Good is Not Enough

In 1988 or ’89, when I was teaching high school and overseeing the student government, we came up with a phrase for spirit week: Good is not enough. We meant to share it as motivation– to encourage students to do more, try harder, reach higher. Even the football team yelled it during warm-ups before games.

I think about my own work now and ponder the impact of those words. If good is not enough, then nothing can be shared unless it is great. Perfect. No blemishes.

I struggle with that because I’ve spent a lot of time lately thinking about failure and how important it is to fail well. By that, I mean to take risks, push myself. And if that means something doesn’t work, that’s fine. I’ll learn from it and move on. Yet, sharing mistakes or work that isn’t quite there is risky, too. What will people think?

Photographer Donna Hopkins addressed this in a recent blog post, and I found myself nodding along as I read:

There will always be those who discount my work, places that make me fearful, and things that stir up doubt and insecurity. And this is why mentors are important. These are the people I respect, and I see something in their life and work that can help me to take the next steps.

I absolutely love her quote from photographer Henry Lohmeyer :

It’s not our work at its best that begs to be heard, it’s our glorious falters, our enormous mistakes and it’s our honest brokenness that wants to be heard. It’s not our work that we’re showing, it’s ourselves and we deserve noting.

Working hard, learning more, trying again–these are traits that will help me improve my work. But being honest in the process and not simply showing shiny, pretty results makes the journey real.

Working on a Collection

IMG_5168I’ve struggled with how to define my work as Downtown Writing and Press.

Not that I have to. But I want to.

After a fabulous conversation with Emily Blistein, I’ve realized I don’t have to give up loving traditional letterpress printing OR enjoying designing on polymer plates. Ta da– my two collections:

The Classic Collection

The Fresh Collection

I’m still working out the details, but come along on the journey!

Home and Jane


This Jane Austen quote appeals to me, but it was a friend who asked me to make a gift card for a friend. Shhhh, that’s all I can say at this point, and I can’t reveal the back.

It’s fun to be challenged to learn new things– like printing on the back of the card, which means lining up everything.

My next challenge is two-color registration. Stay tuned!

She’s Here

Actually, she arrived a couple of weeks ago. But I’ve been busy closing Water Street, moving into my new space at IMG_4865Forage Studio, and figuring her out.

The biggest problem will be having what I need both at home and the shop, something that’s already proven to be an issue. So perhaps over the next few weeks I’ll see if I can duplicate some items like furniture and leading.

Either way, I am SO excited. I love the first card I was able to pull off the press.


When the Dark Gets Me Down




Is it the dark? Or is it the cold rain?

Either way, I struggle (as my dad often did) with this weather. Nevertheless, I must pull on my boots (literally pulling on Birkenstock boots today) and head out. I am attending the University of Mary Washington Student Holiday Market as a vendor. I have to admit– this is not my favorite thing to do. Who likes selling themselves? But if I want to get my work out into the world, I have to, well, get it out into the world.

And what I know about weather is this: it always changes, much like anything, any moment in life.