Keep Writing Summer Census report for June by Hope A

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Officially we were going to start in July but the summer camps are happening and I wanted to visit as many as I could, so we spent 10 days hopping around from the Country Day Creative Arts Camp to Community Works sites in New Orleans East, Algiers Point, Broadmoor, and then to the Uptown Library, the Co-op AND we spent a hot hot day at Pagoda then Glitterbox before going home and taking a nap.

I mostly forgot to take photos. 

Did I mention we were also at the ALA (American Librarian Association) Conference in the Exhibit Hall sharing all the zines with the best nerds.The Conference itself was 4 days long, and I was there for 3 of them, talking to librarians, talking to zinesters and listening to Michelle Obama talk about her upcoming book.

What have I learned so far?

  • it is worth dumping everything off my bike once or twice and using a much smaller table to not have to park my car.  On Saturday, while lots of people were marching in the streets (yay for showing up and staying loud!) I rode between MidCity and the French Quarter handing out postcards.

  • many people assume that if they tell you their email address, you will put them on a mailing list.  I was extra cautious about privacy and most people so far have not been concerned. every once in a while someone does not want to participate because they assume I will have their name and birthplace and I will share it with the world. I will not. 

  • I am more outgoing than I used to me. But talking to people for many days in a row is still tiring.

  • handing out 5000 postcards might be mathmatically impossible. Stay tuned for solutions to that problem.

Meanwhile, keep in touch. I will be out on the 4th of July talking to my neighbors and then a bunch more events are planned--check here for the latest list of events. 


May I Ask You A Question?--Summer Census New Orleans 2018 by Hope A


In February, we had multiple houseguests, our floor was littered with fallen glitter from so many costume changes for different Mardi Gras celebrations. I worked at the studio, trying to finish up projects before they were forgotten in the carnival buzz and as I was leaving the shop, Bob strongly suggested again that I apply for a Platforms grant.

I took the information home and, one rainy day, while we recovered between parades, I wrote the first grant I've even written where I felt like I had a solid idea of what I wanted to do.

I'm not saying that glitter and a deadlne makes a good grant application because I doubt it does. I think this idea has been brewing inside me and seems like the next logical step.

A month later, I received an email saying I had been awarded the grant.

The Platforms Fund is a collaborative re-granting effort of Antenna, Ashé Cultural Arts Center and Pelican Bomb with support by the Andy Warhol Foundation. Every year they award $65,000 in grants to a number of community based projects in New Orleans. I am one of many funded projects this year.

This summer I will be letterpress printing and distributing 5,000 postcards as part of the Keep Writing Project.

The June issue of Keep Writing, number 110, will be a mini-census for the city of New Orleans.
Since I moved here in 2002, summers in New Orleans have changed. It used to be the low season for tourists. Anyone who could leave, would. It was quiet.  If you stuck around, it was great. The usual bustle was tampered by heat and you made friends with whoever was left in town.  But not everyone can leave. And the tourist based economy thrives on constant influx of outsiders. 

I want to take a poll of who is here, and why, where they are from and what they consider home.

I will bring these cards with me as I sit at the library, the playground, at summer camps, at the neighborhood bar and wherever anyone will have me. I want to talk to you  about why you are here, how you got here, if you will ever leave. Let's talk about home and home towns, about the changes in this city. 

I am in the process of booking events--casual porch sits and structured talks about letterpress and community.  

If you have a porch on a busy street, can I come and sit and talk to you and your neighbors? Are you a teacher at a summer camp who wants a guest artist-speaker? I am looking for public spaces with a variety of people to interact with to get a good sample of who is here. Get in touch. I am reaching out to my friends, peers and co-workers but maybe you know someone I don't . 

If you are a subscriber you will receive your card as usual. If you are a resident, you can follow me on instagram @gutwrenchpress, and use the hashtag #summercensus to see where I'll be!

In November, in time for the NOCAZ,  I will release a new issue of Where You From? documenting the data I have collected.  

Stay tuned for lots more news about this!

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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.





The same weekend as our show opening in Oakland, ProArts hosted its annual open studio tours and we were asked to participate. Jenny Williams, who has facilitated other great workshops at the space arranged for us to lead a papermaking workshop. Though one of us is a meticulous papermaker, some of us are a little more loose with our methods. Also, holding a water-intensive workshop at a bookstore posed a few issues but we brought some prepared kozo fiber, demonstrated ways to use it sculpturally without beating it. We also beat some of the fiber by hand with mallet, pulled tiny sheets, pressed them between boards and brushed them onto the bookstore windows to dry.  Overall, a successful day.

Okra used for formation aid to help the fibers settle in the vat.

Okra used for formation aid to help the fibers settle in the vat.

Liam stands on old woodblock carvings re-purposed as boards to press out water in the new sheets. The sheets are between felts between the boards.

Liam stands on old woodblock carvings re-purposed as boards to press out water in the new sheets. The sheets are between felts between the boards.

kozo fiber wet and ready for beating and an example of what the dried fiber can look like without beating.

kozo fiber wet and ready for beating and an example of what the dried fiber can look like without beating.

brushing sheets to dry on the bookstore windows as andy works outside.

brushing sheets to dry on the bookstore windows as andy works outside.


About a year and half ago, a friend talked me into attending a conference of papermakers. Sometimes I am not confident in my skills and identity and so around papermakers I tend to identify as a printmaker and vice versa. I once declared myself an enthusiast of mail art, because I love postcards but I didn't realize there is a community of people who participate in mail art and though in some ways it has influenced what I do, it is not the most accurate description.

I digress.

At this conference I met other papermaker-printmakers and we started a critique group,  a salon if you will. We met, ate food, shared what we were working on. A new member joined as one left, and then another new member to make 4. We decided on the name subset as a reference to the overlap of our abilities and interests (including an interest in Venn diagrams).  We applied for residencies and had shows on our own and then decided to get a show together.

We started with the idea of showing our individual work maybe linking them together by theme, like an exquisite corpse.  Then we had the idea to try a few collaborative pieces. For one meeting,w e each brought something we had started but couldn't finish, blank paper, abandoned prints, half-finished books. We lay them on the table and then watch chose a few pieces to try to work on. We brought them back to the next meeting, lay them on the table again with additional unfinished pieces and chose again. Over 2 months we met about 5 times to exchange work and in this way created a body of weird paper works that somehow worked together, a bit of a pleasant surprise as we hung the show hours before the opening. 

As we began this project, we also played the parlor game exquisite corpse, each starting a drawing, folding it over so only a few lines were visible , then passing it around to the next person to add to it. I made letterpress prints of the finished drawing and spent nights before the show opening hand coloring them with water color paint and a gold pen.

Of course I made a postcard that fit in this theme.


Keep Writing number 87, exquisite corpse. I can't wait to see what is sent back to me.

EXQUISITE works by subset is open at EM Wolfman Books in downtown Oakland through the end of June.

deconstructed reconstructed book

deconstructed reconstructed book

Leaving Some Space by Hope A

my side of the table and the empty desk area left by my missing tablemate

my side of the table and the empty desk area left by my missing tablemate

Boy howdy, I am starting off the season busy! Though there are tabling events all year, including three I signed up for and then missed, September is really the start for me. First the SF Zine Fest, then SFCB Roadworks, I start tabling just about every other week until, well, Christmas. I am not trying to get you all anxious about the holidays, and I still only have one holiday card design , but mid-November though late December becomes a blur of weekly events where crafty people and giant megastores alike, offer up their goods under the heading of holiday season.  I don't participate in the big business gift frenzy, I usually make something for my family and friends. And I don't make anything especially holiday-like, (see that one card design above) but I do like making things and I like that people want to buy them. People are a little more into buying things in the fall and early winter. Last year I said yes to every tabling opportunity I was offered, and by the last show, I was tired, unable to see straight. I put away my stuff for a few months and focused on the postcard subscription  and becoming a yoga teacher.  In June, I thought I was ready for more. I wasn't. So this season I am being a little more choosy about which events I table, and am trying, like every year, to be a little more prepared.  Andy G. is employed this season, which means more coffee and chocolates for me but more tabling by myself.

The thing is, I kind of like tabling. It is exhausting but also fun. You put all the stuff you love making on a table and see if the people are interested. It can be rough when it feels like no one is interested or it is loud or raining coal dust but I have been lucky that I still have another part-time job, that I am mostly going to events where I have been before, and I have good company.

That said, it is also a lot of work. No matter how I prepare, I always remember I need more labels last minute or I forgot to assemble zines or I bind just two more books. Or I have to print next month's postcard even though I won't be selling the cards.  Because that is how it goes. I cleared off my work table two weeks ago only to be buried again before I left yesterday morning for SFCB Roadworks.  I was leaving behind piles of zines and future books but I couldn't leave them on the floor since there seems to be some kind of superflea in our house feasting on my ankles and Andy kindly took care of it while I was out in the sun selling postcards.

We arrived fashionably on time, with time to get coffee and time to feel a little rushed as I had a new set-up thanks to a postcard rack I found on Market Street a few days ago.  With a little spray paint and magnets,it changed my display but allowed me a little more room on my half table.  I stacked, arranged, crowded, moved and was ready.  I only reserve a half table and make do, which usually works out for me at this event.  At eleven o'clock my table was craftily stacked, my coffee and donut were in my belly and I was almost forming full sentences without sounding crabby (my sleep schedule is changing which at the moment means Not Enough Sleep Ever. this is temporary.  But unfun).  The other half of my table remained empty.

11:30. Usually if one has not arrived 30 minutes after an event opens, it is acceptable to take over their space.  However, the table was so blissfully bare, blonde pine shining in the sun. And I realized what is missing in my life.


So I kept my side stacked and organized, the cozy clutter I like in my life, my desk, my shelves of books and jars and photos and mementos and notes. It is not an unworkable aesthetic. But I kept the other half of the table clear, propped a chair behind it and opened my notebook. I took out three pens (three colors!) and without a plan, drew. It was as delicious as reading a book, something else I haven't done much of lately. I sat, and doodled, talked to strangers and postcard subscribers and a lady from Vermont who holds a grudge against New York State ( I am from NH and can relate a similar grudge against Massachusetts.)  It was lovely. I drank more coffee, sold postcards and was home by five. I am not sure what I did until 9 but when I closed my eyes I slept and slept and slept.  The piles are still on my desk this morning but I am ready.

notes from the show

notes from the show

To Get A Letter... by Hope A

The back room gallery at EM Wolfman's

The back room gallery at EM Wolfman's

Table for writing, chair for reading and smiling

Table for writing, chair for reading and smiling

Here is the mail you sent me!

Here is the mail you sent me!

A few examples of past postcards. "Framed"

A few examples of past postcards. "Framed"


Thank you thank you everyone who helped with this show: Misha who helped with the set-up, Andy who attempted to alleviate many worries and bought me dinner and created a soundtrack fro writing letters, , Alyssa who offered to help with the dismantling so I don't have to walk the folding tables home 20 blocks.  And especially Justin Carder, owner of EM Wolfman's, who not only curates an incredibly good small bookstore, but also supports local writers, poets and artists, makes connections and retains enthusiasm.  Saturdays here were lovely, writing letters, showing around the people who had come from the city (San Francisco) because they read about it in the paper, listening to readers as part of the BEAST crawl, eating cupcakes. It was a good month. 

If you are still waiting for a reason to subscribe, do it now and save $5 until August 3rd, the sad day the show comes down.

Collapse of Industrialized Society by Hope A

Once a week or so, especially after a long day printing or washing dishes, I like to fill the tub with hot hot soapy bubbly water and read the fiction selection in the latest New Yorker.  I might also make myself a beverage, maybe grapefruit soda and gin with a little rosewater, perhaps even drink it out of tall glass with a fat straw. When I am warm and pink and sleepy, I might get out of the tub and eat a few spoonfuls of ice cream for dinner.

Don't mistake my occasional treat as a symbol of a decadent lifestyle. I know how to enjoy myself but the realities are also crystal clear. I live in a state in the middle of a severe drought. (I skip showers and generally use an "efficient" amount of water so I can sometimes take a bath).  Sometimes I look forward to the collapse of industrialized society.  I am not sure how long I will last, but I am an efficient cook, with a lot of practice at one pot meal (post-Katrina Plan B kitchen, anyone? I was cooking with one burner in a bicycle shop). I can make do. I will certainly miss the warm tub of soapy water, and silly silly straws, but I will be ok with letting a lot of other things go.

Every month I print a folded card and mail it to a list of subscribers and call it the Keep Writing Project.  One part of the card is for you to keep, a letterpress memento.  The other half has a little story about the image, and some instructions. For April, I sent these, asking people what they will bring to the collapse of society.  I post the responses here but you can also see them if you follow me on instagram, @gutwrenchhope.  Oh, and if you want to subscribe, you can do on my website here or in my etsy shop .  

And, if you live in the Bay Area you can come look through baskets of responses when i share them at a show at EM Wolfman's Bookstore for the month of July. There will be more special treat but you will have to wait and see.

Keep Writing number 73, mailed April 2015

Keep Writing number 73, mailed April 2015