Product development

Smokin' hot... the presses. New cards, that is. I have an amazing print house that I work with, the ever-flexible Picascript in Lauttasaari, Helsinki. I picked up my newest batch of postcards from there today.  I was out of print of some of my tourist cards and took advantage of the moment to create some new cards for the line-up.

I know, with a sentence like that it sounds like it's an easy one-step process to just send a card to the printer's. Actually, the whole process takes much more time than I anticipate every time. 

1. If I don't have a drawing in my files that is just waiting to be materialized in print and posted to your mailbox, I rummage through my brain files for what kinds of cards I am missing or what I would like to draw. This time, I thought of how my "päivän sankari" (the hero of the day, which is what we call the birthday girl or boy in Finnish) has sold pretty well. I decided to make some more along the same theme.

2. I thought about what kids (also those young at heart) could relate to, both a boy and a girl, which made me think of Robin Hood and Pippi Longstocking. 

3. I drew them in pencil, then in ink. I scanned the drawings, then painted them in and scanned them again. So really that's 5 steps, but it's the manual labor phase.

4. Once this is done, I digitally overlaid the layers, which ensures that my black lines are strong. I did some digital editing, especially for the mistakes made during the ink or painting phase.

5. Then I designed the card. At this stage I already had the text, so I placed the picture and text in the same places as my earlier designs to ensure continuity. In this phase I have to remember to give the card a code (for filing and storing) and make sure my signature is on there somewhere. 

6. I got feedback about the layout from Hubby, or anyone else who was then around.  I edited and took into consideration these comments and my own preferences.

7. I exported the file into a print-ready pdf, and sent it to my printer, hoping I had not overlooked something.

This process can take from hours to days, depending on my deadlines and flow. If I drew digitally, I could shorten this process, but I find that I like the feel of a real paintbrush in my hand and the living-on-the-edge feel of placing a mark on the paper and not being able to erase it! If you are an artist and have some tips and tricks that you use, I would gladly hear about them!

NorsuArt uutudet kesäkuu.png

Story of a Mug

So I am a fan of warm drinks--tea, coffee, mulled wine, apple cider, hot chocolate, all tasty! And I also happen to enjoy making beautiful and useful things. Therefore, introducing this season's newcomer to NorsuArt products that combines these two interests of mine (and perhaps yours):




First, mug selection.  It must sit well in your hand, have enough weight to feel good. Fingers must fit nicely through the handle, and it should be easy to lean your cheek on its warmth. I like the shapes that taper down at the bottom. I ordered these in bulk from Meder Oy, a craft and porcelain importer in downtown Helsinki.

Next, picture and text selection.  For this I printed several selections and sizes on paper and taped them to mug prototypes. I asked the peanut gallery about how the texts work, and what would work better than what I originally tried.  I was quite pleased with the English text from the start, but the Finnish version required more work and a bit more mulling it over.

Then, I gathered my courage and ordered decals of the illustrations, logo and texts. These arrived from England, and I eagerly cut them out from the large prints.  They need to be soaked in lukewarm water to get the backing paper off before being placed on the mug's surface. Then the excess water is squeezed off by wiping the decal with a towel, securing the illustration to the surface.

Next, once the decals are dry, the mug can be sent to the kiln for firing at 860 degrees! I do this at Meder as well. I regret to tell you that the first round did not work. The colors were muted or too faded and the black lines fuzzy, certainly not the quality of the pictures I had drawn.  So after some technical editing from the decal company, the new ones were perfect, which I ordered in bulk.  My favorite part of the mug came at this stage, the addition of the little reindeer on the inside.

Cozy English text

Cozy English text


The Winter Mug has been lovingly crafted in my home kitchen in Helsinki, which doubles as my office and triples as my porcelain factory when necessary (quadruples as my storage and mail order facility as well, heh).  It is made from German porcelain, English decals, and compiled and designed by Finnish hands.

The drawing of a reindeer under a blanket with his buddies around a campfire is about light, warmth, community, the unexpected, and adventure. What you have is a mug waiting to share your holiday and winter moments of warmth and connection.

The fact that you see it here means that I also went through a process of photo shooting, editing and making it online-presentable. That is a process that always takes more time than I think it will, as I am still learning. Learning. Learning. If this year had a key word, it was learning. I may take that word with me into 2018 as well!

Because each mug is individually made, there may be minor differences between them.  I even made a few thinking of left-handers, so holler if that's you!  Hope you enjoy the mug, but even more, enjoy the holiday season with the people who are around you now!


ONE WORD in Finnish says it all!

ONE WORD in Finnish says it all!