The Pleasure of Mistake-Making (aka, Upcycling with

When I first opened my Etsy shop in 2009, the only item I was selling was a hand-printed onesie that said, "i love tacos." I initially created this design to encourage my dear friend Lea, whose California wedding dinner was appropriately provided by taco carts (my baby and my friend's toddler each wore a onesie to show support).

The design became a hit, and I began filling multiple orders, printing each one haphazardly with my little Gocco silkscreen printer. It soon became clear that my set up was poor, as I often printed them askew, off center, too light, too dark, with smeary ink, and so on. I made so many mistakes that I found myself feeling anxious every time I needed to print more. I was able to donate the best of the worst to the Goodwill and to the Haitian earthquake relief efforts, but it was clear that I needed another plan.

Fortunately, I've found a couple of processes that work much better for me, lithograph printing (listed in my previous blog post, here) and digital printing. Both produce far fewer mistakes. Things do continue to get botched, especially when I'm in experiment-mode, but it no longer crushes me. Why not? Because of citymade!

Citymade is a collaboration between my longtime friend, Carol, and her cohort Melany. Both conscientious, creative and crafty moms, their aim is to re-purpose, re-cycle and make better.

I visited Carol last year in our hometown of Omaha, NE, and I was very impressed with what citymade was doing. I asked her if I could send her some items that I had fouled up, to see if she could give them a new life. She accepted, and it has totally changed the way I feel about making mistakes.

One of my favorite collaborations is what they did with a botched test print of my Hooray Brooklyn Pigeon design. When I first tried to print this design, the ink began to dry as I rolled it onto my linocut, and my print came out too light. At the time, I was flustered. I felt the tshirt was ruined. Before Carol and I discussed working together, this toddler tee sat in my drawer, awaiting its fate as a kitchen rag. Luckily, citymade found a better use for it, and they turned it into this super cool tote, Hooray Brooklyn Pigeon tshirt-turned-tote bag Since then, citymade has successfully transformed many of my other mistakes into awesome new and usable items.

To find out more about citymade, visit or their Etsy shop, They can also be found selling their wares at the Omaha Farmer's Market, located in downtown Omaha, Nebraska. Check them out, and support their business. They really do make the world a better place.