Lady Baby just marked her six-month birthday. On our June visit, she used her hands with concentrated effort to manipulate what she’s picked up or been handed. She rotates each object (anything new and safe I can think of – my little alarm clock, the red “Keep Calm” water bottle, a zipped up toiletries bag) and studies all sides.
Using voices high-pitched or low, we ask her how big are you?? Then answer ourselves with arms stretched wide: SOOOOooo Big!! (of course). When a friend of ours, but a new person to Lady Baby, told her she looked so big, she broke into a big grin – ah yes, I’ve heard that before!
Textures matter – a rough cotton bedspread, a rustley rain jacket, Lady Megan’s fur coat, the bathroom sink faucet. At first I held my arms around her while she sat on the edge, her bare feet in the sink – with just a little drip of water and a shiny faucet to pat. Then her mother suggested a little water in the sink might be fun. We rolled up her pant legs and proceeded to “pool party.” Lady Baby pedals her feet in the water, giggles, and then looks at me in the mirror in confirmation of the fun of it all.
On a beautiful Saturday, everyone was busy with tasks: Mr. Carson scraped and sanded the front porch in painting prep, Mrs. Hughes finished a pillow for the kitchen nook in her workroom, a member of the senior staff mowed the lawn.
Upstairs in the quiet, Lady Baby slept against me. Sunlight filtered through muslin curtains, I could hear birds, the clickety-clack of the push mower, and Lord Cromwell purring at my side – a fine setting for a good long nap.
And during it, I read almost all of Christine Schmidt’s “Print Workshop: Hand Printing Techniques – Truly Original Projects,” a book belonging to Lady Baby’s mother. Schmidt’s approach is relaxed, very much a “make-do with what you have” guide for the home printer. Regardless of method, the prints have a rustic quality: “uneven, imperfect, just right.”
Schmidt’s accompanying drawings illustrate the tools and techniques she introduces, and I liked reading her supply lists. Not complicated, but including things unfamiliar to me – a way to make a big stamp pad out of felt, something called a “rubber block” which looks a lot easier to carve than linoleum or wood (though she writes about those also). Schmidt describes embroidery as “drawing with thread” – and teaches how to transfer a design to embroider – using printing.
It’s inspiring – makes you badly want to stamp or print something – a summer read to encourage fall projects (never too early to prepare now that the summer solstice has been and gone). Maybe it is time to revisit the fun of printing and learn something new!