Today's postings

  1. [Baren 38954] Re: chinese cards exchange (Colleen Corradi Brannigan)
  2. [Baren 38955] Message (and request) from the Council ... (David Bull)
  3. [Baren 38956] ox exchange (J Cloutier)
  4. [Baren 38957] Baren Member blogs: Update Notification (Blog Manager)
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Message 1
From: Colleen Corradi Brannigan
Date: Wed, 20 May 2009 07:37:28 GMT
Subject: [Baren 38954] Re: chinese cards exchange
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Hi Marilynn,

I have seen many responses about the cards and although
some of you have already said it all, I just wanted to let you know
that I am one of those late ones - very late ones, exceptionally late..
this year I sent the year of the pig and year of the rat... so I was 2
years late... but this does not mean that I should be out of your
mailing list.. I eventually get my cards out. Sometimes too many things
get in my way and I postpone and postpone.
I still need to send out my
year of the monkey.. is that 4 years old? true... but I made a
prototype which is rally hard to make and it will take me time. This
does not mean that I will never send. So it would be unfortunate to
know that some of you will not be sending to those who are late.
exchange has been going on for years and I intend not to drop out
simply because I want to have the entire collection and finally have
one show with all the cards I received. There are many cards that I
never received... I saw them on the Baren site and wondered why I
didn't get them... now I know the answer and I feel it is a pity I will
never have the complete set.
I am happy all the same and I don't even
keep lists to know who sent out cards and who did not. I enjoy what I
get without the burden of deadlines.
So I just hope you will not cross
me out your list
Colleen Corradi
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Message 2
From: David Bull
Date: Wed, 20 May 2009 12:25:59 GMT
Subject: [Baren 38955] Message (and request) from the Council ...
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Here on [Baren] we've generally been pretty good with keeping the
discussions focussed on printmaking, and have for the most part
managed to keep the conversations free of 'administrative noise'. But
now and again something comes up that needs input from group members,
and I think we're coming to one of those times now.

We need some 'open discussion' about our Council - the people who work
'in the background' doing the administration/maintenance tasks that
keep us basically on track.

Here's a short historical summary of the origins of the Council, for
those who don't know ...

1997 November: [Baren] is started as a small discussion group by Dave
(personally inviting a few friends). Within a few months, we throw it
open for anybody to join.

1998 July: member Jim Mundie proposes an exchange; the group reacts
enthusiastically; it works well, is repeated, and is still going strong.

1999 December: Dave finally tosses his hands up in the air; he can no
longer 'run' [Baren] alone (buiding the website, doing group
moderation, and running the exchanges - by then up to #5). He asks a
few of the group members to join with him in what is at first called
an 'Exchange Council'.

2000 October: We register the website, and the files
are moved there from their previous location within Dave's own site;
Dave makes 'official' what has become obvious for some time - [Baren]
is not his own property, but now 'belongs to the members'. The
'Exchange Council' becomes just 'Council'.

2000: To provide a source of income to cover website expenses, we set
up the [Baren Mall], which earns us a % on orders placed though some
suppliers in Japan.

2005~6: [Baren] becomes registered as an NPO (based in Oregon, USA).

So that's the background. What isn't mentioned there is how membership
of the Council has been handled over the years. The Council was
initially made up of a few people that Dave simply asked to help out.
Nobody thought of having 'terms' or 'elections' or anything like that.
Over the years, a couple of the original members moved on and left
(and Wanda passed away), and a couple of others came in to replace
them. Here's how the Council 'membership' stands at present:

Gayle Wohlken: Archivist (and moderator since the passing of Wanda
Barbara Mason: Treasurer
Maria Arango: Exchange Manager
David Harrison: Subscription Manager (an utterly thankless job that
mostly involves fending off spam)
Julio Rodriguez: Blog manager
Dave Bull: general website background scripts (for digesting, etc.)
Mike Lyon: currently 'at large' - no specific assignment
Kristine Alder: currently 'at large' - no specific assignment

A few other people assist with specific functions, but don't take part
in general Council discussions:
Mary Kuster: helps with shipping of US-based Mall items, and the 'Ads
and Opportunities' item on the forum.
Michelle Morrell: works with Barbara on Mall transaction processing.
Darrell Madis: helps with some of the website updating

Why do I bring this all up just now? The immediate answer is that one
of the long-serving Councillors has just told us that because of
increased off-list commitments (you know, 'real life'!), they would
like to hand in their key to the executive washroom, and leave the

On the face of it, no problem; we say 'Thank you and good luck with
your new activities!', and then look around for a replacement. But it
might be time to take a different approach.

Before I talk about that, here's a little 'State of the Forum'
overview ...

Good stuff happening:
- exchange program is strong and healthy. Not without conflicts of
course, but that's to be expected.
- forum discussions are also strong. Again, little 'episodes' come up
now and then, but our track record - especially when compared to most
other 'net discussion groups - is fantastic. We're a good healthy,
friendly, productive group.
- our Mall is providing a wonderful service to printmakers worldwide.
It has actually turned into a profitable business in its own right.

What's not happening:
- the website. With the exception of the Archives and Exchange
galleries - the site is kind of an archaic, abandoned wasteland. It
was originally built before any of the modern CMS tools, etc. were
available, needs major manual work for even the simplest update, and
because of this, has become stagnant.
- finances. The Mall - and Barbara and Michelle's work running it -
has put us in a very nice financial situation. (I don't dare tell you
some of the numbers!) But we have never formulated a coherent plan for
actually, you know, _using_ this resource. Our NPO status was granted
based on our promise to engage in activities that would 'further the
cause', etc. etc. We now have a _legal obligation_ to do that, and
can't just keep sitting on our bank account without incurring some
kind of tax liability.
- direction. This is debatable. One view is that we should just 'keep
on keeping on'. Given that there is good stuff happening (see above),
we shouldn't rock the boat. But an alternate view is that we're kind
of asleep at the wheel, and are just coasting.

And that brings me to the points I want to make today, triggered by
the Council resignation we just received.

I myself for one - and I suspect this may perhaps be true for some
other Council members - feel that I haven't been 'pulling my weight'
in recent years. In the early days of the group (and the Council) new
ideas and new projects flew around all over the place, and we were
enthusiastic and eager to 'build stuff'. The website ... the exchange
program ... the beginnings of the encyclopedia ... etc. etc. But in
recent years, some of us who have been sitting in these Council chairs
have been kind of just holding down the seat, without helping to
actually steer the bus.

I don't mean that _work_ isn't getting done - that's far from the
case. Gayle slaves away night after night keeping the Archives up-to-
date, Michelle processes Mall orders, Maria has whipped the Exchanges
along, etc. etc. In those cases where we have a responsible person in
a clearly defined job, stuff gets done. What I'm talking about is the
_executive management_ end of things. I think that we have kind of
lost energy and direction.

So what I would like to toss out to the group for discussion are some
of these points:

1) should Council members have 'terms', leaving after a certain time?
The minus would be the loss of experienced people, the plus would be
the entry of 'fresh blood'.

2) should we separate 'jobs' from Council membership? Up 'till now, we
have looked on the two things as almost synonymous - when we ask
somebody to do something, we sort of bring them in to Council. That's
not 100% true, as you can see from the Council member description
above, but it is sort of established. Perhaps though, the Council
should be made up of only of people who _manage_, and their function
is to see the 'big picture', and delegate work to enthusiastic and
able group members.

3) so, should there be elections and stuff? (Actually, our NPO status
probably came with legal requirements on the 'election' of officers,
but we haven't done anything about that ... yet ...)

4) how on earth are we ever going to decide what to do with our
financial resources? Scholarships, publications, exhibitions ... there
are lots of possible ideas, but - given that our 'membership' is
somewhere north of 300 people - each proposal is full of potential for
discord and trouble (which is why the present Council has never
buckled down and faced this issue).

5) None of the above. Our system 'ain't broke', so don't 'fix it'.

Anyway, there is no crisis at hand, but we _would_ like to hear what
the group at large thinks about these management issues. Postings
would be particularly welcomed from members with experience managing
volunteer groups of this kind, either 'real', or 'virtual' like ours.

Some of you may roll your eyes at all this, and think to yourself,
"Great. Here goes a huge derail to take us away from printmaking
discussions ..." But hey, asking you to talk about group management
once in ten years isn't so bad, I think! :-)

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Message 3
From: J Cloutier
Date: Wed, 20 May 2009 12:38:33 GMT
Subject: [Baren 38956] ox exchange
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Hi -
just another two cents' worth. I love getting all the cards, and agree
that it's a delight to have the late ones trickle in with the ordinary
mail and surprise me. This was my first exchange. At first, I wondered
if I was getting "my fair share", but then decided it didn't matter. I
had the fun and experience of making my prints. (And as a beginning
printmaker, I really need the experience!) Since I'm in the U.S., like
most participants, the expense wasn't too bad. Looking at it from a
different point of view, I have a list of people who say they want one
of my prints! And as a bonus, I get a wonderful collection of prints
for myself. It's been fun. And gave me nerve to sign up for the next
formal exchange.


Digest Appendix

Postings made on [Baren] members' blogs
over the past 24 hours ...

Subject: Ice Cold Utamaro!
Posted by: Dave Bull

A bit of a 'story' today ...

The River in Spring print is now all behind me. Ichikawa-san has picked up the pile of 'parts' - the signed and sealed prints, invoices, mailing labels, empty packages, etc. - and taken them back home. For the past few weeks she has been working on sewing the books ...

... and she will now put it all together and mail them out.

So for me, it's time to get started on the next one. But I don't usually jump right in the very next day; there is nearly always a backlog of miscellaneous work waiting to be done before more printmaking can begin, and so it was this time ... unanswered mail, a bit of housecleaning, even some garden work over at Sadako's place yesterday.

There was also another 'chore' to take care of (some chore!). A few days ago, a very nice order for a number of back issue sets came in from one of the collectors over in the US, and I had to get this ready for shipping. I don't keep back number sets all 'packed', but store all the parts separately (prints in drawers, etc.). Assembling them 'on demand' for each order helps ensure that the sets arrive at their destination in nice fresh condition, and not dusty from long storage on the shelves. Three of the sets in the order were easily assembled, but one - the Beauties of Four Seasons - will take longer, as I currently have none of the folders in stock, but have to cut and glue up some more.

And there is where the story comes in, because as I went to the drawer to pull out the four prints for this set, I found that after taking out the four, I have now 'hit bottom'; there are no more prints in stock for one of the prints in this set - the 20th century design for winter - and very few for the Utamaro design for summer.

So has this series been such a best-seller that they are now all gone? No. In fact, the actual situation is just the reverse; despite being the best work I have ever done (and probably will ever do), this set has never sold very well, and the reason that the drawer is now empty is because I have yet to complete the originally scheduled printing of 200 copies. I've been postponing it for years, but I guess it's now time to look in my freezer for some more copies of the Utamaro print ...

[Long item has been trimmed at this point. The full blog entry can be viewed here]

This item is taken from the blog Woodblock RoundTable.
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Subject: Japanese Woodblock Workshop
Posted by: Annie B


I'll be teaching Japanese style woodblock (moku hanga) again this summer at Zea Mays Printmaking in Florence MA. This four-day workshop in July will cover all aspects of creating a multicolor print -- developing a design, color separation, transferring the design to blocks of wood, carving the blocks, preparing the paper, and learning various techniques to print the blocks. Zea Mays Printmaking is a large airy studio in an old factory building beside a river in picturesque western Massachusetts. See the Zea Mays web site for more information and to register.

This item is taken from the blog Woodblock Dreams.
'Reply' to Baren about this item.