Wednesday, September 30, 2009

the card society: september

L'automne est un deuxième printemps où chaque feuille est une fleur.

~ Albert Camus

This Camus quote translates to: "Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower." It would seem Autumn has, in fact, arrived. The air in San Francisco has a new bite.

I hardly know what happened to the month of September, but I was reminded that the month has pretty much come and gone when my second installment of letterpressed cards arrived from The Card Society the other day.

This month the cards are reminiscent of the potted plant garden I'd like to have, but don't. It's nice sometimes when I get cards that are definitely different than anything I can picture myself printing because it reminds me of that old Latin saying: Concerning taste there can be no argument. These cards are lovely and I know exactly who I'm going to send them to.

Monday, September 28, 2009

the benevolent postcard society.

All these societies! Unfortunately this one is not open for joining and I am not a member, but I like the concept very much.

I stumbled across this by doing what I usually do -- clicking from one blog to another until, sometimes, I've lost my trail. But today I was paying attention, and it was on this blog: The Wife of an Artist, that I found the button for The Benevolent Postcard Society, as well as a lovely group of photos from San Francisco's own Dahlia Dell in Golden Gate Park.

According to the BPS blog, it is:
A postcard exchange and art project in one, the aim of the Benevolent Postcard Society is to bring a smile to its members through the random exchange of postcards from September 2009 to September 2010. At the beginning of each month, members send a cheerful, amusing, inspiring, pretty or quirky postcard to each other — either handmade or readymade. At the end of the year, all the postcards exchanged will be collected and published as a book, the final result of a year's sharing of good karma through random acts of kindness.

Which is pretty cool. As the postcards arrive to their various destinations, the recipients are taking photos of the cards and posting them to a flickr photostream. Some of the pictures from Flickr:

The concept here is easily adapted to one's own life. I don't think of sending postcards often, especially when I'm not traveling, but in today's climate of "staycations" ... why not?

The last post card I sent was this one (photo taken by Richard Avedon, and currently on exhibit at San Francisco's Museum of Modern Art):

The image is so striking - her expression, her dress! - and it made me think of my cousin, who loves Marilyn, and who just bought and moved into her first house. If that's not a good reason to send a post card, I don't know what is. I imagine her post cards, like mine, might end up on the refrigerator.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

amateur photography: i'm learning

The photo directly below, taken recently in my neighborhood, was included in sfgirlbybay's blog today, which I was thrilled about because I like reading the blog for decor & shopping news, general inspiration, or just to see a pretty photo to break up the monotony of my day job. The grittiness and grime of this doorway actually makes it quite lovely.

When I took the photo, my intent was to make this diptych:

On that particular day, I was noticing how everyone's iron work and gates were so different and I started taking pictures of the patterns.

I liked, in particular, these two sunbursts.

In an undergrad playwriting class, we used to take walks as a writing exercise - to train ourselves to notice the details of our surroundings, and to test our levels of observation. I find, when I'm looking that closely, I see a lot of beauty.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

the good folks at volta press.

Laureen Mahler and John Peck are the soon-to-be-married(!) duo behind Volta Press. They have a Vandercook set up in their great studio space in Oakland, where they also work on their literary journal: Beeswax Magazine.

Laureen and I worked on our graduate degrees in writing at California College of the Arts, so it has been fun to keep up with her literary projects, as well as her letterpress venture. They invited me to their studio yesterday and walked me through how to order and use a Boxcar base, how to prep Illustrator files for plate-making, how to order and even set up the plates on the Boxcar base. Since I will only be printing from plates, as opposed to lead type or wood blocks, learning about the process was pretty much, to be dramatic, like being given the Holy Grail. To be less dramatic, they saved me a lot of time and mistakes.

Volta Press has an etsy shop, filled with fun products -- and they do custom work as well.

I am in love with their latest set of cards (all photos by Volta Press):

I might have bought a few... A big thanks to Laureen and John for their time and expertise!

Monday, September 14, 2009

the card society: august

As previously reported, I signed up for a 3-month membership to The Card Society. After signing up, I got a welcome/confirmation email from none other than Mav, one of the ladies behind the blog I like, 3191, which sort of felt, in a small way, like being contacted by a celebrity. I sometimes forget that the bloggers I admire are writing from home, managing their own blogs, etc.

A few days later, on a rainy Saturday after a fantastic (and uncommon) early morning thunder & lightening storm, the first installment of cards arrived, having traveled from Maine to California. The theme: sea life, somewhat appropriate given the wet weather.

The seaweed is actually a photo on a postcard, while the other two are printed by letterpress. It's always interesting for me to see what's printed on the back of a card, how deep the impression is, how detailed the lines are, etc. Plus it was fun to get something in the mail - sort of like sending myself a card!

Friday, September 4, 2009

progress report.

Until you start seeing some printed cards, this blog is all a lot of talk. Still, process being what it is, there is so much to learn.

Current accomplishments:

1. The chase has arrived! With the help of Sherwin at Craftsmen Machinery, we were able to identify my press as a Craftsmen Superior 6.5 x 10. The serial number had been painted over, so we measured each part. The chase is actually a bit smaller than the above measurements and it is, basically, the frame that holds the type or graphics in place. Everything is set very, very tightly within the chase, and then the chase is locked into the press. It's approximately the size of a license plate, and mine is brand new and surprisingly lightweight. When it arrived, I immediately tried locking it in place and... it fits!

2. Crane's Lettra paper samples also came in the mail the other day. I had previously taken a (disappointing) little lunchtime excursion to Kelly Paper on 10th Street, south of Market, and learned that they mainly stock and sell standard 8.5 x 11 paper for business use: letterhead, copier & printer paper. They do, however, sell rubber-based ink. The man helping me advised me to check out Arch, which is one of my favorite art supply stores, so I will definitely follow through. Any excuse to go to Arch...!

In the meantime, I tried to start thinking about how one orders wholesale and it (finally) occurred to me that I could request samples. Crane & Co. carries a line of paper specifically for letterpress printing. They sent me a variety of shades of white, in all different thicknesses:

There is something about plain white paper that I love. To a writer, a blank sheet can be intimidating. It stares you down and dares you to write something that doesn't suck, but if you knew that the paper might one day carry someone's handwriting - that of someone you cared about, who might say thank you, or express love - that's altogether different.

the card society.

It may be that no one else finds this as interesting or as exciting as I do, but I stumbled across a link to the card society on a blog I love: 3191 miles apart.

Imagine this: like any wine or coffee club, or books or CDs-by-mail, this is a society(!) for those who like letterpress greeting cards. I guess this proves the world and Internet are truly full of anything one can imagine. If you join, you receive two cards a month by mail, and they are unique, limited edition, and exclusively available only to society members. Memberships are available by increments of one, three, six and twelve-months.

Obviously, given this new venture of mine, I have to sign up!