Hey everyone - how we all doing? Where ya been? Who'd you see? Whatchya hear? Hahahahahaha…well, I think we all know the answers to those questions: nowhere, no one, nothing! I've got nothing to say about this whole quarantine situation that someone else hasn't already said a thousand times - it's both terrifying and boring, everything is surreal, I am both frantically working and simultaneously getting absolutely nothing done. I'm sure you all can relate.

Through much of the early days of this pandemic situation, I was desperately looking for a way to help, and finding that my particular skill sets were un-equal to the task. And my usual super power - creativity - was failing me, as well. I couldn't seem to create anything - I didn't really even want to. Watercolors and stationery just seemed so ridiculous and trivial at a time when we were being confronted by the largest disaster in modern history unfolding on the nightly news. But, my pal Mr. Rogers always said "look for the helpers" during hard times, so I kept searching for something I could do...and a few weeks ago, I thought I'd found it! I decided to sell digital stationery through my Etsy shop to raise money for food banks in my hometown of Washington, PA (where the need was great, even before the pandemic) and in my current town of Fredericksburg, VA (where the need is sometimes well hidden). It wasn't earth-shattering, but I wanted to try to encourage folks to send letters (something I am always trying to encourage), and use the proceeds to spread the good. In the midst of those early, terrifying days, I had received an actual letter from a friend in the mail, and I literally cried tears of joy over it. Maybe its not earth-shattering, but mail does help.

So, I got my first three charitable listings up in my Etsy shop (which seemed like climbing Mt. Everest - my motivation and ability to focus is SHOT right now) and put out a little announcement on the social medias...Annnnnd 48 hours later, Etsy sent me a cease and desist letter and de-activated the listings. Now, I don't want to bash Etsy here - they are quite rightly cracking down on people trying to profit off of the disaster (and yes, there are some truly reprehensible people out there doing just that), so they were simply deactivating any listing that mentioned Covid-19 and fundraising due to a lack of manpower to investigate the legitimacy of each one. I get it, but I was a bit miffed. The Ham has a pretty lengthy track record of selling creative products to raise money over the years - from the Onward poster which supports women's shelters, to the Mr. Rogers poster which raises money to support the ACLU and the reunification of detained immigrant children. I mean, I get it, but geez.

Anyway, I wallowed in that set-back for awhile, and then finally put my big girl pants on and got down to the odious task of creating my own e-commerce site on the Canned Ham Studio web-page, so that I could sell these charitable products myself. Honestly, this was a good thing. I have been debating starting my own on-line store for awhile, and really the only thing stopping me was the fact that I knew how tedious and annoying setting the whole thing up would be. And I wasn't wrong - it was. I am no computer wiz, I have problems getting my laptop to turn off sometimes (no joke - this happens to me regularly...?). But it's done now, and while the only things listed are the items I'm selling to raise money (including all of the coloring pages normally available on Etsy), I feel like its kind of a huge accomplishment. Change is good - even when you're dragged into it, kicking and screaming (with a lot of whining on the side).

So in closing, let me say that I AM NOT solely dependent on my side hustle to keep me afloat. My day job is still - for the moment - paying me. So if you're looking to support a small maker business in this unbelievably hard time, and you've only got the money to make one purchase, DON'T spend it with me. There are a thousand other folks out there, who truly need every sale, and I want to send you to them. My situation might change at some point, but we're not there yet. In the meantime, PLEASE help me help those who need it right now, and buy some downloads.

Stay safe, stay home and SEND MORE MAIL!

Canned Ham Studio will be set up at the Vintage is for Lovers market, being held on June 8th on the grounds of Maymont, in Richmond, Virginia. Come see me from noon to 4:00! I'll be selling all the latest and greatest in paper goods, AND for the first time ever, I'll have my vintage loot along, too!

Check it out: https://www.facebook.com/vintageisforloversrva/

So, April came and went... that was fast. And for much of April, it was a rather chilly, very wet, soggy mess around these parts. Nothing unusual for April, I suppose, but it can get you down. Hence the inspiration for one of the latest additions to the Etsy shop: the Rainy Day notecard sets!

One of my great vintage loves are umbrellas. Now, I don't advocate actually using vintage umbrellas during a downpour - you will get wet - but they sure do look cute with the right raincoat and wellies! So I decided to try my hand at drawing different varieties of umbrellas, which went reasonably well...and that lead to drawing a pair of wellies, which wasn't half-bad...and, inevitably, I ended up with rain clouds and rainbows, because, well, of course.

Rather than doing my usual watercolor paintings, I decided to digitally colorize these drawings (I've been on a bit of a digital roll lately), using a muted blue and gray palette, with bright pops of primary colors. I also tried a vintage-y, funky faux-printing technique, wherein the dark ink outlines of the images were off-set from the colored centers just a bit. I'm sure there is a professional name for this technique but I don't know it, and I'm sure that back in the day it was byproduct of printing presses actually being misaligned, and I'm not going to even get into how long it took me to figure out how to reproduce something that looks so simple, but in the end I was really happy with the look.

I also deviated from my usual "inside-out" envelopes (for those of you unfamiliar with my love of pattern, I often make envelopes out of heavily patterned paper, instead of hiding it inside as the liner - more is more, in my opinion) and used the final colorized drawings to make envelope liners for some brilliant solid-color envelopes.

Yep, I like these puppies! Just perfect for sending a quick pick-me-up note to a friend on a cloudy day. So cute...I truly wish I owned wellies in three different colors!