We March for:

Copyright 2017 Kate Brennan Hall

Copyright 2017 Kate Brennan Hall

 

…all these things and more. It’s not enough just to have a bumper sticker, yard sign and vote.
Democracy in a Republic form of government is like a messy garden that needs attention and tender loving care.
In response to Ben Franklin’s quote “…if you can keep it.”

Yes, Ben my sisters and I choose to keep it for ourselves, our children and future generations.

 

 

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Voting / Breathing

Copyright Kate Brennan Hall

Copyright Kate Brennan Hall

I liken the act of voting to breathing. I can’t imagine not wanting to.

I voted early and as I almost skipped out of the court house with happiness I couldn’t help but think of my ancestors who, in their country were denied the right to vote—to have a voice/choice in their destiny. And yes, as a woman, I thought of my female ancestors and how they would have loved to have had their voices heard via the voting booth.
And then I thought about who I was voting for this election: our children. I voted for clean air & water for them. I voted for quality public education and fair living wages. I voted for equality for all genders, races and creeds. I voted for a more peaceful world.
I’m in the midst of reading a book about meditation. I’ll end with this quote (with names from today inserted) from Gandhi that seems fitting:
“If you can’t love __________,say, or ________, start with your wife, or your husband, or your children. Try to put their welfare first and your own last every minute of the day, and let the circle of your love expand from there. As long as you are trying your very best, there can be no question of failure.”

Breathe.

 

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may my heart…

Copyright Kate Brennan Hall

Copyright Kate Brennan Hall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A little poetry by my favorite, ee cummings. On this night/week/month/election year with the Internet full of rancor and spite I needed to send a little shout out. Sometimes a whisper can be more powerful than all the yelling in the world.

Enjoy.

 

 

 

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Sewing is so much fun!

A quick post to share my latest creation that I posted on my Etsy Shop: a fun cafe/barbecue apron I made with one of my flour sack kitchen towels. I take my color proofing towels and carefully crop them into fun pockets that are handy for storing things like your jewelry when you’re kneading dough and don’t want your rings full of it…!) I’ve always loved making paper collages and working with these color proofing towels feels a bit like creating collages…but with cloth. I attach generous cotton twill apron strings to fit every size and width of my customers.

I’ve created quite a few of these and they’ll be available via Gallery 106 in Cedar Falls (Iowa-USA) and at my upcoming shows.  Cheers, Kate

Cafe Apron: Today's Forecast: Sunny with a Chance of BIKING Copyright Kate Brennan Hall

Cafe Apron: Today’s Forecast: Sunny with a Chance of BIKING Copyright Kate Brennan Hall

 

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Grace, Sweat and Gratitude

 

It’s been a long time between blog postings but sometimes a person needs time to mull things over. And lately I’ve been taking stock of my work life and how much energy I’ve put into this latest chapter. After quite a few decades of being an illustrator and working with book and periodical publishers, design firms and ad agencies, I decided to focus more of my energies into making items (via the screenprinting process) that people could purchase directly from me, or via shops and galleries. Where as before I dealt mainly with art directors and designers, now I would get to meet my customers via craft fairs and the shop owners who wanted to sell my goods.

Gallery 106 in Cedar Falls IA

Gallery 106 in Cedar Falls IA

This part of my creative journey has been full of grace and challenges. I went from selling a few folded towels in a local art gallery a few years ago to now having my goods in many shops coast to coast.  Along the way I learned about designing my own packaging, finding just the right food friendly inks, sourcing high quality towels; while learning plenty of business lessons along the way. My friends and family have given so much helpful advice and guidance. Other friends contacted me to cheer me on or to say they’d purchased my towels to send to far away places across the globe. Just the other night when we hosted a dinner party, my friends decided to help me fold/package/label a HUGE batch of towels. I almost cried—so many hands making “light work”… It has meant so much to have this kindness and support.

Copyright Kate Brennan Hall // Twinkle Twinkle Kitchen Towel

Copyright Kate Brennan Hall // Twinkle Twinkle Kitchen Towel

There have been countless hours of screenprinting, punching holes in packaging, packaging towels and cards, packing orders, hauling inventory to be shipped, contacting new merchants, etc. And after these long hours of creating these goods I am so grateful that my customers notice and appreciate the difference in the design/textile quality/eco-friendly/food safe ink/packaging of my goods and choose to pay a few more dollars to help my home grown/handmade business. I take pride in my work because I try to follow what my parents preached: if you’re going to do something, do it right—the first time. I want my sturdy towels to bring a smile and last for many years to come!  Thanks for following me on my journey. Stay tuned for more!

Another great display created at Homespun in Indianapolis, IN

Copyright Kate Brennan Hall

Copyright Kate Brennan Hall

Copyright Kate Brennan Hall

Copyright Kate Brennan Hall

Copyright Kate Brennan Hall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Courage to compliment

Copyright Kate Brennan Hall

Copyright Kate Brennan Hall

My studio space is a lovely creative mess. If creativity is tied to messiness then I’m very creative! But, like my dad used to say about his workshop, “I know where everything is!”… There are stacks of freshly printed crisp towels waiting to be sewn into everything from cafe aprons to totebags. I love this jam-packed space. On one wall I have a cork bulletin board and on it are photos of family and friends and tucked in between, are small scraps of papers that hold a goldmine of kindness and love. They are the product of a group exercise a friend conducted almost a decade ago. She asked members of a group of friends, to write ten things we loved about each other and bring them to our next gathering. I’ll never forget the happiness and gratitude that flowed over me when I read what my friends valued about me. Humbling, yet such a gift that I needed and still need to this day.

These “ten things” sprang to mind when I was pondering the current state of negativity and divisiveness floating around our airwaves and on internet comment boards. This air of rancor, coupled with news of dear ones who have been diagnosed with life altering conditions, led me to think about how I could push back in a positive way. Having lost loved ones early, it is clear that life is so short. A cliche to many, but it rings true. But even knowing that, I still needed to push past my level of discomfort at telling friends and family the things that I love about them. Why do I have discomfort? Well, on one hand people receiving a compliment might think you’re just trying to flatter them for personal gain. (reminders of high school behavior…) But on the other hand giving compliments runs against the grain of my cultural heritage (read Angela’s Ashes). I was taught that compliments/sweet words were to be doled out in tiny crumbs…or not at all. There seemed to be an outright concern of puffing up of a person’s ego if you gave them words of praise. I used to think this was just a peculiar characteristic of my particular family, but after reading about other cultures it is clear to me that this idea abounded among many.

So casting those fears aside, I decided to create a postcard using my Never Forget the Difference YOU Make design. On the back of the postcard I wrote, ” My top 5 things I love about you: (there’s more but these will have to do for now!)

Copyright Kate Brennan Hall

Copyright Kate Brennan Hall

First I sent out an email to ask for snail mail addresses. In this age of people shedding land lines, it is growing more and more difficult to find mailing addresses. Many responded and so, when I find time to actually sit down for a break, I pull up a stack of postcards and start thinking about the things I admire in each particular person. (If you haven’t rec’d one it’s because I’m sending them in batches OR, I don’t have your mailing address!) I’m so glad I’m sending these postcards out. The feedback I’ve received confirms for me that taking the time to tell others (on paper!) that they matter—and why they are so special, is badly needed. It feels like there’s literally a compliment desert out there.

Many recipients asked me to create some postcards for them and so I did. They are on my Etsy shop and locally, available (starting May 5th) at Hatchlings & Hens in Cedar Falls.  (Stockists outside of downtown Cedar Falls, IA: contact me if you need these stocked. Thanks!)

I’ll be ever-thankful to that friend who inspired this exercise in reaching out with love and I’m happy to keep spreading this idea…! Cheers, Kate

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Shout-outs

PSA: Lots of shout-outs headed your way in this blog posting! The first quarter of this year was spent using every square of inch of my brain—the right side, the left side, the creative side, the accounting side… Running a small design business makes one wear many hats and each quarter brings its own set of exciting challenges.

The following are what I call my shout-outs that I post via Facebook / Instagram and Twitter. These shout-outs are my way of honoring the hard working stockists who carry my goods. They also serve as a way to let folks know where they can purchase my textiles and papergoods. Unlike many of my peers, I don’t have a travel/trade show budget. For now, my main ways of connecting with stockists and customers is through my blog, and these various social media outlets and good old fashioned snail mail. I’m a frugal artist with limited funds but unlimited creativity. (!)

Thanks for joining me on this journey.
Cheers, Kate

 

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Quality Over Quantity

Copyright 2016 Kate Brennan Hall

Copyright 2016 Kate Brennan Hall

 

Quality over Quantity: that sums up my attitude towards my work, friendships, food, clothing, and even social media followers. I chuckle when I see people who seek to collect thousands of followers on their social media because, for me, it’s quality over quantity. The people who stop by my social media feel like friends stopping by to say hello. Call me old fashioned and maybe it comes from being born in a small town (in a BIG clan!) or that I spent my pre-K days outside on a quiet acreage with my trusty dog— but I kind of like the small gatherings. These cozy connections remind me of how my daughters worked as DJs at their college radio station. They enjoyed their stints playing tunes—no matter how many students actually listened to their programs. That’s how I feel about my blog and social media sites; I enjoy connecting and the shy side of me likes the kind of small-town numbers.

And speaking of quality over quantity: over these past few weeks I’ve had people contacting me to point out copycatting infringements taking place with their work and yes, sometimes mine. Sigh. My first thought is this: it’s sad how some people lack integrity as they choose to swipe/heavily borrow ideas from other creatives. And my second thought is that I can only control what I do as a creative. My name is on the goods I produce. My designs stem from my life experiences that my customers say they enjoy and feel a connection with. I maintain high printing standards and use only commercial grade towels that are made to last and eco and food-friendly inks. My packaging is designed to keep my goods crisp and clean and easy to ship to my wonderful stockists and online customers.

Thank you to those who point out that they see the difference between my goods and goods that are printed in unfortunate sweat shop conditions with substandard materials. Thank you for valuing quality over quantity. I feel grateful for the feedback you all give me about my art and design. You truly make a difference in this artist’s work life and the other handmade artisans you purchase from in your communities.

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Hand-lettering: The backstory…

Copyright Kate Brennan Hall

Copyright Kate Brennan Hall

My dad was a man of many talents. He could take apart a car engine and put it all back together without any missing parts. He taught himself how to repair anything from toasters to a furnace. When I told him how much I admired that skill he replied that it wasn’t any big deal. It was just something he liked to do. I think about that when people have complimented me on my hand-lettering. It’s just something I’ve always done. I was the kid in elementary school who was asked to handletter special announcements. Running for student council president? Have Kate make your signs! I remember sitting in the darkened church of my childhood waiting for Mass to begin. I’d open the prayer books in the pew and examine the fonts. For some reason the spaces between the words were fascinating to me.

Years later while attending art college I came across a very officious professor who shamed me right out of my love of hand-lettering and typography. For whatever reason I listened to her negativity and uber focus on all-things-Helvetica and it made me walk away from my first love. It may sound silly, but it took me years to find my way back to hand-lettering/typography. Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way, was very helpful in “exorcising” the negativity that professor applied in her teaching. (Yes,I own the fact that I should have not given so much of my own artistic power to that professor.) One of the benefits of being in my fifth decade of life is that I’ve been able to shed things that get in the way of my creativity. And now, late at night, when I’m drawing in my sketch pad I often pause with a deep sense of gratitude. I feel so happy that I’m back to playing with letters and having the time of my life. No critical voices. Just play. So good. Cheers, Kate

p.s. This card goes out to all the teachers/professors who helped me find my voice. Never forget the difference YOU make! <3

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