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March 25, 2014

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Biz Talk ›   Life ›  


Where we at?

Well, it's been just over a year since my last post and things have really changed around here! That Etsy front page feature helped launch my little business (even though I had been selling online for a couple of years at that point) and it's been slowly growing ever since. I have SO many projects to feature but thought I would first post a little general update. 

Matthew 2014-03-12

This is my little man! He'll be two in a couple of months (EEK). He still takes up most of my time but he started going (very) part time to a childminder just after he turned one and that has given me a bit more time to focus on printing. Speaking of the printing, I just logged onto my Etsy store and noticed that I have reached 350 sales!

350-sales

I never actually see these round number milestones so I'm quite happy I caught this one. Anyway, the press awaits so I'll end this here, but I will be back soon with pictures of a few of the many projects that have been keeping me busy over the past year.

February 18, 2013

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Biz Talk ›   Feelings ›   Life ›  


Design Trust February Challenge - Part 1

A couple of week's ago I posted about The Design Trust's monthly challenge to get creative businesspeople thinking about how they run their business. On 1st February this month's prompt was posted and I've been working on my response since then. It's a bit of a doozy, divided into two parts, so I decided to split my answer into two posts. The first part of the challenge asks:

Why-Slide More specifically Patricia asked us to spell out our 15 WHY's -- why we are working for ourselves, why are we a creative, why are we a designer/maker, etc. I've decided to split my "Why's" into three categories: personal, practical and soulful.

PERSONAL

1. I want to run my business so that I can stay home and raise my son. I want to grow the business and earn some money for the family, but understand that the growth will be controlled and I don’t want to take on more than I can handle while still giving him the attention that he needs.

2. I LOVE letterpress printing because I get to use many different aspects of my creativity (messing with the machinery, computer designing, troubleshooting the press to get the best results)

3. Why am I a sole trader? Before my husband and I moved to the UK I was working in an office, as a legal assistant at a large law firm. They paid me fairly well to be a paper shuffler, but I dreaded going into work every day. When we moved I wanted to find a way to make a bit of money without going into an office and working for somebody else. I'm so lucky and grateful for the support of my husband in this endeavor.

4. Creating in all its forms (be it cooking, knitting, doing home DIY or printing) is a wonderful outlet and I feel most like myself when I have the time to work on projects.

5. I loved getting married but the planning was not the most fun. I want to be a practical wedding vendor who makes the invitation process as easy as possible for the couples that I work with.

PRACTICAL

6. I love making beautiful things but projects that take ages to get a final result start to bore me and I rarely finish them. With letterpress printing, the results come as soon as the inked plate meets the paper.

7. I am a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to things that I make. With projects like sewing or knitting that results in lots of frogging or seam ripping. With printing, I am able to make small adjustments while printing and most of the time I end up with a result that I am happy with.

8. For practical reasons, I decided I wanted to start my creative business as a letterpress printer (as opposed to other crafts I enjoy) because there is a market for fine printing of wedding stationery that I hope to tap into.

9. Another practical reason I chose letterpress printing is that with I was worried that I would get very tired creating the same product over and over again (if it was something like sewing handbags). With printing, even though the process is essentially the same, the final product is so different it makes it exciting to print every time.

10. The UK letterpress market isn’t as saturated as the US market so when we moved over here I saw a good opportunity to get myself into an emerging market.

SOULFUL

11. As mentioned in point #3 above, I worked in an office for 9 years after graduating from University and every day doing uninspiring office work made me feel like I was dying a little more inside. There are, of course, many aspects of running a business that don't feed the soul (hello TAXES!) but the creative side of things balances out the boring admin parts.

12. Being a creative is in my blood -- I've ALWAYS been a crafter, I grew up watching my dad run his own custom furniture biz, and since I was a small child every gift from my Aunt (my dad's sister) included craft supplies because she is also an avid crafter. I've run the gamut of craft and love all of them -- sewing, knitting, crochet, cross-stitch, oil painting. I just can't help but create and I'm happy now that I've found something that I can (hopefully) earn a living from.

13. I want to work with people that appreciate the things that I make and understand the value of handmade.

14. I want to spread the joy of letterpress so the technique doesn’t die out... Letterpresses stopped being commercially made over 50 years ago and if people don’t rescue and use these beautiful old machines (my big press is from the 1890’s!) they will disappear.

15. I want to succeed so that I can finally believe in my creativity. Pshew! Well, it's taken me almost three weeks to get through the first part of the challenge so I better get a move on for part 2. It's shorter but probably the more difficult part of the challenge so I hope I'll be able to get it up before the end of the month! Wish me luck!

January 31, 2013

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Biz Talk ›   Life ›  


Design Trust 2013 Challenge

I recently came across The Design Trust, a great website with all kinds of information for crafty businesses in the UK. At the beginning of the year Patricia started a monthly challenge which would be an "exercise or powerful question related to ‘creating the right business for you’". The prompt for January says:
Select one word to guide you through your year.

What is your guiding word?

And how will this come to life for you? Add 5 examples how you this word will play a part in your life this coming year.

So, I know I'm a bit late, already missing 1/12 of the year, but I think the challenge could be good for me so I'm going to play along. Therefore, my word of the year is...

Redwood-Growth

The 5 examples of how this word will play a part in my life (both personal and business) are:

1) Literal growth of my little person - Matthew is 9 months next week and the growth and change that we see in him every week is absolutely amazing! I'm sure the rest of this year will be mostly taken up with ensuring he grows up properly.

2) Growth of my personalised stationery business - My main biz goal this year is to grow the custom letterpress aspect of Cerulean Press. I really enjoy making the greeting cards but, like I've mentioned before, I want to print (at least) one wedding invitation order this year.

3) Growth of my confidence - like many creatives, or really anybody that is putting themselves out there to be judged by others, I constantly worry that I don't stack up against my competition. I imagine that all other small biz owners have so much more training/experience/etc and they'll wonder what this interloper is doing trying to be a letterpress printer. I think the easiest way to get over this fear is to get myself out there and meet more people in the community, possibly by doing some craft shows.

4) Growth of my garden - One of my favorite ways to spend an afternoon is out in the garden planting, weeding and generally prettifying the place. In addition to enjoying the "final" product, spending time in the garden is a wonderful way for me to relax and spend time with myself. Since having the baby I haven't had much "me" time so I'm going to make a more concerted effort to find time to do some things I enjoy, just for me.

5) Growth of my online presence - In addition to trying to blog more, I want to start re-engaging in twitter and facebook, and I want to try to get featured on a couple of blogs. Most of these are fairly simple goals, but I think many small changes will add up and I hope that by the end of the year I'm in a bigger and better place than I started. Do you have any goals for the year ahead?

January 24, 2013

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Finished Print ›   Life ›   Notecards ›  


Snow, Life and a New Card

This past week has been crazy. Between snow, illness and injuring my back I've gotten very little accomplished. I managed to get Matthew bundled up and out into the back garden to experience his first snow.

matthew snow 1

To be honest, it was nap time and he was a bit grumpy so I don't think he enjoyed it much, but at least we got a few pictures. I'm sure next winter he'll be able to enjoy it a lot more.

In addition, I did a bit of printing and have listed a new type of custom stationery to my Etsy shop. A client contacted me about my personalised notecards but asked if I could change them up a bit by printing in the bottom right corner with a chunky san serif font using no ink (called a blind impression). I liked the look so much that I made a couple of additional samples and they are now for sale.

custom-letterpress-notecards-blind-impression-sans

In addition to printing a new design, I also tested out a new paper. I printed these cards on Saunders Waterford 300gsm paper. I was a little worried before I started because the paper feels so much more substantial than the paper I have been using (Somerset Velvet), but I was pleasantly surprised. It takes a beautiful impression and comes in many different weights, up to 640gsm, so is definitely an option as a house paper for Cerulean Press. I have some Valentine's cards to print as well as a couple new wedding invitation designs so I look forward to experimenting with this paper a bit more... once it stops snowing that is!

Happy 2013!

Happy New Years! I can't believe it's already January. I was SO not ready for the holidays this year and New Year's Eve completely snuck up on me. We had a very busy end of the year (travelling to the States for two weeks to visit my parents and then to J's family home for Christmas) and I think I'm looking forward to getting back to our normal routine. I say normal routine, but since Matthew was born (8 months old today!) I haven't had much time to work on this little printing business and I'm hoping that changes now that he's getting a little bit older. I had a little flurry of activity before Christmas and had a few orders for my personalised notecards.

cerulean-press-letterpress-custom-notecards-group 

I set up my little Kelsey press inside so that I could print the cards in the evening once J got home from work and that worked really well. There are definitely limitations to what the press can do, but it's perfect for little jobs like this. As a bonus, it's so much easier to clean up than the big press! While I had the press inked up I also printed a couple of samples of custom letterpress calling cards. The first uses a modern calligraphy font:

cerulean press letterpress calligraphy-calling-card

The second style is a more modern typographic card:

 

modern-calling-cards-1

If you click on the photos above they will take you to my Etsy shop where you can see more details about the cards. Both samples are printed with just name, phone number and e-mail address, but they could easily be modified to include a business name and be used as business cards. I'm working on updating my website to have information about all of my custom stationery so there will soon be more information and options available. Anyway, I don't generally make New Year's resolutions, but I have been thinking about some goals for the upcoming year. There are lots of small things that I want to do to grow the business this year, but my main goal is to get one order for wedding invitations. I do hope to have more than one, obviously, but I feel that getting the first order is the hardest and that will open the door for more to follow. I'm sure it won't be easy, but I think it's an attainable goal and one that I look forward to working towards in the coming months! Have you set any goals or resolutions for the New Year?
September 14, 2012

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Life ›  


Life, etc.

Little Matthew turned four months on 7 Sept.

He's getting SO big, starting to roll over, shoving things in his mouth, "talking" to me all the time. What he's not doing is sleeping much, or consistently, during the day so I haven't had any time to start working on Cerulean Press things. For the first few months I didn't have the desire to print or do much with the business. Slowly but surely the desire is returning, now I just need to find some time! One thing that should make printing a bit easier is that my press has finally come home!

The workshop is still just a shell with a huge hunk of metal stuck in the middle, but we're going to insulate it, add some kind of wall cover and paint the inside so that it feels more like a garden workshop and less like a shed for garden tools. I took a bunch of pictures of the moving process which I'll share in another post. I'll also be sure to keep everyone updated on the workshop upgrades.

June 07, 2012

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Life ›  


Newest Addition to the Family

I'd like to introduce the newest member of the Cerulean Press family, baby Matthew, born 7 May 2012!

We're beyond thrilled (and a little tired) and I can't believe he's already one month old. It both seems like he was born yesterday and that we've had him with us forever.

Needless to say it's taking awhile to get adjusted to having a new little person in our life so I'm taking a break from printing for a couple of months. During this time I will also be moving my press from the studio space that I currently rent to a brand new workshop that my husband built for me at the bottom of the garden. I'm hoping that having my equipment so close will make it easy to get out there for short bursts of printing while the baby naps (or while my husband is home to watch him).

Anyway, hope that explains the radio silence for most of the past 10 or so months (exhaustion + desire to not expose my growing baby to some of the chemicals I use for cleanup means I didn't do much printing during the pregnancy). I have been doing lots of scheming during this time so once we're a little more settled I'll have lots of things to print and share. I can't wait!

March 21, 2012

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Life ›  


Proceed and Be Bold!

Last night I had the pleasure of attending a screening of the documentary Proceed and Be Bold! about letterpress printer Amos Paul Kennedy Jr.

I first heard about the movie over 2 years ago, while I was still living in San Francisco. There was a little blurb about the documentary in one of the free newspapers, which I excitedly read and even cut out (I probably still have the clipping somewhere). I've been following along with the screening schedule for the past couple of years so I was really excited a couple of weeks ago to see that it was finally coming to London, to the St. Bride Library to be more specific. The film wasn't really about letterpress printing, per se, but about art, what it means to be an artist, race in the United States and, most inspiring to me, following your dreams. Like Kennedy, I spent many years working in "Corporate America" before discovering printing and it was really inspiring to see somebody who gave that up to follow their passion. Kennedy doesn't consider himself an artist, but I would have to disagree... It's clear he loves the act of printing, but it seemed very obvious in the film that he uses printing as a means to spread his message, to provoke, to make people think, to share his interpretation of how the world is or should be. To me that's art. I, on the other hand, love getting my hands dirty and printing, but am hoping to turn this love into a more commercial venture, printing for others. He does sell his posters, but that almost seems beside the point for him. There was a question and answer session with the man himself after the screening, and he was just as engaging as the movie depicts. My husband asked a question (about whether he had any regrets about leaving corporate life) but after we left he said that he had a couple more questions but didn't want to seem like he was taking over the session. His questions were about how much time Kennedy spends printing, and is it the finished product or the printing process itself that he finds most compelling about what he does. Both great questions that I wish he would have asked! So, aside from a couple of technical difficulties with the movie, it was a great way to spend an evening. AND, best of all, free goodies!

Kennedy brought along some posters that he left for each attendee on their chair (face down so you couldn't cheat and pick one you liked best). It was a wonderful surprise and a great memento of the evening. Now we just have to figure out where to hang them!
February 05, 2012

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Life ›  


Snow Day!

20120205-021345 PM.jpg

All of the tracks from the pup remind me of a Family Circus cartoon :)

August 05, 2011

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Life ›  


Secret Garden

I finally made it to the studio this morning. It was really nice to get in, get my fingers dirty and do a little printing. I don't have any finished prints to show, though, so I thought I'd show you some more pictures from around my house. When my husband and I first started looking for a place to buy, at the top of my list of priorities was the garden. I knew we would never find (on our budget) something as big as the gardens I was used to in the US, but I definitely didn't want a paved postage stamp-sized space. When we viewed the house that we eventually bought, I immediately fell in love with the outside space. It was a really good size for a terrace in the London suburbs, and it was clear that while it hadn't been looked after for a few years it had at one point been very loved. When we moved in in January the garden was dead, and it's been a really fun 6 months watching everything grow and learning about all of the plants we have (as well as adding some of our own). These are few pictures of our favorite surprises. (All these pictures were taken with my iPhone and edited using Instagram.) [caption id="attachment_326" align="aligncenter" width="428" caption="Blackberries and Hydrangea"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_327" align="aligncenter" width="428" caption="Our very own apple tree!"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_328" align="aligncenter" width="428" caption="And plums!"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_329" align="aligncenter" width="428" caption="We planted this tomatillo and are hoping for a bumper crop."][/caption]
And always by my side, my trusty garden "helper"
A couple of days ago I picked a load of plums and blackberries and made a wonderful sorbet. I can't wait to see what other yummy things I can make with our garden bounty. And just so it doesn't sound too perfect around here, we also have an abundance of weeds that are a huge pain in the ass to clear, but so far the good outweighs the bad and we really love our little patch of soil.