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The Dilemma of Greeting Card Holidays

I don't know about you, but when I walked into the stores just prior to Christmas and saw displays being set up for Valentine's Day, I was just a little disturbed.  We'd not even laid Christmas to rest and a new holiday was being thrust upon us. It was overwhelming to think that I might have to add something else to my "holiday to do" list,  even though the holiday in question wasn't for another two months. To be honest, it depressed me a little.

On the one hand, there is my disgust. Evidence of corporate locomotion that barrels through one thing to the next for profit and very little regard for the spirit of the season. (I realize my naivety here, if they were interested in the spirit of the season, they'd probably not be selling mass-produced goods in large, very well lit stores). On the other hand is my guilt. These people were just doing their jobs, setting out the next batch of goods that we consumers have historically demanded. And by buying these items, we are providing job security to those very people who were the brunt of my initial scorn.

Still, I couldn't bring myself to buy any of the merchandise. Not out of any sort of ideology on my part. If there had been something of interest, I would've done my miniscule part as a consumer to bolster the job of the stock person. To be quite honest, it was all crap. There wasn't any evidence of thought toward design or product. It's as if it was designed with the landfill in mind. I felt like I'd been slapped in the face. Here I stood before the red, pink, and white displays in an attempt to be a good citizen, and all they could give me was made-in-china landfill fodder.

What happened to those cute and pithy designs from my childhood? Or the goofy handmade style designs from the earlier half of the 20th century? In fact, where was the design at all?

I know it's still rather early for most of us to be thinking of Valentine's Day - for those who think about it at all, but if you're going to go out and buy a card - why not just buy the stuff to make a card? Put the heart back into the holiday... or at least add a little character.  I'll be posting a few designs to help you, should you undertake this journey.  For now, enjoy some of these vintage Valentine cards. Just print them out onto card stock and cut them out. Hand them out to friends, strangers, the mailman...

Vintage Valentine Set


The Cutting Table

If you're following our studio reorganization, here are some 'in-progress' shots.  

As we do a lot of cutting (either fabric or paper), we thought it'd be useful to have a 'cutting area.' We also thought it would be nice if the cutting surface were raised up a bit, to save our aching backs. For this section of the room, we spent $3.54 for pvc piping to help us raise our folding table to a better height. (This area will also double as a photo shoot table.)

What it looked like before:

Stage one:

This section of the room previously had Tracy's Art Therapy bookshelf (which we moved into the other room).  In order to utilize the vertical storage, we put up some shelves (that were scrounged from our storage locker). Notice the empty, clear bins? These used to house my bookbinding and print making tools (newly residing on the adjacent peg board). Now we can use them for the bits and baubles that are hidden away in the closet. We still need to create mounts for the photo lights and storage for cutting implements. We have large plastic drawers for under-the-table fabric storage, but those are still in the nether regions of the closet (there's only so much you can undertake in one day)

Here's a shot of the cutting table legs. We bought 10 feet of 1" diameter pvc & cut it down. The pvc slid right over the table leg & raised the surface about 8 inches. Because the inner diameter of the pvc equals that of the table legs, it's as sturdy as it was sans leg extensions.

Cost breakdown, if you had to go out and buy all this stuff:
3, 24-inch shelf rails: $8
9, 8-inch shelf brackets: $18
3, 8-inch by 24-inch shelves: $6 (for particle board shelves) to $16
4' Folding Table: $30 (at Lowes, Wal-mart, or Home Depot)
10' of pvc pipe: $4 (we bought ours at Lowes)
hack saw to cut pipe: $10
small white storage boxes: $8/set of 4 (at wal-mart)
Clear Sterlite bins: $1 each (on sale)

Totaling: $90-$100


Some unveiling as we go...

What it looked like before:

... and after:


We decided to use the folding table that was previously in this spot, as a cutting table, so we moved it out of the way. We bought peg board at Lowes for $7 & painted it Appletini Green (cost $14). We hung the board above the desk to utilize the vertical wall space. I hung most of my bookbinding and printing tools on the board (I already had all the peg board hardware). By doing this, I freed up a lot of drawer and bin space & now, not only can I see all of my tools, they're within arms reach.

My mother, so graciously, sent us a set of IKEA legs to match my other desk. (I think they cost her $12 each on sale). I love the look of these legs AND they have storage shelves! The table top scrounged from storage is a little smaller than I'd remembered, but still works.  I screwed little plastic hardware stackers (that I've had since college; I think they're sold in sets pretty inexpensively) to the underside of the desk to store my bookbinding needles, spools of waxed linen, pencils, and utility blades.

Instead of sending my coffee and tin cans to the recycling bin, I cleaned them out and repurposed them for tool & linen cord storage. (I covered the coffee can with a scrap booking paper we found on sale before Christmas).

Right now, the laser printer is on the floor next to the desk. When I can afford to buy some scrap lumber, I plan on making a small stand for it.

So, this is stage one. We still have much organizing to do, but we made HUGE improvements to this space for just over $20. not bad.

Here's a basic cost breakdown if you were to go out and buy all this stuff yourself:

Peg board: $7 for 4' x 4' particle board
Peg board hardware: $10-$20
Peg board hanging kit: $3
paint: $14 (add $2 for foam brushes if you don't have any)
Desk Legs: $16-$24 for the set
Desk top: $10-$30 (depending on size, thickness, & finish. Plain pine is cheapest)
Small hardware stacking bins: $4 for 3 bins

Total: $64-$102


Let the Organizing Begin!

In the interest of full disclosure, this picture was taken after one cleaning pass-through, that's right, it was MUCH messier (think narrow walking paths where the floor wasn't always visible). I know some of you can easily compete with this level of mess (semper fi).

So, beyond the mess, we have a couple of issues to work around. The first issue is that two people with different modus operandi  have to share this space (which we lovingly called the "playroom"). The second issue is that there is absolutely NO budget, so we have to figure out ways in which to organize this room with the materials we have on hand, or materials we can get for free.

A little information about the room itself: In a normal household, it would serve as the spare bedroom. It is about twice the size of our last shared space, measuring in at around 12' x 18'ish. AND it has a walk-in closet... which is also a mess:

Tracy's modus operandi:

Tracy uses the space for computer work and primarily material storage. She's a fabric/fiber/bead artist who does everything by hand (no sewing machine). She's also trained as an Art Therapist, so uses the space to store her Art Therapy library.

Tracy's reserved a corner of the room for her computer and work stuffs:

A few years ago, I found a utility cart on the curb. I repainted it and gave it to Tracy to use as her crafting cart, which stores her sewing & beading projects:

On the other side of the room is a shelf storing (mostly Tracy's) Art Therapy folders/notebooks:

And, in the center of the room is a work surface that we share:

Nicki's modus operandi:

I'm a printmaker, paper maker, bookbinder, and designer. I use the space to store my various printmaking tools, bookbinding supplies (including books to be rebound), paper, stamps, etc.  I'm also a collector of natural objects, so I have piles of tree bark, feathers, nut shells, etc.

I have two workspaces that are used for printmaking, bookbinding, and storage, and a set of shelves for my miscellany & books:

So that is, what feels like, our very large undertaking. To reorganize this space to allow both of us to work more fluidly & efficiently. AND, very important, to make it a place of inspiration for us both.

Wish us luck!


The Start of the New Year

It's amazing how quickly time flies. We are a week in to the new year and both Tracy and I are still trying to ward off the ever lingering cold. Believe me, you become wholly aware of ALL of those things that need to be done precisely when you cannot do them. So, with all the energy we can muster, we are making lists upon lists of all the things we want to accomplish this year.

For me, that means getting back to book binding, so keep your eyes peeled for our soon to be unveiled Artfire store that will focus on the artsier side of our craft spectrum. This will include Handmade books, fine art prints, and some of Tracy's fiber arts pieces.

Not to fear, though, we will still be crafting away for the Defabricate Store on Etsy. And we're continuing to add designs and apparel to the Cafe Press site.

In the mean time, stay tuned. We'll post links, products, and fun information here for easy one stop shopping.

Thanks all & Happy New Year!

-Nicki & Tracy
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