This Labor Day we piled into the car, along with our friend Bryan (check out his beautiful new photoblog, by the way) and went down to Sarah’s hometown of Canby to check out one of the cooler annual events in this area–the Swan Island Dahlia Festival. (Locals: Even though the festival is technically over, you can still visit the flowers for a few more weeks–actually, it’s kind of more fun when it’s not the official festival. If you go, the Canby Burgerville is one of the best. Just sayin’…) It’s simply acres and acres of dahlias of all sizes, shapes and colors–it’s a real visual treat.
If we had been smart, we would have grabbed the handy sheet they had available and made a note of the really fabulous ones, since we’re definitely going to plant a few at our new house (more on that in a future post). But, we didn’t do that until we were leaving–whoops. Continue reading »
As I mentioned in my last post, I didn’t get a chance to finish up my project during our letterpress seminar last week. But I did go back on Monday and work on the fronts a bit. This it half of my postcard project. I haven’t printed any of the other side yet. I think I mentioned this before, but this project is inspired by a couple of my favorite Portland-y things–the Steel Bridge and the Loretta Lynn-Jack White song, Portland, Oregon.
Photo (c)2006 by Andrew Hall, PortlandBridges.com
I created the letterpress using three different techniques, which always makes me happy. Not because it’s more complicated (it’s really not), but because I love the vastly different results you can get in letterpress, depending on your approach. For the back, I used type–obviously. For the front, I carved a 4″x6″ linoleum block in sort of a freeform oblong shape and printed it in an ultra transparent gray with a good measure of reflex blue mixed in.
Here’s what the lino block looks like set up in the press bed:
(Thrilling, huh?) And this is how it looks printed on the paper:
Then, using a photopolymer plate and artwork I’d created of the Steel Bridge, I printed over it in a darker, bluer gray.
The idea with using the lighter gray first was that it created that hazy, monotone look the Willamette River (pronounced Wil-am-it) gets sometimes, when you can’t tell the difference between the water and sky. It’s quite beautiful, and something that I’ve really only seen here. I wish I had a photo of that effect… I love the functional beauty of the Steel Bridge, and how trains pass under it all the time without anyone really noticing. It’s a real workhorse of a structure.
Anyway, I’m printing the other half of my cards with another version from the song,
Well I lost my heart.
It didn’t take no time.
But that ain’t all.
I lost my mind in Oregon.
These are unique courses, offered in more comprehensive formats than you usually get the opportunity with in craft and DIY courses. The classes run for longer–so you really will get to know the subject matter in a thorough way. I can speak from experience–I came away from my letterpress class (which I’m going to write about soon, but I got a bit derailed by my overly-ambitious project) really feeling confident in that particular medium. Also, the other–rather intangible, but extremely important–thing that was really different about the class I took through PNCA’s Continuing Education department was the eagerness of the other students; everyone was extremely engaged and it was a real community within our class. I expect the same out of the Summer of Making–especially because of the awesome line-up of instructors. (Check out all the instructors’ bios here.)
Headlining the program is the phenomenal Denyse Schmidt. She is one of my favorite fabric designers, and everything I see from her is just beautiful and inspiring. We are so lucky to have her coming to Portland to teach her workshop–I have only heard wonderful things about her classes, which focus on improvisation and intuitive design. If you’re interested in anything from quilting to jewelry design to macrame to fiber arts, there’s a class for you at the Summer of Making. Also–and I think this is incredibly cool, and not just because I’m one of the teachers–they’ve made the bold move of incorporating the DIY digital communications arts into the program as well, so you can learn how to effectively communicate about your craft or art. (My mom is taking one of these classes, actually because the idea of learning new technical skills in a creative environment appeals to her.)
Also–while not formally part of the Summer of Making, my awesome letterpress instructor is offering a Beginning Letterpress and Mail Art class that spans four full days. It’ll be awesome. If you’ve ever been interested in letterpress, and are in Portland or want to take a long learning weekend vacation in the City of Roses, I’d highly recommend taking Abra’s class. While the tuition may seem pricy, compared to how expensive the letterpress two or three hour seminars are around town, it’s a great deal–and the presses at PNCA are really great to work on, since they’re large cylinder proof presses that are well maintained. (Also, after having taken letterpress, I really don’t think you could learn letterpress at the level that you’d need to take on an independent project in a short workshop. It’s just too involved and sophisticated. )
So, check out the offerings from PNCA-CE for the Summer of Making–I bet you’ll find something that’s just what you’ve been wanting to learn!
Some of last year's bounty. Those beans were so, so, so good--an heirloom mix of bush beans that were almost leggy enough to be pole beans. Very sweet and crisp.
We’ve still been sick around here. Between the two of us, there hasn’t been a single healthy day in all of March. Pretty crummy, huh? We’ve been keeping thoughts of warmer weather and less sickness alive in our hearts, though, by dreaming about this year’s vegetable garden.
We plant an organic vegetable garden every year. In fact, we have gardened together since 2001, when we had a plot in one of the original Victory Gardens in the middle of Rock Creek Park in the Glover Park neighborhood of Washington, DC. That year, we had put our names on a waiting list for a garden plot in the community garden near us, knowing that it usually took several years to get a plot. However, right at the beginning of the season, someone was unable to care for their plot anymore (there were a number of people who’d had their plots since they were originally developed in the 1940s), and the garden coordinator went down the waiting list, and we were the first people who answered the phone. And that’s how we wound up with a primo piece of D.C. real estate–a large garden plot right across the street from our apartment building, for the very small price of $40 a year. Our plot was pretty overgrown, and we didn’t have garden tools per se, so we spent a lot of time on manual labor churning up the soil and preparing it for planting. We walked all over the city in search of vegetable plants and seeds and, not having access to a car, carried some pretty wacky things on the subway and bus. That summer was incredibly hot, and our garden flourished. Quickly, vegetables started producing. Soon, we were feasting on fresh lettuce, peas and all sorts of other goodies. And just as quickly, wildlife began having our way with our bounty. Oh yes, Rock Creek Park is home to a lot of urban wildlife–coyotes (we would hear them howl from our apartment), turtle, foxes, rabbits and deer. Those damn deer. They would crawl under our fence, leap over it and just push through it. No matter what we did, the deer would get in and eat our vegetables. Despite that trauma, it was one of the best summers ever–and we spent hours every night outside in our garden. We’d often take our dinner out to our garden and sit in lawn chairs, enjoying the opportunity to have a piece of the country right in the middle of the city. Friends would stop by our plot and say hi. We made friends with the older folks who’d gardened there for decades, many of whom were also seed savers who shared seeds and knowledge with us. It was a special place. After 9/11, the garden was one of the first places we visited, and when we left D.C. later that year, the garden was the last place we said good-bye to.
We, along with Sarah’s mom, went out there for lunch this week and after lunch walked around the town. In a window of a shop called Parts + Labour, we spotted this:
That vine of flowers is constructed of pieces of sewing pattern tissue with measuring tapes, ribbon and pins holding the display together. Plus, some embroidery hoops thrown in for an added dash of stitchery. Here’s a close up of one of the flowers:
It was a pretty fun idea and certainly drew us into the shop (which was a very interesting place, not only with clothes and accessories from small brands, but a number of one-of-a-kind handmade items – including clothing). Although, perhaps normal people are more excited about the merchandise than the sewing-related window display…
This would be fun to replicate with any of the zillions of tissue paper flowers tutorials out there, especially this elaborate tissue paper bouquet from (gulp) Martha Stewart (note how they say it takes “just an afternoon”). In fact, that would look just right on the desk in the new workroom/home office/sewing room we’re in the middle of organizing (that probably won’t happen, but we can dream, right?).
Finally, a use for those Simplicity patterns we bought just because they were on sale for 99 cents!
We’re lucky here in Oregon to have wonderful beaches—and every last one of them are public, thanks to the 1967 Oregon Beach Bill (learn more on this site from an episode of The Oregon Experience). We haven’t been to the beach since last fall because it’s gotten just so expensive to drive the eighty or so miles over the mountains to the coast. But, we make the trek to Cannon Beach today—and oh was it worth it! We couldn’t resist taking a few pictures so we’d have an excuse to post beach photos here on Sewer-Sewist… (Josh wearing his Sewer-Sewist T-shirt was purely coincidental, though.)