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....

Friday, December 21, 2012

The cobber's children...

"The cobbler's children have no shoes" refers to the phenomena 
where people who are successful at doing something 
but don't demonstrate that in their own personal lives.
Yes, it's true.  The architect's house is never finished (ahem), and the printmaker's Christmas cards are never made...on time.  Well, I can't speak for all printmakers, just me.  I'm sure that other printmakers are much better organized than I am.
Holiday Open Studios - @ the Clement Mansion, Buffalo
Being so busy, especially in the craft/art show season every fall, my own cards are always the last on the list.  You would think that I'd be on top of this.  

After all, I do this for a (part-time) living.  But with making cards & prints for my Etsy site and for shows, I have a hard time setting aside some time to design my own card.

I also started my architectural design & consulting business this fall, Design Synergies Architecture.  This is a very busy time of year for building design projects - a Christmas Eve or New Year's Eve deadline is not unheard of in the architecture world.
My friend Allie's card for Allieway Marketing Services.
I wanted to send out a card for Design Synergies this year,  but I've been flat-out busy this week with a new project and that didn't happen.  Oh well, next year....

 Designing my own Christmas card is the biggest challenge, not finding the time to make it. 
I cannot function on what I call the "retail calendar".  There's probably some official name or acronym for it, but you know what I'm talking about:  that infuriating schedule that dictates the display of Halloween candy at the end of August, and Christmas merchandise on the day after Halloween.  
Jennette's beautifully designed photo card
I get that retailers are purchasing their wares a season or two ahead of the rest of us.  But I cannot design Christmas cards in July.  I've tried.  I just can't get into it.  Therefore, I always leave the designing to the last minute, when I'm surrounded by all things Christmas.  And by then, I'm fully immersed in the show season, and have no time to do anything for myself.

Yes, I'll take some cheese with that w(h)ine....   
Julia's card - love it!
I love the handmade card from my friend Julia, which features her dog and her cute kid.  And my friend Jennette's card - more cute kids! - made with Shutterfly.  I thought about doing a photo collage card, showing pictures of our house renovation.  But it didn't feel Christmasey enough.  Pictures of old wallpaper just don't say "Holly Jolly" to me.

I did find time to carve a block of our house, and it took 4 days for the ink to dry.  I wasn't crazy about the proof that I printed, but then I got busy again and never got back to it.  
Proof of the "Our House" card.
And that means my own Christmas cards are officially going to be late this year.  It's December 21st, and I still haven't decided on the design.  There's a lot of pressure (okay, it's self-imposed) to come up with something new.  

I've been doing this for 16 years, so most of my family and friends have seen all of the old designs.  I admit - I did send out old cards a few years ago when I found myself in a similar time crunch. 

Last year, I had NO time at all, and sent out store-bought cards.  Yeah, I heard about THAT.

In my own defense, they were from the Paintbox Project, a fundraiser for the Roswell Park Cancer Center in Buffalo.  It was a very good cause.  So there.
Designs for the holiday text cards...
Last night, as my husband and I listened to traditional German carols, I had the idea that I could do an embossed card with "Merry Christmas" in German (for his heritage), Irish Gaelic (for part of my heritage), and English.  It seemed like a promising idea.  

But have you ever carved linoleum?  How about carving text in linoleum?  A lot of text.  

Yeah, I abandoned that idea and poured myself a glass of wine instead.

Maybe I'll send out recycled tags instead.  That's easier.
So, it's December 21st, and I still haven't come up with a card design.  It isn't going to happen in time to mail for Christmas.  I accept that.  

I'm switching gears to come up with a Happy New Year card instead.  And if that doesn't work, expect an Old Christmas Day card from me, to celebrate an old Newfoundland tradition.  I can get my cards out by January 6th, I think.  Maybe.

Whatever you celebrate, and on whatever day you celebrate it, I hope it's happy and peaceful.  Enjoy!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

First show of the year - done!

After moving into and renovating a house over the past 4 months, and being laid off from my dayjob in October, I had decided not to unpack my studio this fall.  I wanted to focus instead on launching my new architectural & consulting firm, Design Synergies Architecture P.C. 

But thanks to the very persuasive Marinette Koslow (Inspired Buffalo), I decided to do a couple of shows this year, starting with the Artists in Buffalo Holiday Open Studios last weekend.  Marinette and Mary Czajkowski (Bejewelled) were two of the organizers, and they convinced me that I should be there.  I'm glad I did it.

If you live in the Buffalo area, you may have gone to the Gifts, Gingerbread and Glitz event at Gilda's Club in previous years.  Unfortunately, Gilda's Club decided not to continue with it this year.  That left the organizers from Artists in Buffalo scrambling to find a new venue.  Although the Burchfield Penney Art Center and more than a dozen artists' studios were on the map, there still needed to be another "anchor" site to help round out the weekend event.

Fortunately, they found a new host:  the Greater Buffalo American Red Cross, located in the historic Clement Mansion on Delaware Avenue.  

I'm an architect, so I absolutely loved spending the weekend in the Clement Mansion. The woodwork and the decorative plaster ceilings are stunning.  It was the perfect backdrop for the artists that exhibited there all weekend.  Each artist donated 20% of their sales to the Red Cross.  And our gracious hosts even bought us pizza on both days for lunch!

Traffic may have been a little less than in previous years, but I had a good show.  I bought a couple of gifts and met some new artist friends.  I'm looking forward to doing it again next year.  And when I got home on Sunday evening, I had a large order from a new wholesale client in West Virginia and two Etsy orders.  It was a good weekend!

Next and last show for me this year will be the Last Minute Panic Sale this coming weekend at the Western New York Book Arts Center.  It opens at 4pm on Friday evening, December 14th, and goes until 8 p.m.  On Saturday, the hours are noon to 6 p.m.  I'm a member of WNYBAC, and I did the show for the first time last year.  I really enjoyed the setting and the great artists last year.

With all that's been going on over the past 2 months, with work and Etsy orders/show prep, I've given very little thought to my own Christmas cards.  Last year, I was so busy that I ended up buying cards, and boy, did I hear about it!  But it was in support of two very good causes - my own sanity and Roswell Park Cancer Center.

This year, as usual, it will be a mad dash to the finish as I try to get my inventory back up and print new work for the BAC show, and somehow find time to design and print my own cards in the coming week.  Oh, and finish Christmas shopping.  And package gifts to mail to my family in Canada and North Carolina.

It will all get done.  And there will be wine at the end of it  :-)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Getting back to business

It's been quite a year.  The 4 draft posts that I've started since January never materialized into finished posts, and I didn't print for months, because of many reasons - too cold to print in the (uninsulated) sunroom studio being the main one, then it quickly became too hot to print in the (non-air-conditioned) sunroom studio. 
The sunroom studio...before we moved.

But primarily, I've been too darn busy this year dealing with personal and professional challenges and haven't had time to print, or to even think about printing.  I've watched my closest friend go through a frightening health scare, bought a house, renovated said house, started another business, packed up the sunroom studio, and moved it all to our new home.  Now it's August September, and I'm finally getting around to unpacking and getting organized. 

There's nothing quite like receiving invitations to sell at Holiday shows, only to realize that you don't know where all of your stuff is, you have no idea how much inventory you have (because you can't find it), and you're not too sure where the movers put your press! 

Well, all of the above have been found/documented/sorted themselves out, and now I'm starting to gear up for the holiday season.  I've decided not to do the Women's Gifts Show this year in Buffalo, and to focus more on retail and online sales.  I may still do the show at the WNY Book Arts Center - undecided on that one. 

Shows take up an extraordinary amount of time to get ready for and to actually do.  I admire people who make their living doing shows.  It isn't easy.  I have a hard time finding help for those days (or entire weekends), and it's really hard doing a show by yourself. 

I had seriously considered doing the Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts over the past 3 years.  It's a wonderful show and is always well-attended.  But I just cannot do two long days like that. Kudos to those who can.

I've had some large orders so far this year for wedding shower invites, corporate greeting cards, and party favours.  That's a market that I would like to explore further, especially doing larger custom orders.  I also want to get back to doing more prints, and larger embossed work.  And I'm really excited about having a new studio to set up and work in.  More space, plus it's heated in the winter and cooled in the summer!  You won't hear me complaining about that again :-)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy 2012!

New Sunflowers print - Artist's proofs.
I don't know about you, but I'm happy to wave good-bye to 2011.  It was a year of challenges, and of starts and stops, and some health scares (for me and a couple of people dear to me).  Thankfully, all is good in that department.

On the positive side, Tuckamore Design had a good year - about the same financially as 2010, but it felt like more progress was made on Etsy and locally.  There were some really cool highlights, like having repeat customers (love that!) and breaking out of the artist's block that kept me away from my studio for months.

I finally printed a black and white image that I was happy with, after messing with several ideas for what seemed like ages.  I also satisfied my curiousity about hand-colouring those images (the consensus was that they looked better in B&W!).

2012 will be a busy year for me on several fronts including printmaking.  I'm compiling massive to-do lists, refusing to call them "resolutions" because I never keep those.  But I can eventually work my way through a to-do list. 

What my dining room looks like, from October to Christmas
At the top of the 2012 list is to re-take a lot of photos for my website and my Etsy shop.  I have a lovely new camera and cannot wait to try it soon as the sun comes out, that is.

I'd also like to focus more on wholesale and online sales, less on shows.  I only did two this year - Women's Gifts and the Last Minute Panic Sale at the Western New York Book Arts Center

I'd love to do both of those shows again.  But I'm going to be selective about doing any more than that.  Shows are a lot of work.  I always end up with way more stock than I need just to make a 3x6' table look reasonably full.  

I had my work at the Niagara Holiday Market this year, thanks to 464 Gallery.  I haven't heard about sales yet, but that was a new type of venue for me.  I'd love to get my work into more retail outlets and galleries.

Wising everyone a healthy, peaceful, and productive New Year!