October Updates: Wood Working, Quote Collecting, and the Originality Conundrum

Oh dear. Is it really October?! Has it been a month since I popped a few words onto this blog? 

Here's a quick update, since the last time...

  • I flew to Kansas City for the last wedding of 2015! What an honor. We attended 5 very different and incredibly beautiful weddings this year all over the country, but there was one common denominator: The exchange of vows made me cry.  ALWAYS. 
  • I hosted one of my dearest for a few days, and ended up with a more adult version of a bff necklace. I LOVE THIS RING. Haven't taken it off since she left. Okay, maybe just for a shower or two.  


  • Work got real tough. When your work (and life) revolves around people, sometimes your heart gets broken a little bit. I have to offer myself the counterintuitive reminder that the heart break is a good sign. It means my real self has skin in the game. It means I have not grown cold to the work that I do. It means I am still in need of learning, of wisdom, of forgiveness, and of second chances. 


  • Our CSA share has come to an end. Last week was our last pick up, so I'm savoring the zinnias pictured here for as long as humanly possible. I've received many, many questions about buying into a CSA (False. I have received none.) so maybe I'll do a post soon about pros/cons for "going green" and "buying local" [Basically, this hypothetical post would be summed up as thus: It is expensive. You cannot possibly eat all the swiss chard they give you. SPLIT THE SHARE.]


So there's a few highlights from that last month, but I saved the best for last...

My artistic endeavors have expanded!

After I "announced" Lacy Blaine Lettering (which, let's be real, was just an excuse to create a new hashtag), I kept racking my brain for ways to combine my love of natural elements and decor with my love for painting and lettering. 

Wood was the perfect solution. 

If you've even dipped a toe into the DIY world, you know that slim cuttings of tree stumps are making their way into everything: living room coffee tables, wedding receptions, restaurants, just everything

So I thought, why not put 'em onto our walls as well?

With my vast woodworking experience (False. I have none.), I had full confidence that this new endeavor wouldn't require much labor. And it didn't. Because I called my friend Greg, and he brought 40 stumps to me the very next day. 

THAT'S what I call a game plan, people! Delegation! :) 

Greg is a champ and I owe him pot roasts and banana bread for the rest of his life.

But once I had the stumps, they sort of just sat in my RA Staff's office, looking glum. Why?

Because the next step was on me. 

Sigh. Why does it take me eons to get my act together?

(Oh, right. See all the events, travel, and quality friend time featured in the update above. Good enough reasons to not get all my art work accomplished!)

This past Friday, I finally had the time and the equipment (on loan from another fantastic friend and colleague-are you sensing a theme here?) to sand the stumps. I would like to take this opportunity to both apologize and thank the 160 residents in my dorm for putting up with the sound of an electronic sander outside your windows for three straight hours. Bless. Your. Hearts. 

I lost a good number of the original stumps to cracks, something akin to dry rot, and other misgivings, but now I've got about 25 good quality pieces of wood to work with. 

I'm anxious to fill them with colors and letters! 

Which brings me to my next announcement:

I'm now collecting quotes! 

YOUR QUOTE SUGGESTIONS WELCOME! Leave a quote you love in the comments!

Quote collecting may be my favorite part of this whole crazy process. I've been a quote lover since I was a little girl, regularly adding to a Word document full of sayings organized around particular themes. A couple people who know about my project have made specific request for a particular quote or phrase, which I LOVE. One of my besties wants a beautiful verse from a Mary Oliver poem for her office, and I can't wait to get started on it and see how it will come together. Planning out the letters is sort of like puzzle-solving, and finding the right fit is a sigh of relief and accomplishment. 

For now, I've been keeping doodles of quotes in my journal. It's the "first phase", if you will, for mapping out size and space. 

There are quite a few classic quotes that you'll see over and over in the lettering world. "Choose Joy" is one of them. I see it over and over again, but I don't mind. It's a simple and much-needed reminder for most of us. 

But I am hoping to come up with a few phrases I haven't seen before...

Okay, so this one ain't going up for sale. It just brought a smile to my face.

Unless there's a mega pico de gallo lover out there?

But this one might be! "New morning, New mercy" is my spin off of a well-loved passage from Lamentations. I don't think I've seen this phrase in use yet, but I'm sure someone somewhere thought it up before I did. If not, IT IS HEREBY CLAIMED! :) 

I Skyped with a fellow creative friend recently and brought up the whole "who did it first" conundrum. I know full well I'm not the first person to put paint on wood and call it art. Though I will admit that I thought my "paint a quote on wood" idea was sort of original for a couple weeks before the "Discovery" section on Instagram proved me dead wrong. DANG YOU, SEARCH BAR!

I'm still trying to sort through originality, especially when it comes to this type of lettering art. I mean, we're talking about putting words onto a page, people. Writing is not exactly a niche market. I can think of two friends this very moment who also spin their love for lettering into sellable goods. 

Personally, I think the accessibility of lettering is a large part of its appeal. No one has a corner on the cursive industry, and that allows for discovery and creativity without inhibition. But I also want to be respectful and maybe even original.

I'm miles away from knowing what originality will mean for me and for Lacy Blaine Lettering. I've gotten recommendations for trademarking my "font", but I'm not sure that's the road I want to go down. In my humble and inexperienced opinion, the only way to Originality Land is by putting in the work. It will take trial and error. It will take mistakes. It will take creating a beautiful and seemingly unique piece only to find the exact same thing being sold on Amazon for half the cost. 

I know these are some of the risks, but I still believe the work is the only way forward. 

Whew! Well, how's that for an update? :) 

As always, thanks for reading! I'm grateful for each and every one of you. 



Lacy Blaine Lettering

Creating art is a guilty pleasure for me. 

It's hard to justify spending hours on perfecting the curves of a simple phrase, stroke after stroke forming one sentence and a few watercolor flowers, but I could easily give an afternoon to the joy of creating art. Would it be as joyous if I knew how to justify it? I'm not so sure it would. 

                                                                                Copying the master, Monet.  

The full expression of my delight in making art is when I can give creativity away, to friends, family, forthcoming babies, and so on.  

When someone I know (or someone I don't know who knows someone I know!) reaches out to say:

"Hey! Lacy" Would you be willing to _______"

I'm not always eager to reply. But if they fill in that blank with

write a poem down on a card for my friend

create a watercolor for a baby shower

address wedding invitations

These gold and turquoise place cards were SO much fun to paint, even if they did require a bit of midnight-oil burning. 

These gold and turquoise place cards were SO much fun to paint, even if they did require a bit of midnight-oil burning. 

I respond with an absolute, wholehearted, who-cares-how-busy-life-is-right-now YES! 

In the past, I've been hesitant to share what I create with a wider audience. I've listened to more than a few tales of woe from artists-turned-business-owners who traded in the joy of chasing the muse for the click-click-click of checking emails from customers and the urgency of chasing a consumer's dollar. 

These creators didn't desire to be distant from hands-on making, forming, erasing and painting when they began to make a living off of what they loved. Losing sight of what you love is a gradual movement, like a dwindling house on the shore when you sail out to sea.

I want to stay connected to art with heart, mind, and hands.

And yet, I also want to share it. I want to tiptoe into the market, peek into the exchange of goods, and maybe settle into a small and sustainable way to earn what I need in order to keep creativity a part of my routine.  

I'll be trying out a Holiday Craft Fair for the first time in just a couple of months alongside friends and fellow creators in my community. It'll be me and a small table-just 6 feet of space to show a few pieces of watercolor and lettering-but that's the way I'd want it. 

I'm in it for the delight, not the dollar.

My workspace in my office. The painting on the left was a gift from my Mom, by an artist in Kansas City. 

My workspace in my office. The painting on the left was a gift from my Mom, by an artist in Kansas City. 

Until then, I'll be sharing my progress here on the blog from time to time, as well as on my Instagram (where most of my social media presence seems to land these days).

You can find and follow me @lacyblaine, or search the hashtag #lacyblainelettering to find what I've been up to in the workshop (Which, let's be real, is really a second table in my office. Which, let's be real, I don't mind one bit.)



As always, thanks from the bottom of my heart to my small band of Lacy Blaine readers for paying attention to this space! I'm honored by the gift of having you along for the ride as I move through this gift of life! 


The Busy You Choose

There's something extra shocking about the back-to-school rush. Once August rolls around, lazy summer days skyrocket to nonstop hustling from the moment my feet in the floor in the morning until they curl back under the covers at night. 

Photo by Joey Taraborrelli

Photo by Joey Taraborrelli

I don't always handle the skyrocketing with grace. 

Sometimes I leave people I love on the ground, resenting them for staying down to earth while I soar into another stratosphere.

Sometimes I forget exactly what matters most, thinking of life more as an emergency and my soul as a savings account where I can spend the supply of things that fuel me-good conversation, dinner shared with friends, runs in the morning and walks in the evening-until I run dry.

And here's the irony: when I forget what I need, nobody wins.

I lose touch with myself and people I love, sure, but I also lose touch with the moment, and consequently, with the work that is "demanding" my time. Hustling is a losing game. 

When things go out of balance, I've fallen prey to blaming external forces. "It's this job" I mumble as I run to the grocery store with a long list minutes before closing. "It's my husband," is another tempting one, as the ones nearest and dearest to us usually are in our moments of weakness. 

"It's the ______." We could fill that blank with a hundred things, usually things we chose and loved and admired before the going got hard and circumstances starting squeezing our fringe hours.

But what happens when "busy" is no longer the enemy? 

That was the question I had the privilege to entertain this August. Returning to your job has its perks, and knowing the ropes is one of them. 

Yes it would be hard,

Yes it would be fast,

Yes it would take all my focus and most of my good humor, 

but this year, it would not take me by surprise. 

A couple of everyday moments changed the story for me: 

First, one sunny afternoon before students arrived, God and I did some business on the beach. With His help, I accepted the reality of what was heading my way whether or not I "felt" prepared, and I prayed that life wouldn't crash over me like a wave at high tide. And it didn't. Or maybe life did exactly that, but this time, I released myself to its rising crest, knowing that wave contained the surge of strength that I'd need to push me closer to shore. 

And second, before my job began, I cleaned out my office and threw away all the stuff that didn't serve me the year before. I took a hammer and nail and hung some things in their proper place. A few afternoons later, black trash bags turned into organized file cabinets. And with each piece of old copy paper or broken Dixon pencil that I tossed, I began to choose. 

I chose to open myself up to this community where I live and work once again. I chose to surrender the past, with its peaks and valleys. I chose to remain in the present moment, where belief and mystery meet. 

For the first time, perhaps in my entire life, I chose busy. I didn't just let it happen to me. 

I realize it's only September. We're not through the woods yet (are we ever?), and I can already see another thicket or two up ahead. 

But I know enough now to say this: that one choice has been a game changer.

The very picture of grace...

The very picture of grace...

Choosing busy doesn't mean a free pass from doing what I know is good for me. Saying "yes" to this season means I have to be honest about what it requires. And what it requires is a person who is fully present and fully invested, able to turn off the midnight oil and refuel a little bit every day. 

There are non-negotiables now that I didn't recognize before: rhythms that even a busy life cannot do without. Things like cooking dinner and resting on weekends. Simple stuff. 

(Apparently afternoons on slip-n-slides is one of them?)

One of my main sources of refueling lately has been in the pages of my girl* Brene Brown's latest book, Rising Strong. In it, she writes on integrating struggle and accepting all parts of ourselves in order to live wholehearted lives, and she knows how honest boundaries serve the process: 

"Very early on in my work I had discovered that the most compassionate people I interviewed also have the most well-defined and well-respected boundaries...Compassionate people ask for what they need. They say no when they need to, and when they say yes, they mean it. They're compassionate because their boundaries keep them out of resentment."

Saying yes and meaning it. 

That's what I tried this time around, to see my full and fast-paced life as my own, and not the product of someone else's demands on my time. And when the days go long and the sleeping hours go short, the yes that I said back when the agenda was much shorter is what I remember. I chose this busy.

And today, I'm grateful for it.  



*And by "my girl" I mean I am a longtime fan and have every intention of going to one of her speaking engagements and being too shy to meet her when she does a meet & greet afterwards. So, yah, we're close.