A story of UPPERCASE connections

Kim Fox

Kim Fox

One of the fun challenges when putting together an issue of UPPERCASE is curating the various artists and topics that will appear within its pages. I usually have a few themes to help focus my attention when assigning articles to my contributors or when inviting artists to be profiled. Sometimes, the thread of connection between one article to the next is obvious, other times a bit more obscure. At least to me, all articles within an issue are related in one way or another. Once an issue is edited, designed and printed, it is out of my hands and into the world where I hope it will inspire readers and help them make their own creative connections.

How and why an issue might affect an individual reader's life isn't something I can typically know. That's why I was so happy to receive a message from Kim Fox, an artist from Pittsburgh. She wrote in to share "a little story about how your magazine changed my life." I first discovered Kim's work at Porridge Papers in Lincoln, Nebraska, where author Linzee Kull McCray and I were researching our Feed Sacks book. I just love Kim's upcycling of vintage tins combined with quilting motifs, so I followed her on Instagram right away.

Kim has been working with tin as a material for 5 years or so. Through her company Worker Bird, she straddles "the border between wanting to create fine art and making products for wholesale and retail."

"A couple of years ago I fell in love with traditional quilting and the array of patterns and the stories behind them. I started "tin quilting" on salvaged wood and my work took off in a new direction. I began thinking about wanting to put together a gallery exhibit of contemporary quilters with a mix of traditional fabric quilters and makers using other materials. I had in mind a fabric quilter and myself but it felt like something was missing—that a third component would really tie it together but I didn't know what that was." Lo and behold, issue 30 arrived in her mail and Kim read Linzee's article about cover artist Laura Petrovich-Cheney, who makes wooden quilts using salvaged wood (the cover art features debris from Hurricane Sandy.)

Issue 30  cover by Laura Petrovich-Cheney

Issue 30 cover by Laura Petrovich-Cheney

"I fell in love with her work immediately and knew that she was my missing link. But I'm new to this world and she's so established and wonderful so I didn't really know what to do with this new love." Kim kept Laura in mind for months until one day last October "I just thought OK—it never hurts to ask so just reach out to her!"

In fact, the cover for issue 30 was Laura's first major article and magazine cover. Laura decided to forego the usual fee that I pay my cover artists; instead she received that value in actual copies of the magazine. Laura smartly leveraged the magazine feature to send it to potential galleries and to gain interest in exhibitions of her work. When Linzee and I were in Lincoln, we toured the International Quilt Study Center & Museum and photographed a portion of their feed sack archives. I brought a copy of issue 30 to give to the museum's curator—which was the museum's first introduction to Laura's work. I am thrilled to report that Laura will have a solo exhibition at the International Quilt Study Center & Museum in 2018.

Laura Petrovich-Cheney

Laura Petrovich-Cheney

Back to our story... Laura returned Kim's email that day, excited by Kim's work and ideas. "She had been thinking along the very same lines about a similar exhibit," recalls Kim. "We began corresponding and chatted on the phone and decided to proceed together toward the same goal. We met in NYC in January for a coffee and then walked over to the gallery in Brooklyn where she had some work on show. The gallery, A.I.R., is a womens' co-operative gallery founded in 1972 to further the work of women artists and Laura is a working member of the gallery which affords her a solo show every 3 years. She proceeded to suggest that we do our quilting show at the same gallery this fall when she was slated for a solo show." 

The pair began to look for other non-traditional quilters. "We traded Instagram pictures of great work we found and also began forming our thoughts about the work that we're doing—issues of 'women's work' and 'men's work' along with the use of recycled materials and the environment."

Now a year later, their exhibition Beyond the Bed Covers featuring Kim Fox, Laura Petrovich-Cheney, Rachel Farmer, Ariel Jackson, Luke Haynes, Carolina Meyer, Faith Ringgold and Jessica Skultety opens on October 12 in Brooklyn. (Incidentally, Luke Haynes was profiled in issue 16 in 2013.)

Luke Haynes

Luke Haynes

Ariel Jackson

Ariel Jackson

And there's more good news! "I have since been asked to include work in an exhibit in Providence, Rhode Island," says Kim "and have been approached by a gallery in Morgantown, West Virginia for an exhibit in 2018. I owe this new direction to you and your magazine!!!!"

Kim Fox

Kim Fox

Although I'm certain that Kim and Laura would have eventually discovered each other, I'm thrilled that their connection was made through the printed magazine! It is a proud moment for me to know that such a ripple effect of positive experiences came about because of UPPERCASE.

Mining the collective

Sled Island 2012 Promotional Illustration, Heather Kai SmithThere's an odd little space in Calgary's EPCOR CENTRE for the Performing Arts. It over looks one of the main meeting points in this complex of performance spaces and the administrative offices for many of Calgary's  performing arts organizations. It is oddly like a crow's-nest on a tall ship and is called the Ledge Gallery.

This summer, Heather Kai Smith has transformed the space into a working independent zine and print shop. Stop by and request a design, sit for a portrait or help with the zine process.

Heather at work on the Ledge

Meanwhile @uppercasemag

: Enjoying my first . Lourdes Sanchez is über talented. : Nestled next to our friends at

: Loved reading #13 today. The article about rain + Seattle was so inspiring I wrote for 2 hours, listening to the rain.

@sophyhenn: My lovely cat enjoying my new @uppercasemag ....: New Issue 14 "I've Been Under a Rock". The theme def pinpoints the last few months for me. Ancy for its arrival!

Our event at Anthropologie!

Now that was a crafty extravaganza! We had four tables of things to make: notebooks, necklaces, buttons/mirrors and decorative orbs. Here's a quick gathering of our tweets and instagrams; I'm off to get a good night's sleep. Thank you to Erin, Megan, Chantal and Eleanor for their tremendous help, and to the fine and friendly folk at the Chinook Centre Anthropologie store. We'll post the pictures from our event photographer, Abby Hutchison, soon.

Drippy babies

I hope you are as inspired as I am by all the different perspectives that UPPERCASE exposes us to. I love rubbing virtual shoulders with people and coming away with a new way of looking at things. When I read the information subscriber Dan Barry sent in about his first solo exhibition in Europe the phrase 'drippy babies' stood out. In my world, it often means a mess that I need to clean up, especially since my one-year-old has taken to drinking out of the dog's dish. Fortunately, I have a new frame of reference based on Dan's alluring work.

MondoPOP Gallery (Rome, Italy) presents:
A solo exhibition of artworks by Dan Barry

Opening Reception: Saturday, May 5th, 2012 from 7-10pm
On View: May 5th, 2012 – June 2nd, 2012

Combinatoria is comprised of several groupings of small mixed media works–ranging from anthropomorphic botanicals to drippy babies.


Strike a pose

Designer: Kelsey McRaeIn issue #8 we featured a collection of matchbooks by Margaret Van Sicklen. We also asked our UPPERCASE community to participate and send in their own modern take on traditional European matchbox labels. Karin Jager of Capilano University and her student Mustaali Raj sent in images from class project along a similar vein.Designer: Mustaali RajKaren explains:
"My survey of design course begins with the industrial revolution and the Victorian era—a time of dramatic economic and social change—and eclectic ornamentation. As a way for students to experience the Victorian aesthetic and to gain some understanding about the social, economic and cultural impact of the industrial revolution, I assigned a 'matchbox' packaging project."Designer: Brayden EshuisMy curiosity was piqued by the information Karin sent along with the images so I did a little research of my own.

Early matches ignited with the slightest friction and their manufacture involved the toxic chemical white phosphorus. Consequently for the match maker, 'phossy jaw' was an occupational hazzard. In the later stages of this condition, where phosphorus accumulates in the jawbone and brain, the patient's jaw would start to glow in the dark, due to a chemical reaction between phosphorus and air. (Note to reader: Do not google phossy jaw.)

Some of the earliest known commercial advertising on matchbooks was created by guerilla arts marketers. In 1895 the cast of the Mendelson Opera Company created ads with photos, glue, and some mighty fine wordsmithing. The only surviving example of these creative evenings reads:

A cyclone of fun - powerful caste - pretty girls - handsome ward-robe - get seats early.


Cocktail Party Fact: Matches were invented in 1827 by John Walker but were first marketed by Samuel Jones as 'Lucifers'.

Guest Post: Melanie Biehle

Monday, April 23 at 4:00 PM

I’m at Peter Miller Books, leisurely walking through the shop, picking up amazing design book after amazing design book. Drew found this cool architecture book by Tom Kundig of the Seattle firm Olson Kundig Architects called Houses 2.

The book features their awesome Rolling Huts project, offering a high-end camping alternative in a former RV campground located in Winthrop, WA. I’ll tuck that one away for future road trip options.

And now it’s time for me to say goodbye. It was interesting to share my anniversary with you. I hope you enjoyed the day! If you miss me, come say hello at Inward Facing Girl.

Guest Post: Melanie Biehle

Monday, April 23 at 2:00 PM

We’ve been walking around Pike Place Market like tourists in our own city, taking our time and looking at things we rush by when we’re showing visitors around. I found some amazing fashion and design magazines from the 60s, and was still on my vintage magazine cloud when we started looking for a lunch spot.

Matt’s in the Market was closed, so we end up at Copacabana Cafe for a light lunch al fresco and prime people watching. I see a woman with a tiny baby sleeping in a sling, probably no more than a month old. I’m reminded of newborn Nathaniel - how light he was, how much I loved feeling his gentle weight against my chest, and how I cherished the intermittent waves of rolling and kicking inside my body before he was born.

Up next: 4:00 PM Rolling huts

Guest Post: Melanie Biehle

Monday, April 23 at 12:00 PM

I’m eating delicious crumpets at The Crumpet Shop at Pike Place Market. Drew and I are treating ourselves to one savory crumpet and one sweet crumpet. I chose green eggs (eggs scrambled with basil pesto) and cheese for my savory and Nutella for my sweet. Both of them are also smeared with butter. I know. I know.

We’re sitting at the bar facing a strip club. The huge flashing marquee with “clever” messages like, “Easter Legg Hunt” and “April Show Hers” is kind of distracting. Earth, Wind, and Fire’s
Boogie Wonderland is playing and Drew and I are reminded of the record players we had when we were kids. Mine was blue and white. I even found a photo of it on eBay. I love the internet.

Up next: 2:00 PM On a vintage magazine cloud

Guest Post: Melanie Biehle

Monday, April 23 at 10:00 AM

So, I just finished taking a shower. I usually get a lot of inspiration there, probably because it’s one of the only places I don’t take my iPhone. I’ve come up with new blog column ideas, including my new special series Bloggers On: Motherhood, but today I was mostly thinking about how weird it is that I’m going to have to write about my shower routine on the UPPERCASE blog.

In other news, I checked out my new temporary tattoo and thought how much better the quality is now than the ones I used to get from Cracker Jack boxes. I can’t remember what any Cracker Jack tattoos looked like, but I promised myself I’d Google it later.

I focus on my “Amazing Things Will Happen” print by Mary Kate McDevitt while I brush my teeth. I thought that hanging it beside the bathroom mirror would be good for a dose of daily inspiration...on the days that I don’t have my iPhone attached to my non-toothbrushing hand, anyway.

Up next: 12:00 PM Crumpets and 'clever' messages

Guest Post: Melanie Biehle

Monday, April 23 at 8:00 AM 

I’m working on my blog post for Bella Umbrella before my husband and I spend the day exploring Seattle on our third wedding anniversary. I’m looking through art deco images for inspiration for tomorrow’s post while Drew is walking our nearly 21-month-old son Nathaniel to day care.

I’m thinking about how we’re going to spend the day together. I love that this day is basically unplanned. The only thing that we know for sure that we're going to have a “city day.” We'll explore Seattle unencumbered by a toddler’s whims and see where that takes us. Our only definite destination is Pike Place Market.

On this day I’m reminded of our honeymoon. We spent two weeks traipsing around Italy, exploring different cities at a leisurely pace. Our favorite stop was Siena. Everyone seemed to be so proud of their city, but not in an arrogant way.

I feel so grateful to be married to Drew, and lucky that we get to have lots of adventures together.

Up next: 10:00 AM Toothbrushes and tattoos

Be here now

On a recent walk I came across a piece of street art. I stopped and took a mental picture of my kids in the enormous double stroller and Tinkerbell, our 65 pound black lab, proudly escorting us on a brilliant early spring day.

Erin's four-year-old son living in the moment.So, I thought, what if I asked members of our community to do the same thing? Have them stop and take a moment to document where they are throughout their Mondays. Luckily, I had a willing participant in Melanie Biehle who blogs at Inward Facing Girl.

"When Erin asked me to participate in her “a day in the life” experiment, the day she wanted me to document happened to be my third wedding anniversary. How could I say no?"

Subscriber Profile: Caitlin Murray

Print avaliable in Caitlin's Etsy shop.

How are you creative in your daily life?
In my thoughts. In my blog. In my day job as a graphic designer & designer of kids clothes. In the crazy games I play with my my nephew. In the curious way I look at the things. Oh and I make some pretty creative meals for my cat Bloggie too.

What are you most curious about?
Artistic stuff and what Bloggie gets up to when I’m not around

What is your most prized possession?
It varies, right now it’s my mum’s watch…because she died last month

What is your favourite letter of the alphabet and why?
A. Because it’s the start, and things have to start somewhere.

What is your favourite colour?
Blue to wear. Red to look at.

What is your preferred creative tool?
Pencil. Pen. My computer

What is your favourite food?
Anything seafood...oh and saganaki rocks!


Are you a subscriber who would like to share a profile with our readers?
Visit our participate page to find out how.

Ties that bind

We received this video from Etsy last week. It is about Aysegul & Sebahat Cetinkaya, a mother/daughter team from Bolu, Turkey who run an Etsy store (irregularexpressions.etsy.com) and make accessories with a  crochet hook, needle, some thread, and beads.

Their work is breathtaking and is now on my covet list. But, the video is about more than their craft; it's about the relationship between a mother and daughter, one that is both singularly unique, and yet somehow also universal in nature.

I come from a family of women who have created a stunning handwork legacy. My Grandmother could walk through a department store and recreate a coat she saw. My Aunt and I are linked through the creation of handmade Teddy bears. My Mother is a prolific knitter and has blessed us with many handknits. One recent Christmas morning, Mom and I each presented the other with a handknit cowl.

I am humbled by the talents of the women in my family and blessed to be able to pass these skills to my children. For us, handwork and creativity really are the ties that bind.

Subscriber No. 13

Nikki Sheppy wears many hats around UPPERCASE. She's a subscriber, a contributor, and an entertaining party guest. Nikki was profiled in issue #9 but, since she is our thirteenth subscriber, we asked her to share more with us.

Subscriber Profile: Nikki Sheppy

How are you creative in your daily life?
I dabble in cake-baking, doodle on napkins, and compose palindromic poetry (in which the word “the” never appears because I spurn interjections that make me seem too Canadian).

What are you most curious about?
Beautiful or unexpected forms. I like poetry, maps, data graphing, and architecture. I like abecedaria, altered books, and the sculptural potential of new paper and textile technologies.

What is your most prized possession?
Access to the world. I’m constantly grateful for the fully functioning faculties (motor, cognitive and sensory) that allow me to explore what’s out there. I think this is so basic and necessary that many of us take it for granted.

What is your favourite letter of the alphabet and why?
Usually, it’s Q – a smooth face with a single pubescent whisker; an O that forgot to shave; an R&D developer for the British Secret Service, slyly packing an arsenal of deadly gadgets: quirky amphibious cars and quinine-tipped darts. But today I prefer Z, a letter with a lot of razzle-dazzle, a zany gonzo journalist unafraid to veer boozily into the most improbable reaches of a story, taking every s-curve like a zed.

What is your favourite colour?
Cherry red - Visceral, as deeply satisfying as the fruit itself, bloody, not for the faint of heart, and the main contender in so many of those brisk plaids of the fifties.

What is your preferred creative tool?

Language. Its plasticity, its resistance, the coy, coltish way in which it refuses to let me write like wunderkind Karen Russell. The alphabet contains only 26 letters. How hard could it be?

E is also for Erin

Erin, UPPERCASE's new Online Editor.

I am happy to welcome my friend Erin Bacon to the UPPERCASE family! (There must be something about talented women whose names begin with E! Read about Eleanor who manages the UPPERCASE online shop and subscriptions.)

I've known Erin for quite a long time (she writes an excellent introduction below) and I am thrilled that she will be helping to grow our online content. We receive so many links, portfolios and suggestions from our amazing readers but in the past I haven't had the time to post everything that I would like to. My husband Glen Dresser, will be a regular contributor online as well. Together we'll be featuring more from our contributors, subscribers, guest bloggers as well as behind-the-scenes, companion content and extras from our books and magazines.

I've been doing things on my own for far too long. I can't really describe how relieved I am to have such wonderful people as part of my team... I guess good things do come to those who wait. 



Erin writes:

"Like many of you, I've been a fan of UPPERCASE from the beginning. In fact, I've known Janine for over 10 years and for the first time in many years we are working together again. We first met and collaborated as client and designer. Across the years, we've experienced a number of major life events as friends; we were there at each others weddings—in fact, Janine did me the honour of designing the collateral for my wedding—we have become mothers and together we watch our children become friends.

I have had the great pleasure of watching my Janine grow UPPERCASE into the incredible success it is today and during that time, Janine and I have been plotting on how to find a way to work together again. Now, finally, the stars have aligned.

Coming to work at UPPERCASE sees me returning to work after being a stay-at-home mom for the last year. My son, Anderson, is four and my daughter, Quinn, is about to turn one. Art and design—and the creativity and curiosity innate in both—are an important part of who I am and play a significant role in my life. My husband and I own many pieces of art, several purchased from UPPERCASE including a Shatner Show print that is proudly displayed in our living room. But, for me, it is more than just having art in the house. It is important to show my children how much fun it is to create and be curious. From sprouting seeds for our vegetable garden and forcing bulbs in the kitchen to turning one of my cupboards into a chalk board. Personally, I express my creativity through knitting. Beyond that, knitting connects me to generations of crafty women in my family and gives me a space to let my type-A tendencies run rampant.

I'm looking forward to putting my depth of experience as an arts marketer to work—my professional passion is working with visual and performing artists, in established organizations and students just embarking on their career. I am thrilled to be the Online Editor for UPPERCASE, curating creativity for you each day. I'm delighted to be a part of the community you've built around UPPERCASE. Janine and I are excited to spend more time in this space with you."