Each year on the seventh day of the seventh month, ILSSA celebrates its own version of The Festival to Plead for Skills. The festival is derived from the Chinese holiday of Qi Xi and the Japanese festival of Tanabata, in which celebrants wish for the betterment of their own craftsmanship. Instead of wishing, the ILSSA festival is a holiday of PRACTICING. Every year on July 7, ILSSA members observe this holiday by practicing a skill: using a tool, trying a method, honing a technique. Members are asked to take a picture of their practice, and to send this photo along with a brief paragraph description to the Co-Operators.

Historically, the collection of Festival photos and descriptions have been published in print form and distributed to all members as a part of the ILSSA Quarterly. Beginning with the 2013 Festival documentation, we are transitioning to a web-based, digital publishing format. It is our hope that this will better cultivate and celebrate our community of practicing.

We invite all members to join us on July 7, 2017, as we practice together again! For the 2017 Festival, our goal is to digitally post contributions as soon as they are received, so be sure to send in your photo and paragraph to operator(at)impractical-labor.org and we will share your practice with the membership. Happy Practicing!


Robyn Love (Local 347 Shop RL)

Hi, this is my practice today. Punch needle rug hooking. Working on a piece titled Glorious.


Bridget Elmer (Local 347 Shop FS)

This year I had an unpredictable amount of time to practice–I am a mother now, and moments of silence, solitude, and/or contemplation are fleeting, almost mythical, and tinged with the anxiety of their inevitable end. The issue of what is essential is at the forefront of my mind right now, so with my fleeting moments today I did something that I haven't done in years, something essential that I haven't prioritized–I picked up a pen and wrote, for no other reason than to do so. It was thrilling and terrifying, which affirms my instinct to practice this skill and illuminates its value to me. I hope that this is a beginning as much as it is a return. My deepest gratitude to ILSSA for this day, and to my daughter for helping me appreciate both the fleeting and the essential.


Emma Sovich (Local 410 Shop ES)

I'm away from the studio for most of the summer, so I decided to try a little hand printing from linoleum, which I'd never done before. It turns out it's more difficult (at least when improvised) than I expected. I used flexicut, which I stuck on a plastic-wrapped mounted linoleum block to print from, and I wrapped a book in a big Ziploc bag to roll out ink. The prints turned out better on my handmade paper scraps than on the Hannemuhle scraps. They needed a ton of ink, at least compared to letterpress.


Marianetta Porter (Local 734 Shop MP)

Spent the day making rust prints on paper. Fun to throw caution to the wind and let nature take its course!


H.R.Buechler / OXBLOOD (Local 315 Shop HRB)

This is not only how I meant to spend the Festival, but the day, as determined by that ever looming production schedule situated in the greater master calendar that is my life. Despite desperately pulling in what little AC a window unit in a neighboring office is pushing out, one can only guess how hot it is in here. Balmy and uncomfortable to say the least. Let's not even get into the fact the entire town is on a "boil water notice." But a little heat and dehydration is just another day. It's the inaugural year for publications for Oxblood, and my last year as a fellow here, meaning I'm living and dying by that master calendar for the next few months. This is page 7 of the inaugural publication's manuscript, a piece of text utilizing aleatoric methods. Those methods in mind, I threw one more "chance" in the mix — subject it all to the predication of a clunky little Smith-Corona Galaxie XII typewriter. This is the third pass at this page, and listen, I need to get 6 more out before days-end to stay on schedule.


Emily Larned (Local 917 Shop RC)

In July 2013, while in Asheville for the ILSSA Convergence, I witnessed an encounter between a beagle and a French fry that was immediately born in my mind as a children’s book about desire called, aptly, The Beagle and the Fry. Over the years I’ve written a few drafts of it, and have drawn a few middling sketches of beagles, but the project is far from finished (or rather, barely even begun.) Four years later, for today’s Festival, while jet lagged and brain fogged, I decided to make some time to make some terrible beagle and fry drawings. It’s gonna take some practice. That is what today is for.


Esther S White (Local 617 Shop ESW)

Today I finished a five-day book arts workshop with Aurora De Armendi at Anderson Ranch in Snowmass, Colorado. I didn't think to take any photos while I was working, but remembered to document my practice once I had it all packed up.


Katie Latona (Local 646 Shop KL)

i woke up from a dream the morning before with a song in my head, so i decided to embroider it on an old handkerchief for my cousin. i like the meditative quality of embroidering - focus but not - and to lose myself in the sewing rhythm, while practicing an old and familiar skill.


Lauren Emeritz (Local 202 Shop LE)

This year for the Festival I worked on scoring and folding pages for an ongoing book project. The precision and repetition remind me of my love of multiples and processes.


Melanie Mowinski (Local 413 Shop 29P)

Trying to layer color using paper, linocut and pressure printing on the Vandercook. Thankful for knowing my equipment so the technical frustrations that erupted did not make me too crazy.


Maria Epes (Local 828 Shop ME)

I am enrolled in a program for veterinary assistants this summer here in Asheville at the Humane Alliance.


"Michael" Cunningham (Local 847 Shop "M")

For the past few years I have engaged in social media projects: reading a poem and posting the title each day, writing a rhyming couplet each day, sending a monthly mailing to a group of subscribers. This year I started Throw Back Social, a custom-made birthday card sent to any social media friends/followers that sent me an address (without knowing what the project entails). I have fallen several months and a couple dozen birthdays behind. On the seventh day of the seventh month of 2017, I found myself in a car traveling to the St. Louis Art Museum, taking our dapper son to see a show on menswear 1715-2015. For part of that trip, I lettered in my lap. Working on designs for Throw Back Social. Lettering that will later be Abobe Illustrated and mailed out belatedly.