Friday, January 31, 2014

Grey, grey, grey, but still Friday!

I'm painting - just a little, but it's still so fun. Hard to know where a painting hobby can go when it's challenging just to paint a circle, but I'm enjoying color mixing and learning the difference between hot press and cold press paper.
Here is a little hint to whose studio we'll be visiting next week. Her work is just so happy happy happy to me!
I found these Trixie Belden books this week and will make them into journals. I'm never sure these books will sell (too specific a target audience perhaps?) but when people talk about favorite books out of print, Trixie Beldon comes up often - more so than Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, which surprises me. Does it surprise you?
If you're looking for a hand-made swap for February, Amanda is hosting one and taking sign-ups right now.

Happy Weekend! Happy Super Bowl! xo

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Books Books Books!

Just a note to let you know these six beauties are now on the shelves at Maven.
 And these are on a long journey to a vintage shop in Washington state - thrilling!
Hope you are staying warm wherever you are! xo

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Amy Thompson : : Letterpress

Today we are visiting the studio of fine artist Amy Thompson. Amy is the owner of Paper Boat Studios, located on Historic Cherokee Street in St. Louis.
Amy creates fine mixed media art, stationery (she specializes in custom wedding invitations) and home goods. Her work is very diverse - but everything includes the letterpress.
In her space ("Around 450 square feet and bursting!" Amy explains), she has her studio, a small store front display and a couch and table for meeting with clients, for friends who pop in and most often, for her constant companions Boomer and India. India is below. See the paper boats floating in the window? Amy was inspired to name her business Paper Boat Studios after being on a rowing team in college.
And here is India's view of Amy when she works. Amy has an MFA with a focus on printmaking. She has been in this studio for three and a half years. Before this, she had a space in the Loft District downtown.
Here are some of the home products/greeting cards Amy creates. You can see more in her etsy shop!

Amy has two presses on site, and they are named Leona (after Amy's grandma whose name is ironically not Leona) and Doll (after Dolly Parton). "They're like two strong women," Amy said. Leona was made in 1903 and Doll was made in 1907. Amy has a third press in storage at her grandmother's home in Montana.
Amy says one of her biggest personal challenges as a full time artist is staying organized. She has also claimed 2014 as her year to spend some time focusing on balance. She teaches as an adjunct professor at two local universities, maintains her invitation/stationery work business and makes time to continue her passion for fine art. Her current fine art project includes a study of Spirograph designs.
This collection is now on display at the Meramec Gallery of Contemporary Art as part of a show called "Under Pressure." It runs until February 14th.
Amy's mother gave her these toys to remind her to keep her "ducks in a row". Do you remember when I featured Carol Carter in this space? She told me that all artists have toys in their studios, and I am finding that to be true.
Before Amy was a printer, she worked as a graphic artist. She combines traditional and modern methods in her work.
"Because people often want to make small changes in their invitations, it is easier to work with a pdf that can handle tiny changes and be edited immediately," she said. "And then I have photo polymer plates made in New York." Box Car Press in Syracuse, creates Amy's plates and they also recycle all of her used scraps. These are recycled and used in composite decks and benches.
Amy says that the move to Cherokee Street has been perfect for her art and her business. She walked by her studio, saw the "For Rent" sign in the window and knew it was the space for her before she even stepped inside. (There are more paper boats hanging on her back wall.)
 I think her presses are so beautiful. They're like sculpture all on their own.
Here is some of Amy's work in progress. A tip that Amy shared for aspiring paper artists is to use a surgical scalpel rather than an X-Acto knife for cutting. "They're sharper, cheaper and thinner,"Amy explained. "The blade almost never breaks and they never roll off a table!"
Some of Amy's fine art work.
Here is Amy with Boomer (right) and India (left). Thank you Amy!

Paper Boat Studios
2308 1/2 Cherokee Street
St. Louis

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

At long last - my list for 2014

This post really is just a list of reminders for me, but I've decided that putting it "out there" is important this year...

Nothing like making your list for the year when it is almost February. But, all things considered, this is kind of how I work. Not a one of my roommates would be surprised that my "resolutions" were decided upon 22 days later than most. This isn't a list of resolutions really - it's more of a check list. And most of this list will be a delight to complete, so while it's going to be long, it's completely do-able. Ok, let's get to it:
Goodness Recycled

1. I will paint. A lot.
2. I will get my business functioning like a business - with quarterly goals, show goals, taxes paid on time, etc.
3. I will be in at least four local craft shows - I love them, they are filled with "my people" and I need to join in a bit more on a small scale.
4. I will blog again. I love it and it feeds me. No more cataloguing it as a decadence.
5. I will increase the range of products in my etsy shop.
6. I will research equipment that will help me - I will dread this goal but it is time for a high-quality paper cutter, binding machine and printer to enter this space. There will be research, reporting, saving and craigslisting/ebaying galore.
7. I will update (recreate) my website.
8. I will learn some essential computer skills, most urgently, how to upload a pdf to the internet for tutorials/selling.
9. My business space will be organized and determined - not somewhat a family space, somewhat a craft room and somewhat a business. This step may sound boring, but it's going to be exciting for some reasons I can't yet share.
10. I will explore finding an art space outside of my home. Thankfully, I think David has stopped reading my blog - otherwise, he would comment, "No you won't," and I would reply, "Yes I will!" and he would reply, "No you won't!" (Much in the style of the first 10 seconds here.)
11. I will go to one professional conference. [Read: art retreat.] The only guaranteed companion for this conference will be the ocean.

1. I will make at least one art doll.
2. I will learn to sew - pillows mostly.
3. I will start and continue art journaling - no excuses.
4. I will make one flip book.
5. I will make a journal for each of my kids.
6. I will learn to marble paper.
7. I will finish a needlepoint pillow for our back porch.
8. I will paint at least two paintings for our home - dining room, master bed.
9. I will knit David a hat that actually fits him.
10. I will knit something for myself. That I don't need.
11. I will make our winter holiday cards - they may be Halloween cards or New Years cards, but they will be handmade.

1. I will walk. Walking has saved my life at times (seriously - more than once - maybe I'll tell you about it some day). I need/want to get back to it.
2. I will swim. I LOVE to swim! And I HATE to be cold - so getting my tookus to the pool is the challenge, once I'm there all is well. Lisa Congdon is a full time artist and avid swimmer - I kind of want to be her. She is my inspiration on this one.
3. I will learn so much about Celiac Disease and gluten, people will walk away from me at parties. I will be such a fact-spouting-smarty-pants-know-it-all, and..
4. by December, I will have a FULL repertoire of recipes to feed my kids that are delicious and crowd pleasing. And we will have a system in our house whereby gluten free healthy and junk food is always easy to find and within reach in a meaningful way (think homemade single serving lasagna in the freezer) - to say we have three growing kids is a ridiculous understatement.
5. I will garden with passion (see next section).

1. I will garden as if I am going to live in this house for the next 50 years.
2. I will research getting electricity out to our carriage house (details on why this is gardening later).
3. I will complete our side-yard garden - this will include fencing, a rain barrel, perhaps bees and maybe a turtle habitat.
4. We will start an asparagus garden.
5. We will find a way to save cilantro all winter (Similar to saving basil? I wonder.)
6. We will plant garlic again and for the duration.
7. We will explore planting a peach tree again and make a meaningful decision about it.
8. I will read at least two books on permaculture.
9. There will be a tipi.

It's going to be a great year! xo

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Pattern Play

After the holiday [selling] season, I treated myself to two creative gifts: the online class Sewn by Mary Ellen Moss (her blog is so very dreamy); and a "membership" to Teesha Moore's (Teesha is the goddess of art journaling if you haven't heard of her) Artstronaut's Club. In two weeks, I have already learned more than I expected from both gifts.
I'm taking my jolly sweet time with Sewn, because, well, because I don't actually know how to sew (yet!) so this first "assignment" of noticing and mindlessly creating patterns is keeping me busy for now. Patterns are everywhere of course, but my senses are definitely heightened. I'm also playing with the beautiful glass pen that my cousin brought me from Germany (hence the random text below). 
 And I'm seeing amazing patterns everywhere. On my book covers that are waiting to be collaged...
Here.... and here (this one I'm actually going to try to just copy outright for the fun of it)...
I think I always assumed that patterns were complicated and over-my-head. But the more I observe them, the more I realize that the patterns I gravitate toward the most are so very simple. My third gift to myself this year is Wednesdays. I am hoping to schedule some "creative time just for the sake of creative time" every. single. week. Fingers crossed. xo

Monday, January 13, 2014

Under Construction

I'm doing some reorganizing around here and part of that reorganizing includes this blog. Please be patient as I get the blog to where I want it to be - I want the photos to be larger, and I need a new heading that will reflect the direction in which my little creative business is heading. I have updated my blog roll - one of the "perks" of blogging is that you can list your favorite blogs on a roll and it will automatically tell you when a blog has been updated. The list I keep on the right changes so that the most recent posts are listed first. So fun. And now, that list reflects lots of changes and updates from other artists so reading should be easy and current.

There is a very small Upcycled Book Journal update in my etsy shop today. So much more to come, but for now, I'm working on getting a selection of listings there since I am starting to apply for some local craft shows. Happy Monday! xo

Friday, January 10, 2014


Getting a batch of Upcycled Journals ready to deliver to Maven Boutique in Maplewood. Hope you have a lovely weekend! xo

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Happy. New. and Year.

I had so many expectations for this first post of 2014 that I found myself a bit tongue tied (keyboard tied?) about it all. So instead of trying to write some masterpiece of sorts, I'm just going to ramble a bit to get over the hump of starting a new year of blogging. 

Have you picked a word for your year yet? I love this tradition, but my word has not presented itself to me as of today. The finalists include: clarify, clarity, build, nourish, love, patience (my kids suggested patience - hmmmm...) produce (as in vegetables and to make things) and live. I'm going to give myself another week or two before "committing" in the hopes that the right word is obvious before then. One of my favorite new-to-me artists announced that her word of the year would be "snickerdoodle" - that sounds like a fun direction to consider also.

I have a list of things I want to do this year and I plan to post them here for accountability. Coming soon. I'm also very excited about getting back to blogging. I think I have two readers left (hi Elizabeth! hi Joe!), but with any luck, I'll get that number up to at least 10 (five hundred percent bigger - wow!). Ha! We'll see. I'm definitely bringing back Studio Tour Thursdays - can't wait.

These photos are of a recent paper haul I made in Chicago. Paper Source is opening in St. Louis this April - I can hardly wait. Happy New Year! xo