Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Abbie Mercaldo: Stan's Donuts

Photos by: Abbie 

These are some shots from a photoshoot I did around Wicker Park in Chicago. I'm in love with Stan's Donuts. It made for some great shots and great donuts!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

#Parcel500 Mid-Year Reflection

By: Kaitlyn 

When I first started a project of sending 500 letters this year, I had zero expectations. I really liked sending out cards the previous year when I had done it and I just wanted to do more. I didn't know at the beginning of the year that I would grow to absolutely love not only writing letters, but finding cute stationary and meeting card makers from all around the world. 

In this world of social media, I think that there's something to be said about hand-written correspondence. Don't get me wrong, I'm not dissing social media by any means (I live a large part of my life online), but there's something that can't beat a piece of paper with someone's handwriting on it, a piece of paper that someone devoted at least a few minutes of their time to send to you. 

People's generosity throughout this whole project has been absolutely mind-blowing to me. Card makers from all around have just donated their products. Sometimes they would send me one card to use, sometimes, companies would send me full boxes of goodies (here's looking at you, Design Design).

I've not only been able to interact with artists, but I've been able to use and support their products and that just makes me the happiest person in the world.

I've also been able to work with Kit & Ace and host an event in which we created our own cards and had a letter-writing party on a Sunday morning (complete with mimosas).

So much can be accomplished once we start to lift each other up.

The most gratifying part of this project has been meeting all of my lovely pens pals. A small portion of my pen pals were old friends that I wanted to reconnect with, but the majority of my letters were sent to people I have never even met.

These people have been so genuine and beautiful in every way. I have made some true friendships all just through written correspondence. People have opened up their lives and their stories to me and that makes my heart fuller than anything else possibly could.

I hope to meet all of you one day in person and give you the biggest hugs, but I'm so excited for what another half of a year (and hopefully more) has in store for us.

Currently, I am working on my 249th letter. Since that's so close to being halfway done, I thought now would be a great time to write this post. I do have some catching up to do to reach my goal, but I'm confident that I can kick my butt into gear.

If you're thinking about writing a friend, do it. Do it now. You don't have to write 500 letters, you don't even have to write ten. But sending one letter and getting one letter back in the mail weeks later is the most heart-warming feeling.

If you're a card maker and want to donate cards or if you want to be pen pals, send me an email at theduckandtheowl@gmail.com. 

Monday, July 11, 2016

This Week's Flower (6)

Farmer's Markets are one of our favorite things to enjoy in the summer (and occasionally winter). This past weekend, we went exploring at a local farmer's market and had the best waffles of our lives and picked up a new sunflower baby.

What are your favorite things to buy at farmer's markets?

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

A Trip to Germany & Prague

By: Kaitlyn 

The one thing I've always wanted to do in life is travel--I didn't care how I got to do it, but I've always known that I've wanted to see as much of this world and its people as possible.

An unexpected effect of travel has always been how leaving your life can ground you in what you want your life to be. This was particularly true in my last trip to Germany and the Czech Republic.

While being surrounded by pastels, fairy-tale castles, and breathtaking sunrises, I couldn't stop thinking about how beautiful it was and how I wish I could be surrounded by the people that I loved.

When I was away, the feeling of homesickness wasn't necessarily associated with a place; but I definitely had a withdrawal from the feeling of home that my friends have given me. I've always loved and appreciated my friends and I hope that they've felt that from me, but I don't think I ever fully realized how important their companionship meant to me until I didn't have that companionship for a few weeks.

My friends constantly inspire me and they keep me going every day and push me to be the best that I can be. I am eternally grateful for that. Although castles are beautiful and inspiring in their own right, I realized that they hold no match to how much my friends leave me in awe every day.

The photos below show some of the most beautiful places in this world, but they have nothing on my how beautiful my friends are.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Abbie Mercaldo: Rachel

By: Abbie
Abbie is a new photographer contributor for The Duck and The Owl. On our blog, she shares with you her photo essays and creative works. You can check out her first post here. 

On top of working my butt off and taking classes at the same time, I'm always making time to shoot. The more I shoot the better I've been getting! I couldn't be happier with my most recent work.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

T-Time with No Coast Paper Co. & K

By: Kaitlyn 

Let's talk about menstruation. Yes, periods. That time of the month. Women's issues. Shark Week. We hear these words whispered from one person to the next, usually followed by giggles or blushing, because how embarrassing! 

The lining of our uteruses shedding off? How dare we speak of such a shameful thing. *insert eye roll here*. 

In all seriousness, I'm really passionate about menstruation. Growing up, I was lucky to have a family that never shamed me or were embarrassed by talking about my period. My brothers would always know when I was cramping (mostly because I was balled up, crying in my room); my father would hold my hand and do meditations with me when my cramps were unbearable and offer to go to the grocery store to buy me more pads and tampons; and my mother just had to give me looks that showed that she knew exactly how I was feeling. 

Unfortunately, I realize that not all families are like this. Most people shudder away when periods are brought up; we hide tampons up our sleeves so no one knows we're about to use them, and some people will simply refuse to talk about the matter. 

This negative connotation towards a natural bodily function is not only absurd, but dangerous. 

So when I saw No Coast Paper's Co. "Code Red" series, a series of cards celebrating and recognizing periods, it immediately peaked my interest. And after talking to the founder of the company, Sara, I was beyond excited to sit down with her and have her share her story and her mission: 

Sara Thompto started her stationary business, No Coast Paper Co., at an apple festival in Michigan and soon opened up an Etsy shop with postcards, greeting cards, and other paper goods. 

The idea to start a Code Red greeting card series to celebrate menstruation arose after a conversation she had after an art show opening of her wife's work in New York. They went out with the director of the art gallery after the opening and in ten minutes, the conversation turned into one about puberty and periods. 

"It was the most random conversation ever but it was hilarious and natural and I felt at ease," Sara said. "It got me thinking about how relatable things are like puberty and periods."

During the conversation, the gallery director talked about how her aunt gave her a greeting card when she started her period. It was just a congrats card, but her aunt wrote "Welcome to Womanhood" inside of it. This inspired Sara to create her first card in the Code Red series, "Welcome to the Period Club." 

Sara made a key note that she made a card that said "Period Club" instead of "Womanhood" because the phrase didn't sit right with her. 

"I think saying 'Welcome to Womanhood' isn't the best thing you can say to a pre-teen or teenage girl who just starts her period. It's kind of like you're saying that having a period is what being a woman is all about, " Sara said. "I mean, yes, having a period is something that happens to the majority of women but it's not the one defining thing. That conversation really got me thinking about how you can go about showing support and open the conversation to women at that age...If girls learn that it's an open topic from the beginning, it lessens the taboo of the subject."

As mentioned earlier, the taboo surrounding periods is ridiculous and dangerous. The shame brought onto someone for talking about periods not only causes people to think a natural bodily function is abnormal, but it also silences a conversation that needs to be had to help people know how to take care of their body. 

"I think it's strange that when you bleed in any other way (like a paper cut or stubbing your toe) it's nothing to be embarrassed about and it's not seen as taboo," Sara said. "However, when there's blood coming out of a vagina, it's suddenly something to be embarrassed about. It's blood. It's more natural than blood coming out of any other area of the body. It's not something that should be an issue. There shouldn't be embarrassment about it or shame or made out to be disgusting. It is what it is: a completely natural cycle that happens to a major portion of the population." 

As a result of her Code Red series, Sara hopes to open up this dialogue surrounding periods in our culture and around the world to provide support to women and girls who are afraid to discuss their bodies. 

"Women need to look within themselves and realize just how badass they are and realize that just because they might have cramps or feel bloated, having a period doesn't take away from who they are," Sara said. "It's not something they need to be ashamed of or embarrassed about."

Later this year, Sara is quitting her day job to focus solely on No Coast Paper Co. and Code Red. Through open, healthy and (sometimes) humorous discussions, we can open up a new pathway for people to talk about their bodies that celebrate a natural occurrence in order to spread positivity and understanding. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Introducing: Abigail Mercaldo

By: Abbie 

Art school is a little weird. We are put into an unfamiliar environment that has almost no boundaries on our creativity. We are constantly being pushed to be as creative as we possibly can. The people are all very different and are always expressing themselves in whatever way they want to. Art school is a little weird, but in a good way. 

This is my very first entry here at The Duck and the Owl. I chose to show these photos just to represent what I’ve been doing with my work. Being at an art school has changed my perspective for myself as an artist. I’ve just finished my freshman year at The Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design, and what I’ve learned about this school is that it has a very competitive environment. Everyone is good at what they do and want to do something with their work. So naturally, I’ve felt pushed more than I ever have to get my work out there. So I take as many photos as I can, so that I can constantly be improving my portfolio. What I’m hoping to do through my entries is to show my work and my progress as I grow as an artist. 

These are some photos I took with my friends just outside of Chicago at the Garfield Park Conservatory.