Tuckamore Design is a very small handcrafted card and print company based in Buffalo, New York. I'm a Canadian transplant, originally from Newfoundland. I've been a printmaker for 15 years, almost as long as I've been an architect. I never formally studied art, but I've taken classes from a handful of amazing artists at Dundarave Print Workshop in Vancouver, BC, and NSCAD in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

I love paper, especially since I spend a lot of hours every day working on a computer for my other business, Design Synergies Architecture.

I also love to create handcrafted greeting cards for everyday and seasonal occasions. When the inspiration hits (and I have time), I make the occasional original print. Every piece is printed by hand or on an etching press.

In the early days, my prints and cards were featured at the Canadian Craft Museum, the Craft Association of British Columbia shop, and various exhibits in Vancouver and Halifax. My cards have been sold in shops in the Maritime Provinces, Buffalo, NY, and most recently in Martinsburg, West Virginia! Through my Etsy site, my cards have been sent all over the world.

My work is influenced by Celtic and Art Nouveau design, by Scottish architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and by the Arts & Crafts movement. I found inspiration for several years in my front porch container garden in the Elmwood Village in Buffalo, and now I'm daydreaming of spring in my new backyard garden.

My favourite medium is linoleum block printing, especially blind embossed prints (deeply impressed and printed without ink). I'm about to embark on a watercolour adventure, and I'm wondering how that will find its way into my printmaking....

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The art of time managment

I decided that I have to set up a regular schedule for myself so I can juggle all of the things I'm trying to do on a weekly basis.  I'm a list maker, and schedules are right up my alley.  Sticking to them is a whole other story.

When I made up my little spreadsheet, I found out that I "need" to spend almost as much time doing other stuff as I spend at my day job each week.  That's a little on the crazy side, I think.

Quitting my job isn't an option.  Neither is working part-time.  Winning the lottery would solve a lot of problems!

So, my solution is to add a heavy dose of reality to my time management skills and set reasonable time frames for my writing (I also write a green design column at, printmaking, volunteering (USGBC and other organizations), and architecture.  Oh, and still make time to get to the gym and take care of my garden.  Sure, no problem.
No wonder I'm asleep on the couch by 9pm.

It's not hard to figure out what's wrong with that scenario.  There are not enough hours in the week to accomplish all that I want to do.  Which brings me to the crux of the problem:  I set very high expectations for me.  I know I'm not the only one.  It must be a common problem amongst artists.  Or maybe it's just Leo's.  The trick is figuring out how to deal with it effectively, and that's something I'm still working on.

In order to make printmaking the essential part of my life that I want it to be, I have to make the time for it.  I'm toying with the idea of working my 40-hour day job in 4 days instead of 5, so that I have a full day to focus on art.  It sounds good on paper, but I'm not sure about the reality of it. 

Thing is, I already spend a decent amount of time at the office so compressing that into four days might actually be a good thing.  Knowing that I have one full day a week to print might make all the day-to-day drudgery easier to get through!

Printmakers - and artists who work in other wet media - will understand that you can't do this in an hour here and an hour there.  You really need - well, I really need - a concentrated effort over several hours, preferably at least half a day to really accomplish something.  There's paper to be cut or torn to size and soaked, new blocks to be sketched and carved, blocks to be inked, mistakes to be made, etc.  It's a time-consuming and often finicky process.

And you can't just leave in mid-stream:  once you roll out the ink, or the paper is soaked, you're committed.  There is a time limit in which things must get done or you'll be tossing things out.  That drives me crazy.  I hate wasting good paper and ink, or worse - rushing through the process and ruining a print.

I envy my friend Carol, who is a retired architect and a fabulous watercolourist.  She devotes time to her art, attends great workshops, and thoroughly enjoys it.  Retirement is probably along way off for me, but when I picture it (putting aside the current horror of my 401k) I see myself in a little printmaking studio with a tiny gallery out front, happily drinking tea and making prints.  Ahhh.

If only the lottery gods would smile on me, that would happen a lot sooner!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Where art & architecture collide...Cool ideas for Artists' Studios

It's not often that both of my passions - architecture and art - cross paths, but recently they did on Wet Canvas's printmaking forum. A post by bridog on artists' studios led me to chime in with some of the research I've been doing on prefab buildings

In developing some ideas for architectural design competitions over the past year, I've found a lot of examples of studio and shed "kits" and built projects that would be ideal for an artist. I've even sketched a few ideas of my own for imaginary clients (including myself). One recent competition that some friends and I entered was for a green "shed" for a community garden in Vancouver. We didn’t win, but we’re thinking about building a demonstration project this summer. We’re also toying with the idea of building the design as a birdhouse.

The idea of a shed in the woods, or cabin on a pond, appeals to the artist in many of us. My studio at the moment occupies about half of the sunporch off the back of our house. It's about 5 feet deep and 12 feet long, with most of it is being used for storage. So my printmaking activities often spill over into the kitchen and onto the dining room table.

My ideal studio would be lit by natural light, heated by a tiny woodstove, and be just big enough to hold all of the stuff and processes associated with printmaking.  I need countertops - horizontal surfaces are essential - with a sink and built-in storage shelves for paper and a drying rack. I like the idea of something detached so that the mess is contained. But I've gotten used to toddling out into the sunporch in my PJ's at any time, day or night, to check on how something is drying or run a quick test print on a new block.

After reading the posts on WetCanvas from artists who’d like to have a self-contained studio, I decided to start working on design concepts for a backyard studio. It’s a fun little design project that satisfied the architect and artist sides of me.

Monday, May 10, 2010

A windy day at the Gardens

Buffalo Indie Market’s Mother’s Day show was a hit at the Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Garden on Saturday, until the windstorm warnings…. Seriously!  It started as a beautiful sunny morning, but that changed by lunchtime.  Severe wind gusts rolled through the area, and the staff decided to close at 2:00, a few hours before their normal Saturday closing time.  I’m not sure how many people were there, but there was at least one tour bus and plenty of visitors who came by my table.   

I was running late all morning and just got myself there in time to set up.  So I thought I would take some outdoor photos after the show but the wind was really bad and the sky had clouded over.  It's a really lovely Victorian conservatory-styled structure, and the clear blue sky would have made a great backdrop, but the dark gray clouds - not so much.  Next time, I won't procrastinate!
My sales were better than at the Valentine’s Day show, so I was a happy camper. I sold some of my Gerbera Daisy and Celtic cards, and a Celtic-inspired print that I’ve been carrying around for about 10 years! Glad that it found a new home. I also had some great positive feedback, possibly even an architectural client, so it was a good day. It’s a really nice venue. I wasn’t sure how all of the vendors and plants would mix, but it was nicely done, even with the crazy weather outside. I hope the Market goes back there again sometime.

There are three more Indie Market summer shows coming up.  I’m not sure if I will do those because I’m not crazy about outdoor shows. I’d need to invest in a tent, which isn’t a huge deal, I guess. And all three shows are in the Elmwood Village, within walking distance of my house. I’m considering the one in July, which coincides with the Buffalo Garden Walk weekend. My “botanical” cards and prints would be good for that. 

I debuted a new SafetyKut design of day lilies this weekend, and that got a lot of nice comments, especially because I had the plate on my table next to the finished product.  Having the plates and tools there catches attention - I would highly recommend doing that if you're doing a sale or show.  If I decide to do the Garden Walk show in July, I think I will bring my little press and do some demo's.
So now that the show is over, I can reclaim my dining room table, organize the studio, and start working on that series of architecturally-inspired embossing that I’ve wanted to do for a while.  Really looking forward to doing some new work!