Thursday, January 20, 2011

Tweets From My Letterpress

I've been working at Lill St Arts Center for a few months now but up until recently I have been pretty much exclusive to the Textiles Department. So exclusive, it turns out, that I didn't even know there was an ENTIRE letterpress studio NEXT DOOR to the fibers print room. (Like, actually next door. As in, we share a wall. With a door in it. Can we say, fibers blinders?) And since I had some stored up monitor credits from the fall, I decided to take a 10 wk Intro To Letterpress class taught by my friend Heather Bella.

You guys. Letterpress is so. much. fun. And not only because I feel like one of the Newsies every time I use it. (But mostly that.) Last night was the first night we got a chance to set our own type and print it. Our assignment had been to choose a word- or a few words- that would be a pretty simple to put together with the studios hodge-podge collection of wooden type. (They have both wooden and metal type but the metal type tends to be really small- not a good first project.) Of course, STILL being a Cancer on the Gemini cusp (gonna over think it now and double think it later) being asked to choose a SINGLE word sent me into language-hysterics all week. How can you choose just one? Every word I spoke took on such importance: do I choose a word related to my work? Or something funny and flippant? I still had no definite plan when I got to class and ended up definitely pulling one of those "everybody else order first and by the time the waitress gets to me I'll choose something random and that'll be what I really want" things. Kind of a Freudian way of choosing, perhaps...

After you (finally) make a plan, you get to go through the drawers of variably mixed wooden type fonts and pull your letters out. Then they get placed on a press and locked in using a combination of wood and metal pieces: the big ones are called "furniture" and the super-thin ones are "slugs." (Ooooh vocab. Swoon!) It's important to lock your type snugly in all four directions so that your letters don't move around when you pull the press over them.

It's not as easy as it looks- let me tell you. It's like putting a puzzle together with kids blocks- remember those? The wooden ones that have the letters on them so you can learn the alphabet? But you do get to tighten everything up using a metal key/tensioner device called a "quoin" which is possibly the best scrabble word EVER.

OMG Pleasing to look upon!

Then the set type gets inked:

And printed!

I even got a little adventurous with my use of ink: trying that snazzy pink-fade-to-blue! Very daring. Here's how the final print came out:

The words I chose have a lot of different meanings and I found that, even though I had been thinking of them as two separate projects that would later get cut apart, I liked them as a set even better. I especially liked the idea of #hysteria for a few reasons: Of course, by "hysteria" I'm not talking about throwing your panties at the cast of Buffy The Vampire Slayer's Once More With Feeling's in a fit of enthusiastic pique. I'm talking about the debilitating pms that used to get women sent to mental facilities and has since been disproven despite my personal belief that I actually do, on occasion, suffer from it. It sort of represents a completely out of control emotional state. Which is funny to think about in the context of a twitter hashtag.

Also funny? A letterpressed twitter hashtag. Way to juxtapose the extremely slow and outdated media with a lightning fast live-time social media! Which has spawned what I think might be the theme I choose to stick with for my class: "Tweets From My Letterpress."

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Upcoming Class: Sew Your Own Hooded Sweatshirt!

Check out this blog entry I did for the Lill St Textiles department blog! This class is going to be awesome...


Hi, Lill St Textiles Buddies! It's cold, wet and blustery out there today; and all I want to do is curl up in a cozy sweatshirt and drink tea. And guess what? In just a few weeks I'll be teaching a class all about sewing hooded sweatshirts! It's going to be a super awesome class that covers some basic patterning/construction techniques while also allowing you to get creative with design and structure. Here are a range of design ideas to get your brain working...

Super simple hoods with marsupial pockets! No need to get crazy if you're feeling intimidated by the sewing: a hand-made hoodie is creative enough!
(Also- can we talk about those awesome pants for a second?!)

Check out that neck variation! It looks pretty comfy...

Applique, lapels, and cowls: oh my!
(Joodito Designs.)

OMG Buttons!

And even though we won't be doing any screen-printing in the class, my nerdy self couldn't let THIS discovery go without sharing it with you all. Clever, clever!

You can still register for this class over at the Lill St website or by calling the front desk at (773)769-4226. Hope to see you all in class!

-Nora Renick Rinehart

Monday, January 17, 2011

A New Year, A New...

Happy New Years, fibers friends!

I know I haven't been so up-to date about posting here lately- what with the Burrow Blog's regularity and my Lill St. duties. But that doesn't mean I haven't been making and thinking and pondering on my own. For those of you out there who are listening... I'm going to try to post more. A new year, a new commitment!

But before I share some of the stuff I've been making for myself around the studio, I'd like to highlight some art that's been up in my apartment(s) for the past few years. Recently, I've come to the realization that, in addition to being lovely images that bring beauty to my life, these three tarot cards by Corina Dross have become something of a daily meditation.

Protection From Heartbreak

Goodness knows the last few months haven't been my greatest where the heart is concerned. And despite my preternaturally mushy disposition, I now find myself identifying as a Nervous Romantic in stead of a Hopeless one. Or maybe... a Skittish Romantic. The Protection From Heartbreak card is a reminder to heal and to be open to new possibilities.

Protection From Those Who Love You

Some times it's the people that love you most are the ones who are able to hurt you the most- whether they mean to or not. I think it's something about making yourself vulnerable to the ones you're closest to. Instead of allowing myself to create barriers between myself and the people I love, I use this card to remind myself to be flexible and forgiving. And also to maintain kindness on the flip side of that: to remain mindful of my own ability to wound.

Protection From the Abyss

I would by lying if I didn't say that being unemployed hasn't been extremely hard on my self-confidence. I never thought of myself as the kind of person who identified themselves so heavily with their occupation. But that was until I had to consider the possibility of getting a job that had *shudder* nothing to do with textiles. (And as it turns out, not having any skills that aren't textiles related has prohibited me from getting any other jobs...) I make stuff, I make jokes, I make fun, I make myself happy, I make food, I make plants grow... but somehow I can't make enough money. And it hurts. I think it would be seductively easy to slip into the abyss of depression. This card reminds me to keep hoping.

Mantra, mantra, mantra. But somehow it helps.

Corina, a resident of West Philly, has been been working on creating a whole deck of tarot cards and although I would love to have the entire collection, some how I never saw my way to getting a hold on them. But these three images seemed to choose me. Maybe it's fate? Or maybe I'm just cheezy and sentimental. Either way, I have have become a daily part of my life and for that I am grateful.