Posts Tagged 'craft'

re:sources | artisanal pencil sharpening

Looking for that perfect back-to-school gift? The one you never knew you needed? The one that honors craft, writing and thoughtfulness? I have just the thing….artisanal pencil sharpening.

You can’t deny the beauty of a freshly groomed pencil. Back to school, while painful when done pre-Labor Day, is made just little more bearable by fragrant shavings, perfect points and a neat row of yellow sticks. If you feel the same way, check out Artisanal Pencil Sharpening.

From their website: REACQUAINT YOURSELF WITH THE PLEASURES OF A HAND-SHARPENED PENCIL. In New York’s Hudson River Valley, craftsman David Rees still practices the age-old art of manual pencil sharpening. His artisanal service is perfect for artists, writers, and standardized test takers. Shipped with their shavings and a “certificate of sharpening,” these extra-sharp pencils make wonderful gifts.

Even the LA Times says this is the NBT (next big thing…I just made that up…if I had an artisanally sharpened pencil, I’ll bet I could be even more clever).

I love this quote:

“With an electric pencil sharpener, a pencil is meat,” Rees said. “It’s this thoughtless, Brutalist aesthetic. For me, it’s almost a point of pride that I would be slower than an electric pencil sharpener.”

And this one:

“Nobody else is doing what I do,” he said. “I guarantee an authentic interaction with your pencil. What mechanical pencil sharpener can say that? The X-ACTO XLR 1818? The Royal 16959T?  Don’t make me laugh.”

“I’m going to have this nice, authentic, considered reaction with your pencil,” Rees said. “I just want to treat it with respect. And get it really freaking sharp.”

You gotta love it.  I think I will make do with my electric sharpener for now. But I can dream…

Thanks to Design Mom for the find.


lettercult | best custom lettering of 2009

Prepare to swoon. Via Quipsologies, with all credit to (check out their site for more…it’s pretty inspirational). Some of my favorites:

Jessica Hische. As I was putting this  post together, Lettercult named Jessica 2009 Person of the Year. Well deserved. Read more about Jessica and her work here.

Michael Doret.

Carolyn Sewell.

Richard Perez.

Josh Kenyon and Colby Nichols.

B.T. Livermore.

re:treat | helvetica cookie cutters

Because any self-respecting designer knows you can’t show up with cookies in Comic Sans or Souvenir. From Beverly Hsu.

moon landing comic book art

Celebrating the 40th anniversary with art, of course.


showing our age | design tools of yore

We’ve been cleaning out the studio and found a box we just couldn’t toss.


Coincidentally, my friend Ann (once a studio manager to which all other studio managers were measured) sent me a link to Drawger’s Museum of Forgotten Art Supplies, hosted by illustrator Lou Brooks.

We’ve been in the design business for thirty years, which means we started with wax, specking type and shooting stats.  A good day meant sketching ideas, building comps with Pantone paper and Letraset type, maybe walking to Hal’s for some coffee and  halftones. We cut ruby for art to print and tried not to cut ourselves with our x-actos (though every designer has a stabbing story).  More than anything, it was about handskills, craft and community. Ours was centered around the art directors’ club, ADAC, but that’s a story for another day.


So what do you remember, and what do you miss? Leave me a note, and maybe we can extend this walk down memory lane.

The Regional Assembly of Text | Vancouver

One of my favorite stores in Vancouver, B.C. is The Regional Assembly of Text, a sweet sliver of a shop dedicated to handcrafted type. My daughter, Kate, lives in Vancouver (she’s a student at UBC) and thinks shopping for typography is a good time. Other moms take their daughters shopping for clothes, we buy paper.


Our bi-annual trip, and our bounty, a few weeks ago.

Kate and her friend, Brendan, stopped in for the monthly letter writing club last week, and I convinced them that guest blogging would be a good use of their talents. Here’s a chance to be a vicarious Vancouverite, and hang out with the cool, creative kids.


On a sweltering evening in Vancouver, (okay, it was probably only about 85 degrees, but combined with extended use of public transit and a tremendous lack of air conditioning, the city becomes an oven) my roommate Brendan and I trooped eastwards to Main Street. We arrived about thirty minutes late to the Regional Assembly of Text, a stationary/crafting store nestled behind an inconspicuous doorway and just past the terribly trendy part of town.

The Regional Assembly hosts a letter writing club on the first Thursday evening of every month.  They clear out the center display racks, lay out tables end-to-end, and line up scads (scads, I tell you!) of typewriters for people to use. The place was packed with crafters.


We took pieces of astrobright paper (mine was an appalling highlighter-orange) and old cut up maps of Vancouver to hand write our letters on. Later, as people (locals who had far more experience in letter-writing and had showed up on time) cleared out, we grabbed seats at the coveted typewriters. Sipping lemonade out of teacups and busily hen pecking away, occasionally going way past the page’s edge, I think the place charmed the pants right off of me.

My finished letters bore very little resemblance to the chatty emails and quick one-offs I send every day, or the stupid press releases I receive en masse as the culture editor of a university newspaper. There are horrendous typographic errors, words running off the page, and margins which fail completely to line up with one another. Phrases have to be held carefully in your mind, nursed from beginning to end, because the typing is so much slower. If you forget and let your fingers fly as they would on a computer keyboard, your writing is rendered incomprehensible because you can’t hit the keys hard enough to leave a mark.


There is just something about taking an efficient step backwards that can make us more careful about the words we use and where we send them. A little sweat, a little more attention, and a few drawings in the margins make the messages we give people just a bit sweeter.


Story by Kate Barbaria. Photos by Brendan Albano.

For the love of print | Grafica Fildalga

The smell of fresh ink, the sound of the presses. It’s good, isn’t it? If a pressroom makes you swoon, meet Brazilian printers, Grafica Fildalga.

Grafica Fildalga, in São Paulo, makes posters on a 1929 German letterpress using hand-carved wooden letters. This video documents the three friends who make up Grafica Fildalga as they create the a poster commissioned by

Called “lambe lambe,” the lightweight paper used for the posters was designed for wheat-pasting and, before São Paulo’s “clean city” initiative, could be found throughout the city. Thanks to the gallery Choque Cultural, who regularly makes posters for their shows with Grafica Fildalga, they’ve been able to stay alive but they could still use more help. Go ahead, hire them. Email the gallery’s director Edu (esaretta [at] gmail [dot] com).

Thanks to Swiss Miss for the introduction and the link. Now I believe I will open a bottle of wine and watch the video again. I can almost smell the ink.