Wednesday, 28 February 2007

Physical Challenge

It snowed again this morning, lots of great big whirling snowflakes. It didn't stick, but it's enough to make me go to the gym instead of out for a run.

I worked on the Bella Figura girl cards for a couple of hours this morning and really got them refined, felt quite pleased with myself. Less satisfying was the "PHYSICAL CHALLENGE" I just completed by changing Berry's nappy, giving her a bath, drying and dressing her and combing her hair, all while she most emphatically wanted to be doing other things. (Was Physical Challenge only on in Australia, or do Americans know what I'm talking about?). So we zigzagged round the house with her at full speed and me trying to do the buttons up on the back of her dress, and we made a big fuss about putting another nappy on, making me feel like I was wrangling a calf. Or something. Sometimes I'm so, so tempted to just leave her bare and not especially clean.

Right now I have a little respite while she watches The Wiggles (her special treat, and almost the only kids' show I can tolerate) and we're getting ready for a trip out for groceries. Cue Physical Challenge theme...

Tonight I'm planning to clear out a bunch of space and create a new darkroom area, in preparation for the rest of the screenprinting gear. Last night I did a fair bit of block printing. Pictures later.

Tuesday, 27 February 2007

First birds, ready for spring!

Here's the first set of birds I printed. More tonight -- I have them all carved out and I'm excited to get inking.

Chocolate birds for a chilly day

I'm carving out lots of bird images: on branches, with flowers, talking to each other... They're making me feel cheerful and like spring could be around the corner, because I'm really ready for winter to be over!

I was all set to go out for a run this morning and when I opened the door it was snowing! I couldn't believe it. End of February in the Pacific Northwest is not meant to be snowy. It was very pretty but it didn't stick.

I'm going to print my other birds in different colors tonight, or in the early hours of the morning. I'll show you when they're done.


Sunday, 25 February 2007

Outings and Oscars

Berry and I took an impulsive trip to Seattle this afternoon. I was bored and restless, getting impatient with not having all the right colors for my block printing, so I decided we'd pack up and drive to Daniel Smith to fix that. Usually going to Seattle knocks out the best part of a day for us, but we left at 3.30 and got back a bit after 6.30, successful and satisfied with ourselves. At least I was.

Berry got a treat capering around The Land of Nod, where we returned the wooden stove that had completely failed to interest her (didn't even really make it out of the packaging...) and got, instead, a little powder-pink tin bucket that she loved from the moment we arrived. Had to remove her motley little collection of plastic pigs, dinosaurs and giraffes in order to buy it!

We're watching the Oscars. So far the best dress of the night has been one of the girls from Dream Girls. Not Beyonce, not Jennifer Hudson, but the one whose name I don't know. (She's the one in the middle, and clearly looks way more fabulous than the other two.) I'll have to get famous and win something tremendous so I can have an excuse to wear an exact replica.

We've watched only two movies this year (seriously) – Little Miss Sunshine and Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl ... both from On-Demand. Oh wait, also the Devil Wears Prada. So three. Mostly I'm watching the show thinking, I should watch that, should watch that, oooohhhhh, nice dress. Helen Mirren looks amazing. I'd like to look that elegant at her age.

Little Miss Sunshine was fabulous.

I'm off to rescue the camera from Berry. I sympathize; I was obsessed with cameras from her age onwards...

Australian Wedding

At last... here are the lovely antique-themed invitations created for Aaron and Sue's wedding on the Gold Coast. The invitation is printed on luxe textured card and tucked in its chocolate folder, with the reception card, reply card and directions. Setting the scene for a celebration to remember!

I love custom projects like this – they inspire me to be creative in different directions...

Saturday, 24 February 2007

Creative Rush

I've been so busy getting my ideas down on paper that I haven't had time to write. Sometimes I'm just scribbling things like "birdcage lamppost gramophone cat" in a spirax notebook. Nathan saw it and said, "Well, I guess that looks like something in your head..."

I've been carving blocks – a nice, therapeutic feeling, and I'm setting them aside and making myself wait to print them till I have a nice long stretch of baby-free time. I always want to get on with it, but rushing won't help anything (I have to remind myself of that a lot). If I can get Berry into daycare a few hours next week it'll help.

I'm getting ready to roll with screen-printing next month. I'm excited at the thought of producing each and every piece by hand, and giving individual attention to detail. It makes every single card special and the process itself inspires new ideas and possibilities. I have to stock up on some more materials next week, in between doing some block printing. Our little house is becoming a live-in studio!

Pictures coming soon... promise.

Tuesday, 20 February 2007

Back From Oregon

We're back from the Oregon Coast – a big weekend with our anniversary and Berry's first beach experience. No sun, no togs, no swimming, but she loved it. She wore her cosy pink anorak and trotted all over the beach, chasing puppies and telling us about dogs and seagulls. After a fashion. She gave a valiant chase to one puppy, but he was bigger and faster and more interested in his stick, so it ended in a little disappointment. It turns out Berry's not at all keen on sand. Although 90% of her was rugged up in winter gear, she got sand on her fingers and did no-no-no hands until I got it all off.

We had a completely relaxing weekend with Mike and Marianne and their kids and stayed at their cousins' incredible holiday home on (and I mean on) Cannon Beach, which is famous for the impressive Haystack Rock and for being where Goonies was filmed. But I've never seen Goonies, so....

Spectacular views in every direction, and you'd think that'd mean we'd see the weather coming. But no... our attempt at Berry's second trip to the beach ended with a breathless sprint back to the house (picture below!). A sudden storm whipped up with icy, icy rain and piercing wind. Berry was wide-eyed and wet-faced under her little anorak hood, and we didn't try to go out after that.

Nathan and I got to go out to a bar by ourselves, imagine! We felt like grown-ups, like normal people again – it was such a novelty. As Berry gets bigger I'm looking forward to a lot more of that ("normal people" time, not necessarily bars...)

I've been working on some great new Bella Figura girls, in case it seems like I've just been wandering around on windswept beaches....

Thursday, 15 February 2007

Flat Out

I've been running like crazy trying to get some projects finished before we leave for the Oregon coast tomorrow. Nathan has a rare long weekend so we have to jump at the chance! It'll be the first time Berry has seen a beach, which is kind of amazing. It won't be the kind of beach the Australian side of her will recognise (I doubt there'll be sun... I wonder if it's sand or pebbles? I wonder what she'd think of sand?). We're excited to go there – it's supposed to be gorgeous. This part of the country's completely spoiling us.

Tuesday, 13 February 2007


I decided to start with one of the simpler Bella Figura images. This is what was left after I transferred the reversed image to the block. The "no no no" is a reminder not to carve away that area – it's been a while since I've done this, so you never know!

Maybe tomorrow I'll get closer to test printing the first one. Berry's going to a Valentine's Day party which I hope will wear her out. When she goes to bed early, I get a chance to work. I'm very nocturnal these days. Wait – what's it called when you're awake both night and day? My father-in-law would say, "That's a research question". I'll get back to you.

Busy Tuesday

I finished assembling a stack of very sweet birthday invitations at 1.30am (pushing lots of ribbons through oh-so-tiny holes), and then I worked on baby announcements for MK in Costa Rica... and that was just the beginning of our busy Tuesday. We spent the day up in Seattle, getting printmaking supplies for me and toys for little Berry (no, not her real name: that would be just too Gwyneth).

We tackled the printmaking department at Daniel Smith first, and that wore us out so much that I had to stop for sushi and Berry had to have to sleep. It was both liberating and weird to eat without a toddler attached to my arm. I kept feeling like I'd forgotten something.

When Berry woke up we threw ourselves into The Land of Nod, hands-down her favorite store in the Whole World. She was in a wonderland, building wooden hamburgers and taking dramatic swigs from the wooden tomato sauce bottle and working at the wooden stove. I used the gift card her nanna sent for Christmas and it was a very happy hour.

But back to our adventures in printmaking. Tonight after everyone goes to bed, I'll start tackling set-up...

Monday, 12 February 2007

A very good place to start...

Here's the beginning.

I've decided to put all these thoughts and processes and designs down on (cyber)paper just as Pepperina Press reaches something of a turning point. Can you have a "turning point" in a shiny-new business, still in the honeymoon phase? Yes: we're turning from finding-our-feet to jumping-right-in. I'm overflowing with ideas and inspiration – it seems to be around every corner these days – just never enough time!

One really exciting project I'm working on this month: a brand-new collection of retro cards and stationery I'm calling my "bella figura girls". They're bright and so much fun – look like they stepped out of the '50s. And last night I realized they will lend themselves perfectly to block printing. Yes indeed, I plan to print every single one by hand! It'll be so different to the world of commercial printing, and I'm looking forward to getting my hands dirty (inky!) and having complete control over the process. So that's the next adventure. Soon I'll get some photos up and show you how it all unfolds....