Category Archives: Process

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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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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Vari-Dot Grid Research and Bullet Journal Giveaway

This is part of an on going series of posts following the variable size dot grid notebook research and development, aka Vari-Dot. For previous posts please see:

Vari-Dot Grid Research

While waiting for screens to dry and such, I’ve been working away on this Vari-Dot book. Here’s what I’m looking to make now.

(If you’re just here for the Bullet Journal Giveaway, you have to keep scrolling a bit)

Diagram 1: Dimensions of the proposed Vari-Dot Layout book

Diagram 1: Dimensions of the proposed Vari-Dot Layout book

I want a big book. Almost a sketchbook, but with more order. This is a plan for a 9 x 12 inch book with perforated pages and double wire-o binding. Not shown at this scale is the new Vari-Dot graphic that I’ve been testing. Continue reading

New Prints, Dough Giveaway, and Project Updates!

August was a great month for printmaking as I finished two print runs. Now the arduous task of publishing them online and selling them will begin. Before that happens we’re having a Dough Giveaway along with some Andy Warhol books! First, the print…

“Dough”

“Dough” was first declared done in May of 2016. Wow. Then it was a 5-color silkscreen print and I debuted it at the first ever Neat & Keen Open Studio. To my dismay (and possibly good fortune) I didn’t sell any copies then. Since it wasn’t out in the wild anywhere, I decided to print more colors on top of it this summer and here’s what we have.

"Dough." 7-color silkscreen print on 100# Cougar, 19 x 25 inches

“Dough.” 7-color silkscreen print on 100# Cougar, 19 x 25 inches

It is now a 7-color silkscreen on 19 x 25 Cougar 100# cover stock. When I first printed it over a year ago I was determined not to get carried away with the number of colors, but now that it has two additional screens I love this piece even more. Continue reading

Variable Size Dot Grid Notebook [Part 1]

This is part of an on going series of posts following the variable size dot grid notebook research and development. For more, please see: Variable Size Dot Grid Notebook Research [Part 2]


Today I’m going to share the details (and download) of my latest idea, the Variable Size Dot Grid Notebook.

I’ve always liked stationery and office supplies. With this particular idea, I asked myself if I were going to have a store and offer just one line of notebooks, what would be the best notebook line to carry? There’s lots of great notebooks out there, but eventually it led to me designing what would be the best notebook for me.

Now everyone has different needs and wants from a notebook, so there is no one perfect model or brand. One size does not fit all. Still, I’m pretty pleased with the idea I’ve come up with.

First, I like a dot grid layout. As near as I can tell it was first introduced by Rhodia in 2010. In hindsight it seems like such an obvious innovation that it’s difficult to believe it has been around for just seven years. Still, I feel like there’s room for improvement within the dot grid. Here’s what I came up with.

The Variable Size Dot Grid Explained

Zoomed in example of a square Variable Size Dot Grid layout.

Zoomed in example of a Variable Size Dot Grid layout.

The Primary Dot: It measures 0.4mm in diameter, which is a bit smaller than many others notebooks. The Primary Dot composes the standard grid on most dot grid notebooks. Continue reading

Colored Squares!

And now introducing, Colored Squares!

Square drawing with shadow and orange background

Two-color silkscreen print on Bristol board about 9 x 12 inches

It’s been too long since I’ve printed anything. I first shared a prototype of this design back in September, and really need to print something even if it was wrong. It’s a super small edition of just ten prints, but in four different colors. Continue reading

New Art Supplies Day!

Over the last week I have acquired a bounty of new art supplies! They may not all be exciting as blank sketchbooks and fresh pencils, but here’s some of the interesting stuff I got and why:

Roman 880 Wallpaper Paste

Gallon of Roman 880 wallpaper pasteHazaa! I have a gallon of wallpaper paste. How’s that for art supplies? This may not seem exciting, but I was advised that this makes good screen printing ink. It is essentially methyl cellulose with a preservative (I think propylene glycol). One caveat I’ve heard about it is that it can make for a less flexible print if you plan to roll it and print several layers. However, I also understand that it is archival. The big selling for for me is that it’s cheap. At $15/gallon it’s almost a quarter of what Golden Silkscreen Medium costs me. If it dries in the screen you can simply rewet it. That can be a con as well because if your final print gets wet, it is going to be damaged. At any rate it was worth picking up to experiment with. I got mine from Sherwin Williams, but other stores carry it in a different packaging. Continue reading

Motorcycle Keyline and Stuff In Progress

Black ink motorcycle on frosted mylar, 18 x 24 inches.

Black ink on frosted mylar, 18 x 24 inches.

Wow. It is September 9 already and I haven’t posted here since the end of June. Where did July and August go? I’ll tell you: Work. At the beginning of July I transferred to a different building at work as part of a promotion. The good news is that my base pay is more than 20% greater. The bad news is that the hours are killing me. In one recent two-week period I worked 128 hours. This week looks like it’s going to be the same deal. So it’s not that I don’t want to be working on art, it’s just that I’m so spent at the end of the day that it’s hard to make a lot of progress.

Above is the keyline in progress for my motorcycle print. At one point I’d hoped to be printing this by August. It’s probably going to be difficult to sell motorcycle prints at the end of October. Maybe I’ll sit on them until spring. Continue reading

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