Tag Archives: The Walker Art Center

gift giving lends a hand

Between the birth of Baby Bea and my birthday in August, we Brown gals have been showered with thoughtful gifts from family & friends lately. Wonderfully, many have had a handwriting theme (thanks everyone for supporting the brown ink motto). And with the holiday season soon approaching, I thought I might as well share a bit of people’s generosity to get those creative minds brewing. Grab a coffee. It’s on the long side.

1. Our neighbors, who are raising three kids as well, recognize how difficult it is to remember all those hysterical things kids say on a daily basis.

My Quotable Kid

So they sent over the perfect gift, My Quotable Kid journal. I had seen this journal in an entry on my good friend Jane’s blog and thought this could come in handy. A simple way to keep a record of your childrens’ most humorous and insightful thoughts and another way to simplify (there’s that word again). Thanks Forslines.

russell + hazel 'Oh How Did You Know' Boxed Note Cards

2. My friend Carrie (she writes an hysterical blog) loves to shower me with writing material. I was psyched to receive the “oh How Did You Know” stationery from russell+hazel.




3. She also picked up these Yummy Yummy scented markers from The Walker Art Center Shop but you can find them here. These came in handy yesterday when Oliver needed a little extra excitement while writing his birthday Thank You notes.

Buy Rocket Pen Spaceship Blue at TinToyArcade.com

4. Of course, you need you a Rocket Pen with four different ink selections. Sally & Jim picked this up for me at The Walker. Perfect stocking stuffer.

5. Dear Jenni David, she always comes up with thoughtful and unique gifts. She showered Ms. Beatrice with beautiful prints of her name written by Emily Synder from Queen Quills.

6. She also found this vintage book signed by the first recipient in 1933 and then went on to sign herself. Touching. (“I” before “e” except after “c” Monica).

7. After traveling overseas this spring, Jenni returned home with this journal from the 798 Art District in Beijing which has become one of the new landmarks of Beijing Urban Culture. Love a little culture in my journals!

8. I was surprised by a group of friends on my 39th birthday with one of the most lovely gifts I could image, a beautiful box filled with 39 (mostly written) observations about me. Seriously, I was blown over. The box is now kept right on our office desk for those days I need a pick-me-up and I’d rather avoid the chocolate or bourbon. Ha.

9. One of the most unique gifts we received this summer is something I don’t expect the majority of people to manuever. My brother, Blake and his friend, Melanie, visited us in OR and brought with them necklaces she created. I asked her what went into making these pieces:

  • Cut disks out of sheet silver.
  • Use dapping block to make the disks slightly concave.
  • Fuse the disks together with a jump ring at the top… using an acetylene and atmospheric air torch.
  • Polish in a tumbler over night.
  • Have Blake write monograms over and over and over and over again until he is happy with them.
  • Use very small pliers to twist fine gauge silver wire into the shape of the monograms Blake created.
  • Stick the small bits of wire, now in the shape of monograms, inside the appropriate circle on the appropriate pendant and place on masking tape
  • Pigment resin with artist pigments
  • Pour resin into each pendant
  • Let resin cure over night
  • On the drive to Manzanita, use sandpaper to remove any stray resin and to do some finish work
  • While the transmission on the truck is being repaired, do the final wet dry sanding in the transmission shop and then protect the pendants with a coat of Renaissance wax
  • Add a bail, put on a chain and put in a box…..

I share these gifts to inspire you to find uniqueness in your gift giving this season – And maybe make it personal. These gifts are thoughtful yet not expensive. Think about stepping out of the box. The writing makes it one of a kind.


Walker’s Open Field Hearts Post Office

For all you local Twin Citians, this just in from The Walker Art Center news desk regarding a kick-ass Open Field event next Thursday the 12th from 4-8 (you know where I’ll be if Baby Brown has not shown its face by then!!!).

Come rekindle your love for the post office and the physical act of letter writing with Jenni Undis from local letterpress studio Lunalux. We will explore the history of the post office, refresh our sense of mail etiquette, and utilize some nostalgic tools to create one-of-a-kind correspondence.  Special letter making and decorating supplies will be on hand for postal personalization.

A Letterpress High

(Poor timing but iPhoto decided not to be my friend today. Thus, no planned pics are included of my personal experience with a certain letterpress. iPhone gladly stepped in.)

I’ve been a fan of letterpress ever since I can remember.  Maybe since I’ve always been a bit old fashioned but there’s something so refreshing yet tactile about the lettering embossed into the thick paper. To be straight, there is such a thing as a letterpress high. I’ve felt it!

So it was no surprise when I came in contact with Jean from Pomegranate Press that I fell head-0ver-heels for her work (she is also one of the most pleasant and creative people I know). Her situation is a unique one.

Jean is naturally talented in the arts for starters. When Jean landed here in Minneapolis in 2002 she found herself a Chandler & Price Platen Press in St.Paul. She had seen a letterpress once before but had never used or printed with the machine and wasn’t sure if she would even enjoy the process. But she soon taught herself to print and, as she states, “my work is my education.” As time went on, her basement was transformed into the current Pomegranate Press. Here you’ll find stacks of paper with letterpress samples of her work over the years, cans of colored ink and many wooden boxes filled with metal fonts in a variety of sizes and fonts along with icons, borders and more.








I’ve had the pleasure of working with Jean on personal stationery, baby announcements, business cards, and the annual holiday card which is most likely my favorite. Every November we meet to decide the design including color, the type style and selecting from the fantastic holiday icons she has on hand. Then she’s on her own working her magic.


I caught her last week in the midst of a holiday card for my good friend, Therese.  I was amazed at the patience and accuracy needed with each card. This is far from the electric letterpress machines you hear about these days. This is the real McQueen.





Jean first establishes the placement of the type so it lands where she wants it to be on the paper. She also needs to set pins in the tympan paper which will hold the cards to be printed. Next, without ink, she prints samples to make sure the design is nice and placed correctly. If she’s not satisfied with the design, she will re-typeset. She’ll then play with spacing to typeset letters, words, and lines until just right. And will also make sure the printing is not crooked. Next, Jean will ink up the press and print samples to establish a strong ink consistency. Finally, printing time! And lastly, she cleans the press & type and re-sorts the type back into their cases.


Honestly, after watching the process of creating Therese’s families card from beginning to end I held a clearer understanding and appreciation for the art of letterpress. Not only does it take an incredible amount of patience but it’s Jean’s keen eye which catches any flaws in the printing, not an employee who oversees the electric machine in action. The art of letterpress is still true to its original form and you can’t say that about much these days.


On a different note, this is a perfect chance for me to mention another gift idea!! My friend Therese happens to co-own with her big sis the uber yummy Alora Ambiance line of diffusers, soaps, sprays and candles. The Brown family is gaga over the products especially the festa line during the holiday season. Treat a loved one to an Alora product for the holidays!  Locally you can find them at Ampersand, Victory, Brian Graham Salon, Lusseria lini, La Petite Parfumerie and Grand Frames on Excelsior. But you are forewarned, they are addictive.








Lastly, the word on the street is the Walker Art Center Shop is selling their holiday paper and cards at 50% off this week. Run not walk!