2014 :: A Sewing Odyssey :: #5

07/28/14

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Many of you know that I am working hard this year to not purchase new clothing. My goal is to either sew for myself or buy vintage. Lately, I’ve been so busy with work that I’ve had very little time to sew. In fact, the last dress I made was in April! So instead, I’ve been hitting vintage shops and thrift stores when I have the chance. Recently, when I was on vacation in Oregon, I had the chance to do a bit of vintage shopping.

Those of you who buy vintage know every now and again when you are digging through a thrift or vintage you find a dress that was made for you — it fits you perfectly, it’s got all “your colors” in it, and it’s something you could wear every day. I had one such experience recently in Astoria Oregon, shopping at Commercial Astoria. But before I tell you more about the dress I bought there, let me say I love this shop. It’s small, which means it’s not overwhelming, and it’s well curated. And for a curated vintage shop, the prices are great. And they sell vinyl (we also bought a bunch of records while we were there).

So back to the dress. You can see me modeling it above. But the thing is, when I bought it, it didn’t look exactly like this. It was floor length and the sleeves were a bit too long also. Typical 70′s style: cute, but not something I’d wear very often. In every other way it was perfect, however,  vintage Scandinavian print and all. So I decided to buy it and alter it a bit to make it more current — something I could wear every day. I chopped a couple of feet off the bottom of it, and several inches off the sleeves, hemmed them up and voilà: a new-to-me every day cotton dress.

Besides the fit, the thing I love most about this dress is the pattern. If you know me, you know I am obsessed with all things Scandinavian, and the fabric this dress is made of is no exception.

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While I love shopping for vintage and altering vintage clothes, I am going to sew more clothing again, hopefully soon. In fact, on Saturday I block printed a couple of yards of fabric (more on that later this week) and I plan to sew a dress from that before September is over. Stay tuned.

Have a great Monday, friends.

 

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One Year Later

06/26/14

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One year ago today and really exciting thing happened in the lives of thousands upon thousands of people: in a historic pair of 5-4 rulings on the final day of the term for the United States Supreme Court, the justices struck down the sixteen year old Defense of Marriage Act, which denied federal benefits to gay couples married under state law, and let stand a ruling that found Proposition 8 (a 2008 voter initiative that ended same-sex marriage in California) unconstitutional. What that meant for me was that Clay and I (along with thousands of other couples) could get legally married. Elated, I wrote about the ruling the next day here. And Clay and I did get legally married in July. It was a very exciting time in our lives and a time I will never, ever forget.

To commemorate the anniversary of this historic date and to advocate for the legalization of same sex marriage all over the country, I made a new piece of art, entitled “Love Conquers All” pictured above, which will be for sale as a print in my Etsy Shop starting July 16 (my shop is closed for the time being while I am on vacation). Sign up for my mailing list to be alerted when the print is available in July!

I wanted to also recommend a fantastic documentary, which I saw a week ago at the opening night of the LGBT Film Festival in San Francisco: The Case Against 8, which documents the fight against Proposition 8 in California. It’s a gut wrenchingly fabulous film airing now on HBO that follows the plaintiffs and attorneys in their multi-year struggle which ended this day last year. If you do watch, bring your tissues!!

Have a happy Thursday everyone! To marriage for all!

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Collaborations with Clay :: Project 2

06/24/14

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You may remember at the end of April that my wife Clay and I started a project in which we are periodically making gifts for friends & family. We made these bath salts, and have since offered them up to several people as thank you gifts. We continued that new tradition on Sunday when we made jars of Maple Ginger Almonds (information on recipe coming up). Along with making the nuts, we made labels for the jars using a simple image transfer technique.

We’ve decided to name each series of gifts we make, and this one is called “Nuts 4U” — a double entendre, of course! I hand lettered the label design and we got to work making the labels. You can learn about this transfer technique in this Creativebug tutorial by the amazing Courtney Cerruti, or you can also purchase her book on image transfer (which I wrote about here). Basically all you need are a photocopy of what you’d like to transfer, solid packing tape (I love 3M’s packing tape), a spoon for burnishing, scissors, and a bowl of warm water.

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Place a piece of packing tape over the image you’d like to transfer and burnish with the spoon (or any hard object). Cut out the piece you’d like to transfer and place in the warm water and let soak for a few minutes.

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Then peel or gently scrape the paper off the back of the packing tape. It will be wet and happens quite effortlessly. The image will remain on the tape. Let the piece of tape dry completely. And voila! You have a label! The adhesive survives the process with most packing tapes.

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Next we made the nuts. We used the Maple Ginger Almond recipe from the Pure Vegan cookbook. These flavored almonds are delicious, but they are a bit more savory than sweet in the end, so their name is a bit misleading. They use a lot of soy sauce (you could use Tamari sauce instead), and are deliciously salty with a hint of maple/ginger flavor. The recipe is super simple (four ingredients!) and we were finished making them in less than 30 minutes (though you need to let them completely cool and dry which takes several hours). We also tripled the recipe.

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We now have eight little jars of nuts ready for friends.

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We are already thinking about what we might make next. Stay tuned!

Have a happy Tuesday!

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On Change

06/23/14

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I am a summer girl. Since I was a kid, it has been my favorite season. I love warm air, swimming pools, the light that stays into the evening. The beginning of summer, like all seasons, represents change.

A few seemingly minor things have happened over the past couple of weeks that have made me realize that my world is changing. And they have reminded me that nothing is permanent — that things (even the things we wish wouldn’t) – evolve, and that they evolve constantly. And we don’t even notice most of the time. Things are always shifting and moving — in nature, in relationships, everywhere, all the time. That’s why Buddhists practice non-attachment. They say attachment is the cause of suffering. Since things are always changing, attachment can only cause pain.

We mostly notice when something changes when it begins to hurt. And then we say “WHAT THE *#$^# JUST HAPPENED?” And then we realize this thing that is causing the sting has been sloooooowly changing for a long time, and that we just didn’t notice. That circumstance we took for granted, that thing that grounded us — is no longer what we thought. And we have to start over and find new ground and create a new world view to keep ourselves feeling okay.

In very small ways this happens to us every day. Something in our reality is shaken. But most of the time these things are so small that we move through them with ease, and we might barely notice them. And other times they feel bigger and more significant. At forty-six I’ve been through enough painful evolutions in my life to know I will get through the current one, where when I was sixteen a similar situation might have made me crawl into a hole and not come out for weeks. The more change and related pain we experience over our lifetimes, the more adept we get at moving through it. And that’s a good thing to remember.

And also, let’s face it, while some change is super painful, other change can feel welcomed and exhilarating. Every dark side has a light side, or so they say. So on this lovely summer morning, I’m searching for the light in my current round of change, and feeling grateful for the stuff in my life that is, at least for today, standing still.

Have a good Monday, friends.

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Happy National Donut Day!

06/06/14

 

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{My first ever donut-themed piece of art, created in 2012}

Its NATIONAL DONUT DAY, friends.

I grew up in a home in which donuts were deemed inherently evil, my mother citing “zero nutritional value” as the reason they did not ever grace our table. They were basically deep fried dough covered in sugar, she said (um, hello MOM, that sounds DELICIOUS!). The only treats we got for stretches of time in our home were homemade cookies made with whole grains and fruit juice. Occasionally on extravagant occasions my mother would make whole wheat cinnamon rolls drizzled in a powdered sugar glaze (the use of actual refined sugar was rare). I love my mom, and while I really appreciate my mother’s attempt to feed us a healthy diet now (and she was/is a great cook), then I was only pining for the stuff I couldn’t have. Which also might explain why I gained 25 pounds my first semester of college when my entire diet was finally up to me & the dining hall options. But that is another story.

Anyhow, the only way around this dearth of donuts was to sneak out to Dunkin Donuts whenever we could. So my brother and sister and I (and some combination of other recalcitrant church-going teens) figured out that we could conveniently drive or walk away from the church parking lot on Sundays — just during the time when we were supposed to be in Sunday school — and return just before the ending time. This served two purposes: donuts and not having to participate in church youth group activities.

And so we did. And we ate donuts. This was also my introduction to coffee — doused with packets of dry creamer and sugar, of course. The combination of donuts and coffee, (and the buzz they made me feel), sitting in our Sunday best inside a booth, the smell of donuts around us, the sun streaming in from outside, giggling and gossiping, the thrill of being insubordinate — they are some of my best memories.

Earlier this winter I was asked to be part of a book about hand lettering. And the editor requested just one thing from me: a donut alphabet. And so I gladly obliged.

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And you may recall that I made this poster for the PSU GoodShop recently (which you can get here). A smokin’ deal at $25:

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Have a great weekend, friends. And don’t forget to eat a donut today!

 

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On Marriage :: A Year Later

06/02/14

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One year ago, on June 1, 2013 I got married. I wrote about marriage a lot last year — what it felt like to be getting married as a gay person and as a 45 year old, what it felt like the day it happened, what it felt like when the ban on same sex marriage was struck down in my state, and what it felt like when we got legally married in July. And now I am going to write a little bit about what it feels like to be married, a year later.

First, let me provide some context. Last year was — aside from the wedding, our legal marriage and honeymoon, and short periods of time surrounding those events — one of the hardest years of my life. It was rife with challenges. From the beginning of the year, I was working a lot outside my comfort zone artistically (which I advocate for, but ain’t always easy). I wrote a book (which I am now quite proud of, but the process of writing it was grueling). And last fall, I went through a fairly public issue regarding copyright infringement of my work, during which time my own work was scrutinized. And that particular experience was so dark and so painful that I almost did not come out of it. It was, for me, the single worst three months of my life. I almost quit making art. I wanted to move far away and never go on the internet again. I was this close –> <– to giving up.

But I didn’t give up. Not on writing the book and, most notably, not on my work as an artist. And that is because of my wife, Clay.

Some people say that marriage doesn’t actually change your relationship too much, that it’s just a piece of paper. And maybe for some people that is what marriage is — mostly a legal agreement. Countless unmarried couples live committed and beautiful lives together.  I do not think marriage is necessary for intimacy or commitment. My community hasn’t been allowed to marry until recently (at least legally). But for me, the act of getting married, expressing my vows to Clay, in the presence of our closest family and friends, was an act of saying to the world: I will do everything in my power to protect this person from pain, comfort this person in her grief, love this person with every bone of my body, honor this person in every way possible, and to be absolutely truthful to this person.

So I knew marriage would change me. I knew that I would be a better, more thoughtful, more truthful, more loving, more accountable partner because of what I had committed to. But what I hadn’t given too much thought to was how marriage might change Clay. Let’s be clear: I married Clay because she is one of the most thoughtful, grounded, spirited, genuine, easy-to-be-in-the-presence-of humans I’ve ever known. And she’s pretty adorable, to boot. But I had no idea of the bounds of her love and the seriousness with which she took our relationship (er, marriage) until last October.

If you have ever gone through something so horrible that you could not sleep or eat or concentrate and where crying and panic attacks were regular occurrences, you know something of my state between October and December of last year. And you might also know that often when you are in that kind of state, all you want is for someone to tell you, maybe every 10 minutes if necessary, that everything is going to be okay. You don’t want them to necessarily fix it or tell you what you should be doing differently or tell you what might make you feel better. You just want comfort. That’s all.

And that, my friends, is exactly what Clay gave me, every single day for three months straight. She didn’t tell me I had to get over it. She didn’t make me feel worse about what was happening. She stood by me (often taking time off of work), without complaint, and provided me love and comfort and a sense of safety. She also helped to handle many of my legal matters, aspects of my business, and communication with important people in my life. I have never felt so loved or protected by someone, ever.

So I am not sure if the vows Clay made in marrying me are what caused the depths of her commitment to me last year. But I do know that something felt different during that time, and has continued to feel different since that experience faded. Instead of destroying us, the experience bonded us in a way I never thought possible with another person (and I also learned a lot of valuable personal and professional lessons). And that is the thing: often the most beautiful things come out of the most ugly piles of crap-shit.

So, yah, I love being married — and not just because I have a wife who is the bomb-diggity when it comes to being right there for me when things feel scary. I love being married, because I love Clay. I love everything about her, even the stuff that annoys me. Every day I cannot wait for her to come home from work. I never tire of her. She is my joy, my comfort, my world.

Here’s to marriage. May every single couple who wants marriage get to experience its beauty!

Have a good Monday, friends.

(Photo credit: the amazing Bonnie Tsang)

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AIDS Life/Cycle Designs!

05/30/14

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(In 2012, as we are about to embark on the 545 mile bike ride from SF to LA}

You may recall that two years ago in 2012 I rode my bike from San Francisco to Los Angeles as part of the California AIDS Life/Cycle. It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. Earlier this year the folks at AIDS Life/Cycle contacted me to create a hand lettered route map for them that would adorn a bandana and tote bag — for riders to purchase in the camp store. I was so honored to do work for this great organization, and after chatting about iconic stops along the route, I came up with this design:

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The route travels down the California coast and the various spots are either famous rest stops (places where riders stop for food and water) or camps or cities along the way. They even made a t-shirt from my drawing of two bears eating otter pops from the famous Otter Pop Stop (rest stop) on the way from Santa Cruz to King City on Day 2 (the longest day at around 109 miles of cycling).

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If you are riding this year, you can buy the merchandise I designed at the ALC camp store. And good luck riders! They leave Sunday for the 7-day ride.

I’ll be back Monday with a special post reflecting on a year of marriage (yes, it’s been a YEAR!).

Happy weekend! I’m off to Mendocino for my anniversary with Clay.

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New York Recap No. 2 :: Class & Book Signing

05/29/14

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One of the most enjoyable parts of my latest adventure to New York City was teaching my Professional Illustration Class at the new Makeshift Society in Brooklyn. It was a packed house and we chatted for over two hours about the life & work of a professional illustrator — how to build your career, executing assignments, contracts & billing, staying organized, agents, self promotion and more. I’m teaching the same class in San Francisco next week, and that class is sold out, but I plan to add a class in August, so stay tuned! I have added an August class! Register here.

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The following evening I had a book signing for Whatever You Are, Be a Good One, also at Makeshift Society.

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Grace Bonney and my wife Clay getting are all smiles getting ready to sell books before the event!

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The thing I love most about book signings is connecting with people – and book signings are always a beautiful combination of familiar and unfamiliar faces. Below I’m chatting with my friend Carrie, who I’ve known online for years but had never met in person. It was a highlight!

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Kimberly showed up to have her book signed and also showed me one of my flower drawings she had tattooed on her arm! Here I am taking a photo of it.

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Rachel, one of my oldest and dearest friends who now lives in New York came and I was so excited to see her!

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I could not have gotten through the evening without the help of Bryan and Cait at Makeshift Society, my wife Clay, and the help of my friends Grace and Julia, pictured below, who sold books as I signed them.

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If you live in the Los Angeles Area, my next book signing is June 14 at Poketo! I’d love very much to see you there. I’ll be sharing more information about that event next week. You can RSVP here.

Have a happy Thursday, friends!

 

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New York Recap No. 1 :: Surtex & Stationery Show

05/28/14

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{My illustration and licensing agent, Lilla Rogers, in her booth at Surtex; you can see my banner overhead}

For 10 days last week I traveled to New York City. For the first two days of my trip, I attended both Surtex and the National Stationery Show. I was exhibiting some of my surface design work at Surtex at my agent’s booth (see photo above) and visiting the Stationery Show to see friends in the industry and get a look at the latest trends. Spending two days at Javits Convention Center In New York is always exciting — there is always so much packed into trade shows. And it also involves A LOT of walking!

It is also visually very stimulating (to the point of being downright overwhelming). At Surtex you see hundreds of pattern & surface designs exhibited by artists and at the Stationery Show you see thousands and thousands of cards, notebooks, calendars and totebags by today’s stationery designers & companies — from large companies like Galison to tiny start-up letterpress companies. So you can only imagine how wonderful  — though totally exhausting — the experience is!

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While there, my agent Lilla gathered all of the artists she represents who came for the shows. We all ate lunch together and discussed business. I always enjoy hanging out with my fellow illustrators & hearing the latest from Lilla. Pictured above fellow Lilla Rogers Studio artists from left to right: Zoe Ingram, Daniel Roode, Lilla Rogers, Carolyn Gavin, Sarajo Friedan, Helen Dardik, me, Allison Cole and Mike Lowrey. Zoe came all the way from Australia for the week!

At the Stationery Show, I was able to visit many friends exhibiting there, along with several companies who license my work like Quarto Publishing, Old Tom Foolery, Chronicle Books, Tattly, and more. I was thrilled to see one of three coloring books I did for Quarto at the show (sorry for the blurry photo — snaps were taken quickly!):

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And I’ll be announcing all three coloring books in an upcoming blog post, so stay tuned!

The company Old Tom Foolery has licensed many of my photographs for use on their beautiful stationery. Here are my Paris Notecards in their booth, which you can purchase directly from them (see link in my sidebar!).

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In my industry, I have made so many friends over the internet (and many locally in the Bay Area too), and Surtex and the Stationery Show provide an opportunity to see many of them — and meet new friends too. I was so lucky to see friends from around the country like Emily McDowell, Ashley Goldberg, Christine Schmidt of Yellow Owl, Liz Libre of Linda & Harriett, Sarah Parrott, Cat Seto, Eva Jorgensen of Sycamore Street Press, Claudia Pearson, Lorena Siminovich of Petit Collage, Tina Eisenberg from Tattly and many others.

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Here I am with Claudia Pearson in her booth, whose work I love and whose friendship I am so happy to have! And below, I was so happy to see/chat with my friend Cat Seto of Ferme A Papier.

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Tomorrow I’ll be back with another New York Recap about my class and book signing events.

Have a great Wednesday, friends.

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Art Inc. Advances are Here!

05/15/14

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As you may remember, last year I wrote a book! It’s called Art Inc: The Essential Guide for Building Your Career as an Artist, and it comes out in August. Just last week I got a very special package in the mail, which included my very first advance copies of the book! I was unexpectedly overcome with emotion when I opened the box. They are so pristine and beautiful! The book’s illustrations are by the amazing Karolin Schnoor.

Art Inc. includes seven chapters covering things like getting down to business, promoting your work, exhibitions and galleries, illustration and licensing, and more! The book also includes interviews with 14 successful full time artists & illustrators.

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If you’ve been reading this blog for a long time, you may recall that it was a arduous process for me to write a business book. I wrote this post a little over a year ago on the pain of writing & editing (and owning all of the experience, even the hard stuff). I love to write, but I’d never given business advice before in such a detailed way, nor had I ever had the experience of having my writing (ideas, thinking, etc) edited by others. There were points in the process when I wanted to give up. Friends recall me saying, “I’d quit, except the train has already left the station, and I can’t!” Insecurity ravaged me, and I felt like nothing I wrote was right or good or worth reading. I realized how much I didn’t know about the worlds of art and illustration and how much I had to learn by interviewing people and doing research in order to write a decent book. Writing this book turned me inside out.

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I obviously stuck with it, tears, anxiety, heartache and all, and I am so glad I did. I am so proud of this book, and I cannot wait to share it with the world. My hope is that my experience — and the experience of the people I interviewed for the book — can help more and more artists figure out how to happily and successfully build a career.

Art Inc. comes out August 12. In the meantime, you can pre-order a copy here. I’ll be going on another book tour this fall, so stay tuned for stops in your city. If you are interested in hosting me at your organization or bookstore, I’d love to hear from you.

Have a happy Thursday, everyone!

 

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Tiffanie Turner :: HEADS

05/07/14

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If you’ve been paying attention on the interwebs over the last week, you might have noticed there is a lot of talk about an exhibition of gigantic crepe paper flowers happening in San Francisco right now. That exhibition, which opens at Rare Device on Friday, is the handiwork of artist Tiffanie Turner. I first met Tiffanie when she came to an event in my studio in early 2012. At the time, she was interested in getting back to making art — she is a licensed architect who left the industry several years ago — and was looking for new creative pursuits. She has in the two years since engaged in a multitude of serious creative projects — all of which are documented on her blog. But none has caught the attention of her fans (and the general public) as much as her giant paper flowers.

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Through HEADS, Tiffanie explores the organized chaos and rhythms of nature — and in some ways (I’d hazard to guess) it explores (and may bring a sense of order) to the “chaos” of her own life. Each flower, made from crepe paper, takes her 35 to 80 hours to make — a true feat of strength and perseverance for Tiffanie, who lives & works in a small apartment in San Francisco with her husband and two kids, who are 4 and 8 years old.

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HEADS opens with a reception this Friday May 9 from 6-8:00 p.m. at Rare Device. You can read more about Tiffanie and her stunning flowers on this fabulous article published this week by The SF Chronicle. All photos by Sarah Deragon and Tiffanie Turner.

See you at the opening & Happy Wednesday!

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Collaborations with Clay :: Project 1

04/29/14

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A couple of months ago my wife Clay and I were talking about my sewing project this year in which I have committed to making my own clothes or buying them second hand for the entire year — all in an effort to consume less & save money, or at least to be more conscious of my consumption & spending. Clay mentioned that she’d been thinking about how together we could extend that idea to gift giving. We collectively spend a lot of money on gifts each year — for things like birthdays and holidays, and also for smaller things like going to a friend’s home for dinner. She suggested that we spend time about once a month designing and making our own gifts for friends and family, all ready made to give away.

So this past weekend we embarked on our first collaborative project: citrus bath salts (made from scratch, which is super easy!). Clay came up with the name Un Bon Bain (that’s “a good bath” in French), I designed the packaging (which was carved for block printing), and we made the bath salts and block printed the packaging together.

Here are the stamps I carved to make the packaging. For more on carving stamps & block printing, I recommend Christine Schmidt’s book Print Workshop. My friend Jen Hewett (another amazing block printer) is also teaching a block printing class at Makeshift Society in May. I was lucky enough to spend the afternoon block printing with Jen last week (after reading Christine’s book) and got to put everything I’d read into practice.

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Ahead of time, we purchased all the ingredients for the bath salts (we used Martha Stewart’s recipe here), the jars (purchased at a local food coop), and everything we needed for block printing (I used my friend Christine’s book, mentioned above, as a reference for that).

Then Sunday we got to work. Making the bath salts was super easy and fast. Printing the labels took a bit longer because there were some mess-ups (all part of the learning process since block printing is new to us).

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In the end, we have 12 jars of bath salts, ready to gift! We plan to make different gifts monthly, and next (since not everyone wants to take a bath), we’ll be making some flavored nuts with their own packages. Stay tuned for that.

Best part? Spendng time with Clay getting ink on our hands.

Have a happy Tuesday, friends!

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Thank You

04/23/14

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{I carved a stamp! More on my adventures in stamp carving and block printing coming soon.}

I wanted to take a moment today to say thank you to the people who read my blog and support my work. I get many amazing emails every week, and I don’t always have time to respond to them all (or at least respond quickly). I appreciate each of them, and all of the encouragement and interest that is included in them. I am also grateful for all of the love and support you give on Facebook, on Twitter and Instagram. And then there are the good people who contact me because they are interested in hiring me to illustrate things, to invest in my talents or to collaborate with me in some way.

Ten years ago I never could have imagined that I would be doing what I do every day. And without you — the people who read my blog, buy my work & books, take my classes, pay me to draw things for you and spread the word about what I do — I would not be here. So thank you!!!

Off to ship Etsy orders (and use my new THANK YOU stamp).

Have a great Wednesday.

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Embrace the Abyss Talk :: Now Online

04/15/14

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Many of you have been asking about the talk I’ve been giving over the last couple of months called Embrace the Abyss and Other Lessons, and a recording of it is now online. This version was recorded last week at TYPO International Design Conference in San Francisco, where I gave the talk for the last time (I’ve also previously given versions of the same talk at the Nevada Museum of Art in February and at as the keynote address at Craftcation Conference in early April). Here it is (gulp) with all its imperfections. It’s about 42 minutes. Enjoy.

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On Trying New Things & Learning From Others

03/27/14

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{my first official watercolor painting, made in class last night!}

Last night I took my first ever watercolor class with the amazing Emily Proud. I have written about Emily here before both here and here. I originally met Emily because she came to work as my assistant in 2012. And from there we grew into fast friends. Emily has transitioned into full time art-making in the last few months, and as part of her journey as an artist, she’s begun teaching watercolor classes at Makeshift Society in San Francisco. I’ve been itching to take one of her classes since she started teaching them last year, both because I admire Emily and her work and because I have been wanting to integrate watercolor into my work in a more concerted way. So I was really excited about last night’s class.

I had no idea what to expect from the two hour session, but I was hoping to get some concrete tips. Every time I’ve attempted to paint in watercolor before, I’ve been sorely disappointed with the results. The colors weren’t mixing quite the way I wanted, I had too many brush strokes, on and on. I had always assumed watercolor was really similar to gouache (a medium I use all the time). But I learned quickly it acts very differently!

In the matter of two hours, Emily took us through a series of exercises and demonstrations that addressed (without her knowing) almost every frustration I’d previously had with watercolor. It was the best $60 I’ve spent in a long time.

I am one of those artists who loves the idea of trying new things. But, like many people, I am also afraid of “failing” (I put failing in quotes here because, in truth, I really don’t believe there is such a thing as failure in art-making). I am easily frustrated when I try something new and then it looks nothing like what I’d hoped. And so I often give up.

I am realizing more and more that sometimes it pays off to cut to the chase and take a class instead of flailing around aimlessly in my studio or at my coffee table. Let’s face it — how many times have we bought expensive new materials to try out a new technique or medium only to see those items collecting dust months or years later, because we didn’t have the skill or knowledge we needed to put them to good use? Sometimes it works to teach yourself, sure (I have based most of my career on teaching myself new things); but learning from “experts” (even in a short two hour class or online tutorial) speeds up the process and helps cut through so much of the irritation we might experience experimenting with stuff on our own.

Watching Emily paint last night, watching her talk about how she chooses her brushes, watching how she approaches building up her paintings — gave me so much insight about how I might be a more successful user of watercolor paints myself (she’s an excellent teacher). It also made me realize how much more practice I need. But instead of frustrated practice, I now look forward now to informed practice.

As Abigail Adams once wrote: “Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.”

Happy Thursday, friends!

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