We are finally ready for our big day of Crafty Bastarding. Lest you think preparing for this show was just crazy fun printing and punching and crimping a bunch of books, here are some photos of all the boring stuff that goes into selling our wares at shows. Hold onto your seats.
There’s the fact that people can’t tell what you’re selling unless you have signs telling them what you’re selling. Signs need to be made, not by some lackey we hire to do this sort of mind-numbing work, but by me, whose entire enfeebled brain capacity is put at risk by copious amounts of spray glue.
I left out the part about me having to design the signs and Matthew having to decide that the language “Sucking All Around” that I had placed under the images of the I Suck onesies wasn’t really great for explaining what we were selling.
But here’s the part where I stuck the sign down onto the recently spray glued foam core. A mistake at this point would have really ruined my day.
Then comes the really tense moment, when I have to trim the edges of the sign. A mistake at this point would have really ruined my day as well.
Let it be known that although I didn’t make a mistake per se, I did not initially trim these exactly square. So that when I tried to tape the two signs I made together to make a folding display, there was a big ugly gap between them because their bottom edges made them lean away from each other. More tinkering on this front cost me another 20 minutes of hair-splitting. Luckily, I was too irritated to take a photo of that.
Onwards, then, to the supports for our onesies. Those of you who are paying attention may have already noted that we have gotten some new colors in the I Suck department. Three new colors, to be exact, and this meant cutting out new supports for each.
Because I’m a nerd, I use an exact-o knife and a ruler instead of scissors, which would probably be a lot faster. I say, “because I’m a nerd” because the supports are totally hidden inside the onesies, and no one would know if the edges were all thrashed or I had drooled all over them or not. I just like them to look nice on the inside too, not like some crazy hell bitch or something. Even my creations that don’t go on display deserve a little love, no?
Then, of course, I have to dress them. You wouldn’t think this would take a lot of time, but stretching a onesie over the non-head of a stiff piece of foam core is almost as hard as stretching a onesie over the head of a squirming 18-month old.
Whew. And I did that for my other four non-children as well. (The ever unpopular pink I Suck is not pictured here because, like I said, she’s really unpopular. The rest of us didn’t want her ruining the prom picture.)
There were actually many other signs that needed to be made and glued and trimmed, but Matthew got tired of taking pictures while he was trying to pack all the other important stuff (the stuff we’ll be trying to actually sell).
We got through it all around 5PM, and then remembered that we hadn’t actually folded and packed the new onesies. So we did that after dinner. It was kind of like dessert, except that it totally sucked and didn’t have any ice cream in it.
(The latter of which I am actually thankful for – there was a moment when some grapes got lobbed into the box by some errant children, but those were easily removed. Ice cream would have been a much bigger problem.)
And so we sleep. We leave at the crack of dawn (or earlier – 5:45) to arrive at 7:30 to set up and then (it appears) spend all day in the rain. Hopefully this will not discourage folks from turning out – aside from the fact that it would be disappointing to me personally, there are actually a lot of really cool vendors who will be there, all consolidated-like. It would be a shame to miss the chance to shoot all these tasty fish in a barrel.
And, in case you’re wondering why you can’t find us, we’re actually under the banner of our friends over at Politics & Prose, booth #68 and #69.
We’ll let you all know how it goes/went. And more on the new onesies next week. I admit to being quite fond of them.
… Left of 600:
Our 600 books are now officially ready to wrap and pack for Saturday’s Crafty Bastards event in DC. We will be sharing a booth with Politics & Prose, and will hopefully sell some books. If not, they’ll all be ready to wrap and pack for Saturday evening’s return back to Chestertown.
Oy. Let’s hope for the best.
(ps – we don’t actually think we’re going to sell 600 books. But once you have to make a bunch, you may as well make a big bunch, so you don’t have to do it all over again the second you get back from a show. So says I. Matthew might actually think we’re going to sell 600 books. Who knew he was the dreamer?)
Living, as we do, out in the middle of nowhere, we seem to be some of the last people to have received our copy of my latest illustration job. I was asked to illustrate an article about the book Red Flags or Red Herrings by Susan Engel. The book is about parenting and how we as adults influence our kids (or not). It suggests there are some things we may see in our children that are cause for worry or a different approach and that other things that might seem alarming really aren’t at all.
The cover just shows angsty parents. I prefer the inside image, where they’re totally unhinged. Which is how I feel a lot of the time (though I can’t actually say that it’s due to my kids most of the time).
Basically, from Dr. Engel’s research and writing, it sounds like my children are who they are and there isn’t too much I can do to change them (she’d probably be horrified that this is what my take-away from the book was, but there you go – the more nuanced read just won’t fit comfortably in a blog post). I don’t know if this is terrifying or a relief. Either way, I feel satisfied now that I can just throw my hands up in the air and claim “Nature!” whenever my kids do something particularly despicable.
Or when I do something particularly despicable, for that matter. Thanks, science!
And thanks to everyone who sent heads ups and compliments – it’s always nice to know my drawings are out in the world getting seen.
It is lucky that cold sores are relatively small and relatively rare (at least in our household). Especially if you’re partial to Abreva, which can be found in the check-out line at your friendly neighborhood Acme.
A single tube sets you back $17.99, but if you’re partial to buying by the pound, you might have to take out a loan.
The other day I was headed out to the grocery store. Robbi stopped me as I was leaving and asked if I’d be willing to drop something off at the mailbox. She handed me an envelope, and I was on my way. It was a thank-you note to the editor we met with last week.
I was about to drop it in the mailbox when something caught my eye, just below the return address.
It made me smile.
For those of you who don’t know, “aligncenter” is a command in CSS, or “cascading style sheets,” a programming language that allows a web designer to style a web site.
Which is to say, it doesn’t work on envelopes.
Sometimes, however, it truly is the thought that counts.
From time to time, we muse aloud about what we’re up to, what sort of books we’re making, and what to call our work. I am happy to report that we may be moving closer to an answer. Three weeks from yesterday, otherwise known as October 15, 2011, we will be giving a presentation at Fordham University as part of a daylong celebration of the essay sponsored by Welcome Table Press.
Don’t feel bad if you had no idea that Robbi and I were essayists. Neither did we. When we were asked to present by essayist and symposium organizer Kim Dana Kupperman, we were pleased but a bit confused. What do we know about writing essays, anyway? Kim assured us that the essay is a very generous and accommodating sort of genre, one perfectly willing to make room for our Idiots’ fare. Kim explained it like this: The word “essay” means “to try,” and the thing that an essay tries to do is ask what it means to be human.
As far as I’m concerned, that’s exactly what we try to do with every book we make: to examine our common human failings, our shared infirmities. Whether or not we succeed is for someone else to determine.
So we write essays. Who knew? Kim Dana Kupperman, apparently. She is interested in our work as an example of the “visual essay.” Which is just the latest in a long string of reminders that, as a writer, I’m awfully lucky to have met Robbi.
Now that we’re confirmed visual essayists, I’ve written a “talk” that probably won’t be much like the other talks on the slate for that day. Rather, it’s a kind of dialogue between Robbi and me, equal parts serious and funny, and amply supported by illustrated slides. Even if we aren’t 100% legitimate from the genre standpoint, we hope, at least, to entertain.
The symposium is open to all, so feel free to sign up if you’re interested. It’s $125 for the day, and all proceeds go to support Welcome Table Press’s efforts to “publish and celebrate the essay in all its forms.”
Even ours, apparently.
Robbi has been busily working on Volume 32, a beast of a book that should be really fun once it’s finally complete. Yesterday’s challenge was a complex diagram that required prolonged focus and no children in the house.
So the kids and I set out to run errands and eventually wound up in Baltimore, where we visited with Christian, Emily, and Iris. Being a big city, cosmopolitan sort of gal, Iris had not one, but two pairs of sunglasses. Being a generous sort of person, she shared one of them with Alden.
Nothing short of full-bore glamour ensued.
Luckily, I had my camera.
A few minutes later, the actual paparazzi arrived and elbowed me out of the way. For more photos, check the cover of next weeks’ US Weekly.
1 sun bun, warmed
3 scoops vanilla Häagen Dazs
1 cup chopped strawberries
1 tablespoon sugar
Sun buns are only available at Against the Grain on High Street in Chestertown, approximately 190 feet (and 41 seconds) from the barn.
Almost a week after our failure to realize our bold and reckless dream of making 600 books in a day, the evidence of our hubris remains, sprawled across our workspace like the crumbling ruins of a once-great empire.
I spent all day Wednesday trimming, folding, punching holes, and inserting binding wire.
I passed the time by streaming episode after episode of Grey’s Anatomy, Season 7 on Netflix.
How better to complement an endless succession of mechanical repetition than with an endless succession of emotional repetition? Let’s just say it helped to pass the hours.
Eventually, I was finished with my part of the process, leaving stacks of neatly-piled books awaiting the final step of the binding process. Which, apparently, only Robbi is qualified to perform.
But Robbi refuses to bind until she is done illustrating Volume 32, a book that doesn’t seem to want to be finished. I’d like to blame her for the ongoing torment of those stacks and stacks of books, but she’s pregnant and uncomfortable and it’s mean to blame a pregnant, uncomfortable person who is trying her best to illustrate your manuscript.
And so I blame Don. That’s right, Don. Our Sub-Commander of Peripheral Idiocy, selfless bookbinder, and bringer of cheesecake is hereby at fault for my misery.
I’m sure you noticed that the two stacks of paper in my hands are not the same. The one on the left has been properly “punched,” meaning it has the row of small, square holes needed to accommodate the wire binding. The stack on the right does not, a fact I did not discover until attempting to bind this book and being rudely rebuffed by the stack of paper.
What does it all mean? That in spite of correctly punching 299 copies of this book. Don messed one of them up. And like the princess and the pea, I cannot tolerate even the slightest discomfort when it comes to making books.
And yet I must endure. Perhaps the unbound books are some sort of metaphor, a puzzle I am meant to unravel, a thing meant to make me stronger.
Or possibly kill me.
After a brief and torrid love affair, my entanglement with Instagram has cooled somewhat, but I still pull out the app from time to time when the moments of my life require a bit of softening. I downloaded the update yesterday and was delighted to find Instagram much improved: three new filters, an easier way to compare filters when choosing among them, the ability to turn borders on and off, faster upload time, etc. Let’s just say, my interest was re-piqued.
Here’s how my photo of Kato looks with no filter:
And here it is with one of the new filters, Amaro:
All three of the new filters fall into the “subtle” category. Some of the old ones are more dramatic. Kelvin, for example.
But my favorite, for this photo anyway, is Hefe. I like the tone and the texture, the color and the contrast.
But maybe you’d prefer Inkwell?
All this is to say that Instagram is fun—and free. If you enjoy taking pictures and want an easy way to play around with mood, tone, and framing, you might want to give it a try.