Tag Archives: diy

Gel Plate Printing

A couple weeks ago, I spent an afternoon with my friends Katie and Robyn learning about gel plate printing. They are both experienced gel plate printers, but I had never done it before and didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t have any stencils or tools (except paper!), but Katie and Robyn generously let me use their things and I had so much fun learning techniques and experimenting with layers of paint and stencils. Above is my stack of prints, all of the stencils are Robyn’s, so I won’t take credit for those. I’m going to cut down my prints and use them as postcards or backgrounds and accents in my Travelers Notebook. As usual, I wish I’d taken more pictures, but we were having so much fun and I pretty much always had paint all over my hands. As someone who makes things that require some precision and attention to detail, it was really fun to let loose and try something that is experimental and imperfect.

Last week I treated myself to a gel plate and some new paints so I’m looking forward to trying it out on my own. I think my biggest challenge will be cutting my own stencils. I’m confident I’ll ever have Robyn and Katie’s x-acto knife skills, but I have some ideas for new stencils I’d like to try to create. I’d better buy some new blades for my neglected x-acto knife first!

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In My Mailbox: Traveling Mail Kit

My penpal Nic sent me this fabulous traveling mail kit just in time for our trip to Japan last year. Her mom made it and is hoping to sell them, so Nic asked me to “test” it out and see what needed to be changed or fixed. It’s made from this gorgeous orange gradient Japanese fabric with metallic gold accents. My pictures aren’t doing it justice! Inside, she used an accent fabric of orange, black, and gold. There are pen loops and pockets to keep stationery and stamps and little extras organized. She thought of everything! Nic tucked in some postcards and stamps to get me started……and some stickers and a playing card holding some washi tape. (Isn’t that genius? The washi tape comes right off the coated playing card! It’s such a perfect way to carry a little bit of washi without the bulk of a whole roll!)I carried my little kit with me everywhere on our trip. It is so light and compact, perfect for long days of being a tourist and walking all over Tokyo. I tucked postcards inside, along with Japanese stamps, my travel address book, a pen, and some ephemera that I picked up along the way.

Now that I’m home, I still tuck the mail kit in my bag when I’m out and about in case I have time for a postcard or a quick note. It’s held up beautifully through all my travels, so I’m confident Nic’s mom can start production when she’s ready!

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Washi Weekend: TV Tray

A long time ago, I asked my parents to keep an eye out for a single TV tray so I could eat my lonely dinners on the couch. (When Naoto works, that’s where I eat…I know it’s uncivilized, but it’s very cozy!) I’ve also been using my TV tray as a letter writing desk. I don’t have any “before” pictures, but it’s basically just a boring oak TV tray, probably from the 90s. This week I decided to jazz it up with all of my mail and writing themed washi tape. I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out! It’s satisfying to see the whole “story” of some of my washi tapes that only get seen on envelopes. And, as always, it’s always good to spend out some of my stash! If I get tired of the mail theme (NEVER!) or the tape gets ruined by a soup spill (likely,) I can always switch it out for something else.

In other news, this pretty much sums up my accomplishments for the week. I’ve been keeping up with writing letters and I’ve been doing a lot of reading…I don’t think I have the winter blues right now, but I’m definitely feeling like I’m in hibernation mode. Thankfully, my work schedule is getting busier and we have a few events on our social calendar this month that should get me out of the house more often!

 

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Brookfield Arts Fest

Brookfield Fine Arts Fest, Brookfield, IL, Galaxie Safari We had a great day in Brookfield on Saturday at the Brookfield Fine Arts Festival. It was such a beautiful day! It was the first day of fall and the weather really cooperated with true fall-like temperatures. Our set-up was similar to Art Dans la Rue and Riverside…next year, I’d like to invest in a new table (ours is small and kind of rickety) and I’d like to work on using more of the tent space for stuff instead of just putting our usual craft show set-up outside. This year was all about getting comfortable with an outdoor set-up…next year hopefully we can perfect it! Brookfield Fine Arts Fest, Brookfield, IL, Galaxie Safari In the morning, it was breezy and chilly. I wasn’t prepared for how cold I would be standing around my tent as the sun was coming up. Thankfully I had a blanket in my car, so I wore it as a skirt to keep my legs extra warm. We also didn’t bring any chairs, so you might say we were a bit unprepared. But we’re both used to standing, so it was okay. Brookfield Fine Arts Fest, Brookfield, IL, Galaxie Safari Naoto stayed warm in the morning by using the exercise equipment in the park. He got a good leg workout there, and running to the farmers market for breakfast and lunch. Brookfield Fine Arts Fest, Brookfield, IL, Galaxie Safari By the afternoon, he was able to take a little nap in the sun while I took care of customers. apple of my eye, Johnny Appleseed, postage stamp, Brookfield Fine Arts Fest, Brookfield, IL, Galaxie Safari It was our first time doing this show and we got a good reaction to the cards. A lot of people always say it’s a unique idea, which makes me happy that I’m able to offer something a little bit different. It’s always so fun chatting about puns and old stamps with people. LaBarra, cocktails, Galaxie SafariWe ended the show with our usual cocktail celebration. We went to LaBarra in Riverside, an Italian restaurant that we love. I am so lucky to have Naoto who is always game to help out and to man the booth when I need a little break. He’s worth every penny I pay him in dinner and beer.

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Upcoming Shows & Galaxie Safari News

One craft show down, two to go this month! It is by far the busiest Galaxie Safari month around here…which is really exciting! Brookfield Fine Arts Festival This weekend, I am doing another outdoor show–the Brookfield Fine Arts Festival at Kiwanis Park in Brookfield. I am so excited to do another outdoor show, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the weather cooperates…right now it looks like it will be cool and dry. If you’re in the area, pop in to see us! And next weekend, I’m doing a mini show at Empowering Gardens here in Forest Park. EG deserves its own post, so I’ll save more for next week. And…I’m excited to announce that Galaxie Safari cards are now available at The Wardrobe in Springfield, Illinois! A customer at Art Dans la Rue sent one of my cards to the owner and she reached out to me to ask about carrying a few designs. So, I made a little wholesale page here on the site and got all ready to send some cards to Springfield. I am very excited to have some Abe cards (and more!) in our state capital. Now…if only I can talk Naoto into a little road trip to see the sites and visit The Wardrobe!

P.S. Did I tell you that I’m (reluctantly) on Facebook? If you don’t mind, please “like” my page! I promise I don’t post too often…Facebook never lets me forget how bad I am about posting there!

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Naoto’s Reunion Invitations

vintage style invitation, waikiki beach, hawaii, 25th reunion, Mid Pacific Institute Naoto’s 25th class reunion from Mid Pacific Institute is this year. The actual reunion was held in Hawaii and we didn’t go because we have other vacation plans for 2018. But, it turns out that a few of Naoto’s classmates live in Chicagoland and Wisconsin, so they organized a mini-reunion this month. I offered to make them paper invitations, because, well, I love paper invitations and I had a fun idea. I was going to take a map of the US from one of my vintage encyclopedias and draw a dotted line from Hawaii to Chicago with a little caption like, “Mid-Pac to Mainland” or something. But it turns out, all of my encyclopedias are from before 1959 so no US maps included Hawaii! Then, I was uninspired for awhile, and finally came up with this: a vintage picture of Waikiki Beach with the information typed in a tiny piece of vellum attached with a piece of washi tape in the Mid-Pac school color. Each invitation got put into a Paper Source Spruce envelope and addressed in white.

I’m excited to meet everyone this weekend and hear all the stories about high school Naoto. In the meantime…back to reading O Pioneers!

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Galaxie Safari in the News

forest Park Review, Galaxie Safari in the news, local newspaper, forest park, oak parkIf you haven’t seen my tweets and Instagrams from last week, I have exciting news! My tiny card business was featured in the local papers last week! You can read the article online here. A few weeks ago, I sat down with Nona Tepper, the reporter for the Forest Park Review, and we chatted about letter writing and card making and sending mail. It was a delightful conversation. A couple weeks later, they sent photographer Alexa Rogals to my home for a photo shoot, which was the most nerve-wracking part, at least before Alexa got there. (She’s a true professional who made me feel very comfortable.) Thankfully I was able to get my desk cleaned up in time for the photo shoot. It was neat to have my actual workspace featured in the article, though it’s never that clean when I’m actually making cards! (Today it’s a chaotic mix of personal mail, prep for my show this weekend, books, and newspapers!)

I’m so grateful to my local newspaper, The Review, for doing the article about me and other small businesses in our community. Just like it’s nice to open your mailbox and find a letter amongst the bills, it’s nice to open a newspaper and read some light articles amongst the politics and crime. We all need a little break now and then, right?

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Passport to Adventure

Field Notes Sweet Tooth, Field Notes Colors edition, summer passport, summer manifesto, summer bucket listIs it too late to talk about our summer plans? This year for our summer manifesto/bucket list, I made us a little “Passport to Adventure.” I got the idea from this old blog post that has been on my Pinterest board since 2013 or so.) Of course, her passport was for her children, but really, who doesn’t like documenting things with a sticker? Field Notes Sweet Tooth, Field Notes Colors edition, summer passport, summer manifesto, summer bucket list, passport to summer We’ve done a summer bucket list before, but not in the past few years. It really is, for us anyway, the best way to plan the summer and to prioritize all of the possibilities the warm weather brings. (Seriously, in the Midwest, sometimes it feels like I spend 80% of the year stuck inside.) So, I decided making a little book would be a fun way to get back in the game and organize our checklist for the summer. Field Notes Sweet Tooth, Field Notes Colors edition, summer passport, summer manifesto, summer bucket listPassport to Adventure Summer Bucket List

Supplies:

Field Notes notebook (or another small notebook with <50 pages)

stickers (I used the tiny daruma stickers pictured above, but any small sticker will do.)

stamp (or you could just draw a square)

vintage DYMO label maker (or you could just write the title or use letter stickers)

date stamp (or you could write the date or not worry about dates at all)

pen Field Notes Sweet Tooth, Field Notes Colors edition, summer passport, summer manifesto, summer bucket listI kept it really simple. I wrote a bucket list item on each page and stamped a little rectangle on the bottom for the sticker on completion. Field Notes Sweet Tooth, Field Notes Colors edition, summer passport, summer manifesto, summer bucket listIf the task was something I wanted to repeat, I wrote it once and then stamped blank pages with numbered rectangles. Then when we try new recipes, we can write down the name or a brief description of the dish and put the little daruma sticker in the box.Field Notes Sweet Tooth, Field Notes Colors edition, summer passport, summer manifesto, summer bucket list Field Notes Sweet Tooth, Field Notes Colors edition, summer passport, summer manifesto, summer bucket listI’ve already finished two books this summer. I am not ashamed to admit that it was very satisfying to choose a sticker for those boxes. It was like summer reading and Book-It all over again!

Here’s our official summer bucket list:

read 10 books/Read 3 books (K/N)

host 5 Hasegawa Happy Hours

dine on the lanai

road trip

Hasegawa Tanabata

see fireworks

Hole in the Wall

Lost Lake

rooftop cocktails

Proviso fundraiser

send 50 pieces of mail (K)

try 5 new tomato recipes

try 5 new herbal cocktail recipes

run the 8 mile course with the Oak Park Runners Club (N, obviously)

run 5K (K…it’s a stretch goal!)

Quincy Street Distillery

We have a couple of blank pages left, so maybe we’ll add a couple things as we go, but this list feels doable. I’d love to hear what’s on your summer list!

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Letters & Libations Stationery

letters & libations stationery, donovan beeson, letters and libations birthday party, letter writing party, birthday, kimberly's birthdayAs I mentioned the other day, Naoto had special Letters & Libations stationery made especially for the party. He knew that Donovan sometimes makes special stationery for the Letter Writers Alliance letter writing socials so he commissioned her to draw something that incorporated letter writing and cocktails. He met with Donovan to chat about the plan and she came up with a few designs. Because he knew I would probably want to use the stationery beyond the party, he let me choose which one I liked best. letters & libations stationery, donovan beeson, letters and libations birthday party, letter writing party, birthday, kimberly's birthdayThis was the winner…a perfect cocktail coupe with a stack of mail ready to go. I love that the top letter has a little paper airplane on it and it’s addressed to me from the LWA. (But that detail is small enough so others could use the stationery without it being weird.) Donovan formatted the image so two sheets of stationery fit on an 8.5×11 sheet of paper. Naoto had them printed at the UPS store, where fifty copies cost $5. (He brought his own paper, Superfine White from Paper Source from my stash at home. I love Superfine papers…almost anything–fountain pens, gel pens, felt pens, pencils–writes nicely on it.)

I now have a nice leftover stash of my own personal stationery and the ability to print more. I’m so excited to write some letters on it this week! (By the way, I’m staying on top of my letter writing this week…how about you?)

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Letters & Libations Party Decorations

letter writing party decorations, letters & libations, paper decorations, mail decorationsNaoto was a little worried about party decorations so I told him I’d handle it. I love making garlands and I already had a bunch of supplies leftover from last year’s Write On Party.letter writing party decorations, letters & libations, paper decorations, mail decorations, oh happy day paper airplane

I just strung a bunch of airmail envelopes from the ceiling and then made a garland with First Day Covers and old postcards from my vintage paper drawer. And for the “centerpiece” I made a giant paper airplane based on this Oh Happy Day tutorial. I just used eco white roll wrap from Paper Source and drew lines with a pink and blue Sharpie. Then I used this tutorial to fold the plane. I haven’t folded a paper airplane since grade school so I needed a little refresher course.

letter writing party decorations, letters & libations, paper decorations, mail decorations, oh happy day paper airplanePresley was impressed.

letter writing party decorations, letters & libations, paper decorations, mail decorations, kraft paper tablecloth, post office in many languages letter writing party decorations, letters & libations, paper decorations, mail decorations, kraft paper tablecloth, post office in many languagesNaoto made a kraft paper tablecloth for me with “post office” written in several languages and he even drew the Japan Post mascot for me! We scattered some airmail envelopes on the table with the stationery and called it done. Simple but on-theme. letter writing party decorations, letters & libations, paper decorations, mail decorations, kraft paper tablecloth, post office in many languages, Presley the cat, vintage stamp holder mail truckPresley enjoyed pushing the mail truck off the table. She doesn’t like being left out of the letter writing fun.

Simple, and at the end of the day, everything is reusable (especially for National Card & Letter Writing Month happening now!) and recyclable!

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