I need your help

design process

Oxytocin White Red 1 Oxytocin White Red 2

I’m doing a new run of the Oxytocin Love cards for Valentine’s Day and I need to know what colors would be best. It’s not that I don’t have some ideas of my own, but I frequently like to involve the public in decisions like this :)

The saga of Love & Tentacles

finished product, printing process

Those of you who’ve been following my business for the past year will remember that back in January of 2013, I had a plate made for Valentine’s day cards. The W. Somerset Maugham quote, Nietzsche spectacles, Thank you in Futura, and Oxytocin cards are all from that plate. Also on that plate was a writhing mass on tentacles and the quote “Love without Madness, is not Love.”, by Pedro Calderon de la Barca, and until yesterday, it was my “white whale”. It was impossible to get it to print properly, I wasted at least 10 sheets of paper trying to get the makeready (the paper packing behind the tympan) right.

This was a particularly troublesome plate because of the varying thicknesses of line and size of the area to be printed. What I didn’t know at the time was that my platen of the press wasn’t even. This didn’t show on smaller plates, so until then it hadn’t been much of a problem. The tentacle plate takes up ALL of the space on my Boxcar base, so it told me exactly how off things were. At the time though,  I didn’t know how to adjust my platen, and didn’t want to take the time to think it through (printing isn’t rocket science), because I was worried about deadlines, so I worked on getting the rest of my cards printed and out for sale. Then I was busy with other parts of my life and didn’t have time to print the tentacles.

Now that I’m not taking classes at K-State, when I come home from my day job, all I have to work on is Two Crow Press. It’s fucking magical. I suddenly have all this time to devote to something which I enjoy so much and is crazy fulfilling. It’s really tangible achievement, producing something.

Last week I worked on the oxytocin cards, because those have been a favorite and I was out of stock, and new winter snowflake cards, so there would be a less expensive version of my other snowflake card. I also had time to adjust the platen last week. It was as simple as cleaning off the 2 impression bolts on the back of the platen and then adjusting them with a crescent wrench until it was even. And it was labor day weekend, so I had a whole extra day to print! So, now that I had the platen fixed, I had to soak some more  paper, grab the plates, mix the ink, figure out registration and makeready, and print my little heart out…but I couldn’t find the text part of the plate. I looked and looked for the missing plate to no avail. I figured I might have accidentally thrown it away in the last purge of my studio. I looked into replacing it with the lead type I have, but I only have sizes 10pt, 12pt, and 48pt, and it was all too small or two big. I thought about having Boxcar Press make another plate, but I’d have to wait until I had more designs so make it worthwhile/cost effective. I decided to print the tentacle portion of the plate anyway.

twocrow-049Yesterday Annie came over and we printed the tentacles. The makeready took about 15 mins, but it wasn’t too difficult. Bonus:  I now have a permanent packing sheet for the card the next time I print. We finished sorting the Goudy Old Style 12pt type into it’s new case and she left.

such a pretty clean typecase

such a pretty, clean typecase

I ate dinner and then on a whim decided to search my studio one more time. I found the plate in a carrying case I had used for a presentation back in March, under a sheet of paper. Luckily, the paper was all still damp and I hadn’t cleaned the press off for the night yet. I slapped the plate on the press and finished the cards up.

Took about half an hour to score and fold them after that, Then I did something completely ridiculous:


But hey, it was late and I was riding a serious high of achievement. I had conquered my white whale and could go to bed content.

Woke up at 6am this morning full of energy, photographed the cards, and put them up for sale on Etsy.


Valentine’s Day: in progress


Working on new designs for Valentine’s Day.

I’m not a romantic and neither is my husband. I don’t want to print anything that I don’t believe or find interesting (except for custom orders, obviously those sorts of things have different rules). If you make work you like and believe in, and it’s good, you can often get other people interested in it as well :)