Blog » Posts in “supplies & technical stuff“

The Studio – Then and Now

Everybody loves a makeover, right? I know I do. That’s why I finally got around to doing before/after photos of our studio and house.

When Joel and I first saw the house in late 2012, we immediately saw the potential despite it’s drab appearance. That, and the 1000 sq. ft heated workshop were a definite selling point. But it needed sprucing up. The house and workshop were in great condition so the only changes necessary were mostly cosmetic.

Here are before/after photos of the outside. Wait until you see the inside…another day though (because it’s pretty messy right now) 😉 The moral of this story is: it’s amazing what a coat of paint can do!

 

The main thing we did here to the studio was finish off the bottom part of the building, which had a layer of yellow foam insulation showing. This is called "parging", when you add a layer of concrete over the bottom foundation. We also added a coat of black paint to the barn doors, added a couple colourful pencils in front of the doors (to advertise what we do from a distance). We also levelled the yard, re-seeded it with grass and make two flower beds in front of the windows.
The main thing we did here to the studio was finish off the bottom part of the building, which had a layer of yellow foam insulation showing. This is called “parging”, when you add a layer of concrete over the bottom foundation. We also added a coat of black paint to the barn doors, added a couple colourful pencils in front of the doors (to advertise what we do from a distance). We also levelled the yard, re-seeded it with grass and made two flower beds in front of the windows.

 

 

 

The house needed sprucing up. We improved its appearance with a few coats of paint: first we painted the rust-coloured shutters a fire engine red, really making them pop. We also painted the front porch black, which contrasted nicely with the red shutters. This year we finally got around to digging up the entire front garden and replanting it with low-maintenance perennials.
maison_beforeafter2
The front porch was untreated wood when we bought the house. We painted it black to contrast nicely with the new fire engine red shutters and added some pretty flower pots.
maison_beforeafter3
The studio is behind the house, as you can see. The side porch was untreated wood when we bought the house so we needed to spruce it up to look prettier for when clients walk past it to the studio. Again, pretty simple makeover: a coat of black paint for the porch, fire-engine red shutters and pretty potted plants.
IMG_2868_web
And finally, one of the first things we did when we moved in was to order a lovely sign to put at the front of the house. I love this sign.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Various drawings

 Joel and I like to get out once in a while to do some plein air drawing (translation: drawing outdoors). This summer has been good for that so far because we’re finding lots of things we want to draw in the Westport area. Below are a few of my (Chantal) drawings.

Stewart Park in Perth, ON, one of the most beautiful parks I've ever seen with mature willow trees and a creek running through it.
Westport is a hotspot for boats in the summer. This is a funny little "gas station" at the Westport marina.

 

Joel and I are also fortunate to have been able to join a lifedrawing session here in Westport. After teaching lifedrawing for 5 semesters at Cambrian College in Sudbury, it’s nice to be able to concentrate on doing your own thing rather than teaching others how to do it (although I did enjoy that, Students, don’t worry!). Teaching lifedrawing definitely helped me with my own lifedrawing skills; I guess if you drill it enough in others you listen to your own advice!

Lifedrawing, approx. 2 hrs.
Lifedrawing, 25 minutes.

 

This last one is the last watercolour painting I’ve done, and it’s mighty ambitious if I do say so myself. The reference for this is a photo of a piece of ice in Iceland (har har) taken by my mother a few years ago. The challenge was making the ice look translucent but also incorporating all the  interesting colours in the ice. I’m not aiming for high realism and like everything I do, it has a graphic element to it. I am quite happy with the result. 

Watercolour & blue ink. 7x10"

Progress…

Things have been a bit quiet for us lately in internet-land. The reason for this is below; prepping for the National Stationery Show and printing jobs are taking up so much time we hardly have any time left to sleep, let alone post anything on the blog.

Things are coming together nicely though, so keep an eye out for blog posts coming your way of new products, completed NSS booth, etc. We’re working on it!

Our NSS booth in progress (#1578)

Restoring the Kelseys

A few months ago I (Chantal) decided we wanted to own a tabletop press so I could take it with me and host workshops elsewhere. I was not afraid to get my hands dirty, so when I saw an ad in a journal for several Kelseys in Pennsylvania, the first idea that popped into my head was…ROADTRIP! We’re no strangers to driving long distances for the sake of letterpress 🙂

We brought back 3 Kelsey Excelsior presses, two 5×8 and one 3×5. One of the 5×8 was in good shape while the other two needed a bit of work. The original grey paint was peeling and they were quite rusty. The one in the best condition came from a funeral home, the other 5×8 came from the side of the road somewhere and the 3×5 came from an estate sale.

the Kelsey Excelsior 3x5 before restoration
Kelsey letterpresses, before restoration

The first step was to remove the rust. Following instructions found on Briarpress, I soaked all the removable parts in a vinegar solution overnight and the rust basically wiped off. I also used a soft Brillo pad dipped in the vinegar solution and gently went over the rest of the press to remove the rust. Afterwards I wiped all the parts with a bit oil to prevent the rust from returning.

I then cleaned all the presses with a brush and tack cloth to remove any dust. I took off the removable parts and taped up any parts I didn’t want painted with painting tape to prepare for priming. There is some debate on Briarpress as to whether removing the original paint is the best way to go before applying a new coat, but I decided against it because, to put it simply, it was too much work!

Using Painter’s Touch Rustoleum spray paint primer, I primed all the presses in white. It occured to me later that I should have chosen a grey primer or darker colour, because it was pretty unnerving to see all the presses in stark white like that.

Priming the Kelsey

Ghost letterpresses

The next step was to apply the final coat of paint. I could have opted to paint them in their original grey again, but I went for black because it never goes out of style and Claudette our floor model looks sharp in black. I used Tremclad black. It took approximately 2 coats, but the result was nice and shiny.

Spray painting the black

The final step was to remove the tape, oil the moveable parts, buy a few new nuts and bolts for the platen of one of the 5×8, buy a few new springs and order new rollers. The rollers cost nearly as much as the presses themselves!

Don’t they look sharp! I’ve already sold one of the 5×8, and the other two will be coming with me on my roving workshops. All it took was a roadtrip and a little elbow grease; not too shabby!

The final result, with a cut locked up in the chase
Kelsey Excelsior 5x8 and 3x5


Cuts & Caps – Farm

We were back in New York recently for a short visit and a quick trip to the National Stationery Show to check things out. It was great! There were so many beautiful cards and products, it was very inspiring. We’ve already started planning to be in the show next year and show off some new cards and products that we’ll be showing you all in the next few months.

There is a ton of new illustrated work coming your way soon on cards, recipe cards and other fun stuff. What would you like to see?

As for today’s cut, it’s a nice little image of a farm. I think I see some cows, maybe some chickens, a silo and is that an old truck beyond the fence? We love drawing farms, so many great textures and colours. We didn’t draw this farm, but if you want a farm drawn on a wedding invitation or business card give us a call, we’d love to work with you.


Follow Us