The Ladyfingers Letterpress Give-Away

June 28, 2013 at 10:00 amBY Joanna

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Hands down – this is the easiest post I’ve ever written simply because the content speaks for itself.  If you don’t know about the Ladyfingers Letterpress (and Morgan and Arley-Rose – the ladies behind the name) you certainly need to.  They are the talented couple creating so many beautifully designed invitations and stationary – and they were kind enough to allow me to interview them for Get Along and Go.  To top it off, they’re offering a special give-away to one lucky reader (details at the end of the post).

Give our readers a brief introduction to your business…What do you do, and who are you, what do you offer?
Ladyfingers Letterpress is a design + letterpress printshop, specializing in hand-drawn, custom invites and stationery. It is owned and operated by the wife + wife, designer + printmaker duo Morgan Calderini and Arley-Rose Torsone, who started the business in 2011 after having planned their own wedding and discovering the poor selection of wedding invites that were aimed towards same-sex couples. Their staff of 6 (and sometimes more) operates a studio out of the Hope Artiste Village in Pawtucket, RI and provides one-of-a-kind wedding invitations for all couples, as well as a brand new line of social stationery that include cards for every occasion!

Is there something behind the name Ladyfingers Letterpress?  Are there any men working with you, or just ladies?
Haha, well when Morgan and I first met, we joked about having a gay bar bakery called a Gaykery, and we’d have a press set up and we’d sell stationery and you could eat and drink and hang out. Buuut we soon learned that solvents and ink are not really the best things to have around in a place where you serve food, so we scrapped that idea and stuck with the printshop. And yes, we do have ManHands on the team: our Accounts Manager Sydney vonDembowski. Wouldn’t be here without him.

You guys seem to have many different methods of printing available to you.  What different techniques do you use and do you have a favorite?
We’ve incorporated die cutting, laser cutting, hot foil stamping, 3D techniques, moving pieces, hand-stitched leather pouches, tiny books… the list goes on. Anytime someone says “I don’t know if you can do anything like that…” our ears perk up and we stay up all night trying ti figure out how to make it possible. If we can’t do it in house, we always reach out and team up with the best to make the most unique things possible.

ladyfingers_letterpress_02You have so many sharp looking hand drawn invites on instagram.  Is hand lettering a specialty of yours, or is it a style that’s particularly in fashion at the moment?  Or maybe both?
Arley speaking here: When I went to college from 2000-2004, the digital design boom was happening. Our teachers were teaching us basic design skills using Photoshop and Illustrator, while my peers were designing things solely for digital use. As someone who has always drawn, painted and made things with my hands my whole life, I knew early on that I needed to have a physical outlet to my work. I took a typography class when I was a sophomore and it changed my life, but I was too sloppy to be your typical uptight typography nerd. I hated to read because I would just stare at the characters as if they were little people who were all waiting in line to catch a bus or mingling at a party. Each one had its own personality and deep down inside I knew there was more to them than Helvetica and standard x-heights.

My sketchbooks started to fill with type. My illustrations moved from image to image-with-caption to just-plain-caption. I wanted to read text as if it was a painting, where the feeling immediately hits you first and then you see that its a still life or a landscape painting, and if you look closer you can appreciate the nuances of color and  the way the paint sit on the canvas. I started to base my graphic design work around hand-lettering. Once, as the in-house graphic designer at AS220, I hand-lettered an entire monthly calendar that included the guide to everything AS220 does. It took me a long time, but after I saw that offset printed in a rainbow roll, there was no going back.

People ask me all the time if hand-lettering is a passing fad. In my mind I reply, “Yes, and when people get bored with it, I’ll go back to carving into stone”. I guess many people don’t fully realize that all type begins with a drawing, and to me, hand-lettering gives me more freedom on the page. I am not restricted by horizontal baselines or standard point sizes. Sometimes, designing type on the computer takes longer for me than just drawing it. I couldn’t imagine having a design business that didn’t incorporate the joy and freedom that hand-lettering allows.

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Starting a business can seem so intimidating.  Do you have any advice about how to get started?  Particularly for artists and designers looking to work independently.  What five tips would you give to someone considering going on their own?
Before we both went full time, we had been doing some smaller invites for friends and family which got very little attention. Those smaller projects helped us become acclimated to working with clients and gave us time to build our website, portfolio and marketing materials along the way while we were still under the radar. For our own wedding, as designers and printmakers, we decided to do something really bold and beautiful, and totally us. We posted images of our final invitation suite on Flickr and they caught the attention of a popular blogger who featured it which basically launched our career!

The lesson we learned from this is that sometimes the work you make for yourself is often the most beautiful, original and unique. Pretend you are a client of yourself, and then ask for the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen. Make it, try to share through social networks, and soon enough people will start contacting and you asking for something just as beautiful. Having this sort of portfolio piece will establish your style and unique voice among other makers.

That being said, here are our 5 tips:

1. Start small – growing organically is not only really exciting, but smart. Don’t invest in a huge studio or the most top-of-the-line equipment at first. You’ll get there, but start with what you’ve already got and make the most of it.

2. Just do it! Don’t get stuck on thinking that you need tons of money or a huge nest egg to get started. We had just spent all our money on our wedding and had only $200 in our bank account when we took out a business credit card and put everything on that. Sure, there will be some really hairy times, but staying hungry is the best motivator to succeed.

3. Get friendly with the internets – Don’t be shy about making connections online. If advertising is not in your budget, leave friendly comments on websites that may be associated with your craft and be sure to leave your name and website. Bloggers are always looking for something to post about, so you’re doing them a favor by giving them content! Be sure to read their submission guidelines before submitting and never refer to them as “Dear Blogger”. Always do your homework and be respectful of other people’s time. Also, we’ve had terrific experience in the past with trading our services for ads on blogs and high-traffic websites, you might want to try to give that a shot. Bartering is a wonderful thing!

4. Believe in yourself! Something that we struggled with at first was knowing what to charge. Modesty is a virtue… until you have bills to pay! I know it can be hard asking for money sometimes, but if you don’t ask for it, no one will give it to you. Create a budget that outlines your monthly expenses and also research what other people are charging in your field. Obviously, don’t charge at the highest rate you can find, but also don’t charge so little that you drive down the market. If you find that your demand is going up, you can adjust your prices! You can always increase them, but you should never start so high that you have to decrease them.

5. Be nice to everybody. Whether they’re a client, co-worker, intern or contractor, treat them the way you would want to be treated. I know I might sound like your mother right now, but writing thank you notes and following up is a great way to make a great impression and build lasting relationships.

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You seem to have many different methods of printing available to you.  What different techniques do you use and do you have a favorite?
We’ve incorporated die cutting, laser cutting, hot foil stamping, 3D techniques, moving pieces, hand-stitched leather pouches, tiny books… the list goes on. Anytime someone says “I don’t know if you can do anything like that…” our ears perk up and we stay up all night trying ti figure out how to make it possible. If we can’t do it in house, we always reach out and team up with the best to make the most unique things possible.

I’ve taken a look at your instagram, and Ladyfingers Letterpress looks like a busy, but completely fun workplace…what about your ‘office’ makes it so special?  For instance – the in-office hair cuts…that’s a nice perk.
There’s that cheesy quote that says “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life”. We figure that if we make the workplace a respectable place while giving ourselves and our employees the room to have fun, everyone will have a better time, be happier, and make better work. It helps that some of our clients do really awesome work that we love to barter for: we’ve gotten designer sunglasses, haircuts, free advertising and delicious food! Unfortunately, we were unsuccessful in trying to barter for one of our clients adorable 1 year old. This does not mean we will stop trying.

What’s on the soundtrack over at Ladyfingers Letterpress print shop?
We keep Spotify and Pandora on a pretty good rotation of Robyn, and whatever station is “hip” with our “interns” these days.

Your prints certainly make good use of fantastic colors.  We love bold colors at Get Along and Go, and I’m always matching personalities to colors….If you were a color, what would you be?
Neon Red!

Any big plans in the works for the printshop?
We’re hoping that the wholesale thing keeps up. We had a terrific response at the National Stationery show and 50 stores placed orders for our work to be in around the country. We’re excited to continue to make new ways for people to reach out and touch.. other… people… with stationery.  I guess I would say stay tuned for the release of our social stationery line which will debut on our website on June 22.

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Beautiful designs right?? Bet you would like to get your hands on some of their stationary. Well…you’re in luck because Arley-Rose and Morgan were generous enough to offer up 3 complimentary folded cards from their brand new online shop to one of our readers.  To enter to win, visit their shop, pick your three favorite designs, and come back here and tell us which you love in a comment.  We’ll announce the winner next Wednesday, July 3rd.  (to keep up with the Ladyfingers Letterpress follow them on facebook, twitter, instagram, and pinterest) UPDATE: GIVE-AWAY IS CLOSED – WE HAVE ANNOUNCED A WINNER.  THANKS!

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Making It: Macrame Plant Holder

June 26, 2013 at 10:30 amBY Joanna

macrameI’ve been feeling all crafty recently.  I think it’s in part a response to our recent visit to the Martha Stewart headquarters to attend the Alt Summit, and in part to the warmer weather and nostalgia for summer camp activities.  Whatever the reason, I’ve found myself at Michael’s Crafts a bunch lately, and I have a number of crafty projects going at once.  It feels good to be making things.

This past weekend I taught myself how to make a very simple macrame plant hanger.  All of my plants were removed from my living room during our recent house repairs.  Bringing them back in has been a real eye opener to the fact that I have awful (really terrible) plant hangers.  Not sure how I never realized this before, but sometimes if you stare at something long enough it disappears, and it takes a little shaking up to even notice the plastic Home Depot planters you’ve been living with for years.  That being said, it was time to remedy this long standing problem I never knew I had.  I was determined to make my own plant hanger (I’m completely stubborn about buying something I think I can make myself).  I became so involved in the project I made three – and it was so super simple I thought I’d share it with you.  The materials are inexpensive and easy to find, and the entire process takes about 30 minutes.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 4 x 104″ strands of macrame rope (like this, this or this)
  • wooden beads with large center holes (these are completely decorative and serve no function.  If you can’t find them, forget about it – no biggie)
  • a 2″ key ring
  1. 1. Take the 4 strands, group them in a bundle so that the ends are even.  Find the center (somewhere around 52″).  Pull the stands through the key ring and tie together in a knot near the 52″ mark, securing the key ring in the center and creating 8 52″ strands hanging from the key ring.
  2. Hang the project from the key ring on a hook for better access to the strands.
  3. Divide the strands into 4 groups of 2 (group strands adjacent to one another together) and add wooden beads to each strand.
  4. Tie each grouping in a simple knot about 10″ down from the key ring, making sure the beads are between the key ring and the knot so they are secured.
  5. Take one stand from a grouping and knot it together with a strand from it’s neighboring grouping.  This will create the ‘web’ that holds the plant in place.  Tie the knot about 10″ down from the prior knot.  Continue with all strands until you have 4 new groupings.
  6. Gather all stands and tie together in one large know about 8″ down from the second.
  7. Add plant (this was actually the trickiest part for me because my plants were getting tangled with the rope.  It took a little patience, but I was able to untangle them).

So – that’s it.  The directions may sound complicated, but I assure you they are simple once you get going.  And the finished product is just what I was hoping for.  This project is highly customizable, so have fun with the rope you use and feel free to embellish with whatever you can add to a strand of rope.

 

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Preparing for Alt Summit: Business Cards

June 20, 2013 at 10:00 amBY Joanna

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We’re at Alt Summit this week! It’s our second year attending and we’re psyched to return.  Last year felt like training wheels.  We were slightly overwhelmed with all the amazing talent and wealth of knowledge.  It took weeks to fully absorb everything we’d taken in…and I’m not sure we’ve even digested it all yet, but he we go again…we’re off to Alt!  One thing Lorien and I agreed on right away was our need to better present our business cards.  Given that we’re in the unique position of having two blogs that are completely different – our challenge was to simplify the delivery system this year.  Right away I thought it would be nice to package the two cards into some sort of bundle.  These kraft paper envelopes perfectly fit the bill.  After some deliberation, we decided on the message for the outside of the envelope, ‘nice to meet you’!  Really…that’s what we’re thinking when we deliver our business cards to new acquaintances.  And to add a little more interest, we thought…how can we make one of our posts come to life?  We write about cooking and gardening so much, it seemed like a no-brainer to throw in some of our favorite cucumber seeds and a quick pickle recipe (super simple).  So here you have it – our bundled business cards for Alt NYC 2013.  We hope you get to grow some cucumbers and make pickles (and if you do we’d love to see!).

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A New Find: Tiny Atlas Quarterly

June 18, 2013 at 11:03 amBY Lorien

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I can’t really travel far this summer, but I am looking to plan some weekend camping trips or small staycations. But Tiny Atlas Quarterly, an online photography publication that I just discovered, has me wishing I could travel farther and more.

A new publication, I’m excited to see where it goes and what adventures they capture with their cameras. Created by a photographer with more photographers, stylists, art directors and designers contributing, I find Tiny Atlas Quarterly is simple, personable and relatable (all great things!). What is Tiny Quarterly Atlas about? In their words:

” With Tiny Atlas we are creating these stories for ourselves and for you. And while our clients may want the ever-sunny day, we also relish a moody storm sweeping acorss a moutnian range. With Tiny Atlas Quarterly we want to show you the places we lvoe to travel ourselves, both high and lowbrow. We also want to show you how we see our own backyards”.

I love the part about showing us how they see their own backyards… the rest of the About Page is just as well written and charming. I’m excited to see more pictures from Tiny Atlas Quarterly. Any other online magazines, publications that I should be seeing?

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Before and After: A 240 Year Old Map is Reborn

June 17, 2013 at 10:19 amBY Lorien

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On Wednesday Joanna and I are once again attending the conference Alt Design Summit in NYC. Last year was our first time going and we are thrilled to be going again. We learned so much from the speakers and from meeting fellow bloggers, and sitting in the offices of Martha Stewart wasn’t so bad either.

This year the speakers and the panel, in my opinion, are even better than last year and I know I’m going to learn so much. We’re ready to learn and to be inspired, and to spend some time in NYC (the weather is looking good, fingers crossed).

On my hunt to find things for Joanna and I to do while in NYC, I of course wandered from my search and I came across this story in the New York Times about a 240 year old map that was restored. It was amazing to see the before and after, and even if you don’t read the story, check out the interactive feature to see the amazing restoration that took place close-up.

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Interiors: Dash & Albert Rugs

June 12, 2013 at 10:00 amBY Joanna

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all images from dashandalbert.com

Lorien and I are pretty excited to be heading out to Alt Summit NYC next week.  It’s such an amazing gathering – packed full of bloggers at Martha Stewart Omnimedia for a day of amazing speakers, conversation and introductions.  We look forward to going all year.  Last year we had a blast, and this year should be even better.  Particularly because this year we’ll be attending a sponsor dinner the night before with Dash & Albert!  I’ve been a big fan of this textile company (mainly rugs, but they also make great tote bags, throw blankets and pillows) for quite some time.  One of my first jobs was in a retail boutique and they had me selling Dash & Albert rugs to interior designers for fancy beach houses.  Their designs are truly timeless, and most everything is stripped, so you know I’m on board.  I just checked out their site, and I could easily live in any one of their sets (they have the cutest pets lounging on their rugs). Having just refinished my floors, I’m in the market for a few new rugs, and I’ve got my eye on this Fair Isle Rosemary rug.  I think it would look great in my new grey living room.   Like most decisions I make – I’ll probably ponder this one for another year or so before I decide I should just buy the rug, but I hope it will be mine some time soon.

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The throws….oooh the throws! They have the best cotton throws that you can toss in the washing machine and dryer.  Mine has survived puppy chewing and years of washing, and it’s still going strong (with a few small holes).  I don’t need anther one, but I want another one – I’m trying to recognize the difference these days.  So maybe I’ll treat myself this summer.

Needless to say – I’m excited to join Dash & Albert for dinner next week.  I’ve been a customer, admirer, fan for quite some time now.  We’ll share pics with you next week.

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Pretty in Print: Business Cards

May 24, 2013 at 10:00 amBY Joanna

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I’ve never been more excited for a week to wrap up than I am right now.  Happy Friday! It’s been a trying few weeks living outside of my house while repairs are being done, and guess what – they’re finished!  We get to move back tomorrow morning.  Its a good thing too – I’m not sure I could handle one more night on my air mattress.

Last night was the first night I was able to connect to the internet at my temporary home (two weeks without internet and I went a little nuts).  I spent a good hour combing through Pinterest looking at some amazing business cards.  I’m thinking of reconfiguring ours before we head out to Alt Summit NYC in a few weeks (nothing like last minute thinking).  There are so many good designs and concepts for business cards out there.  I found this really simple and very effective idea by Fischer Portugal on Design Vagabond.  It’s a self inking stamp designed to imprint a ‘business card’ on just about anything.  The person represented is an environmental consultant.  So clever, I love it!  Now to just think of something equally as clever for Get Along and Go.  No pressure….

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In the Details: Light Fixtures

May 17, 2013 at 10:00 amBY Joanna

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Ok, I’m having a major indecisive moment (not surprising), and I can’t seem to commit to a new lighting fixture for my living room/dining room.  I’m over thinking it, and I may have just reached the point where I need to walk away and let someone else choose.  The six here are what I’ve managed to narrow it down to.  I thought for sure I’d be picking one from my fave Schoolhouse Electric, but then I found a few others that I like too….ahhhhh – which do you think will look best in my living room?  The walls are being painted a warm grey, the ceilings are rather high, and there is natural brick exposed nearby.  This particular fixture will be hanging nearly over the dining table (but not perfectly centered which makes me shy away from the pendants a little??) What do you think?

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Pretty In Print: Great Gatsby Book Covers

May 15, 2013 at 10:00 amBY Joanna

gatsby-originalWith all the chatter about the newest Gatsby movie, I can’t help but want to revisit the book.  Being a big fan of the novel, I’m having a difficult time buying into this uber modern Baz Luhrmann version.  I’ve heard mixed reviews, and the one’s that have surprised me come from critics who thought they’d hate the film, but walked away from the screen impressed and surprised.  Part of me wants to give it a chance, and allow myself to be pleasantly surprised too, but to be honest, I’ve never really enjoyed Luhrmann’s style, and I’m afraid he could ruin my interpretation of the book.

I’ve always been such a visual person, so naturally when I read a novel every place has a landscape, every face has characteristics (I think I subconsciously fill in the details left out by the author).  I need to be able to picture every detail as the story unfolds.  For this reason, cover art has always been hugely important when choosing an edition.  Similar to how I shop for wine by the label (bad habit), I pick my books by the cover, and continuously refer back to it as I make my way through the story.   My first time reading Gatsby I read the version above, the classic painting by Francis Cugat, which was commissioned before the book was completed, and was beloved by Fitzgerald – so much so that it’s been said he wrote it into the book.

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The second time I read the story I read the edition above (on the bottom right).  What a different experience….maybe it was the cover art, maybe it’s the nature of years past in-between readings.  Who knows – probably both.  Of all the covers I found in my search (here, here, and here), right now I’m liking the one above (on the bottom left).  I think I’d like to have that one in my collection.  Is it strange to collect multiple copies of the same book just for the cover art?  I don’t think so, but I also collect milk bottle caps.

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Making It: Outdoor Light Canopy

May 3, 2013 at 10:00 amBY Joanna

light-canopy-03Happy Friday!  I can’t say why, but some weeks just feel long, and for me, this was a very long week.  I’m looking forward to at least one free day this weekend to finish up a new outdoor project.  This one is pretty simple, but finding the time has been a struggle.  I’m building a light canopy for my back deck.  There’s so many ways to go about this, but I’ve decided to build a wire frame for the lights to hang over.  I’m far from finished, but I thought it would be good to share in two posts, so consider this post phase one.  light-canopy-01light-canopy-02The materials are simple….3 ten foot wooden posts (the height is important), 60 ft. of 3/32 gauge galvanized wire, 6 wire clamp sets, and 6 snap clips.  I bought it all at the hardware store for under $60.  The idea is to anchor the tall posts to my existing fence to give the canopy structure height (I’m short, but tall people will hit their heads on the lights if the posts are too low).  Each post has an eye hook at the top, and a reciprocal eye hook has been anchored to the house on the opposite side of the deck.  I’m building three strands of wire to connect each post to the hooks on the house. light-canopy-04To build the wire pieces I’ve used these interesting clamps that pinch the wire around a metal ring to create a secure loop – who designs these things?  I love discovering solutions like these…so clever.  From there I attach a snap clip to each end of the wire.  So far – the most difficult seems to be measuring the wire pieces to make sure they will be taught when clipped to the post and house. I’ll probably have trouble getting this right (exact measurements aren’t my thing).  The end result should be a three row wire canopy ready for lights to be strung.  I’ve bought commercial grade outdoor lights that can hold a full sized bulb.  I like the effect of the larger lights (instead of the christmas light strands).  Now everyone cross their fingers for me.  I’ll post the outcome next week.  Have a great weekend!

 

 

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