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In Which There Are Sundry Prints For Sale

"17: The Star" limited edition intaglio print
"Three of Swords" limited edition intaglio print16: The Tower limited edition intaglio print

Hey internet! It is that season of the year which we call The Time of the Coming of the Wearing of the Hats, which means that my hats are removed from the Etsy store so that they may be tried on and bought at arts & crafts shows (like Ohio Designer Craftsmen's Winterfair).

But don't be sad! There are still plenty of etchings in the shop, some illustrated paper goods from years gone by, and even some knitting patterns if you need that wool fix. You can use the coupon code INTAGLIO for free shipping through December 3, 2013.

You know, if you're into Cyber Monday and all that. I know that every working artist who sells online appreciates the ability to keep on being a working artist, with or without a Kickstarter. Thank you. Thank you for helping me keep on being a printmaker, thank you for helping me pay bills, thank you for helping me keep a roof over my head. Thank you.

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Nothing, Nothing, Nothing, Something, Nothing Again

"Faerie Queen" foxgloves

One day there weren't foxgloves, and then, suddenly, there were.

Well. Maybe that is a slight exaggeration because I remember planting foxgloves last fall, and the packet spilled and there were oodles of seedlings which I eventually found homes for in the ground. But that was before they were more than a hopeful clump of leaves, barely clearing the ground. I turned around this week and this was going on underneath the climbing roses:

"Faerie Queen" foxgloves

What would be even more pleasing is if my black hollyhocks had bothered to reseed themselves just behind the foxgloves last fall, so that these would be blooming concurrently. The play of dark and light blooms would have made me exceptionally happy. Plants: there is much I have yet to understand about them. Especially this biennial business.

Work on the tarot series continues, although I am once again spinning my wheels with much effort and fuss expended for very little visual effect. I wonder that I ever thought making my own deck would be easy—all you have to do is draw it, right? Hmph.

To distract myself from lack of printshop time this week as they move to summer schedule, I went poking among various John Bauer illustrations and . . . it clicked that what I was looking at were lithographs. Feverishly, my hindbrain suggested that I should make lithographs, because that is how my brain works at two in the morning. This afternoon I dug out a litho grease crayon and doodled, to get a feel for it again and generally to see if I had found a way to not suck at it.

The verdict is that I am still horrible at that kind of mark-making; ten years after learning the method hasn't really made much of a dent. The grease crayon can go back in the drawer.

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Hand-Pulled Prints! Get 'Em While They're . . . um. Inked?

Box o' prints! (Or, Help Me Pay For Another Year's Printlab Membership.) #printmaking #intaglio

Dear internet,

Would you like to come up and see my etchings? Possibly . . . buy one?

No, seriously. I have etchings for sale. They can be yours for a modest fee.

And while I do not entirely approve of what Flickr has taken upon itself to do to its site, I feel I should mention that I've finally collected all the cameraphone pics of the printlab, sketch book and general tarot card development into separate photosets. You are welcome to peruse them at your leisure. But the actual things themselves, they will be on the Etsy.

Thank you kindly.

Yours in ink,

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"We Lead Strange Lives, Chasing Our Dreams Around From Place To Place."

Little stray book, oh how you have delivered. Possibly to the point of pandering to my tastes, but so few authors know the way into my heart and my bookshelves is via Hamlet quotes and ravens that I doubt any pandering was intentional. (Here follows blockquotes from Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus! You . . . you knew that was coming, right? I mean, when do I ever not share blockquotes with you? Especially when they are so delicious as these.)

The sign proclaims something called the Ice Garden, and Celia smiles at the addendum below which contains an apology for any thermal inconvenience.

Despite the name, she is not prepared for what awaits her in the tent.

It is exactly what the sign described. But it is so much more than that.

There are no stripes visible on the walls, everything is sparking and white. She cannot tell how far it stretches, the size of the tent is obscured by cascading willows and twisting vines.

The air itself is magical. Crisp and sweet in her lungs as she breathes, sending a shiver down to her toes that is caused by more than the forewarned drop in temperature.

There are no patrons visible in the tent as she explores, circling alone around trellises covered in pale roses and a softly bubbling, elaborately carved fountain.

And everything, save for occasional lengths of white silk ribbon strung like garlands, is made of ice.

"Which tent is your favorite?" he asks.

"The Ice Garden," Celia answers, without even pausing to consider.

"Why is that?" Marco asks.

"Because of the way it feels," she says. "It's like walking into a dream. As though it is someplace else entirely and not simply another tent. Perhaps I am just fond of snow. However did you come up with it?"

Marco reflects on the process, as he has never been asked the origin of his ideas before.

"I thought it might be interesting to have a conservatory, but of course it necessitated a lack of color," he says. "I pondered a great many options before setting on fabricating everything from ice. I am pleased you think it like a dream, as that is where the core of the idea came from."

"It's the reason I made the Wishing Tree," Celia says. "I thought a tree covered in fire would make for a proper complement to ones made from ice."

I know, I know. Spring is arriving in the northern hemisphere and frozen things are at their least wanted at this point in time. Particularly landscapes devoid of color and hue. Well. I will just say this: pollen season; heat stroke. Both of which I have been struggling this past week during a temperature flux of more than 25 degrees upwards. Ice gardens sound exquisite and highly appealing.

"Stories have changed, my dear boy," the man in the grey suit says, his voice almost imperceptibly sad. "There are no more battles between good and evil, no monsters to slay, no maidens in need of rescue. Most maidens are perfectly capable of rescuing themselves in my experience, at least the ones worth something, in any case. There are no longer simple tales with quests and beasts and happy endings. The quests lack clarity of goal or path. The beasts take different forms and are difficult to recognize for what they are. And there are never really endings, happy or otherwise. Things keep going one, they overlap and blur, your story is part of your sister's story is part of many other stories, and there is no telling where any of them may lead. Good and evil are a great deal more complex than a princess and a dragon, or a wolf and a scarlet-cclad little girl. And is not the dragon the hero of his own story? Is not the wolf simply acting as a wolf should act? Though perhaps it is a singular wolf who goes to such lengths as to dress as a grandmother to to with its prey."

Widget sips his glass of wine, considering the words before he replies.

"But wouldn't that mean that there were never any simple tales at all?" he asks.

. . . . . . . . . .

"Thank you," she says to Tsukiko as they leave. "I enjoyed that more than I had expected to."

"The finest of pleasures are always the unexpected ones," Tsukiko replies.

You may find the exchange of Hamlet quotes and ravens on your own, at your leisure. I can't go around distributing all the best bits in one go, can I?

I leave westward for Nova Albion in a week,† and now need to consider my travel reading . . . hmmmmmmmm . . . I did unearth my copy of The Adventures of Baron Munchhausen as adapted by Terry Jones from the Gilliam movie just the other day. That seems suitably frivolous.

† Yes, Nova Albion—of the Tediously Brief Most Lamentable Comedie Of Errors, Or, Friends Don't Let Friends Travel Through The Donner Pass incident! I have signed up to do it again. And this time I shall not make the same mistakes. Instead, there will be entirely new ones—this I promise. I will let you know what they are when I find out, I'm sure.

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In Which The Circus Arrives . . .

"Oh I'll just go to the library and drop off my books because clearly getting ready for Nova Albion in a month is not going to give me time to read anything new. Hatting and panicking and printmaking, that is all I'm good for just now."

"What? Oh you want to come along and browse? Alright. I'll be here waiting next to the book sale shelves, contemplating how many unfortunate souls bought those Danielle Steele novels in the first place, for lo, it is a sad world."

"These shelves can't entirely be filled with Danielle Steele titles, can they? I mean, I picked up that hardcover of Fly By Night here for a nickel before. What about this last shelf?"


"Well, damn. I suppose I have two dollars somewhere in my bag for this thing that has been on my reading list for over a year but is still too current for the library to have a copy of."

The circus is coming...

And that is how a copy of Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus ended up in my bag and has been fairly insistent that it never leave my side. I've never met a book with separation anxiety before. Though I suppose such things will happen, if I keep plucking books from the literary equivalent of the animal shelter.

The prose is proving to be deceptively simple so far, engaging in the way that blogs and NaNo writings that come of blogging are—in the best possible way. Sensate, descriptive, tactile. The intricacies in the writing become apparent as the plot begins to unfold; asides here, alliances forming there, this storyline intertwining with that character's thread. It would be easy an easy book to dismiss, on the surface of things, if you don't stick around for the pacing to reveal itself. Still, I hear echoes of Edgar Allan Poe furtively constructing the momentum of his short stories while he misdirects the reader with lurid descriptions and vocabulary to engage the senses. There are passages in The Night Circus which remind me of The Masque of the Red Death in particular. Not bad company to be keeping.

I will say however that the author's predeliction for tea, the making of and the act of consuming, shows. Very much so. Clearly Erin Morgenstern is a tea fiend and no editorial process can take that out of this book.

I approve.

Throw in some contact juggling, little stray book, and you can live in my satchel for as long as you like.

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In Which We Live And Learn And Move On To More Interesting Things

The Jane Austen fandom: they are not shoppers.

Or at least, not as far as I can tell, not particularly. I wasn't sure what to expect from them and . . . now I do. Hrm.

Daily progress shot of the Hat Cave - hats for Jane Austen Fest 2013 #HatterAtLargeDaily progress shot of the Hat Cave - in prep for Jane Austen Fest 2013. #HatterAtLargeDaily (nightly?) ((Knightley?)) progress shot of the Hat Cave - prepping for Jane Austen Fest 2013 #HatterAtLarge
Nightly progress shot of the Hat Cave - last minute prep for Jane Austen Fest 2013. #QuickToTheHatCave
Nightly progress shot of the Hat Cave - in prep for Jane Austen Fest 2013 #QuickToTheHatCaveNightly progress shot of the Hat Cave, the I'm-Too-Tired-To-Stand-Up edition. #QuickToTheHatCave!Nightly progress shot of the Hat Cave - in prep for Jane Austen Fest 2013. #QuickToTheHatCave!

In the short term it feels as though my efforts didn't amount to much, but I think that is mostly stress and lack of sleep talking.† To focus on the good points: I developed a new hat style in less than three weeks and the prototypes came out flawless. The (limited) response they received was all positive. And in the longer term, it means half my stock for Nova Albion is already made and I can therefore spend more time in the printlab and less time panicking.

Less time panicking is good. More time in the printlab is better, especially when it is filled with interesting conversations about scar tissue patterning on lightning strike survivors, linguistic-fu, geology nerdery—and printmaking techniques, obv. Thus, the printlab.

My preparations for the Jane Austen festival have left me with a small crate of prints and also a proper-type tax license, which means that Etsy will see some of my etchings sooner rather than later. Hurrah? (I hesitate to make promises about posting things because I am looking at my to-do list for the next month and the rate at which it grows onto multiple pages is just effing scary.) But I will sell prints to you, lovely people of the internets, at some point in the future.

Prints! Hats! I did manage to combine the two in my woodblock workshop back in January. For people whose minds boggle at the thought of one person doing more than one medium, I dedicate this to them.

As Miss Ess– says, it is me all over: "Oh sure, "Hm, what can I do that will require the tiniest blade + most # of bitsy yet articulated cuts? Oh... Anything."

Woodblock cutting is the order of the day! In other news, my fingers are now bruised. #printmakingBusted my butt this week to print this edition, all protective envelopes I have are ONE HALF INCH too small. #printmaking

† Stress and lack of sleep, you need to shut up and sit the fuck down.

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See Also: INTJ

The internets, for some inexplicable reason, are going gaga over Valentine's Day this year. It's like the holiday has been extended from just the one day to a month-long festival of feasting and orgies, without prior notice. There are hearts being shoved in my face every two seconds, and grade-school-esque cut-out-and-keep type downloadable cards popping up everywhere. And while I don't particularly like being forced into the Valentine's Day Haters camp because I don't bear the holiday itself any particular enmity, I am calling bullshit on the whole conspicuously consumptive thing.

Here is a set of free downloadable cards, suitable for many occasions. You may download it and pass them out to people, if that's your thing. Or maybe you just like Avon quotes, and wish to keep one or two on your person at all times. That would be up to you. It is a pretty excellent quote; I bet Spock wishes he had thought of that one.

I advise printing these on a laser printer, since the lettering tends to get swallowed up by the black background on an inkjet. Half of the cards are laid out with black on white, for variety's sake. There is something quite pleasingly final about the white on black version though.

from strange hours creations

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The Time Of The Coming Of The Wearing Of The Hats

New bicorne, with faux-ostrich pouf trim. I sort of love making these—so much bang for the buck. #HatterAtLarge

So this happened. Again. And I figured out how to get the ostrich-pouf-trimmed-edge effect with very little effort. Bonus: it glitters. This one will be coming with me to Boston's Arisia 2013 in very short order. You could be among the first to give it a spin! Do stop by!

Nota Bene: It works better if you imagine yourself conquering Europe while trying it on. We discovered this with the previous bicorne. . . . Unless being a glam rock pirate queen comes naturally to you, but I recognize that not all are blessed with this ability.

Hatting has been eating away at my time quite a lot lately, which is part of the radio silence but certainly not all. Let us see if I can manage some brief dispatches before the year runs away with me . . .

When not hatting, I've been working away at the printlab twice a week, one tarot card after another. November saw me finish up the Three of Swords and I've begun work on The Tower now, which is turning out to be tedious. On deck are a string of other perturbing cards - The Devil, Death. But then ideas for the Two of Cups popped into my head and are being remarkably insistent. To be honest, I think they all want to get done at once.

Aaaaand...I think it's done! #printmaking #tarotReversal (graphite transfer). #printmaking #tarot

After my gallivants to Boston, I will come back to a woodblock workshop with the splendid local talents of Tugboat Printshop. Which is giddyifying, and slightly intimidating. I am an intaglio girl, through and through. The graphic qualities of reduction printmaking do not come naturally to me. Perhaps I will play around with non-symbolic imagery, perhaps something as simple as hats? (I do love that image and a goof on it would be so pleasing.) We shall see, we shall see.

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MMXII In Books, Or, Blockquote-O-Rama


books 2012: read

I read some books this last year (I did!) and I will shortly tell you about them. But, due to my long absence which I am not even going to get into, would you be so kind as to tell me Important Things that may have happened to you while I was away? There apparently is an entry cut-off date for backlogs. Births, deaths, marriages, divorces, disposal of incriminating evidence, that sort of thing; I will be discreet, I promise.

She says to the internet.

If I remember correctly, I promised you some quotes about a 16th century Venetian cartographer last time? Here follows what I managed to squeeze into Twitter, and some of what I was saving for a proper blog entry.

Venice! This lagoon of soupy canals, cats' pee, and pageants.

That is undoubtedly the most accurate description of Venice that ever was. I remember at some point I had been collecting non-romanticized descriptions of Venice and now I think I can stop. We have found the pinnacle of tourism write-ups from Fra Mauro, the only possible thing that is missing is a description of the size of Venetian rats. I should put it on a poster. On a less smelly note:

"Through the use of words and vague coastlines, the two of us had attempted to give form to something not of this world."

"This is the world I have chosen to describe: an old earth populated by strange wonders and mysterious creatures."

"I ask myself whether this is how the world changes, how it realizes itself anew—not as a shifting planet in the heavens, but as a conjunction of thought in space."

"Such a map would include how people experience their country, and how they exact from it a measure of well-being."

"They have journeyed to Venice, to this monastery, from so many distant places in order to share with me the purest of all deceptions—that of their own willingness to be entranced."

- Fra Mauro (trans. James Cowan), A Mapmaker's Dream

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And now, onwards, to books!

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Reading-material-wise, I have definitely skewed to the philosophical and the meditative, filled out with comfort reads. This was the year that I stopped going to the library because I associated it too strongly with the misery of jury duty (the book list reflects this point, starkly). The same for Italo Calvino's Numbers in the Dark (I am most of the way through it & I may have to resign myself to never finishing it because I cannot stress how traumatic jury duty really was). This was the year that I discovered Angela Carter properly (and you wonder why you don't hear about her when you were younger, and then you remember her unflinching explorations of dark, hidden things and then you realize why). This was the year that I read a truly awful book just for the ability to mock it in realtime on Twitter (All The Tropes! Every Last One Of Them!) This was the year that I did a rare bookshelf purge for [personal profile] roadrunnertwice (may he have joy of them, or lolz at least).

books 2012: acquired

This was the year when I concussed myself on my nightstand as I was rolling over at 6:00 am, and my nightstand is a Victorian steamer trunk with iron corner caps. Unforgiving iron corner caps. The upshot is that my room needs to be rearranged so that I can retain my fine motor skills, which means that 2013 will be The Year of MOAR BOOKSHELVES and LESS BOOK ZIGGURATS. Hurrah.

So. How are you? Did you read things? Will you tell me what they are?

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