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OK – I am NOT tooting my own horn, here. I don’t like to do that and I cringe when other people do it. What I’m talking about here is the loveliness in something – anything – that is so clearly made by hand. Yes, I did some illustrations for Wendell August but their artisans turned them into something really worth putting on your tree. I was happy with the photos I saw in their catalog and online but when I received the samples in the mail this past week, I loved what I saw. You can tell, looking at each ornament, that someone – a real, live person, touched every piece of pewter and softened the rough spots and polished the surfaces. Each piece is stamped on the back and – gasp – the stamps aren’t uniform! I love it. I am so thrilled to be a part of this great group of people in Western PA that appreciate the value of the handmade.

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Wendell August Forge is America’s oldest and largest forge, producing hand-wrought ornamental metalware and elegant giftware in aluminum and other metals since 1923.

It’s here! I’ve been working with Wendell August since early this year and I’m excited and proud to announce the first launch: Gifts from the Sea. A hearty thanks goes out to Hilary Meurer for hooking me up with the great team at Wendell August and making this collaboration possible.

The first step was to create a thumbnail sketch for a 9×12 piece of art featuring shells and their names. Below is my sketch.

And here is the final illustration:

From there the craftsmen at Wendell August made their magic happen and hand-hammered the design to create a mold from which to cast the products in the collection. I am going to head up north soon and take the tour of the factory and learn more about the production but in the meantime their website says this: “This process includes Die Engraving by a master engraver, Material Selection and Cutting, Repousse (Hammering), Surface Anvilling, Edging, Carbon Coloring, a three step polishing process, and Forming. ”

I am thankful for the opportunity to work with Wendell August as so few things seem to be made in America anymore, let alone made with care by artists and craftsmen who love what they do and take pride in it.

Today feels good.

After the big push to get TO the National Stationery Show and then get home FROM the show and unpack, decompress, etc, we then hopped a plane to Boston and spent some time exploring much of what New England has to offer. My baby brother tied the knot (I was a groomswoman!) in New Hampshire and then the entire crew went to York, Maine for a day trip to unwind. After that we headed to a college-friend’s farm and hung out with her family which includes two horses, six guinea hens, a herd/school/smack/murder of ducks, a dog and a cat. Three days of bird calls, owls at night, fresh air and good sleep = delight. AND I have a huge new crush on the Maine coast.

Now we’re home and the reality of filling all those awesome orders from the Show is setting in. I also have some projects that I really want to dig into while it’s still 2011. We’ll see how it all plays out. In the meantime I just got word that one of the projects I worked on a few months back is set to launch imminently. I was hoping to have some behind-the-scenes photos and all sort of good details on said project but life got in the way. I’ll have to sit on my hands and wait to see what the company rolls out.

Until later.