2008’s Top Ten Tracks

PaperMichelle’s Top 10

Musically speaking, 2008 was eclectic. Old was new again…a resurgence of 80s sound and 70s frontmen. Beards were acceptable and trademarks of indie-cred. Falsettos, boy/girl duets and harmonies were the new black. Where to begin?

I am prefacing this “Top Ten” list with the statement that it is subject to change. I can’t believe I’m attempting to pin down ten songs, but here is my best effort for a Tuesday morning:

10. “Hearts on Fire” by Cut Copy
9. “In Our Talons” by Bowerbirds
8. “Blood Bank” by Bon Iver…someone on YouTube said it best, “God, he makes Chris Martin look like such an asshole.” Bravo, sir.
7. “Sunday Afternoon” by Rachael Yamagata
6. “Kim and Jessie” by M83
5. “I’m Good, I’m Gone” by Lykke Li
4. “Gobbledigook” by Sigur Ros
3. “Electric Feel” by MGMT
2. “Mykonos” by Fleet Foxes
1. “Drops In The River” by Fleet Foxes

If that list isn’t a plug for Pitchfork, I don’t know what is. Thanks for the jams, 2008!

Its good to see you, 2009.

The new year is upon us yet again and I can’t believe it. That means its time to reflect and time to set new goals.

Reflection: 2008 was a lovely little year for me. For one, PaperMichelle actually got off the ground. It had been a distant goal for a few years, but its finally an actual thing. I’m most satisfied with that accomplishment. This year also brought about some personal changes: evolved style, more worldly musical pallette, friendships like the changing of the guard, short hair, long-ish hair, skinny jeans, some writing, some reading, much cooking, a finer appreciation of wine, an appreciation of stability in people, a need for beauty always. Yes, indeed, 2008 taught me a great deal and I think it was put to good use.

Resolutions 2009-style: Ahh, goal setting. I generally don’t like to set static goals, because disappointment is…well…disappointing. I do value striving for something, but my “goals” are usually lofty and abstract things like “be happy.” Thats really what I want. Am I itching to get another piece of paper (degree) that declares my competence? Nope. How about to lose five pounds? Not really. I do have a couple things that I would like to happen in 2009 but they come after being happy, being healthy, being a nice person:
1. PaperMichelle will continue to exist and I’ll be happy facilitating that existence.
2. I will learn to sew on the darling little sewing machine I acquired at Christmas. (I really want to make flouncy, colorful, uber-girly skirts…)
3. Pay more attention to my surroundings…be it person, place and/or thing.
4. I will pick up a camera from time to time to better document my little life and promptly post the good times on Facebook. I’m kidding, but I would like to take more pictures.
5. Travel more.
6. Complain less.
7. Get frugal…but do not buy cheap things.
8. Cook better and more frequently.
9. Spend as much SPF protected time outside as nature allows.
10. Be as youthful as possible.

As always, music says things better than I can. Here’s a strange little video for your viewing pleasure. I hope 2009 feels like this video…a little strange, a lot colorful, mostly interesting and always a journey.

(”Mirador” by Efterklang from Parade, 2007)

Happy 2009. Love, PaperMichelle

The Creative Process

Indian-style PaperMichelle

I thought I could take a minute to explain my process. Over the last month or so, I’ve had several people ask me if I use die cuts or precut scrap-booking pieces to make the cut paper cards. The answer is no. Never, ever. Stop telling that nasty little lie.

Ideas for my cards come to me randomly. I find that showering and running are really conducive to creative thought, and many of these cards have been thought up on the Bally’s treadmill. Otherwise, actual events unleash a bit of inspiration. For example, the “Make A Wish” card was designed specifically for my brother’s 25th birthday. Its so much easier to have solid ideas when there is a subject in mind.

Each design is completely original. The drawings are done by hand, because my kind of “design” doesn’t involve the assistance of computer programs…and lets be honest, I don’t know how to use said programs. I cut each individual piece by hand. I use a really old pair of silver scissors from a sewing kit (no, they’re not even meant for paper.) I’ve used these scissors my whole life and I’m yet to find a replacement. When the pieces are cut out, I use a dainty little brush to paint on some fancy glue and actually build the image. I set the cards out to dry for a bit…and voila!

Some of my cards are screen-printed by hand. Anything that is not cut paper (hand drawings, text) has been done by my favorite toy, the RISO Print Gocco. The Gocco was invented in Japan in 1977, intended for color screen-printing in the home. It uses a system of flashbulbs, carbon images and silk screens to create multiple copies of a colored image. Its an amazing contraption, but it is at risk of being discontinued due to failing popularity in Japan. The units are sometimes hard to get and the supplies aren’t much better. I love my Gocco and I’ll use it until there is not a screen left in the land.

Thats kind of how this PaperMichelle thing works, at least on the production end. Its a constructive little project that makes me quite happy. I’ll keep on doing it until I start to get angry about cutting out raccoons and cupcakes. Is that possible? I certainly hope not.

Mixed Tape: 12.18.2008

I don’t have a ton of time to wax poetic about these songs today, though I’d love to. Instead, I’ll just list a few tracks that sum up the way the day feels. Make of it what you will and by all means, enjoy.

1. “Chicago X 12″ by Rogue Wave (Asleep at Heaven’s Gate, 2007)

2. “Ragged Tint” by Benoit Pioulard (Temper, 2008) - Also highly recommended, “Triggering Back” (Precis, 2006.) www.myspace.com/benoitpioulard

3. “Walking” by The Dodos (Visiter, 2008) www.dodosmusic.net

“Hello, Little Baby” in Etsy Storque!

Yes, awesome! I’m so excited right now (12:46 AM techinically Sunday morning,) just noticed that Etsian Jennifer Ladd’s Milwaukee feature on Etsy Storque also features a certain PaperMichelle card–Hello, Little Baby! For some reason, thats been one of the favorite cards from my shop. I’m so excited to see some interest in my designs and also in Midwestern/Milwaukee artists and crafters. Please check out the Milwaukee shops HERE. Hello, Little Baby

Mixed Tape: Bon Iver EP Announced

photo courtesty of Aaron Landry/flickr.com

Jagjaguwar has announced that the new Bon Iver EP, Blood Bank, is due for release on January 20th, 2009.

The four track disc is a likely extension of Bon Iver’s hugely successful, internationally acclaimed first album, For Emma, Forever Ago. For Emma was a beautifully written and painfully cohesive collection of tracks; I can only assume that these additional songs will continue to develop the timeless musicality and the Wisconsin lore that have become such an integral part of the Bon Iver/Justin Vernon identity.

Bon Iver has tour dates scheduled nationally. The Wisconsin dates are in Madison (12/19 at the Barrymore Theatre - Sold Out) and Eau Claire (12/22 at State Theatre.) If you are lucky enough to have tickets, I’m certain the shows will be incredible.

For more info visit www.myspace.com/boniver and www.jagjaguwar.com.


I know I’ve not been updating this blog as diligently as promised. I am sort of going through a period of being overwhelmed by the speed of life. I find it stagnating, so I’ve been slacking in some ways to attempt to take back my time. The effectiveness is inconclusive.

In PaperMichelle news, I have been working on some new designs. The holiday designs did pretty well on Etsy this month, but I’m excited to focus on different subject matter. I’ve started with a couple potential designs for Valentine’s Day, although I’ve been told that they might be pushing the envelope of twisted humor. But I say, what good is humor (or design for that matter) if it does not move the boundaries a bit? I feel that way about most things in life; you can be safe and work within the structures laid out for you or you can define the structure by pushing beyond the established framework. Progress people, progress. Look for some “twisted” valentine’s cards in the near future.

Mixed Tape: 12.02.2008

For those with more sensitivity than logic…

“Saro” by Sam Amidon (All Is Well, 2007)

“Teeth” by Lisa Hannigan (Sea Sew, 2008)

“Hello Tomorrow” by Karen O. & Squeak E. Clean
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Milwaukee Art vs. Craft: A Soap-Box Critique

Milwaukee Arts vs. Crafts

Saturday played host to Milwaukee’s 8th Art vs. Craft event at the Humphrey Scottish Rite Masonic Center. The idea is lovely: a “hip, indie market” for artists, crafters and designers to showcase their unique works making handmade, economical things accessible to the community. Brilliant.

I applaud the idea and the proactive efforts of everyone involved. Supporting independent artists is something that should be valued in every community. There were beautifully made items available ranging from fine art paintings to jewelry to whimsical, crafty gifts.

That said, I ultimately found the attitude of the entire affair to be off-putting. Understand that this was not the fault of the organizers or vendors (with the exception of a certain vendor who was ridiculously rude) but rather, the grabby, over-zealous people in attendance. They were hovering over the tables, foaming at the mouth and pawing at the merchandise as if someone was passing out $100 bills; keep in mind that these were fragile, handmade, one-of-a-kind type things. I encountered more rude and pushy people in the fifteen minutes I was there than throughout the entire “Black Friday” phenomenon. That sounds dramatic; its not.

I attended the event for purposes of research. The big question was: Is this something I’d like to be part of next year? It is a huge, beyond words disappointment to say that I will NOT attempt to participate or even attend the event in the future. I will return to the safety of Etsy, where I can sell or snatch up whatever I want without fighting off the Milwaukee art-scene elite. That might seem harsh, but I am sick of pretentious, mean people ruining perfectly good events (cough, Gallery Night, cough.) The lessons here are these: Be nice. No one is more important than anyone else. You must be considerate, always. Say please, thank you and my bad.

Again, I whole-heartedly believe the sponsors of Art vs. Craft and the people that put it together have the right idea. Arts AND crafts are incredibly important cultural facets; we need more ways to bring them to public attention. For that reason, I encourage everyone to attend such fairs and form your own opinions. Celebrate your community’s artists. Shop locally. Sell locally. Do it all with a touch of class. Thank you and my apologies for the obvious rant.