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Tell-tale feminists

Hand-lettered illustration from the book "Dead Feminists: Historical Heroines in Living Color" by Chandler O'Leary and Jessica Spring

Dead Feminists: Historic Heroines in Living Color has been out in the world for a few weeks, and most folks have been excited (beyond our immediate families). A common response has been one of surprise: “it’s a real book!” Dashing expectations of a coffee table book, Dead Feminists is more than 180 pages of the women, history and social issues entangled in our series of broadsides. Questions about the writing process have come up, from assumptions that we worked with a “real” writer, or that Jessica did the writing while I illustrated. While we definitely worked with talented editors at Sasquatch Books who steered the book towards “real” bookness, both of us did the research, writing and photo research over nearly two years. We also both contributed imagery in the form of illustrations—hand-lettered images from me and beautifully-printed vintage cuts and patterns from Jessica.

The Woman's Bible, written by Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Many of our dearest Dead Feminists are writers, artists, or both– evidence that we all find a way to tell our stories. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who launched our series, wrote most of the speeches delivered by Susan B. Anthony. Some writers and their books are well known, like Gwendolyn Brooks and Rachel Carson—who both confronted ongoing challenging social and environmental issues—and their voices can guide us still. We have mere fragments of poetry from Sappho and carefully handwritten letters from Jane Mecom to her brother—they give us insights into their lives and eras when words from women weren’t often valued or recorded. In the chapter entitled Tell, we focused especially on women who had stories to share, like Virginia Woolf, who carefully crafted and composed both the pages and handset type for printing. Knowing the time and care involved, there is little doubt in my mind that the act of being writer and printer sharpens both crafts.

Historic image of woman printing, from the Library of Congress

Without the discovery of Rywka Lipszyc’s diary found in the ashes of a Auschwitz crematorium she would have disappeared from history. Sarojini Naidu dreamed of independence for India through her poetry (“Waken, O slumber Mother and be crowned”) and was revered as a nightingale, filling the night air with song. We hope you’ll explore these stories more in depth through the book—and for local folks we have some opportunities in the next few weeks to join us in person.

Dead Feminists event at Ada's Technical books, part of Lit Crawl Seattle

Here’s what’s coming up this week and next, when you’ll find us invading first Seattle, then Portland. You can find future events and more info on our events page.

LIT CRAWL Seattle: Book signing and artist talk
Thursday, October 27, 2016, 8 pm
Ada’s Technical Books and Cafe
425 15th Ave. E, Seattle, WA

A retrospective  exhibition featuring our series through broadsides and steamroller prints
Reception, book signing & costume party
Come dressed as your favorite historical feminist!

Saturday, October 29, 4 to 7 pm (the show continues through December 16th)
October 29 through December 16, 2016
School of Visual Concepts
2300 7th Ave., Seattle,WA

DEAD FEMINISTS and RAD WOMEN: joint author event
with Kate Schatz and Miriam Klein Stahl, authors of Rad Women Worldwide
Thursday, November 3, 2016, 7:30 pm
Powell’s Books on Hawthorne
3723 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, OR

LIT CRAWL Portland: Book signing and artist talk
Friday, November 4, 2016, 8 pm
The Big Legrowlski
812 NW Couch St., Portland, OR

WORDSTOCK: Portland’s Book Festival
Chandler & Jessica appearing on an author panel
with Danielle Dutton, author of Margaret the First
and Laurie Notaro, author of Crossing the Horizon
moderated by Elly Blue of Microcosm Press
Book signing to follow
Saturday, November 5, 2016, 1:30 pm
The Old Church
1422 SW 11th Avenue, Portland, OR

book signing and artist talk on the gorgeous Oregon coast!
Saturday, November 5, 2016, 6:30 pm
Beach Books
616 Broadway, Seaside, OR



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Get gussied up

Tuesday is the day! Our book will be released worldwide on October 11, and we’re celebrating with a costume party! This is where you can be the first to get your hands on the book—and extra worth the effort if you want to see Jessica and me wearing ridiculous wigs. We don’t want to be the only ones celebrating Halloween early, so come on down and join the party. We’ll have prizes for the best outfits, Dead Feminists cake and punch, and a printing press ready to make your own keepsake. We’d love to sign a book for you, too. If you’re looking for costume ideas, you might dress up as one of the ladies in our book…


…or you might choose another favorite historical heroine, or a beloved fictional character, or even an historic feminist dude! Anything goes, and we can’t wait to see what you come up with. Here’s the skinny on the event:

Official Book Release Costume Party
Tuesday, October 11, 7 pm
Hosted by King’s Books
218 St. Helens Avenue, Tacoma, WA
Event is free, all ages welcome; more info here
Come in costume, dressed as your favorite historical feminist!

Installing the Dead Feminists exhibition at the 23Sandy Gallery in Portland, OR

In addition to finally sharing the book with you next week, we also wanted the chance to share some of our original artwork. So for the past two years we’ve been planning a big retrospective exhibit with the 23Sandy Gallery in Portland, OR. Laura Russell, the owner and curator of the gallery, has been a major supporter of our series since the beginning—and this week it was no different, as she jumped right in and helped us install our artwork in her space!

Exhibit of the Dead Feminists series by Chandler O'Leary and Jessica Spring at the 23Sandy Gallery in Portland, OR

The show features 10 original letterpress broadsides from our series, two mini-broadsides, original process materials, plus vintage ephemera from our book. This is the first time we’ve done a show like this, and 23Sandy is the only place you’ll still find some of our older, out-of-print broadsides available for sale.

Exhibit of the Dead Feminists series by Chandler O'Leary and Jessica Spring at the 23Sandy Gallery in Portland, OR

The exhibit also includes our 24th and newest broadside, but since she comes out on October 11, alongside the book, we have her hidden under a black veil for now. But you can see her—and all the other artwork—unveiled at our reception and book signing later this month. Here are the details:

Make-Ready: Dead Feminists from Print to Page
A Dead Feminists retrospective exhibit
on display through October 29

Reception & book signing Saturday, October 22
4 to 6 pm, free!
23Sandy Gallery
623 NE 23rd Ave, Portland, OR

Exhibit of the Dead Feminists series by Chandler O'Leary and Jessica Spring at the 23Sandy Gallery in Portland, OR

If you can’t make it to Portland, you can also learn more about the exhibit and view an online catalog on the 23Sandy website.

Make-Ready is just one of many different exhibits in the works this fall—we’ve got the Dead Feminists coming to galleries around the country for both solo and group shows. We’ll be sharing more info here on the blog soon, but as always, you can find all our events, shows, book signings and talks listed on the events page.

See you Tuesday—in costume!


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Seven for seven

Orcas Island sketch by Chandler O'Leary

I can hardly believe it, but I’ve now lived in the Pacific Northwest for seven years.

Mt. Rainier sketch by Chandler O'Leary

In that time I’ve done my very best to see as much of the region as possible, and document it all in my sketchbook.

Yakima apples sketch by Chandler O'Leary

So in honor of seven years, here are seven sketchbook drawings—

Seattle houseboat sketch by Chandler O'Leary

—presented in no particular order—

Columbia River sketch by Chandler O'Leary

—of some of my very favorte places

Panama Hotel sketch by Chandler O'Leary

and moments

Tacoma sketch by Chandler O'Leary

in the place I now call home.

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Portland Theatre photo by Chandler O'Leary

Saturday was a scorcher—I wouldn’t normally pick a day with the temperature in the mid-nineties to hang out in a concrete jungle, but it was a special occasion.

Lilla Rogers meetup photo by Chandler O'Leary

You see, it’s a rare treat to get to have a tasty meal and a good conversation with a roomful of talented illustrators.

Lilla Rogers meetup photo by Sophie Dufresne

Photo by Sophie Dufresne—thanks, Sophie!

We all got together in downtown Portland with the lovely Lilla Rogers to talk shop, ask advice and compare notes. I think all of us came away with our heads full of ideas and our hearts full of confidence. (Not bad for a lunch date, I’d say.)

After that, though, I had a lot to think about, and 95 degrees wasn’t doing my brain any favors. So I bolted for the coast—where it was 30 degrees cooler and a thousand times more peaceful than the city. So I soaked in the sun and stared out to sea, while my ideas took shape.

Cannon Beach photo by Chandler O'Leary

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Columbia River Gorge photo and sketch by Chandler O'Leary

We’ve had a string of unseasonably sunny days lately—so rather than stay cooped up inside the studio, I headed down to Portland to do a little drawing. Just east of town is the stunning Historic Columbia River Highway, which serves up vista after vista of the Columbia River Gorge. All I had to do was sit back, open up the sketchbook, and enjoy the view.

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Saturday morning sketching

Sketchbook drawing by Chandler O'Leary

Every so often the Tailor and I rack up a list of errands to run down in Portland. So we pick a Saturday and hit the road early. But before we tackle our list of stops to make, we always start our visit with a quiet cuppa somewhere. Since Portland is chock-a-block with fantastic bakeries and coffee shops, we try to hit a different place every time. This weekend it was the French bakery, St. Jack—and some quality time with the ol’ sketchbook.

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Rose City gals

Powell's City of Books photo by Chandler O'Leary

Seeing our stuff for sale at my all-time favorite bookstore makes me happier than I could ever see. If you’re in Portland, or you’re going to be, you can now find Dead Feminists postcards, Lemonade Journals and mini-prints at Powell’s City of Books! Last time I was there I found them in the Red Room.

Powell's City of Books photo by Chandler O'Leary

Rumor has it they’re also in the Orange Room, but Powell’s is crazy-huge and charmingly labyrinthine, so I never did come across them there. Never fear, though: the myriad Info Desk staff are smart and lovely. They’ll point you in the right direction.

"Dead Feminists" postcards by Chandler O'Leary and Jessica Spring

P.S. How cool is the description on that sign? I love these people.

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Golden days

Autumn photo by Chandler O'Leary

Commencement Bay from the North End, Tacoma, WA

Vancouver Island photo by Chandler O'Leary

Pumpkin patches, Vancouver Island, BC

Squash photo by Chandler O'Leary

First squash haul of the year from Zestful Gardens, Puyallup, WA

Cranberry harvest photo by Chandler O'Leary

Cranberry harvest, Long Beach, WA

Butchart Gardens photo by Chandler O'Leary

Japanese maple, Butchart Gardens, Brentwood Bay, BC

Autumn photo by Chandler O'Leary

Proctor District in the rain, Tacoma, WA

St. Johns Bridge photo by Chandler O'Leary

St. Johns Bridge, Portland, OR

Have I mentioned that I love autumn in the Northwest?

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Aboard the Pineapple Express

Portland, OR photo by Chandler O'Leary

One of the nerdy things I love most in the world is “collecting” regional nicknames for weather systems. I’ve lived in a lot of different places, and have first-hand experience with such things as the Nor’easter, the Albuquerque Low, the Alberta Clipper, and Blood Rain (which, I’ll admit, is as freaky as the name; watching rust-colored droplets fall from the sky and stain every surface—including you—is a disturbing experience).

Here we get the occasional visit from the Pineapple Express—a holiday guest from the South Pacific that overstays its welcome and eats everything in your fridge. And it thanks you with the gift of a warm bath—a gift that keeps on giving: namely, torrential rains, washed-out roads and rails, snowmelt at all but the very highest elevations, and areas of flooding which include, right at this very moment, our basement. (Not to worry; for us, at least, the rain trickles in, gathers in an interesting map of puddles, and trickles back out again when the storm subsides. And for all the well-meaning people who offer us unsolicited remodeling advice, it serves as an excellent illustration of our resolve never to have a finished basement.)

Anyway, while I concede that it made the drive more … er, interesting, the Pineapple Express served as an oddly fitting companion on my trip to Portland yesterday.

Portland, OR photo by Chandler O'Leary

For one thing, it gave sudden and perfect context to one hilarious interpretation of a Christmas tree.

Portland, OR photo by Chandler O'Leary

It made the bright spots glow—

Crafty Wonderland photo by Chandler O'Leary

and turned even the most nauseating corporate decor into a sea of color.

Crafty Wonderland photo by Chandler O'Leary

It got the old mental wheels turning by inviting me indoors, from a dose of crafty goodness,

Museum of Contemporary Craft photo by Chandler O'Leary

to an entire museum devoted to another kind of craftiness.

Museum of Contemporary Craft photo by Chandler O'Leary

And with nothing but a soggy hike waiting outside, it inspired me to take my time and have a good, long look at what I found.

Pearl Bakery photo by Chandler O'Leary

It encouraged me to visit a favorite bakery—

Pearl Bakery photo by Chandler O'Leary

—and warm up over a well-rounded lunch (sorry).

Powell's City of Books photo by Chandler O'Leary

It gave me an excuse to duck into the best bookstore in the entire universe.

Portland, OR photo by Chandler O'Leary

And just as daylight waned, it helped a certain somebody’s nose glow oh-so-bright.

Oh, and then, as I walked back to my car for the drive home, it made this song pop into my head. After all, paddling home in a canoe might have been a little more efficient!