a nearly perfect post card, I've decided to use these little experiments as note cards and thank you notes when packaging my polished cards. And any farm girl can appreciate the subtle charms of a little bailer's twine!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Business Cards x 100, etc...

Today was a very productive day on most fronts. I accomplished three big projects and had a great coffee shop brainstorming session. Lots of new, bizarre ideas that I'll be sure to post here if they turn out well (or end up being amusingly bad).

Project 1 involved finally finishing my doomed Victorian baby carriage stamp. I say doomed because, more than any other stamp I've made, I knew from pretty much the outset that the print was not going to be good. On top of making a few bad cuts while carving the stamp, I also didn't take enough care in planning where the dark and light areas were going to be.

Not unrecognizable, but definitely not salable.

Luckily, Project 2 - printing 100 new business cards - turned out considerably better.

Project 3 involved experimenting with a new product for the etsy shop. I bought some watercolour paper post cards a few weeks ago and haven't been able to get around to stamping them until this afternoon. I tried the french horn and power line stamps, but the heavily textured surface of the paper made it difficult to get a clear print. To my continued surprise, it was the rose stamp that again proved to be much better than I originally imagined. I started out with a single print, but then realized that filling the full card made for a much more interesting and pretty final product.

Even prettier in grey and pink... in my humble opinion.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Green, We Need To Talk

We recently canned our plan to move into a bigger apartment, opting instead to redecorate our current, perfectly acceptable one bedroom and save some money. The apartment is located in one of those large high rises that's high on parquet flooring and low on character, but it's a well maintained building and we love our area of the city so it's worth sticking around.

We've been in the place for a few years and have created a decent decor (read: a few steps above your average undergrad apartment, a few steps below this), but we're getting to the point where our hand-me-down bookshelves are now being held up by the books inside them and our futon begs for mercy whenever one of us sits down on it with our full weight. There's definitely room for improvement.

The biggest problem, however, is the colour. Back in the day, when the walls were an ennui-inspiring dull cream, I put forth an argument for big colour. And boy did we get big. Our first attempt to paint the apartment (using the nightmare-causing shade 'Little Boy Blue') turned the place into the equivalent of a drained swimming pool. The paint wasn't even dry when I turned to T and said 'I can't do it. We've got to paint again'

With the terror of bright blue still fresh in our minds, we carefully picked out our next colour, a fresh looking green called 'Wind Surfer' (again, we probably should have known from the name). Well, replace 'fresh' with 'neon' and 'green' with 'lime green' and you'll have a pretty decent idea of the colour our apartment has been for the last two years. We were too exhausted to paint a third time and eventually got used to the brightness. I even grew to like it... sort of.

We put off painting for a long time thinking we might move, but now it's time to get out the rollers and take things down a notch. The only problem is that we can't figure out what colour to go with.

Blue is out. Forever.

Grey is too drab without any white trim to spruce it up.

Yellow is an option, but doesn't really jive with the other furniture and accessories we have in mind for the redecoration.

Red, orange, brown, purple... Too bright, not our thing, too bland, don't like it... So that leaves us with two basic options:

White (bright white... any beiges or creams would bring us too close to the original colour) or.... GREEN

T and I both still like green (in theory), but after nine samplers and nine strike outs we're pretty much ready to give up. Especially when our last choice, 'Key Lime', ended up being essentially Benjamin Moore's version of 'Wind Surfer'.

So, do we abandon colour and embrace white? Is there a colour out there that can transform a cement cube into a lively living space without inspiring the comment 'Whoa, this is really bright' from every first time visitor? Most importantly, how is it that with all of my supposed creative tendencies I can't pick out on single shade of acceptable interior paint!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


I really love the consistency of lino-block for carving. It's easy to cut, but also holds thin lines and stands up well to multiple pressings. I have started to notice, however, that some of my older stamps are beginning to curl and fray a bit around the edges and only a week or two ago I mentioned to T that I needed to figure out a way to attach the lino-block to something harder to preserve the stamps and make it easier to get a consistent print.

So, imagine my delight when on a lovely Saturaday walk in Chinatown I popped into one of my favourite discount art stores and found these:

I'm so excited to experiment with these new blocks. If they work out, then I think I have a much better chance of getting my stamps to be a little more consistent (less wasting cards!) and ensuring that they last longer.

My first stamp on the lino/wood block is going to be this Victorian baby carriage:

I'm only about a third of the way throught carving it and I've already made a few mistakes, so I'm not sure if it's going to be a success. I do need to get some good baby stamps into production though because exciting baby news has been pouring in!

Thursday, July 2, 2009


My creative work this weekend is going to be on two different tracks. On one hand, I've got a lot of work to do in terms of getting the word out about my shop (beyond emailing everyone I know, that is). I have a few marketing tactics up my sleeve, but finding the right venues to contact and advertise in is complicated even for such a small operation.

On the other hand, I have been brainstorming a ton of new stamp ideas and need to get working on some different products for the shop. Drawing, carving, and printing are my favourite Sonnet & Mayhem activities by far (although the blog is definitely fun to keep up), but I have to make sure I balance out my card making time with my business goals or I'll just end up with a lot of cards and no buyers.

I have posted one new card in the shop: Pi

I'll likely post a few more this weekend so that my current inventory is represented. I've also got to do a bit more research on paper sources because I'm loving the way my red cards look on the shop, but have yet to find a good vendor for inexpensive colour card stock and envelopes.

And things just look more fun in colour...