Thursday, October 18, 2007

Eva Cassidy - autumn leaves

The annual autumn windstorms arrived today, and over the next few days will be taking the leaves off the trees; with the leaves go the beautiful fall colors. We lucked out this year, having much more sun than usual in September and October and much less wind (or at least it has seemed that way). Normally the leaves start to change and then 2 weeks in there's a big storm that knocks them all down before you really get to enjoy them. This year, however, I've been able to see trees turn from green to yellow to orange to red to burgundy, and in some cases (my favorite) bright fuchsia. Walking around Green Lake between 4:30 and 6:00 has become an almost daily ritual, because it's then that the setting sun shines amber on the water and the trees start to look like a painting. On Tuesday my friend Jenny pointed out a graceful tree with bright red leaves, its branches sloping gently toward the ground. "It makes me think of a little girl saying, 'Look at my pretty new dress!'" she said, and she was right. Halfway around the lake, one group of tall trees with slender branches are all yellow, save one small swath of green at the very top of each. Looking across from that point you can see the rows of trees leading up to the stadium; their colors gradate from gold to red and back again. Another set of trees by the community center has red, orange and burgundy leaves that appear to be floating on the air rather than their branches. Just past the Bathhouse Theater are my favorite trees that change each season. As they lose their green leaves they start displaying bright red berries; these berries will be virtually the only spot of bright color around the lake come December. Right now they look perfectly in flux, just like the rest of the trees. Did I mention that I love this time of year?

I'll be out for a walk around the lake tomorrow, trying to catch the colors one last time before the gray of winter sets in. Then there will be other excitements: Halloween, steamed cider, lots and lots of braised meats, holiday specials on TV, not to mention the buckets of Swiss Miss hot cocoa to be consumed. (Yes, most of my winter joys are food-related. Aren't yours?) But for this weekend, I'll be keeping my eyes toward the sky, looking for the sun and saying goodbye to all those beautiful fall colors.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Have I got a deal for you!

In my last post a few months ago I promised to give the scoop on affordable cards printed by small manufacturers. I'm finally making good on that promise, so without further ado here are some of my favorites:

Great Arrow Graphics is based in Buffalo, New York and produces a huge variety of hand silkscreened cards, created in their own studio. Okay, maybe they're not such a small company now, but they were when they started and they've stayed true to their vision. Plus they have such a large selection that you can usually find a good card for everyone on your list. Cards typically cost $2.25 - $3.95.

Saturn Press is another of my favorite card lines, but they don't have an official website or even an email. They print on Swans Island, Maine using antique letterpresses, and their images tend toward the vintage/nostalgic/whimsical end of the spectrum. You can visit
If The Birds Knew to see some images from past and present cards, but if you want to find them you'll have to do a little digging around your town; the various Paper Source chains also occasionally keep them in stock. Cards range from $2.50 - $3.50.

B Designs is another New England letterpress line; they sell individual cards and boxed sets both online and in stores across the country. Their tiny size cards are perfect for thank you notes or holiday cards, and their collection of images ranges from classic (cherry blossom) to wonderfully weird (a frog conductor). Individual cards range from $2.00-$3.00 depending on the retail markup.

Seltzer is a newish line created and printed in Queens, using recycled paper and vegetable-based inks. Their cards are sometimes quirky, sometimes sweet, and they also have hilarious wrapping paper. Cards typically run $3.25 or so.

My newest favorite card line is
fomato, because the cards are simultaneously so bizarre and adorable. The only downside is that I can't figure out where they're printed, because every card has a different location ("Riscani, Moldova." "Ermeton-sur-Biert, Belgium"). I need to email them and ask, but in the meantime I just can't stop myself from buying them. Just look at this card to see why - they're awesome! We have a hard time finding fomato cards in Seattle, but Black Ink in Boston carries them so every time we visit we stock up. Cards are usually around $3.00.

Now I know the downside of sharing your favorite line is that it might not feel so special anymore, but on the other hand if it's too special they might not sell enough to keep printing! So I'm sharing these (particularly the lesser known lines) in the hopes that sustained business will keep them producing wonderful cards. What's your favorite small card line? Leave a comment and let me (and everyone else) know.