Sunday, November 30, 2008

Life in a Northern Town

This is the scene from our backyard this morning. I'm sure I'll be sick of the snow and slush by March, but right now, it's so pretty! The weather here in Missouri is really not that different from Nashville--probably 5 degrees--but those 5 degrees kept snow from sticking more than once a year in Nashville. Here, we'll get enough to make snow men several times. Hooray! I need to go get some boots.

The day after Thanksgiving is traditionally the day our family decorates for Christmas. Surprisingly, I have a severe HATRED for decorating for Christmas. I like the end result, I just hate the process. A lot. This year wasn't so bad, I put in a couple of hours, then went downstairs to print.

Jason got a stocking tacked on at the end. I might have to break down and make him one myself. He's really getting indoctrinated in the Christmas spirit. We take it very seriously here.

I bought my little silver tree for 75% off at Urban Outfitters last year. Little did I know it would be the perfect thing for our basement apartment! We watched tv last night after Jason got home from work, and I was the happiest I've been in our new living room because of those dang twinkle lights! Something about the way I stuck 2 entire strands onto the world's tiniest tree really lit up the room and made it feel like my house, not my parents'.

Posted by Beth Howard @ 8:46 AM :: (2) comments

Friday, November 28, 2008

I'll be gone til November, baby, gone till November

I have that song in my head because this is what I printed this morning:

Ack! I love it SO MUCH. I can't wait to do the other...wait a minute...11? Sheesh. I need to get cracking. First, though my mom and sisters and I are going to go to the Beaux Arts indie craft fair in Columbia this morning.

Posted by Beth Howard @ 10:48 AM :: (1) comments

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

It's Thanksgiving Break

This is my sister Lauren. (Smile, Larny!)

She's on break for the week from school, so she's making a little quilt. And it's just about the coolest thing I've ever seen! She went to the grouchy-lady quilt store by herself and held her own and everything!

It has been a bit of a group effort. I drew out the overall design, mom has been helping with logistics, and Jason has to be called in for the serious drawing skills. Check out this gladiator!

The windows in the colosseum were my idea.
Happy thanksgiving one and all! I'm on the final month for my calendar...then I just have to ... gulp...carve designs for the top. Ay yay yay.

Posted by Beth Howard @ 8:16 AM :: (2) comments

Monday, November 24, 2008

For Sale!

I spent my weekend working hard--lots of design work for a friend in Nashville, I printed 5 more months of my calendar (only 4 more to go!!) and I started carving the designs for the tops.

And I've posted these little cuties on our 1canoe2 etsy shop. Someday I'll have something to show you on the calendar front, but right now it's just dates, dates, dates.

Off to a busy busy week at work!

Posted by Beth Howard @ 8:43 AM :: (0) comments

Friday, November 21, 2008


Here is the beginning of a project. I have it finished, but don't really like the end result. Look at my watercolor box! I've had it since my sophomore year of college when I went to Florence for the summer. It's gone everywhere with me since then. All the colors are mixed and what not, but I love it.

I bought some little art supplies from Wal-Mart for my office. When we work late for deadlines, both of my bosses' kids come in, and they like to hang out in my office, which I love. I bought some watercolors in the long, single line of pots like we all got for elementary school. I felt guilty about it because I really believe in giving kids high-quality art supplies. It's like taking a photo with your camera phone. It could be the best photo EVER, but it's bad quality, so it's worthless. Although, I'm pretty sure there are probably some awesome camera phone photos out there.

Sorry I've been missing this week. Double deadlines for the magazine at work and big projects at home. And I haven't even worked on the calendar since Monday night--but I did get 4 months done, so I don't feel QUITE so crazy. Although still a little.

HOPEFULLY we're getting out kitchen countertops today, but I'll believe it when I see it. Have a great weekend!

Posted by Beth Howard @ 8:35 AM :: (1) comments

Sunday, November 16, 2008

This is where I question my actual sanity.

Let me first say that I've become sort of obsessed with my letterpress these days. It's out and fairly easy to get going and clean up in a timely manner. I just seem to have it on the brain.

Carrie came over Friday night and we printed fun stuff.

Here is the studio space I'm working in now. It used to be my mom's dye studio, and we can still dye fabric in there. I put up some shelves this weekend so that I could work neater and easier instead of walking back and forth and digging things out of tubs. Those are not my deer heads on the wall. They're my dad's last stand as a manly man in this house. So I decorated them my way. Click on the picture to see it a little bigger.

Now let's talk about how and why I think I've lost my mind. First things first, I've found a house that I want to buy---but logically, we really need to save some serious cash first. Here is the house. I hope I don't sell it to someone else, but I think most of you live out of state, so I'm probably safe. It's so DREAMY!!! So you now see that I have a lot of motivation to make a little extra money right now.

The most direct route to making a little money would be freelance design, and now that I have a lot more printing experience, I'm very confident about sending things to the printer. If any of you know of anyone who needs some design work done, please let me know. I can do logos, simple web design, or t-shirt design, or holiday cards. There. Done trying to be the pimp AND the ho.

So here you see a calendar. This seems simple enough. But then you remember that there are 12 months in the year. And that I will need to do a design for the top of each month. Carrie and I talked at length about doing a calendar, and we decided it would be crazy to hand set each month and try to carve 12 designs. But something about that kept nagging at me, and last night I just wanted to see if I could layout a calendar.

So now I have 50 "January"s and I don't know if I'm going to have the stamina to make all the rest of it work. I was actually depressed last night when I stopped printing, because I think this is the official "you're crazy" sign. Not my normal, "haha, yeah, I do wacky things" sheepish, but now I worry there actually might be something wrong with me.

I also have something to say about a lot of the letterpress you see on etsy. It's lovely. Really lovely, but I think a lot of those people are cheating. (Please don't hate me for this) They're laying out their pattern and letters, then sending it to a big company to make plates for them. I think this is cheating because it's not the artform of hand setting the type or carving the woodcuts. It's clicking the button. That said, I did do that for my wedding invitations, because there's NO WAY I could have carved that tiny tiny hand-drawn text. I guess I'm a hypocrite.

I can't get my prints perfect because the type I'm using has really been around. These other printers are great designers, but the prints look like they were done in a factory by a robot. And I'm glad that my prints really truly look like someone's hand has touched them. I'm going to label all of them as "Hand-Printed on a Letterpress" on Etsy when I post them.

Posted by Beth Howard @ 11:13 PM :: (3) comments

Friday, November 14, 2008

The final Card--Run Count: 5

That's right. I ran all 150 cards through the press a grand total of 5 times. Only 3 of those were the runs where I had to line everything up. After that, it's not so bad.

I'm pretty happy with the way they turned out. There are some places where the printing wasn't all that even, but it's all over, not just on the type. Is that a cop-out? I think I'm getting better at troubleshooting each time I print, but I have yet to turn out anything perfect. Sigh.

I also remembered how much I love my metal type! And truly, the metal type is what prints really beautifully on my teeny press. The linocut blocks don't leave much of an imprint, and I've found that too much inkable area is not a good formula for successful coverage.

So there you have it. After these are all dry and I've taken out the lower quality ones, I'm going to put them up in the 1canoe2 shop.

I have a couple of other projects in the works, and I think Carrie is coming over tonight, so we might get creative (or just sit around and look at stuff.)


Posted by Beth Howard @ 8:14 AM :: (3) comments

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Holiday Cards Update

Here is an update on my printing of Sunday night. I've got one more color run to go, then I'm going to do at least 1 run of type.

Jason did some sketches for me of some alternative holiday themes--very very cool. Now if I can just get him to carve them, instead of me. Hmm. This is Jason's drawing table. He has a million really cool sketches just sitting there. I have half the talent, and twice the marketing drive. I'm sure it's just as frustrating to Jason since I constantly bug him about "doing something" with his drawings.

He says he does the art "just to do it". I guess that makes me the money-grubbing one in the marriage. Art for art's sake? Yes, but I want to be paid for it so I can do more of it.

Posted by Beth Howard @ 8:05 AM :: (2) comments

Monday, November 10, 2008

Grease the plate, the press is back!

I was so grumpy even as I was making the sketches for this, but as soon as I had the cards streaming out of the press I was happy! I guess sometimes I just have to persevere and work through the grouchiness.

I got a wild idea this weekend that I wanted to make holiday cards. Probably got the impulse because I got to go the the real live PaperSource store in Kansas City and I bought all kinds of cool new colors of paper. That yellow down there is called Curry and I'm in love with it!

So this is the first carving of what will be a 3 color carving--then I think I'm going to do a run of hand-set type on it. So I might be a glutton for punishment.

I was pleasantly surprised with how well the ink was going down on the paper--usually I have major coverage issues, but perhaps it's the drier Missouri weather that is helping.

I'm so glad I kept the press at my parents' house instead of in storage and hour and a half away at my grandmothers's. When I pulled my iron friend out of his styrofoam peanut resting place, I had to oil up a few parts, but otherwise it was fine. I do have some mysterious rust on my quoins and the chase which worries me. I'm not sure what I need to do about that, but I don't want them to rust, for sure! They don't even make those things anymore!


Posted by Beth Howard @ 7:57 AM :: (3) comments

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Time to quilt!

I put the top, batting, and backing together for this new quilt last night. I used the spray glue type basting stuff, which I normally love becaus it keeps everything so smooth and wrinkle-free. This time, though, I realized I've never tried to hand-stitch through the stuff. It's quite sticky and not pleasant. And now I have a whole quilt to stitch. I'm hoping as time goes on it will be less sticky, or else I'm going to have very sore fingers for the next few weeks.

I've been in a white quilts mood lately. I love how it makes the colors pop, and with such subtle colors in this quilt, it was mandatory.

Did you know that Wal-Mart doesn't sell embroidery floss anymore? What the heck? I think they replaced it with scrapbooking supplies and cake decorating nozzles. (Haha I think the word "Nozzles" is really funny)

Now I get it at one of the little quilting stores in Mexico, Mo where I work. That's all well and good because I'm supporting local business, but they're only open 9-5 Monday-Saturday. Mostly, I just find it disturbing that Wal-Mart is edging out their crafts section. Way out here in the corn fields my options for see-and-touch live shopping are VERY limited. Even JoAnn is 30 minutes away!

This is my mom's quilt frame--it's several PVC pipes put together with clips to keep your quilt in place. A lot easier than the traditional quilt frame. It's brand name is QSnap if you want to know. I can pull it up right to the sofa. It makes for a lovely working surface. I feel like I could just dream anything up and stitch it, but then again, my plan for this quilt is basic running stitch.


Posted by Beth Howard @ 8:14 AM :: (1) comments

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Why you should NEVER go to Lowe's. (Oh yes I did.)

Let me start by saying that I don't usually use this blog to rant. Now get ready. Here's my friendly advice for the day: NEVER CUSTOM ORDER ANYTHING from Lowe's Home Improvement. Here is what my kitchen looks like. See a problem?

Here's the basic breakdown errors:
Cabinets ordered mid-September, we were told it would be 2 weeks to get them in, then a few days to get the contractor out to install.

The order was lost, add 2 weeks.

The contractor never calls, add 2 weeks.

Finally they come to install LAST WEEK (8 weeks later than promised), and the imbecil who placed the order didn't order the right size for the bar.

Last week they said they would be in no later than this Friday.

Yesterday we get a call that says that it's been pre-ordered and should be in NEXT Wednesday. WTF, man! No mention of, oh, we're sorry, we know we told you Friday. And what the HELL does "Pre-Order" mean? That it's going to be ANOTHER 8 or 9 weeks before we actually get them?

This is totally unacceptable, and unprofessional behavior. I'm so glad we got the cabinets at IKEA ourselves, because clearly Lowe's is completely incompetent in dealing with their customers in any way.

They've never seemed suprised or sorry that things have gone so badly. It's a complete outrage how much money we're paying them for disrespect and terrible service.

How's that for not ranting. Yeah.

Posted by Beth Howard @ 8:23 AM :: (3) comments

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

This is our stomping ground

Hooray for living in the country. Sometimes it's so quiet here that I get stir crazy. But mostly it's just incredibly calming.

Posted by Beth Howard @ 6:54 AM :: (0) comments

Monday, November 03, 2008

A quiet saturday

Jason would rather spend the last 75 degree sunny Saturday of the year at his drawing table than outside digging canna bulbs with me and my mom. My hamstrings are sore today, but I've gotten a lot of fresh air and some artwork done.

These are strips for a new quilt. I have a goal of making at least 4 new large scale abstract quilts by February. I have a big dream of trying to market them to interior designers or galleries or something. I keep thinking of all the things I could do to get my artwork out there--but I can't really get it "out" there until I have some artwork to show.

I had my first nightmare about the Artisan Festival (it's in June) last night -- that when I showed up to look around Nancy Saturn said "oh, you can have a booth" so I sent my dad home to get the tent. Then I realized that I hadn't sew bags since the last festival, then I realized I didnt have ANYTHING good to sell.

I wonder if I'm suffering from festival withdrawal. I told myself I would take time off from such a low-profit margin activity and concentrate on my new job, house, husband and new artwork. But I want to continue doing the show in Nashville. It's so great, no matter how hot it is!

Posted by Beth Howard @ 6:29 AM :: (3) comments

Sunday, November 02, 2008

The only way I love Halloween... because of the kids--especially 4 year olds! Oh, and the candy.

As kids, my sisters and I had some very cool costumes--a shark, a unicorn, a bride, martha get the picture.

That little New Holland tractor is my managing editor Katie's son Curtis. He came and hung out in my office. He was shooting boxes of Nerds like you wouldn't believe!

I thought the kid in the storm trooper outfit looked like one of the kids from the Sandbox movie. Hilarious! And when asked, the "Punk Rock Skeleton" said that she didn't even like rock, she liked ballet and cheerleading.

What was your favorite childhood halloween costume?

Posted by Beth Howard @ 8:41 AM :: (0) comments

Saturday, November 01, 2008

An Updated look

I'm still working on tweaking a little, but for now, here's a little fall cleaning--ahem, now that autumn is halfway over.

I updated and added a few links to the left there, more to come. I changed my name (sniff) and profile info. I've been dying to update the header for months now, but couldn't rationalize it with so much going on. I like this much better.

More to come, but if you see any problems, please shoot me an e-mail or comment.

Oh, and does anyone know how to get this blog up on Google Reader? I'm a huge fan of the reader, but I can't seem to get my own darn blog up there. Any help would be appreciated!

UPDATE: I think I figured it out, but don't know how I did it. If you're a google reader...any comments would be appreciated! I added a button on the left hand bar, so try that out.

p.s. this is my 301st post! Hooray for perseverance.

Posted by Beth Howard @ 9:59 AM :: (4) comments