expose/embrace/expect//Meet Lynda Sherman of Bremelo Press by Hope A

a peek at Keep Writing number 103, designed and printed by Bremelo Press

a peek at Keep Writing number 103, designed and printed by Bremelo Press

When I decided to try a year of collaborative postcards, I thought about friends I knew who might be interested--writers, artists, printers. I also thought of a few people whose work I admired and thought make an interesting collaboration for a Keep Writing postcard.  A subscriber of the project has been sending me cards and notes written on bits from Bremelo Press for years. I carried a "don't forget to floss" note to Milan with me when I studied there. I wrote to Lynda Sherman, explained who I am, what the project is and asked if she wanted to participate. She responded with a resounding YES and all future correspondence with her was delightful, inspiring and to the point. She designed and printed Keep Writing number 103, mailed in November 2017. All I did was trim it, fold it and mail it. It was a pleasure to work with her and after all that she agreed to answer some questions about why she participated. 

All photos were borrowed from her website and instagram which I strongly suggest following. 

How would you liked to be introduced?
I would like to be introduced as your letterpress friend.


What was your path to letterpress printing?
I was lucky to be introduced to letterpress printing in the mid 1990ies by Esther K Smith and
Dikko Faust at Purgatory Pie Press in New York City. Ester is a wonderful designer and artist
who has published many books. Dikko is still the best printer I have ever met.


What are your work habits like?
I work alone, with collaborators, silently, with loud music, on a schedule, even when the muse
doesn’t join me. I reserve one day a week as Pajama Day.


The name of your press Bremelo refers to one from Bremerton, is that right?
How does your geography fit into your work?

A “Bremelo” is a Washington State colloquialism for a woman from Bremerton: a combination
of Bremertonian and buffalo. The burning memory of “Bremelo” being hurled at me from a car
window at the age of 11 inspired me to adopt Bremelo and claim its use for the press. My home
town is a salt water port city and I have found it important to live where one can tell time by the
tides.


Why did you agree to collaborate with me?
We work in different environments but both are connected to tidal land. I am interested in the
push and pull that connects us to each other and to our earth.


Did you have any technical difficulty printing this card, as you were doing all the brain storming,
designing, and printing while following my lengthy notes then sending it to me to be die cut,
folded, and mailed?

The technical difficulty took effort; however, the design flowed freely. My intention is secondary
to your response. I am willing to listen and have each of us hear the other.


I usually like to give a little back story about where the idea for the card came from. What is the
origin of this card for you?

In a previous collaborative experience we asked each other to reflect on our individual
superpower. I responded....Listening. Our personal narratives and the stories we tell each other
resonate and tie us together. Time and tide.


What is your go-to karaoke song?
My favorite karaoke bar is The Crescent in Seattle where I love to hear my friends sing their
favorite Fleetwood Mac songs.


Did you ever eat at the Globe Cafe, especially before it was renovated?
Yes, but only once. I was a Belltown Cyclopes eater when it was on Western and had a view of Elliott Bay, where one of the original owners of the Globe Cafe worked.


Thank you again for having me collaborate with you on Keep Writing!

see more from Bremelo Press at www.bremelopress.com . now to figure out how to visit Seattle

wasn't it just halloween (come see me in south louisiana!) by Hope A

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I know I know it isn't Thanksgiving yet but I'll be at a bunch of markets---every weekend at least one!--from now until Christmas. And this weekend has a special one so I wanted to get this out early. If you live in South Lousiana or if you are coming by in the next six weeks, come say hello! Click on links for more details!

Any outdoor market is subject to agreeable weather so check for updates on my fb page!

**also I will have new holiday cards this year but not until after Thanksgiving!  I will also continue making new books and journals throughout the season so stop by for something new***

Here we go:

Friday 11/17--MidCity Maker's Market Baton Rouge 6-10 pm

It's White Light night in Baton Rouge so Government Street will be buzzing with art openings, markets, drinks, food and seasonally chilly air. I'll be in the alley between Arlington and Eugene but take a walk through all the vendors! 

Saturday 11/18 & Sunday 11/19 NOCAZ New Orleans 

The New Orleans Comics and Zine Fest is back! Held in the downtown public library, with lots of family friendly fun--from 11-4 on Saturday and 12-4 on Sunday.  

Saturday 11/25 &11/26 Palmer Park Arts Market New Orleans 10 -4

Typothetae is back! Prints, cards, books and more from 7 local artists gather under one tent to share our letterpress love with you.  We will be at Palmer Park both days, 10 am till 4 pm, and many of us have new stuff!

Sunday 11/26 The Bazaar NOLA  11-5pm

  Two places at once! While members of Typothetae are in Palmer Park I will at Press and Dauphine sharing a spot with Lizxnn Disaster and her amazing collection of vintage clothes, flower essences and embroidered hankies.  

Saturday 12/2 Ogden Park Prowl Baton Rouge 1-6 pm

Rescheduled from October, this neighborhood arts party has live music, food and vendors hosted by the lovely people of Ogden Park. I will be on Beverly Street near Government so stroll by!

Sunday 12/3 Paper Machine grand opening party New Orleans 1-6 pm

The details of this are still being worked out but come to the lower 9th ward for a family friendly celebration to warm the new building--which is also the new home of gutwrench press! 6330 St. Claude

tuesday 12/5 Odgen Museum Shop 6-8 pm

Once a year, the Odgen Museum in New Orleans asks artists and crafts people to sell in the museum for a few hours. This is our first year trying it out but I have always loved the Ogden.

Thursday 12/7 Holiday Shop Hop Baton Rouge 4-8 pm

Sip champagne and shop local vendors at the Capitol Park Museum (aka the Louisiana State Museum).  The event starts at 11 am but we won't be there until the second shift at 4!  (if we are going to drive to Baton Rouge we are going to eat lunch at Bay Leaf)

Saturday 12/9 New Orleans Bookfair 11 am -5 pm

The original and my favorite. A sweet day in Clouet Garden with all the best of New Orleans's scrappier self-publishers and artists. 

(P.S. Typothetae will be holding down the tent at the MidCity Maker's Market that afternoon if you are in Baton Rouge!)

Saturday 12/16 Midcity Maker's Market Baton Rouge 4-8 pm

Back to Baton Rouge for another round on the corner of Eugene and Government.

Saturday 12/16 & Sunday 12/17 Palmer Park Arts Market  New Orleans 

We will be here with other members of Typothetae selling the last of our holiday gifts uptown from 10 am till 4 pm.

Saturday 12/23 pop up at  smallchalk  New Orleans

Now that you have your gifts come uptown and print some gift tags with me! I will have letterpress goods for sale too. Free! Ashlee of smallchalk is hosting a popup every Saturday between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Follow her for more details on the other unique offerings. 

Is that it? Not really. I'm also teaching a class or two, and giving a talk in Baton Rouge so follow me on facebook for more up to date information.  Or, stay home and shop at my new online store. But I'd rather see your face.

 

 

 

I Am Not From Here by Hope A

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Looking down at my table at the St. Louis Small Press Expo , I realized I had a lot to say about Louisiana, where I have lived for a total of 11 years, and New Hampshire, where I grew up. But there was nothing about the 4 years I had just spent in California. 

I finished Where You From? #5 the night before I left for St. Louis. I literally brought to the copy shop 15 minutes before closing and they let me stay late. I drove back across town, go ice cream for dinner and then started folding. Along with this new zine, I had also finally restocked every zine I thought was worth sharing. My friend Kate showed up and at midnight, she was stuffing the riso printed maps in the back pocket of the zine.  We slept and in the morning I left for St. Louis.

Some where just over the Arkansas/Missouri line this happened:

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A thing that should remain firmly bolted to the engine block of my loved and tested truck was not bolted at all and was bopping around under the hood, sending very confusing signals to the engine.

After some internet scrolling, some advice to "get some gorilla glue and glue that sumabitch down" and then the most elaborate and effective use of zip ties I've ever seen, I rolled into an auto parts store 10 miles back in Arkansas and replaced the part.  

It seems filling actually that as I broke down en route to share a zine about commuting.  Also fitting that I fixed it and rolled on, arriving in St. Louis just in time to set up a table in a beautiful library and talk about zines all day.

Where You From ?#5 is about moving back to Louisiana, about feeling like you are going home, about making your way in a place with so much personal history. All in the guise of being about commuting. It includes a pull out 2 color map of the route between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, complete with photographs of points of interest.  It is about birds, alternate roots, trying to be something you are not, and the ways we learn about a home. It is much more about why I moved back to Louisiana and much less about why I left California.

Spoiler: I am not a commuter any more. I tried. I take the truck for long drives and we still go to Baton Rouge about once or twice a month. I've never been much of a driver.

the inside back cover and map

the inside back cover and map

Want to read more? You can get a copy of Where You From ?#5 right here  along with back issues 1-4 and a few issues of Keep Loving Keep Fighting.  

If you want to send me a story about your hometown for Where You From? #6 email me at gutwrenchpress@gmail.com ! A new issue will be put together by next summer

the birds of south louisiana (as drawn by a UK native)--an interview with steve larder by Hope A

Keep Writing number 101, illustrated by Steve Larder, designed and printed by gutwrench press September 2017

Keep Writing number 101, illustrated by Steve Larder, designed and printed by gutwrench press September 2017

Months ago, I was writing with a friend and asked him if he might want to illustrated some postcards for me. I had been doing a bit of bird-watching in Louisiana and I wanted to be able to share what I was seeing. I'm not much of an illustrator but I like Steve Larder's style. He was willing way before I came up with the scheme to collaborate every month for a year. That is how Steve Larder became the first collaborator in the current Keep Writing series.  Keep Writing number 101 was sent mid-September 2017 and included one of 4 illustrations he sent me. All four are available as postcards in my shop.  This month's card also included a letterpress printed box to hold your collection of cards. 

After all that Steve also consented to answer a few questions.  Read on!

 

Introduce yourself!  Who are you, where are you and what do you do?

My name is Steve, I live in Nottingham, UK and i'm an illustrator/comic and zine-drawerererer.

Describe your workspace--do you have a studio, or space in your home dedicated to drawing?

My workspace is generally the spare room of wherever i'm currently living - I would love to have a studio that requires me to actually leave the house but financial constraints and general lack of motivation to actually get that ball rolling keep me inside all day, ha!  At the very least I have to keep the 'drawing' room separate and distraction free from the goings on around a house, I can't focus, otherwise.

the four cards together, printed on french modtone patterned paper.

the four cards together, printed on french modtone patterned paper.

What is your experience drawing for letterpress ? Are you familiar with the process or blindly trusting me to print your illustrations?

I guess I did blindly trust you, ha!  I'm familiar with your letterpress work and it always looks great so was definitely happy for you to take the reigns on this.  It's my first letterpress print but I definitely want to do more - I suppose the challenge was adapting my work to fit the scale and line production of the letterpress process.

In your zines I see 2 general types of drawing--quick loose sketches and detailed drawings. What is your process for deciding what subjects require more time and detail? Are your more detailed drawings done live or with reference materials?

I love drawing really detailed scenes (usually from reference), but I'm also just into being a complete goof - for ages I couldn't decide on which to focus on with my auto-biographical comic-zine, 'Rum lad' - so in the end I just decided to find a balance between the two styles.  I usually choose the 'illustrative' style to set a particular mood or scene, while the 'comic' style is used to display dialogue between people or to keep a narrative flow.  Ha, I've ended up describing that in a really over-the top clinical way - the reality is usually me thinking of something daft and drawing it loosely on the spot 

cover of rum lad #9

cover of rum lad #9

Is your day-job art related? I've noticed more friends being able to find a way to integrate their skills from creative work (music, art, zines) into the work they do to earn money. Have you noticed this? Is this something you can relate to? I am curious how people who have spent years living on the fringes of an economic system by choice change as we get older. 

My day-job is working in a university art-shop, so 'art' related in a literal way but not in practice.  It can be a really exciting place to work - seeing new generations of students come up with some interesting work, and I have some ace work-mates.  I've also hosted occasional workshops using skills i've learned through zine-culture, such as the general production, through to distribution and introduction to things like zine-fests, collaborations, all the self-publishing challenges a seasoned zine-maker is likely to encounter.  I would definitely like to do more of this!  I know quite a few people who have honed their skills in DIY culture through the years and channeled it into day-jobs - I find it quite empowering and reassuring that these things I essentially do for my personal pleasure can be extended to pay the bills sometimes, ha!

Have you taught drawing before? What is the first lesson like? 

I haven't taught drawing, specifically - I think you can introduce people to some basic principles of drawing (ie - things to do with perspective, scale, etc), but even that seems arbitrary when a desired path and signature style of drawing is pursued.  At the most I'd argue the best way to teach is just introduce ideas and methods, and just general encouragement that there's no 'wrong' way to draw.  I have taught zine and comic workshops where I helped students think about how to represent a piece of text into a drawing, or scene - it was very challenging but I loved seeing how they interpreted ideas.

How are you at Pictionary? 

I really dislike having an audience when i'm drawing so I think i'd be terrible at it - However it's been a while since i've played so who knows?

Is there any other line of work you have considered?

Not really, I think I've always known that one way or another that I'd always be drawing or doing something vaguely creative.  

What is your go-to karaoke song?

I am definitely not a karaoke singer, haha.

Any closing thoughts?

I literally just received the finished product of our collaboration through the post and I am SO happy to be a part of this - they look amazing.  Thank you, Hope! 

a portrait of my cat by steve, a birthday gift for andy g.

a portrait of my cat by steve, a birthday gift for andy g.

Thank you, Steve.

To see more of Steve's work, including issues of Rum Lad, check out his website--www.stevelarder.co.uk  

He also takes commissions for custom portraits of pets, if you are looking for great gift idea--you can see his portrait of my cat above.

To receive monthly letterpress printed postcards, designed in collaboration with avariety of artists over the next year, sign up for a subscription to Keep Writing.  New subscribers will also receive a letterpress printed box to hold their collection, as supplies last.

Steve selling prints at Nottingham Writers Studio. Photo by Tara Hill

Steve selling prints at Nottingham Writers Studio. Photo by Tara Hill

collaboration station (what the heck is the keep writing project?) by Hope A

I have had penpals since I was 10. By the time I was 18, I thought it was normal to have friends I knew only through the mail and would travel great distances to meet them.  (This is so far before social media normalized treating strangers as confidants...)  When I was 31 and starting college, I wanted to stay in touch with my friends while at school. So I started a project, asking $1 for a subscription for the first 2 months, and wrote a mailing list. I sent  postcards I designed in computer classes and soon began typesetting and letterpress printing them.  In the second year, I asked friends to collaborate with me. (you can see the results in the archive here ) By the 3rd year, I redesigned the postcards to be a two-part folded card--one side was a postcard designed for the recipient to keep, and one side was to be mailed back to me, with question or prompt for response.  In December 2011, I had a showing of the cards and responses. I worried people would feel to shy or self-conscious in an art show setting to read through a basket of my mail. But within the first hour, people were sitting on the floor, reading and sharing the variety of responses I receive for each question. 

Since then, the format has remained mostly the same with the occasional exception--some months I send just a single postcard, no question, just a moment to enjoy.   

This past July I sent my 100th postcard. Some months have been more experimental in form and some months were experimental in numbering (see if you can find the 2 with the same number). It seemed like a good time for a shift in perspective. I asked 13 people--artists, writers, printers, penpals--if they would collaborate with me on a postcard one month each. Some have ideas for themes or questions, some are sending drawings for me to print and a few extra brave letterpress printers are willing to interpret my mountain of notes, emails and templates to print the whole thing themselves.

At the end of the 13 months, we will be nearing our 10 year anniversary.  Which seems like a good time to have a party. November 2018, plan on coming to New Orleans to read postcard responses, eat cake and have a drink with us. The location is tbd. This is the 3rd time we have shared the postcards and responses--once in Baton Rouge and once in Oakland--but the 1st time for New Orleans. Please join us.

So, if you have been putting off subscribing, now is the time. The first of the collaboration cards will go out in mid-September, with a small gift to help keep your cards safe so you can show them off to your friends. Or better yet, you can gift them a subscription.

It had meant a lot to me to be able to keep in touch with so many pen pals this way, to reconnect with old friends, to meet others and to hear a little from their lives. This kind of correspondence has allowed me to ask questions, request advice and build bonds.  It seems like just a letter writing project, but it has meant so much more to me.

If you still have questions, you can check out this FAQ page, or contact me gutwrenchpress@gmail.com.

 

Thanks. And keep writing.

happy birthday to me! by Hope A

Did I think I would be celebrating 100 postcards that day I was biking home in the Baton Rouge humidity? I knew I had thought of something that made sense of all the parts of me, something I was excited about. Now here I am with multiple birthday cakes (and I turned 40!) and a pile of mail to answer.

This month's postcard was based on designs by Blackbird Letterpress, who kindly let me borrow the template and their die, to finish these lovelies one late night in the shop. Though the type is all computer based, those sloppy drawings are all mine.It was a fun experiment that went reasonably well, even after 600 passes on the giant Vandercook at Baskerville. 

Now what? you might ask.

Now I ask my friends for help. I've asked 13 people to design a postcard in the coming year. Some are letterpress printers, some are ceramics artists, some are writers. All seemed excited to collaboratively design a postcard with me. I am lucky lucky lucky. Actually YOU are lucky, as they will be delivered to your mailbox in the coming year. Expect your first one in September.

Meanwhile, if your subscription has lapsed, you can re-subscribe here. If you are receiving cards but you are not sure for how much longer, I will send you a notice in a few weeks letting you know how much longer you have a subscription.

If you thinking I am suffering from heat stroke and talking nonsense, rest assured I have air conditioning, plenty of cold drinks and a plan--I will send you letterpress postcards every month if you subscribe to the Keep Writing Project. It is available as a gift, and about to get more fun. You can also have many of your questions answered here. 

Well, I may claim to not be affected by the heat but I am ready for a drive out of town, some lake swimming, some visits with friends. i will be back in September with the first collaborative postcard!

slow down by Hope A

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This month's postcard was designed before I accepted a part-time position at an arts summer camp and a position that was originally  3 hours a day but ended up being 6. One week I was redesigning my website, planning for summer projects and the next I was wrangling 5 year olds who are very sweet but may need a mid-afternoon nap. I do.

It is easy to think of this Annie Dillard quote how we spend our days is how we spend our lives  and frame it the developing definition of self-care and go to the pool with our friends every day. That is what I want some days. But I also find that when I have a little unexpected free time, I catch up on work, writing newsletters and blogposts (ie TODAY). 

A friend once talked to me about the idea of "internalized capitalism"--the push to be productive, to always be doing something. But I find that the constant need to think, plan, do, sometimes leaves me so tired I watch dumb tv and hours later I am still home and I haven't seen my friends in days. I try to keep a more even keeled approach--breakfast with a friend, a walk in the park, and then printing at home. Taking a break to rest, explore, do something that isn't on a list, to reenforce the connections around us. Even as I work to create new postcards, new drawings, a new zine, it is also helpful to have some unproductive time laying on the couch with the cat. Balance. For me that means finding ways to slow down. 

How do I do that? One, is that I have been mentally reframing my work, refusing the constant talk of hustle.  The letterpress printers I know love the idea of the hustle but I was never sold on it. Which might be why I have a smaller business, focusing on postcards instead of wholesale greeting cards, and balancing a few part-time jobs.  The balance of time and money and creative endeavors is real and for now I still choose the flexibility and inconsistencies of part time work over a full time job.  

On the smaller scale, once in a while I stay in bed and read even though my instinct is to jump out of bed and start making lists and putting away dishes (after tea and yoga, though). Some days it is good to sit and read as I don't sit still during the day.

I also just switched to a flip phone (thought the slow, code like texts are not helping). I also use a timer especially when I have computer work to do, giving my self a break to stretch every 30 minutes. Around the house that may mean I clean up for an hour, then read or draw.

In a larger context, as confederate monuments are removed from the city of New Orleans, large protests and marches occurred on both sides of the argument. If we are talking about balance and how we spend our days, we don't have the energy or time to constantly hold large marches, which are important for visibility. How do we incorporate these ideals into our daily practices? How do we approach the racism rooted in history that still sprouts today? 

Here in New Orleans, the weather gives us some encouragement with heavy humidity weighing down your best intentions and sporadic storms that never behave as you expect, leaving you drenched or with a suddenly sunny and clear day off from work.  That's my summer!

 

where you read by Hope A

 

I have a friend who used to only open his mail when he was ready to respond. I tried that for a while but lately, I want to read it as soon as I have it. I stand outside the post office, facing the bayou and read everything. The other day that included 2 poems from a book a friend sent to me. I cried a little, looked up to see the post office around me, the bayou across from and rode home.

Despite my reputation and vocation, I sometimes don't write back. I have found that making time, if not every morning, then at least once a week, to answer my mail has helped. I still read everything standing at the post office but then I reread, find an appropriate note card and write back.

This month, there was a lot of experimentation in the process. And nothing worked out like I thought (which is the important part of experimenting! discovering new things!)  I took a photo of the spot at the bayou, but my phone had recently fallen into some water and the photo was hazy because the lens hadn't quite dried out . I used the blurry photo as a reference for a line drawing. I was going to use 2 layers--a detailed top layer and a soft under color. But one of them didn't work. The I decided to experiment with a split fountain on a platen press. And I chose the colors of the rainbow. The result: a card that is not what I thought it would be. But when is it ever, really?