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FIVE OFF-BEAT FACTS you may not know about me

Let's be vulnerable. Everyone's got that list of strange little habits and tid-bits that they'll probably leave out of their 'about me' section on their website or profile page. Let's hear it!!
To be honest, I thought coming up with five off-beat facts about myself would be harder. I actually had to narrow down my list to only include five.

1.

 

I love cookies. I eat them far too often to even admit here. Maybe this isn't that strange, but I eat them in threes, one for me, one for my sister, and one for my brother. Unless it's just one of those giant gourmet cookies, then I just eat one of those. The three of us can metaphorically share those big ole cookies. 

2.

When I was younger, I used to feel sorry for anything left behind. A rock that was lost in the grass out of the gravel driveway, a stray noodle that was left in the pot after pouring its family of noodles in to the strainer, a set of four chairs when I really just need one. Still to this day, I find myself having emotional attachments to objects. It's a bit weird.

3.

I'm not claustrophobic or anything like that, but if you grab my big toe, I'll freak out on you. I also hate being tickled. I will unintentional make use of my quick reflexes and I really don't want anyone to get hurt. I'm sorry if you were just trying to be silly. I can be silly, just in other ways.

4.

Ice, drink-ratios, & cups. It simply matters. If I'm thirsting for some water, it must be in a plastic cup, no glass cups for water. The ice must be half-and-half. If I'm thirsting for a good ole' Coca Cola Classic, it too must be in a plastic cup, or styrofoam cup, those are the best, no glass. The ice must be filled to the brim to keep the drink cold in prevention of having the tastiness watered down. Milk must be in a glass cup. 

5.

There are a handful of words I simply cannot pronounce without getting tongue-tied. Exclamation Mark is one of them. There are also a handful of words I cannot stand to hear: moist (I mean who really likes that word), sac a lait (like the fish ...I know, I'm strange), naval, cusp, ooze, and others of this nature.

I HOPE WE CAN STILL BE FRIENDS.

Despite these very strange, somewhat filtered list of off-beat facts, I will still crank out some beautiful stationery for you. I'll do it with the perfect ratio of ice-to-drink after I have my three cookies. 
Do you have any strange facts about yourself? I'd love to hear them so I'm not the only off-beat one here. 

 
 
 
LETTERPRESS PRINTING | behind the scenes

TODAY'S HISTORY LESSON:
Way back when, any type of writing that was "mass produced" was simply written by hand, over and over. Books, manuscripts, etc. There was no assembly line, no machinery driven printers. Can you imagine? During the mid 15th century, Johannes Gutenberg got his thinking cap on in efforts to solve this issue. ...and boy am I glad he did.

"WHO IS JOHANNES GUTENBERG?" ...the only Jeopardy question I've ever gotten right.

Gutenberg invented the method of letterpress printing. Using metal casted letters, ink, and pressure, text was able to become mass produced! Imagine how you use a simple wooden stamp. An image or word was made in to a stamp by hand carving or laser etched. You tap the stamp on an ink pad, then stamp it on paper. It's a similar conceptual process. Metal letters, carved linoleum, or wood blocks are placed inside a press. Rollers are inked to cover the raised surface of your type or block cuts, paper is pressed on to the inked surface of your text/block leaving an impression in your paper. In opposition to modern day digital and offset printing, letterpress printing holds a timeless appreciate for the one-of-a-kind art is truly is. 

WHAT GOES BEHIND THE SET UP?

There are all different types of letterpress printers. I run a Chandler and Price platen press (below). It's about 100 years old and I can work this one better than my Best Buy Epson printer. 

Many printmakers still use what's called moveable type, cast iron letters that you set in to place to form your word, sentence, paragraph, etc. 

ONE COLOR AT A TIME

You mix your ink just like you'd mix paint. You can patch just about any pantone color or even order a custom pantone match. Each color is run separately. So if you have 100 invitations with two colors, you'll set up the first color and artwork, run 100 of that color. Clean your press. Mix the second color. Set up that run, then print the second color. ...totally 200 runs.

Once your materials are set up in the press, you can test your impressions, color, etc. and then get to work! My particular press runs off of a motor. There's a clam-shell action that happens where the paper reaches the inked type and stamps or impresses it in the paper. There's a quick scene in this video that shows the press running. 

Letterpress is simply appreciated for it's tactile impression it leaves in the paper. You cannot deny its method against digital and offset printing. It truly does stand on its own.

CHANGING TIMES

Over the years, there have been a number of ways to transfer text and imagery to a press bed. Moveable type is still commonly used for many printmakers. However, polymer plates (or other similar materials) are often used for its ease and flexibility. Using laser-casted polymer plates allow any vector, created with fonts or from the sketchbook, to become a printable plate. This is great for handlettering, hand-drawn imagery, and graphically designed pieces to originate the final piece.

The above photo is a letterpress printed piece that began as a sketch. The sketch was digitized and formatted to be made in to a polymer plate. The plate was then set up in the press, similar to the way moveable type is set up, then printed. 

Of course, there are 100 steps in between. There's ink mixing, color matching, press setting, packing backers to set, gauge pins to line up, paper to measure, etc. etc. etc.

For anyone in the market for letterpress printed work, this is a good insight to the setup and labor that happens prior and during printing. It's surely a labor of love that stands as an art in its own.


FOOD FOR THOUGHT
some phrases we can credit to letterpress

Mind your p's and q's: When setting casted, movable type, you set the letters from left to right, upside down in order for the type to mirror and read correctly on the paper. You'd be surprise what your eyes will fix for you as you read backwards printed letters. This is where the phrase originated from. ....same goes for b's and d's. 

Uppercase & Lowercase: Casted, movable type is arranged in type drawers. There's a little spot for each handful of A's, B's, C's and so fourth. The capital letters were found in the upper case drawer slot and the non-capital letters in the lower. 

eight questions I asked myself

AN INTERVIEW WITH MYSELF

I had a crazy idea to express my passions and heart behind TLBC through an interview with myself. Although no client will likely ever ask me these questions directly, I still want the answers there. I want my heart open to all of you, I want a real connection between not just my work, but me personally. 

 
 

TELL ME ABOUT WHAT YOU DO. WHAT MAKES YOUR HEART SMILE?
I'm a stationery designer for the creative bride looking for something extra special for her wedding stationery. I love flowers, simplicity, and handmade cotton paper. ...and cookies.

WHAT IS YOUR STRONG POINT?
I have always been creative at heart. The designing and planning comes naturally to me. However, what I love more than anything is connecting the bride to the project. I aim to resonate with each design decision, connecting back to the couple's story, so at the end of the day, the guests open this invitation, that no one has ever seen before, and say "oh this is SO Hope and Michael." 

WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE ABOUT THE WORK YOU DO?
I truly believe that stationery tells a story. One person meets another, they fall in love, the ring is given and the preface to this beautiful marriage begins. No two stories are the same, and if the wedding invitation is the cover to your book, representing the beginning of your marriage, no two covers should be the same.

WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU'D LIKE YOUR BRIDES TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS?
I want my brides to resonate with not just my work, but me personally. I approach each project as an interior designer would approach a blank space. It's a true collaboration. My brides bring as much to the table as I do and by the end of the process, we are going to be great friends. 

IN A WORLD GONE DIGITAL, HOW DO YOU HOLD TRUE TO PRINT?
How can I not? With the world at everyone's fingertips, there are fewer and fewer tactile items filling up your hope chests. From the wedding alone, other than your photographs, the invitation is one of a few things you'll actually preserve. I hope it hangs on your wall as a little reminder as to why you and your spouse chose each other.

WHY SHOULD A BRIDE OPT FOR A CUSTOM DESIGN OVER A PREDESIGNED PIECE?
Custom work simply paints an entirely different picture for you and your guests. For instance, I'm working on a commissioned project for one of my spring brides. She brought me a photo of a marigold painting that hung in her grandmother's home when she was a child. She wanted to incorporate this in the stationery design. Her mother is a florist and will be designing the floral arrangements that will display at her wedding. So of course, florals are a big symbolic element for her design. Another client of mine is an artist and spent her college years making handmade paper using recycled cotton. She is to be wed under the lights of this show-stopper barn in Texas, using her old paper installations as a backdrop to the head table. Her stationery will of course be letterpress printed on handmade, cotton-rag paper with these beautiful deckled edges... You simply cannot manufacturer tailor-made pieces like this.

WHAT DO YOUR CLIENTS FIND IMPORTANT?
My brides are often artists or designers themselves, or formerly one or the other. I frequently work with brides that, back in college, majored in printmaking ...or the interior designer that is overflown with ideas, but needs help putting them together. My brides definitely get it. They get that each element of the design has to have a viable intention. 

WHAT'S YOUR IDEAL DESIGN?
My design style is very organic, very simple actually. I love a single color letterpress print run on cotton paper. It's the pop I look for, that little something extra--a splash of watercolor across the names, incorporating hand lettering or illustrative artwork... I adore the final touches of assembly; wrapping all of your pieces in cotton twine with a sprig of eucalyptus tied in, a hand addressed envelope with vintage stamps ...those are the things that make my heart sing. 


Are we a match? Are you reading all of this saying "YES!, That's what I've been looking for." Well then nice to meet you. See, I adore working with that inner artist in you. That's what I like to bring out in my brides. If your heart melt when you pick up a piece of silk ribbon, if you feel like you need to squeal when your fingertips meet the texture of handmade cotton rag paper ...well I look forward to hearing from you! We're going to be great friends.

 
 
HOME LIFE | DIY Valentine's Day Birdfeeders

As a creative business owner, bringing all of that creativity home inadvertently happens. My little ones, Finn and Isla (three years old and 18 months old), love to help makes these "beautiful messes" with me, whether its in my studio or the kitchen. They're my little helpers. 

With spring time on the horizon, we wanted to make something that welcomed the upcoming season. These little homemade bird feeders are simple and fun for kids of all ages, even a near thirty grown child like myself. 

HERE'S WHAT YOU'LL NEED

  • 2 cups of birdseed
  • 2/3 cups of water
  • 2 packs of Knox Gelatin
  • cooking spray
  • wax paper
  • cookie cutters
  • straws
  • twine or string

LET'S GET STARTED

FIRST: In a small pot, add the water and gelatin. Stir the gelatin as you pour and mix well. Turn the pot on a medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Otherwise, the gelatin will clump up. Bring to a simmer, still stirring; this should take just a few minutes.

SECOND: Remove the mixture from the heat and add in the birdseed until evenly mixed. Let your mixture sit for 3-5 minutes so the gelatin can thicken.

THIRD: Line a baking sheet with wax paper and spray your cookie cutters. Place the cookie cutter on the wax paper and hold down while filling it with the mixture. Press the mixture down to compact it. Insert your straw for the hole you will thread your string through later. Carefully lift the cookie cutter.

This mixture made five birdfeeders. Our cookie cutters were about 2-2.5" wide. Larger cookie cutters will yield less quantity. 

FOUR: Place your baking sheet in the refrigerator for an hour or until firm. Remove the straws and thread your twine or string through the hole. Package to your liking and fasten with a cute little to-from tag if you are gifting these feeders. These tags are found in the Etsy shop here

...AND THAT'S A WRAP.

TIPS & TRICKS

If you can do this outside, I'd recommend it. We made a mess inside, but hey. It's all cleanable. 

When filling the cookie cutter, we used a baby spoon. I was able to really press down to compact the cutter. This allowed the shape to stay intact pretty well. 

When releasing the cookie cutter from the shape's form, use the same baby spoon (or the smallest spoon you have) to kind of push down and guide the shape down. ...and reapply the cookie spray on the cookie cutters with each birdfeeder. 

LET THEM MAKE A MESS. Like I said, outside is best, but either way, let stick their hands in the birdseed. Let them play. I highly doubt you'll be making birdfeeders with your seventeen year old, so enjoy those toddler craft moments. It won't be like this for long. ...and the mess won't be there forever. 

 

enjoy

my life as a mother and designer - in a three minute video

THE little BLUE CHAIR began as the seat a bunch of kids opened Christmas presents on ...one at a time, in front of the audience of our grandparents. Our grandparents initiated this ritual in hopes that Christmas Eve would last just a little bit longer. I have learned through our family's delightful idiosyncrasies that the anticipation waiting for our turn, the presentation of the package was as important as the package itself. The sheer sentiment of the chair became the foundation for TLBC.

It's easy for me to resonate with TLBC. I truly believe that life's special moments and surprises are best told through the hand-written note, the mailed invitation, and the package it all arrives in ...and when you can see and feel that love behind a product, that tactile sense of affection really sings through.

I can easily title TLBC as a "family run business." My dear husband does the heavy lifting. When we need to take a road trip out of state to pick up the letterpress I bid and won on eBay, he's the one (read that story here). Although his day job consists of civil and architectural jazz, he often inspires much of my product line. My two little ones are also on payroll. In exchange for all the love I have, they offer me an abundant about of inspiration and company in between those moments of hustle and motherhood. There is nothing better than the visual representation of what you will get when working with THE little BLUE CHAIR. Watch the stream of real life TLBC to get a true glimpse.


A huge thanks to Kelly Davis who entered my world with a camera and captured my craziest, most exciting moments as a mother, designer, and business owner.

The Keeping Room | Baton Rouge Wedding Stationery

Almost a year ago, I contacted The Keeping Room in Baton Rouge in hopes for some interest in carrying TLBC's product line. Many clients and friends have referred me to this shop, so I thought, well hey, let's check it out. After speaking with Amanda, the owner, we trained off on how I got started and where I have my work printed. I told her I own my own letterpress printing business. This conversation lead us to a collaborated wedding stationery album. After months and months of preparations, designing, testing, and of course printing, TLBC and TKR has combined our efforts and talents to create ten, one-of-a-kind wedding collections. ...with full intentions of watching it grow to more.

IMG_7570.jpg

We are BEYOND thrilled to have all of our work alongside The Keeping Room's work inside one big album! So we of course celebrated along with some fantastic fellow businesses in the wedding industry. Joined in to help us celebrate was Alli Sims, who owns a fantastic wedding planning service as well as Cupcake Couture. Also joining in and displayed a beautiful wedding gown was I Do Bridal Couture. Plantation Florist supplied nothing short of the most lovely floral arrangements my eyes have ever laid eyes on. While we all swooned over the pretties, we did so by munching on some amazing eats from Gourmet Girls. (see sources below)
 

I got the bright and crazy idea to bring my first table-top press along for a ride. I really wanted everyone to get an idea of the process that goes behind letterpress printing. Success. Our guests were able to pull their own print and got a feel (literally) for the labor that goes behind printing. Of course, the work is done on a much larger press, but the concept all the same and I believe everyone left with a new appreciation for letterpress printing.

SO MUCH GOOD FOOD. These people are amazing. (see references below)

This collaboration has really lead us to focus on supporting local businesses. The in-house customer service and one-on-one attention we are able to give each couple establishes a more personal relationship that doesn't end at the wedding day. The evening was absolutely lovely. If you didn't get a chance to stop by, don't fret, The Keeping Room isn't going anywhere. Stop by their beautiful shop off of Perkins Road and ask to see the new album! I am looking forward to working with TKR and new couples to tailor each suite to their ideal wedding stationery. Ode to new adventures!


sources
wedding stationery | THE little BLUE CHAIR & The Keeping Room
florist | Plantation Florist
catering | Gourmet Girls
cupcakes | Cupcake Couture
wedding planner | Alli Sims
wedding gown display | I Do Bridal Couture