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Keeping it Local

About a year ago we decided to expand our line to include some products with hand painted illustrations. It was a good move for us, because it has given us the opportunity to make so many different things that we would never be able to create through letterpress printing. Letterpress will always be a love of ours, and we will continue to do it, but it has its limitations – and that is part of it’s charm.

When we set out to find someone to produce our hand painted pieces we knew that we needed a local printer, because we wanted to support another local business, and also because we wanted to be close to where the production was taking place. We found just what we were looking for in a really great printing company just a 30 minute drive from where we live.

You should understand that most of what they print at this lovely family-owned shop are specialty magazines with titles like “Quarter Horse Monthly,” so some of the things that we have asked them to print are a little bit radical, and not what they are used to seeing. But they could not be doing a better job! We are so pleased, and they take great care of us. Maybe because they know they have to see our faces from time to time!

Probably the very best thing about using a local printer is the fact that we can go and visit. The folks are fantastic. Everyone there is so NICE! We are always greeted with a hello, and everyone thanks us for being their customer. We always feel welcome! Our go-to girl is Mary – she does SO much for us! She makes sure everything runs smoothly, and if there is a bump in the road anywhere along the way she is quick to smooth it over for us.

A few weeks before the stationery show we drove down to see a bunch of our new cards and calendars rolling off the press. It was so exciting for Beth and I, to see all of that hard work we put in become an actual physical, tangible item that we could hold in our hands. And it all looked so GOOD!

They are not messing around when it comes to the printing equipment. Here is the big off-set press that can spit out a fully printed piece before you can blink an eye.

It’s so much fun to see the entire process, and we are thankful that we can! We know that after we finish the design work and send the final files to the printer, that everyone from the pre-press people, to the press operators, and the guys and gals who do the finishing work are going to treat our treat our pieces with care. We are in good hands!

So, to everyone at our printer (we know some of you are reading!) THANK YOU!

We can’t wait to send you some more of our work!

The Evolution of a Print

A couple of weeks ago I finished up our new Take A Hike print, which is a little different from any other prints we have done so far. First of all, it has seven colors. That’s more than we’ve ever done on a single print before, and now that I’m done printing it I might tell you that seven is too many. That means each print went through the press seven different times. And I had to load the press with ink, and clean it up again seven different times. It was very time consuming. Also, the majority of the surface area of this print is covered with ink. Lots of solid areas of color, and not much white. I won’t go into the details, because it is hard to explain, but that makes for some difficult printing on the press that we have. Believe me.

In the end though, it turned out great! We’re really happy with it. It’s really fun for me to print new designs like this for the first time. Especially when I’ve had a vision in my head for what I wanted it to look like. Each time I add a new color to the print the picture in my head literally comes to life on the paper. Here is where the idea for this print began…

I snapped this photo back in September when I was in Oregon. Look at those colors! What you don’t know is that directly behind me when I took this photo is probably the most beautiful waterfall I have ever seen. Really. But, something about this view spoke to me too, and I took one quick photo, which turned out to be the basis for a new piece of artwork.

So, after lots of sketches, some time with Beth digitizing the drawings and separating everything into seven different layers, we sent our work off to the platemaker. After the paper was cut, the press set up, and the ink mixed, it was time to really get to work. Here is how the print evolved throughout the process…

The first color to go on was light blue.

Then came the light brown layer.

Dark brown was next.

The dark gray layer, for the ground.

Light green.

Dark green.

And, finally (finally!) light gray.

You guys, it’s a labor of love!  And, you can find it in our shop, right here.

:: Carrie ::

This Week in the Studio…

I spent a little time reacquainting myself with my watercolors.  Experimenting with some new ideas for some new products.

We had a photo shoot.  What?  That’s right.  Some grown-up new head shots for our fancy-pants website that’s coming soon.  A big thanks to the girls at Silverbox Photography.  We can’t wait to see how good you’ve made us look!

Lots and lots of printing.  Lots.

We’ve got a whole bunch of new cards rolling off the press right now.  I put a big dent in the “things to print” list, but there’s much more to come.  I wish I knew the last time I re-set the fancy “counting machine” function on our antique letterpress.  It’s been a while.  I’ve been watching those numbers slowly creep up and up and up.  Well, today it finally got to 99,999 and all of the numbers clicked back over to zero and we started counting again.

What a busy week!  These are just a few of the things I’ve had my hand in.  Karen and Beth are working their tails off as well.  We have SO much going on right now.  I think we all feel like we are being pulled in three different directions all the time, but we just keep rolling right along.  Only one more month until the National Stationery Show!  O-ma-gosh.

:: Carrie ::

This Week in the Studio…

We had a great time at NYIGF!  Travel went smoothly, we had a great place to stay, and the show went really well!  So, what happens the week after a trade show? We all take a big sigh of relief, first of all. Then, its packing orders and shipping boxes to our new wholesale accounts, and re-printing items that we sold more than we have in stock. There’s a lot of following up with the contacts we made in NYC. We’re also taking a good hard look at where we are, and setting some goals for where we want to be in the weeks and months ahead.

More about our time in New York later, but for now, here are a couple of things that came out of the studio this week:

One of our favorites!  Hail to the Chief!  This is the second edition of this print, and it’s back in the shop.  So, if you have been thinking about needing a little presidential history in your life, now is the time.  Presidents day is Monday, February 20th, and I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate!  Treat yo’ self!!

Also, this week, another printing of our ever popular valentines!  Don’t forget your sweetie!  This reminder might be a little late, but in case you are running behind (we all do sometimes) you can find our valentines right here.

There has also been some interesting things going on just outside our studio this week as well.  On Wednesday I took a little break from printing to go for a walk with Toby (Karen’s dog) to the big lake on our farm.

We’ve had a GIGANTIC flock of snow geese visiting this week.  A lot of geese.  I mean, a lot.  Thousands.  Sometimes they all congregate in the middle of a field, and sometimes they sit on the lake.  They are loud, and they draw a lot of attention.  There have been pickup trucks (ones that we don’t recognize) driving ever so slowly up and down the road.  Prospective hunters, I’m guessing, just watching the birds.

The best part is when they all decide to take flight.  Remember this video I posted?  Amazing.  Well, on Wednesday when Toby and I took off on our walk all the geese were sitting on the lake.  It’s pretty hard to sneak up on a flock of geese with a labrador retriever in the midst.  I had my video camera ready, and here is what we saw…

:: Carrie ::

Happily Ever After

Look!  It’s our newest addition to the 1canoe2 greeting card line…Happily Ever After!  This card is printed in 4 colors, and is perfect for congratulating your favorite newly married or soon-to-be-married couple.  I snapped some quick photos as I went along to show you the stages in the four color printing process.

First I printed the most detailed part in black.  Once this is printed I know exactly where the rest of the colors will be placed.

Blue came next, to fill the background.

Just a little bit of pink.And, finally, gold was the fourth color.

Seems pretty simple, right?  Well, there is a lot more work that goes into printing a card like this than this would lead you to believe.  Sometime soon I’ll show you the FULL process – how a design goes from a drawing in our sketchbook to a printed piece.

You will be amazed.  I promise.

:: Carrie ::

These are the People in Your Neighborhood

Ladies and Gentlemen, we are SO excited to formally introduce you to the first four prints in our new series that we call “The People in Your Neighborhood”.  These have been a work in progress for quite some time, and you can expect two more to be added to the series sometime in the near future.  We think they are quite charming.

The idea for this series has an interesting origin.  Last school year I was lucky enough to get to host a student teacher for a semester.  It was great.  An extra set of hands in an elementary art room is like striking gold.  My pre-service teacher (that’s the official title) did a fantastic job developing projects for our kids to dive into.  One of the projects that he taught was relief portraits.  Any time we use clay it is always a big hit, but these were just the best.  The kids did a super awesome job and they had so much fun doing it. *

*  Here is where I need to tell you that I did take photos of all of their awesome and hilarious relief portraits, but somehow they all got deleted from my camera before I uploaded them to the computer.  I’m sorry, my fault.  Trust me, they were great.

The best part about having a student teacher is that by the end of the semester, they are fully in charge of the classroom.  What did that mean for me?  Well, it meant that I got to play with clay too, right along with the kids.   Let me tell you, it is really rare in an elementary art classroom to get the chance to actually sit down.  But to sit down AND get to use my own creative juices to make something awesome?  Unheard of.

So here’s what I made.  Well, these are the two that survived the kiln.  I had another, but he fell victim in the great kiln disaster of 2011.  Let’s just say, I probably fired one batch a little early, before the clay had fully dried out.  Most of those came out cracked and broken into lots of pieces.  That was fun news to break to the kids.  ”Boys and girls, today we are going to have a lesson on dealing with disappointment…”  They actually took it REALLY well, I was worried.  I guess we both learned something through that experience.

When I showed them to Beth she immediately said, “You have to draw those so we can print them!”

So I did.  And I came up with a few other characters while I was at it.

Here we have Beehive Betty the Librarian.  She has a very high-maintenance hairdo.

This handsome man is The Professor,  a kind and scholarly gentleman.

 The Sailor  sports a righteous mustache…as all self-respecting seamen must.

And finally, please say hello to The Mermaid…the siren of the sea.

Each of these prints is 8×10 and was printed in our studio on our Chandler & Price letterpress.  They are all available in our shop, so get them while they’re hot!

:: Carrie ::