Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Well, a couple of you on facebook already know, but the great news is that I’m 15 weeks pregnant. Unfortunately, I’ve had the most exhausting morning sickness, which is now in its 10th week – hence the lack of blog updates and photos of work I’ve been doing. Luckily though, the sickness is starting to taper off, and I’ve been able to work a little more. This has also been the reason for the ‘fully booked’ status on my website. I’ve needed to cut down the amount of weddings I’ve been working on so I don’t compromise the clients that have already booked in.

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.

Seven Things Meme

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

Public Holiday - 4th Nov

Ah, my poor neglected little blog. Never fear, I have a stack of prints that will be photographed this week and uploaded for all to see. I've had a lot of fun with our most recent weddings, and worked with some fantastic couples. Promise I'll share very soon!

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 :)