Feel Good Friday

by Sabrina Garber

Merci Bakery | Mona Flood (photo credit: Merci Bakery via Instagram)

Phew, its Friday! We thought we'd share a few links to things that made us laugh or smile this week. Hope your Valentine's Day was extra sweet and there's lots more xoxo's in store this weekend!

Bravo to David Harbour for his exceptional acceptance speech at the SAG Awards. Yay to this GIF immortalizing Winona's reaction ... with pizza.

Betcha you've never heard two baby sloths talk to one another! 

Allie is hoping to arrive at the Fred Rogers International Airport the next time she goes home. Sign the petition now!

What can we say? Cute animal vids are the way to our hearts. Even this slightly mischievous pup

Sure way to cure the I'm-so-over-all-of-this-snow blizzard blues: this recipe served with cheesy garlic bread!

So whatever happened to Joanna and Sam? Can't wait to find out!

Enjoying these tunes while we work. Another favorite is listening to Clayton belt out to disco songs which we unfortunately cannot stream. 



Valentine's Day Deliveries

by Sarah von Moritz

Over here at Smudge Ink we LOVE Valentine's Day. You get to stuff yourself with sweets, give and receive fun stationery, and of course, celebrate the most important person/people in your life. We couldn't think of a better way to spend our Valentine's Day than baking some brownies and cookies and venturing out to some of our favorite local customers to make a special delivery. 

Valentine's Day Deliveries | Blog | Smudge Ink(image: special packages for some of our favorite customers!)

My first stop was the amazing, so-much-to-see, so-fun-you-can't-stop-browsing, Black Ink. Susan has worked with us for years, and she and her awesome staff let me interrupt their afternoon activities to talk treats and snow and peruse their fantastic collection of Valentine's Day cards. Then I headed up the street to another retailer of ours, Harvard Bookstore. If you didn't already know, I'm a complete bookworm, and Harvard Bookstore's staff recommendations are some of the best.

Valentine's Day Deliveries | Boston General Store(image: Boston General Store display)

The Boston General Store is our new favorite place in Brookline for beautiful gifts and everyday wares. Plus, we love seeing our cards in April's (yes, another April!) beautiful vintage displays. I swoon over these bags and if anyone is looking to start an herb garden, look no further! We're so excited for April's second storefront in Dedham!

Valentine's Day Deliveries | Neatly Nested(image: Danielle, owner of Neatly Nested, sharing her baked goodies with customers)

In the meantime, Sabrina headed over to Southie's Neatly Nested, where you can outfit your home with a wonderful assortment of pillows, rugs, candles, prints and more! Danielle has been a huge supporter of Smudge Ink since she opened her shop's doors. As a interior designer and painter herself, she promotes many local creatives and makers, and that makes us happy! 

Valentine's Day Deliveries | Brookline Booksmith(image: cards racks at Brookline Booksmith)

True confession: I saved Brookline Booksmith for last because I always need some serious browsing time when I visit (which is, to be honest, at least twice a week). Kerri graciously took some time to chat with me and I tried not to gush too much about my love for the store, and not just because I like to spot our cards in their perfectly curated gift section.

All in all, making these hand deliveries to say thanks for being awesome is a major perk of the job. But really having such fantastic retailers is what makes us love what we do. I wish we could visit all of our customers in person but rest assured we love you whether you are one neighborhood over, several states away, or even across the pond! 


Our Favorite Rom-Coms

by Sabrina Garber

Our Favorite Rom-Coms | Blog | Smudge InkValentine's Day is coming up and that has got us thinking about our favorite romantic comedies. Who needs roses and candlelit dinner if you can kick back on the couch with some microwave popcorn and watch a cheesy movie that will make you laugh at the hilarity of relationships! No significant other necessary. See what everyone chose as his/her top pick below ... 

CLAYTON. Sarah, I know how you feel about one of the actors in this film, but How to Lose A Guy in 10 Days definitely made it to the top of my rom com list. I'm drawn to the hilarity of catchphrases like "Bull s&*#. Buuuuull s&*# mamma!," "–Women of New York, Frost Yourself! –Frost this!," and "Our love fern! You let it die? Are you going to let us die?" Throw in a sloppy Carly Simon sing along at a bougie red carpet party, and it's game over really.

SARAH. This was an easy choice for me. I didn't have to mull this one over or pick between several contenders because my favorite romantic comedy, hands down, is Man Up. If you haven't heard of it or seen it (it came out in 2015) you're in for a hilarious treat!

APRIL. My very favorite romantic comedy is Bringing Up Baby. It’s old, but so, so funny! It stars Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant on a wild mission to find a lost dinosaur bone and missing leopard named Baby. There’s a lot of fast talking quick wit as opposites attract. I just love it—I’ve watched it dozens of times and I’m sure I’ll watch it dozens more!

HALEY. I'm going to go with 10 Things I Hate About You. It's always been one of my favorite movies but I watched it the other night and I remembered all the reasons why I love it: soundtrack, cast, wardrobe ... the list actually goes on and on. From Patrick's performance in the football stadium to Katarina's poem at the end (which we all have to admit we have memorized but are simultaneously caught off guard with tears––or is that just me?) it is just the perfect teen-angst rom-com.

ERIN. Picking a favorite romantic comedy isn't as easy for me as say, picking out a favorite action movie (Die Hard, obviously). I have a few that I like, but I'm going to have to go with While You Were Sleeping starring Sandra Bullock and Bill Pullman. It has a believable cast of characters, isn't over-the-top like a lot of rom-coms tend to be, and, most importantly, it's funny! Not to mention it's got some killer 90's fashions (her wedding dress/frilly socks combo makes me cringe every time!). I dare you not to swoon a little when Jack shows up in his manly work boots and explains "leaning" to Lucy.

ALLIE. I have to admit I haven't seen many romantic comedies but from my limited repertoire my pick is 13 Going on 30. It wins in my book just for this scene alone.

SABRINA. What can I say? I could watch Hitch over and over again (and have!) and it never gets old. My husband will even stop switching channels to announce that my boyfriend is on TV whenever it is playing. Yes, I do love Will Smith. And watching Hitch bomb his first date with Sara (the ravishing Eva Mendez) or give dance lessons to Albert (nailed by Kevin James) just cracks me up.  How can you ever listen to Yeah! by Usher without conjuring images of "the Q-tip" and "throwing it away?" 



Meet the Team: George Graves

by Sabrina Garber

If you haven't already noticed, we've been singing George's praises ever since he took over press operations last October. Behind in printing our fall release when he started, we left him with the not-so-easy task of getting us back on track. He accomplished this and more, keeping the presses running and helping us to organize and streamline our production and QA. I mean the guy loves labeling drawers and moving huge pieces of furniture around. He's also a sucker for Cool Runnings, plaid flannel shirts, and a cup of joe. But probably the best person to talk about George is George himself! Read on to learn more about how he and letterpress were destined for one another ... 

Meet George Graves | Blog | Smudge Ink(photo credit: Studio Nouveau)

What path led you to become interested in letterpress?
Letterpress first hit my radar toward the end of my college years. I was studying graphic design and my typography professor noticed that I gravitated toward typefaces that resembled old wood type. I would often choose very bold, slab-serifed display type and so she asked me if I knew about letterpress. Looking back, the similarities that she saw are obvious, but I was clueless at the time. It was those old wooden fonts, the tactile nature of letterpress prints, and the demands of working within the limitations of the medium that first drew me to letterpress printing and led me to focus my senior thesis on the method. After growing weary of computer work and struggling to find work in the design industry, I set my sights on an apprenticeship in letterpress printing as a way to work with my hands while still putting my education to use.

Meet George Graves | Blog | Smudge Ink(photo credit: Thy Doan)

What do you love most about letterpress?
This is a tough one. I love the presses. The little quirks and unique personality that each one has. Learning to operate and maintain a new press. Troubleshooting the numerous issues that might come up on any given day. But I love the letterpress community, too. I’ve found so many open doors in the industry from the Pacific Northwest to Florida, and from San Francisco to upstate New York. Besides just opening their doors to a fellow pressman, many of the printers I’ve visited across the country have become close friends and go-to resources when I find myself in a jam. When it comes down to it, the part I love the most is the fact that this is how I make my living.

Meet George Graves | Blog | Smudge Ink
Where do you regularly turn to for creative inspiration?
Although I’m now a printer, I still like to keep an eye on the design industry. The latest print projects are of particular interest to me as I want to be careful to never underestimate the possibilities of letterpress. At home, I never have to look very far for inspiration because my wife is a graphic designer and hand letterer. Our conversations are always full of plenty of design and printing geekery.

What do you find is the most challenging aspect of the printing process?
The most challenging part of the job is the first time I face each new issue with a machine or a specific print run. Luckily, this can also be the most rewarding part of the job. Resolving an issue that I've never faced before brings such a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. Granted, these issues never pop up at convenient times and that gratification doesn’t come until you’ve pushed through hours, sometimes days, of stress and frustration. Of course the hope is always that each victory will hold little lessons that will help me through the next bit of troubleshooting.

Meet George Graves | Blog | Smudge Ink
Which presses have you used? Do you have a favorite? Why?
All told, I’ve run more than 20 different presses: C&Ps, Vandercooks, Heidelberg windmills and cylinders, Kluges, a Brausse, and a Frontex Automatic Cylinder. The Heidelberg K-line cylinders are my favorite presses, hands-down, and I have a tough time imagining that changing. The Heidelberg windmill wins for ease of setup and use, but the cylinder presses get better ink coverage and impression. The K-line presses are the smaller of the Heidelberg letterpress cylinders, but are large enough to run a 12x18” poster. Plus, the smaller size makes them more manageable to run and allows them to run jobs that would be too small for the larger cylinder presses. Add the fact that these presses pretty much run themselves once they’re all dialed in, and if I had to choose just one press to run everything on, the K-line would be an easy choice.

Meet George Graves | Blog | Smudge Ink
(photo credit: Studio Nouveau)

What is your #1 piece of advice for someone who wants to learn about letterpress? Is there anything you wished you had known as a beginner?
The only thing I really wish I had known sooner is just that letterpress exists. It is hard for me to think back to my college years, being unable to take a letterpress 101 type course until my final semester, and not wonder what more time on press as a student would have done for me. At the same time, I don’t consider myself a printmaker and I think that is where most of the school programs and workshops tend to lead: fine art, design and printmaking. Instead, I see myself purely as a pressman. Printing is my trade and it is a service industry that I work in. A pressman’s job isn’t to pursue his or her own vision, but to execute the design or vision of the client—in my case, Smudge Ink. I think this is the biggest thing I would want to clarify for anyone looking to get involved with letterpress and especially for anyone that I might personally be training. The first step to planning your route is deciding which end of things you ultimately hope to land on.

What would be your dream letterpress project?
Easy. A 1950s COE box truck rebuilt to carry a mobile, production-ready press shop. The dream would be the combination of a custom letterpress shop, a bit of a retail offering, and an in-house stationery line created by my wife. The truck would allow us to tour the craft shows without getting behind on custom orders. Plus we’d have the ability to do demos at the shows. It’s a pipe dream, but one that I’ve spent a fair amount of time thinking about. I'll admit I’ve even run the numbers once or twice …

Meet George Graves | Blog | Smudge Ink
Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?
Breakfast is the favorite meal in our home, so on Saturday mornings you can always expect us to go above and beyond. No instant breakfast or cereal here (maybe Cinnamon Toast Crunch on my birthday). Breakfast is followed with coffee, reading, and the dogs. We have two nine year old lab-mix, litter-mate, shelter dogs that have us tightly wrapped around their paws.

Thanks, George! Keep your eyes out for more from our trusty pressman in  the upcoming Dear George series. In the meantime, you can find more of George's recent work here and follow him here!