You might notice some changes around here today…
When I started this blog in September I had no idea how long I’d be able to keep it going – I thought I’d run out of things to say within a few weeks. Here we are six months later and I generally have an editorial calendar of two posts a week planned about a month out, so I guess there’s no end of this in sight yet! My readership is steadily (if not exponentially) expanding – I’m so grateful that y’all are out there and continue to be interested in what we’re thinking and doing.
So, the changes:
I’ve shifted the blog from WordPress.com to WordPress.org. That didn’t mean much to me either until recently but it should give me a lot more flexibility as the number of you stopping by continues to grow. Plus we get a nice fancy layout!
The ‘Parenting,’ ‘Hiking,’ and ‘Making Stuff’ introductions at the top of the homepage are new; I felt that I never really adequately explained why we do some of the things we do on these subjects so those pages are a good place to start if you’re newer around here and want to know what we’re all about.
If you previously subscribed to the blog using your email address then things should continue uninterrupted for you – except that the emails will likely look a bit prettier now. Apologies if you received a double notification today; I think I’ve turned off one of the notification streams now so you should just get one for future posts.
If you previously subscribed through WordPress then my updates will show up in your Reader, but you will no longer receive emailed updates unless you sign up now to receive them by putting your email address in the box on the homepage on this new site. Annoying, I know, and I’m sorry – unfortunately there’s no way around it.
Also, apologies if you’ve left a comment in the last 10 days or so while we were in transition between the two hosts; I’m afraid the comments didn’t make it through the shift. But we’re here now and we’re staying!
I also have email set up at jen [at] notjustforchristmas.net, so if you find something wonky (broken links, typos, things looking strange) please don’t hesitate to drop me a line. Or you could just say ‘hi!’.
On a related front, I had the final in a series of four letterpress classes a couple of weekends ago. For the other three classes I worked with metal type (setting each letter individually, by hand) and didn’t use any images – the San Francisco Center for the Book does have some images on metal plates but none of them really ‘spoke’ to me so I stuck with text.
In the last class I had an opportunity to use a polymer plate in my design:
Photopolymer plates have a light-sensitive surface on either plastic backing or metal backing. A film negative is placed over the plate surface, and exposed to ultraviolet light. Where the light hits the plate, the plate is exposed and hardened. What isn’t exposed because it’s blocked by the black part of the film negative will be washed out by water; what is is exposed to the UV light hardens and will not wash away, leaving a relief surface from which to print. (Source: Letterpress Commons)
The cool thing about polymer plates is that you can print whatever design you can dream up – you are limited by the universe of available fonts, not the ten fonts that the SFCB has in the size you need. You can draw anything in the world, put it in Illustrator, and make a plate out of it for printing.
I asked the talented Julia Gingras to design a logo for a business card – I have a couple of hiking trips planned for this summer and when Carys and I travel we invariably get a lot of questions about why I’m dragging a toddler around on my back. (She does love it, I swear – every afternoon at 4pm she starts saying “Mama. Ba-pa.” and goes to the cupboard where the backpack is stored.) I wanted to be able to give people a card with this blog’s url so they can check out the adventures we’ve had.
I love Julia’s artwork and while she certainly has her own style, she can also work outside it to deliver what you need. I gave her a brief to combine something around parenting, hiking, and making stuff (the three sub-themes of the blog) which she did, and when I revised the brief she didn’t skip a beat: we ultimately decided that it’s really my relationship with Carys that underpins the blog and that while the logo we eventually designed focuses more on hiking than parenting or making stuff, the closeness of the two figures and the way the larger figure seems to be encouraging the smaller one walking in front speaks to our relationship. I ended up loving it so much that I decided to feature the logo on the blog, too – and Julia’s also been a big part of getting the redesigned site up and running. She’s available for freelance work!
I have to say that I was a little nervous when the plate came in the mail – it looked like all the fine detail of Julia’s drawing had been lost. But when the first card printed perfectly I realized the polymer on the plate is formed a bit like a hill with a flat top and you can’t see by looking at it where the top ends and the side of the hill begins, so it looks like it has no detail but it’s actually all there.
I set the type by hand in 14 point Garamond for the url, and 10 point Garamond italics for the tag lines. I had liked the red and brown combination from a mini-poster I printed a few weeks ago so I repeated it here, and I love the way the cards came out.
The only reason I didn’t show Carys in the backpack on the design is because I wanted the cards to be longer-lasting. This summer will certainly be the last summer I can carry her, and I think it may not be too much longer before she is hiking with me. She did over a mile at Crissy Field recently, and she claims ownership of my poles as soon as her feet hit the ground…
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