Thing 14: The USPS

five stamps

So, the Postal Service is having A Very 2020 Time: leadership sabotage, an increase in tens of millions of mail ballots, and extreme mail and package surges (amid staff shortages) that enable us all to get the things we need during this pandemic. And don’t forget- the employees who make the mail happen are real people impacted by Covid-19!

Ok so we all love the post office, but I thought the focus was on small businesses? Bear with me. So, so many small businesses rely on USPS. Without affordable and reliable rates, many small business owners would be unable to ship their products. Plus, they provide free boxes and mailers for Priority and Express Mail services. If you’re an Abbey’s Favorite Things participant this year, your package probably came by USPS. And if you’re waiting on an item, it may be delayed. That’s ok! An unprecedented amount of mail!!! Side note: I am only worried about one item…because it is alive ?

The USPS also provides opportunities for small businesses in other ways. Let’s take a look at the stamps that Georgia, temporarily in Yonkers, will receive. The Innovation stamps were released in August of 2020. Some stamp info:

Five new stamps in a pane of 20 celebrate the American spirit of innovation, specifically in fields in which U.S. scientists and engineers have made significant contributions that have touched lives around the world: computing, biomedicine, genome sequencing, robotics, and solar technology.

Each stamp design features a photograph of a subject representing one of these five fields: Computing (detail of a circuit board), Biomedicine (immune-system cells), Genome Sequencing (detail of a DNA chromatogram), Robotics (a bionic ankle-foot prosthesis), and Solar Technology (detail of a square solar cell). The word INNOVATION is laid over each of the images. Each of the pane’s four rows includes all five stamps, arranged differently in each row to add visual interest. Art director Antonio Alcalá designed the stamps, choosing a detail of an existing photograph for each. 

Antonio Alcalá is part of an Alexandria VA based design firm, Studio A. Artists and designers are commissioned to design stamps, providing work to small businesses! So buy some stamps, send some mail, and enjoy the journey. Maybe wait until next year though—they’re pretty busy right now. But do consider a holiday tip or gift for your mail carrier!



Thing 12: Ash + Chess

Like so many city-dwelling white women, I am sucker for a good museum gift shop. And the National Museum of Women in the Arts has a great one; most importantly they purchase from a good selection of small artists and makers. Through this gift shop, I discovered Thing #12: Ash + Chess. A duo of illustrators working in Richmond, Ash + Chess is queer & trans owned stationary company. They make incredible cards, prints, and created The Gay Agenda

Though I had purchased two of their pieces from the NMWA shop, I had never thought to look at their work more directly (shame on me, I know!). Then this summer, I purchased a sticker pack from Anthology 320, and decided to follow all of the artists who collaborated, including following Ash + Chess. Days later, I received one of their bright and quirky cards from a friend. Sometimes you’re just fated to find a new fave. 

Whitney in Alexandria received a Rainbow Palms Plant. And I encourage you to stock up on cards for friends, buy a print for yourself, and mark your calendars to order the Queer Tarot Deck, coming spring 2022. 


? Tiny creative business 

?️‍? Queer Owned

? Woman owned (co-owner)

Thing 11: Sio Ceramics

pair of earrings and box

As already stated in posts this year- I love ceramics and I love jewelry. Today, we combine them! In February, I went to the Art Rave market at Dupont Underground. In terms of alternative arts venues, this one is particularly funky. Opened in 1949 as a trolley station, all of the platforms and tunnels were closed off in 1962 when the city’s streetcar system shut down. It was a designated fallout shelter in the 60s, and other than a short run as a food court, was mostly abandoned until 2016 when Dupont Underground opened. 

I’ve enjoyed concerts, interactive installations, formal art shows, and more in the past few years. It’s a fun space with a unique feel, but remains without some basic utilities, including bathrooms and heat. So, I went through the early February art market at a very brisk clip. Soon, I spotted a table of ceramic jewelry that very much interested me, but several people were already browsing and there was no room to look. So I did what I recommend you all do: took a pic and followed the artist on Instagram as a reminder to check back later. If you see art you like, follow the artist! It’s much easier than keeping track of a business card. 

By happenstance just three weeks later, I was looking at her work in person at the opening reception of Duality by Hen House (a show like so, so many others whose full potential was squandered by the coronavirus pandemic). Waiting to purchase a piece by Aphra Adkins, I was browsing the selection of earrings from Sio Ceramics, when Makeda Siobahn, the artist and owner, came over and said “I think you should buy those.” And reader, I did. And really haven’t stopped! I have two pairs of earrings and a necklace for myself, and I’ve gifted two pairs of earrings. Now Julie in Cleveland will have a pair too. Following Makeda made me appreciate her work and process even more. As I talked about with Meg, there is something magical about purchasing jewelry made by a person and not a machine. 


? Tiny creative business 

✔️ DC Based 

? Black owned 

? Woman owned 

Thing 9: Prints!

Prints! Yesterday, we discussed how functional ceramics, like mugs and bowls, are a great entry point into buying local art. And as promised, we’re continuing on to things for your walls! I am here to champion prints. “Prints you say? Like copies?” Well, no. Today I am talking about original works of art made by printmakers, not reproductions, which can be made by artists of any media. 

If you’re very new to this, you can read a little bit more about printmaking in an explainer from the Met. But I promise you already know famous printmaking, such as Hokusai’s Great Wave or Warhol’s silkscreens. There is an incredibly huge range in printmaking, with dozens of techniques and countless methods. But due to the nature of how many printmakers work, looking at artists working in this media can be a great way to purchase affordable, original art. 

Similar to how I discussed finding ceramists yesterday, you can search for printmakers and printmaking cooperatives in your area online and on Instagram. Because many types of printmaking require large, expensive presses, it’s common to find groups of artists sharing studios or working out of ateliers/cooperative spaces. This is great from a collector and consumer standpoint, as it can enable you to discover the work of more than one artist at a time. And if you see artwork you like, but it isn’t *quite* the right fit, don’t hesitate to contact the artist directly and see if they have additional pieces for sale. 

Elizabeth in the UK received a monoprint (the image pictured here) from Underway Studio today. This was a fun adventure for me because I got to go on a hunt to find a new local(ish)-to-her artist! If you’re in DC, some of my favorite places to purchase prints are Pyramid Atlantic, Washington Printmakers, Washington Print Club, Victory Dance Creative, and Printmakers Inc., but I am constantly finding new work and new artists to love.

And you should keep track of the artists you like! Following artists on Instagram (or signing up for their mailing list) lets you know where to see additional pieces, keeps you up to date with what they’re making, and can even provide exclusive access or discounts on certain pieces.  Don’t forget that art can make excellent gifts too!







? Tiny creative business 

✔️ DC Based