Category Archives: Art Business

October 2018, The Lost Month

I’ve debated what or if I should write about this, but decided it is something that will further define who I am and if I’m going to be someone that creates art and music informed by my experiences, I can’t pretend it didn’t happen.

On the morning of October 13, 2018 my mother, Pamela Sue Morton, passed away at the age of 55. She was diagnosed with brain cancer in June 2015.

Mom and me, circa 1983. Photo by Kim Bagwill.

Mom and me, circa 1983. Photo by Kim Bagwill.

A little about my mom:

She loved animals. I’ve lost track of the number of wounded or abandoned wild animals that she rehabilitated, but the list includes a crow, a baby possum, baby raccoons, baby skunks, a wounded sparrow, and so on. Over the years she kept cats, dogs, horses, a peacock, ducks, goats, chickens, a turkey, and a couple of cockatiels.

For twenty years she worked with adults with developmental disabilities. She earned a degree in psychology over the course of ten years while raising a family and working full time. Along the way she learned American Sign Language and found time to teach herself to juggle. Later she would work with people living with dementia.

At one time or another she served on just about every committee in her church: Sunday school teacher, superintendent, treasurer, ham dinner committee, youth group leader, choir, deacon… those are just the ones I know about.

She cooked and baked. Sometimes for fun, sometimes for us, and sometimes for some extra cash on the side. She made cookies and cakes. Huge cakes! Elaborate wedding cakes with staircases and real running fountains. She never once charged enough for all the work she put into them.

Originally I had written more on this, about how I’m feeling, about how the situation has changed my perspective and informed my decisions for the last three years. I think I’ll let more of that come out organically as I put out more art and music and discuss the process.

When I first made an announcement to friends not yet in the loop I wrote, “She put the needs of others before herself more than any person I have ever known.” My cousin Jordan went on to say, “I have no doubt that many who knew you will be inspired for the rest of their lives by your kindness and quiet perseverance. I just hope that the good we do in your memory will be enough to make up for the loss this world has experienced with you no longer in it.” That is something I will be thinking about in all things I do moving forward.

Introducting Notebooks and Pencils (Maybe)

Two weeks ago I activated listings for 15 categories of vintage American made pencils and 11 of my Vari-Dot notebooks. June will mark a year that I have spent prototyping these notebooks. I have given away as many as I now have available for sale and I have scrapped a fair number in the research and development process.

Silver Coca-Cola Pencils

Silver Coca-Cola Pencils: I love how the lacquer dripped over the edge of these pencils.

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1Q 2018 Progress Report

Two weeks ago I sat down and wrote out a To-Do list for Neat and Keen. The following week I had off from my regular job and planned to accomplish it all. However, I always underestimate how long a task will take and how many other distractions will arise.

Custom Printer Catch

Fancy pants cardbaord paper catch taped to the wide format printer

The biggest accomplishment is that I finally used up all 1000 sheets of 13 x 19 inch 80# Lynx paper. I really like this paper. It’s become the standard for all my notebook prototypes. The remaining paper yielded enough for 10 more Vari-Dot notebooks and one lined notebook. The lines in this one notebook are dotted (not dashed) lines and similarly very light in pigment just like the Vari-Dot ruling. Continue reading

Silkscreen Art & Design 2017 Wishlist

Last year I tried this exercise with the Flatstock Screen Printer’s Wish List 2016, so I thought I might give it another go. Here are some of the things I’d like to add to the studio or maybe things you could use in yours.

70/90/70 Triple Durometer Squeegee Rubber, $43 to $80

Triple Durometer Squeegee Rubber

90 durometer rubber sandwiched by outer layers of 70 durometer.

This has come to be the standard squeegee rubber I use in squeegees. The first roll I ordered was from Gold Up USA via an eBay auction, and at $43 for a six foot roll, it’s a pretty solid price.

The absolute best price I’ve found is from Miami Screen Print Supply. A 12-foot roll is $72.25 plus shipping. Dynamic Screen Printing Supply isn’t much more at $80 for a 12-foot roll. If you’re planning to order other supplies that Dynamic carries, you might do better ordering from them as orders over $150 ship free.

When I ordered 6-feet I thought it was going to last a long time. After making a 19 and 25-inch squeegee, only 28 remained. You go through it faster than you might think, especially if you’re building up your squeegee inventory like myself. When I start investing in the Ergo Force Squeegees (from last year’s list) I’ll probably also buy 12-feet of 70/90/70 squeegee rubber. Continue reading

Two Vari-Dot Notebooks, $602.21. (Just $301.10 each!)

There’s dirty clothes on my bathroom floor. It’s Tuesday and the cupboards are bare having been over a week since I’ve done any grocery shopping. I have dating profiles on half a dozen sites getting zero hits and there are expensive pieces of maple and walnut in the garage waiting for me to turn them into a guitar. To add further insult to injury, in the span of five months I have spent $602.21 to create two Vari-Dot notebooks.

It’s easy to get bogged down in the failures, but the truth is that those two notebooks represent some success and maybe even hope for the future.

Nine book blocks sewed and glued for 5 x 7 inch books, unlikely to be used.

Nine book blocks sewed and glued for 5 x 7 inch books, unlikely to be used.

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Progress Report: July 2016

Egads. It’s been over a month since I’ve last posted anything here. That’s not to say I haven’t been making progress. It’s been pretty quiet because I’ve been working more hours at the “regular” job. It’s a necessary evil in order to make some more cash. What’s that thing about having time or money, but not both?

Template/study for a Triumph motorcycle print

Template/study for a Triumph motorcycle print drawn over the last couple of weekends.

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Printing Job #1

Two weeks ago on May 14 I held the first ever Neat & Keen Open Studio. It went pretty well. Most of the attendees were people I knew personally, but one family stopped by and to my surprise had a printing job for me. And here it is:

Legendary Shack Shakers poster

Legendary Shack Shakers. Art by Brett Whitacre. 3-colors 11 x 17 inches.

I was a little hesitant to take on this job. I’ve not been advertising my printing services because
A) I wasn’t sure I was going to offer printing services. I’m more interested in printing my own work.
B) I am/was just on the cusp of being comfortable enough to take on jobs for hire.

However, I think it turned out pretty decent. The artist is Brett Whitacre and he arrived at the open house with his wife Kate and their daughter. Kate runs Beets + Beats Farm in Sycamore. The Legendary Shack Shakers show (for which Brett is the drummer) happening in DeKalb tonight is part of an effort to raise funds for the farm. And part of that effort is selling these signed gig posters. Continue reading