Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Monday, December 1, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
I’m still working everyday, just not as quickly as usual. I find that I need to lie down for a while after working at the press for an hour or so. I really didn’t think that printing would be such as exhausting process when pregnant, but I guess my disturbed sleep patterns are also contributing to that. I’m sporting a definite baby belly now as well, so I need to stand at the press side-on a little, which isn’t very comfortable! From 5 weeks onwards, I’ve been printing with gloves and a respirator on, because of all the fumes in the studio. I could switch from turps to Crisco oil, but I’d still have to wear the respirator for the ink fumes. Ink can be quite stinky on a platen press, as the ink disk is exposed and you stand very close to it while printing. I’ve done a lot of reading on how offset printing ink fumes can cause fetal defects, so I’m very careful.
The cute news is that Taylor, my little press dog, is also pregnant, so she’ll be having her puppies in 2 weeks. She loves sleeping in the kennel next to the press while I’m printing, but I’m sure all the fumes aren’t doing her much good either. We have ventilation in there, but not a lot (trying to keep dust out).
So that’s Exciting News #1.
Exciting News #2 is that we’re moving studios! Actually, my husband and I have bought a new house not far from here, and it comes with a workshop/studio space. Originally, it would’ve been a large double garage, but it’s been converted into a workshop with excellent lighting, ventilation, a sink, toilet room and office. So the entire Poppy operation will be moving into that space. The office is a good size and is insultated, carpeted, and has an intercom to the house, tv antenna, security system, and broadband outlet. There’s more than enough space in the studio for all of my equipment, and heaps of shelving for all the ink pots. It’s an absolute dream come true for me, and I’m really going to enjoy working in there.
Exciting News #3 (I’ve been busy...) is that I have a truck of new equipment arriving next week. Actually, it was supposed to be arriving at the new studio tomorrow, but the transport company messed up. It works out to be able 1.5 tonnes of equipment, including the new press that I bought MONTHS ago. I’ll be posting photos of it’s arrival when it does come. I’m really going to love setting it all up in the new studio. I love starting a new space from scratch. But of course, I’ll also be moving house in 2 weeks, so I’ll be unpacking everywhere.
So now you’re up-to-date with my news. You can see why I haven’t been on the blog a lot lately, which I really do apologise for. I have really missed it. I’ve been working with some truly lovely clients in the past couple of months, and they’ve been really understanding when it’s taken me a little longer to respond to emails, etc.
Once the new studio is set up, I’ll be holding a Studio Warming Party, most probably in January. I’ve had a lot of people ask to see my current studio, and while it’s been suitable enough to work in, it’s not a space that I was proud to share. Baby is due 21 May, and I’ll be doing as much printing as possible during this time, but I’ll definitely be at reduced capacity. I’m looking forward to using this time to re-evaluate our processes and making them more streamlined for next year.
Ok, in an attempt to get back to my beloved blog, here’s a work-focussed meme, tagged to me by Ampersand Duck, who is oh so good at making the rest of us look bad for not updating our blogs regularly. As with Ducky, I’ll be sharing 7 things about my studio/working processes.
Seven Things Meme.
1. I’m not a clean person at all (though really wish I was). The house is always a mess, my computer desk is always a mess. But if I work in an office, the office desk must be spotless otherwise I can’t focus. I’m a bit the same with my studio space. If it’s not clean, with everything in its place, I get uncomfortable, and really don’t enjoy the work as much. Saying this, the past few months it’s been pretty grubby.
2. I’m a listmaker. Everyday I need to pull out my notebook and write a to-do list for the day. Sometimes I’m guilty of writing everything possible little thing that I can think of that needs doing, just so I have more to cross of the list to make me feel like I’ve achieved more during the day. For the things that don’t get done, they get added to tomorrow’s list. If I’m stressed out about a really long list of urgent tasks, I think of more creative ways to present the list, such as writing each item on a separate card and sticking them on the door under headings or priorities. Of course, I’ll use that for a day, then the next day I’ll need to make a new list somehow. Note: this does not necessarily make me an organised or efficient worker.
3. For the past 11 months, my ‘studio space’ has been my one car garage in our rental house. There’s enough space for the press, shelving, a large desk, bins (in my endeavour to keep it *cough* clean), and the dog kennel. It’s a HORRIBLE space to work, and I find myself spending as little time in there as possible. My computer desk is inside, so I’m often in there if there’s no printing at the time. In winter, the temperature in the garage gets to -1C in the mornings and I need to take my ink inside and heat it up to be able to scoop it out of the tin and work with it. The press is freezing, but still works very well. My hands are so cold that I find it hard to grab the paper out of the press in time, and have no grip on my fingers. In summer, the temps get to 34C or more, which the press loves, mind you. The ink is the perfect consistency and the press and rollers move freely. I, on the other hand, sweat like a pig. But as long as I’m prepared for the hot weather, I don’t mind it too much. The garage really isn’t weather-proof. If there are strong gusts of wind (as there usually are in Sept-Oct), I can’t print because it blows so much dust onto the press. I’ve also had problems with humidity during storms, but I can deal with that now. I always find it amazing that my press can produce such gorgeous work in such horrible conditions.
4. I love mass-produced things. I think that’s part of why I became a graphic designer. I always used to love designing a brochure or something similar, and then having 8 million of them produced (well, that was my record). It was a keen interest in the printing process that really set me up for letterpress. At any excuse, I’d go on a press check for a job, just so I could see the setup, smell the ink, gaze in wonder at the 10-colour Heidelbergs and see my job half printed. Of course, I don’t print large runs on the letterpress, it’s just too time-consuming, and I can only spend so many hours in front of the press a day. If I had a Heidelberg T-platen however...
5. I enjoy printing a mixture of my designs and other people’s designs. Sometimes it’s just nice to have someone send me the complete file, so all I have to worry about is the printing. It is always more satisfying to print my own design that I enjoyed creating though. Especially printing one colour at a time and watching it come together as a final piece.
6. Guillotining is the worst part of my day. I love my little guillotine and don’t know what I’d do without it, but really, I spend far too much time cutting those large sheets to size. Because the sheets are larger than the guillo’s blade, I have to cut them down by hand first. Sure, I could take them to someone else to get guillotined by one of their huge industrial-sized guillos, but that works out to take just as long when I factor in driving time. I’m sure eventually I’ll get a huge guillo for the studio, but for now, I’m terrified of anything bigger than the one I currently have, and really don’t want to go near those automated ones.
7. Running your own letterpress studio can be a lonely venture. As much as I hated working in government studios with all kinds of mindless morons interrupting my work for a pointless meeting, or to discuss timelines that I’ve already emailed to them, or tell me about so-and-so who’s sucking up to the boss, or even just to tell me about how their daughter went at netball last night... BREATHE LOU, BREATHE... having a few (quiet) people around can really improve your workday and make it go faster. Don’t get me wrong – I really do enjoy the peace and quiet during the day, and I have Tiger the cat, and Taylor the dog to keep me company. But another person or two would be nice to have around. When I’m in the house on the computer or guillotining I have the tv on, and when I’m out on the press, the radio is cranked up on Triple J. However, right now I’m sitting in silence at my computer, and it’s only just occurred to me. I won’t tag anyone else for now, but feel free to leave a comment if you’re attempting this meme as well :)
Monday, November 3, 2008
Meanwhile, just a quick notice to say that tomorrow is a public holiday here, so please be aware that I may not respond to emails for the day. If you have the day off, lucky you! If not, you'll be here in spirit :)
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
This is a print proof of Lara's rsvp card. I've made it a bit of a policy now to send proofs so clients know exactly what to expect. It can be a lot of extra time and hassle for me, but worth it in the end.
I'm thoroughly enjoying this wedding set. The pattern I took from the moorish screens in the restaurant where Lara and Adrian will be having their reception. I'd just love to see the guests arrive and make the connection on the night.
I have quite a few items to print for this set, so stay tuned, as I'll be working on them in the next few days.
We actually printed this set a couple of weeks ago but it's taken me a while to get the camera out. This design was supplied by the client, and it was great to work with. Clean lines, crisp black ink, and the press was doing a great job of behaving itself for once.
Talia's set also included rsvp envelopes with return address printed.
Monday, September 8, 2008
Up until now, you'd normally find me at this time of night working away at the computer, or even out in the cold on the press.
From now on I will be trying to resemble a normal life, which hopefully includes weekends. Ah, I remember them well.
So please, email away at any hour, but please note that I may not respond out of business hours. Don't worry - this won't mean that I'm working less. No printing will be harmed in the pursuit of sleep!
Friday, September 5, 2008
Will tell you all about the latest projects when I get a spare minute, as well as the fabulous time I had in Brisbane with Alischa of Bespoke Press. More soon..!
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
We'll be there for a number of reasons, including to stay with Alischa of Bespoke Press for a night, and for a bit of instruction from a printer up there who is more than willing to teach us a thing or two. It doesn't matter how much you think you know (or don't know!), a lesson from someone who's been doing it a lifetime is worth it's weight in gold. So we're looking forward to a weekend full of sun, letterpress, good wine, family (who I'm also visiting), relaxation and a funky PT Cruiser convertible which I just HAD to have for the trip :)
I'll be taking Ranga, the macbook pro, with me so I will still be answering emails and writing quotes, but not sure how much time I'll have to work on anything else.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Our latest wedding invitations are for Susie and Matt in Brisbane. Matt's grandmother is Chinese and they wanted to incorporate some Chinese tradition without it dominating the look and feel of the wedding. Susie is a goddess of decorating and will be arranging Chinese lanterns around the restaurant for their cocktail reception, so we've kept that theme running with the invitations.
Text is printed in charcoal grey, with the lanterns in transparent white. We will be following these up with booklet covers in coming weeks.
Monday, August 11, 2008
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Today is yet another fabulously busy day at Poppy. I've been sending out samplers left, right and centre, and have now officially run out. I'm hoping to get some time spare on the press to run some more, but until then, photos may have to do. Above are the last of the samplers printed in transparent white, and black ink. The lanterns plate is for the gorgeous Susie of Brisbane's wedding invitations which go on the press today. The 'thankyou' is from my wedding set, but the plate seems to be indestructable, so it's used a lot for samplers these days.
Click on the photos to view in detail.
My hands are red raw now after a morning spent guillotining paper for Susie's invites, but at least I have a lot of cut paper now!
There will be quite a few exciting developments at Poppy over the next few weeks. We're looking at revamping the studio space. This was on the to-do list already because it's a small, cramped space, and less than ideal, but now it's an essential thing that need to be done sooner rather than later. Why? Because I've just bought another press :)
More on that later....
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Sunday, July 27, 2008
It was just a small mention, but we were happy to have a short story about us in The Canberra Times wedding liftout, A Day To Remember. There are only a few stationery options for newly engaged couples in Canberra, and hopefully this page in the paper lead a few couples to consider letterpress for their stationery set.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
We've been busy little bees here at Poppy (70 hrs/week busy!). I'm currently working on concepts for 6 weddings and loving it. There's a real variety too. Not to mention my personal favourite theme at the moment: SQUIRRELS! Cute little buggers, they are.
Somewhere between Canberra and New York are some letterpress business cards on their way to Donna - a reprint, which was great to work on. We've gone for a stiffer card stock this time. Once again, haven't taken photos yet, but I'll be sure to post them shortly.
Other updates are:
- I'm on the hunt for another press. If anything ever happened to Collie, I'd need a Plan B.
- Also actively looking for a photopolymer platemaker. Have looked in India and the US, but if you know of a supplier in Aust, do let me know.
- Still debating if I should try rubber based and soy based inks.
- Will be importing Crane's Lettra in the next few weeks. BFK Rives is great, but I really need a bright white alternative. I've just ordered a stash more of it, and the nice guys at MES have also sent some samples of a white alternative to test out.
- I'll be getting a quote to from my metal machinist for new roller cores and trucks. They'll then be sent to a roller maker who will rubber coat them for me. It's still cheaper than importing a set from the US. I suspect that my current rubber rollers have a flat spot each, but I can't send them away yet as I can't stop printing for a whole two week period that is needed to get them done.
- Heading up to QLD shortly to visit gorgeous Alischa, of Bespoke Press. It'll also be the closest I'll get to a holiday for a long time.
And finally, I've had an excellent response to the new Poppy website. But I have still yet to hear some critisism, so if you have any suggestions for the site, please let me know.
Oh and PS: I love love LOVE my new laptop. His name is Ranga.
Saturday, July 5, 2008
Well, actually that's not it, that's just a pic off the mac website. Mine should arrive on Monday. So after years of wishing, I finally have my own mac. I use mac and pcs, but have always been fond of the macs. We've got a few PCs at home (yes, we have a dedicated computer room).
The lappy should help a lot with Poppy computer work. I'll be able to take my 'office' to a café, sit down with a coffee and work on designs, quotes, and my website. Ahhh, sounds glorious, doesn't it?
I've been tagged by Megan, and as it's been a while I thought why not? I'm not tagging anyone, as I'll leave it up to those who want to have a go instead.
What were you doing ten years ago? Finishing year 12 at school and trying to decide if I would go to Art School, or study graphic design or architecture. I think I made the right choice (after all, I met my now husband on the first day of graphic design), but I've always wanted to go to Art School.
Five items on my to do list: Only five? But it's so long! Ok, quotes, clip the dog, test prints, package Judy's business cards, and go visit a friend at his property out of town.
Snacks I enjoy: Anything chocolate. I really need to stop though. And chocolate coated coffee beans - best of both worlds.
What would you do if you were a billionaire? Buy a big studio! Well, actually I'd probably buy my husband and I a big property and house just out of town, where I can keep my horse, watch the dog run around like a maniac, and have a whole building dedicated to letterpress and design. Oh, and buy more chocolate coated coffee beans.
Places I would live: See above, or on a few acres somewhere, or Fiji.
Jobs I've had: Customer service at a chicken takeaway place, newspaper photographer and designer, stablehand, facepainter, harness racing photographer (still current), graphic designer (still current), letterpress printer (still current).
Thursday, July 3, 2008
With printing quotes, however, prices are itemised as brides usually don't know exactly what they want or can afford until they see prices.
There are many things to consider when quoting, many of which people don't realise:
- paper cost (including the freight I have to pay)
- guillotining (this can be up to a couple hours of work)
- ink (especially if the customer requires a specific colour I need to order in)
- press maintainence (solvents, oil, my hours, cloths)
- plates (which includes paying someone else to make the film, and another person to make the plates. Preparing plate artwork can take an hour or two depending on artwork)
- graphic design/illustration (I actually don't charge extra for my design and illustration services, which saves the bride a lot, but also means I often don't get paid for hours of concept work and artwork setup)
- electricity (to run the press, studio and my very loud radio)
- mistakes (especially if Collie is misbehaving. I might have 2 bad prints for every good print sometimes, which is wasted paper, time and energy. Never fear, it's my own fault and I'm getting better, so wastage is being reduced gradually!)
- petrol (to go deliver/pickup artwork, film, and plates. I travel across town doing this sometimes).
And of course, add my own time and salary to the list.
Each colour can take up to 3 hours to prepare for printing, depending on the design and specific job. There's makeready and proofing before it officially goes 'on the press'. Letterpresses aren't like the gorgeous computerised offset machines that you see in print factories these days. Letterpresses are still a handmade craft, which takes time.
So someone may order just a few items in 3 colours or more and pay a higher amount than someone who orders more but in one colour.
Please don't get me wrong - I'm not whinging! Not at all. I just wanted to explain what goes into a printing quote, and why letterpress costs more than, say, digital printing. But I'm enjoying the quoting process, and love seeing new queries in my inbox -- so keep them coming! :)
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
It's now winter, and I'm printing in temperatures of down to 3C or so. The ink takes a long time to warm up on the press, but still covers the ink disc evenly. However, I think some of my plate inking issues may be due to the cold temperatures (as well as other problems I'm addressing). It's quite thick and not very tacky at all, which makes it a little harder to spread and take to the plate.
Of course, humidity plays a big part too. In summer, if there's a storm hanging around, I won't even try to print. The plates curl up off the base, which present a danger of them being wrapped into the rollers. Now I'm avoiding printing during winter rain. Humidty causes grief for both plates and paper - letterforms can peel off the photopolymer, serifs can break off, and paper can swell, causing registration nightmares. If you have a job with tight registration, try to print it all in the one day, or on days with similar conditions.
So my preference is definitely summer printing. It may be stinking hot and you'll be sweating away, but the ink will distribute nicely. Another things I've noticed, in winter my hands get so cold that it's hard to grab paper as I feed it in and out of the press. At least in summer my hands are grippy.
In an ideal world, I'd be setting up a more permanent home for Poppy, with ample space, lots of natural lighting, shelves upon shelves for storage, and a dehumidifier and heater. I can dream, can't I?
Monday, June 30, 2008
We've had a great response from the launch of the website, with many people contacting us with comments or quote requests.
This week I'm busy printing business cards and hopefully a couple of illustrations. A designer in Melbourne has created the most gorgeous bird illustration, and I can't wait to show you the printed piece... but I'll have to hurry up and get the plates made first, won't I?
Also, I've been having a recurring inking issue with the photopolymer plates, which may be solved by using roller bearers. So this week I hope to unlock my chase (sigh, it's so perfectly set up now that I don't want to move it again) and lock in some bearers... If I can find some. Roller bearers help the rollers to touch the plates at exactly type high, which inks them up evenly. I have a suspicion that the rails on my press have worn and are no longer perfectly flat, so bearers would help a lot.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Monday, June 23, 2008
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Sunday, June 15, 2008
If you do this and you stuff up your guillotining, you'll then be able to fix it because you have the extra space.
Printing Kate's cards today was already a nightmare because of inking issues that I've been having with the press for a while now (that's a whole other story), so imagine my relief when they were finally done and looking good. I wasn't so impressed when the paper slipped under the guillo and there was no way to rectify the problem. So I'll be reprinting the cards during the week!
Gotta learn the hard way sometimes :)
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Monday, May 26, 2008
The website is coming along nicely. My husband's putting the final touches on it at the moment, so we should be live very very soon. I'm quite excited, as the site will serve as my new 'shopfront' and be packed with information and photos. I'll be updating the portfolio section often, so it will be one to check regularly. There's also information on international wedding invitation and stationery orders (yes, I'm just as keen to work with overseas clients as the local ones) which will hopefully answer a lot of questions that I regularly get asked. I'll also be asking for opinions on the site when it's up, so stay tuned.
The other exciting news are Poppy Letterpress's very first two wedding clients, Laura in Canberra, and Susie in Brisbane. Both of these girls get me so excited about their designs, and I just love hearing about their wedding plans so far. It's a great privilege to be involved in their weddings. I can't wait to print their sets! More to come...
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
I'm having a far more productive week now that I'm over the flu. I finished off the leaves invite, yesterday I printed the butterflies, and today I printed the decorative border. The border's my favourite, and the registration wasn't nearly as bad as I'd anticipated. The pink turned out particularly vibrant, it's almost fluoro against the beige.
I've only printed about a dozen of each, as they're just samples. Can't wait to do a whole wedding's worth. There's just something so exciting about wedding stationery.
I may print one more of my 6 new designs before I run out of paper and have to order more.